The more K-Mart changes, the more it stays the same

The anonymous tip came in late last week. Big news. Orange stripes on K-Mart. "They're painting it as a Home Depot," said the tipster. "It looks like they're sneaking it in."

Considering Home Depot's history with Albemarle County, a City of Charlottesville location like K-Mart's could conceivably be considered ideal. But what of the blue light specials? What of Martha Stewart paints, Kathy Ireland pantsuits, Jaclyn Smith casuals?

A trip to Hydraulic Road was in order. Snooping in the parking lot, a Hook reporter confirmed orange stripes had indeed been painted– seemingly sloppily– on the front of the building. Inside, turmoil, and signs asking customers to excuse the mess while the store reorganizes.

"Pardon me," said the Hook's undercover agent to a passing employee. "I couldn't help but notice orange stripes outside– don't tell me K-Mart's leaving!"

"Oh no," the employee replied grinning. "We're just making the store nicer, adding new merchandise."

Indeed, K-Mart corporate spokesperson Kimberly Freley confirms that K-Mart's not going anywhere. The orange stripes? "That's just primer, getting ready for the red paint," said Freley. As for that new merchandise: appliances and a full section of Craftsman brand tools, thanks to K-Mart's 2005 purchase of Sears, says Freley.

The renovation seems to have bred a new enthusiasm in the store's employees, who– to the Hook investigator's utter shock– engaged in a call-and-response led by a deep voiced manager somewhere near sporting goods in the back of the store.

"Where do we work?" He shouted.

"K-Mart!" the group shouted in unison.

Several more incitations ended in a pumped up "K-Mart, K-Mart, K-Mart!" from the group, which then disbanded with a spring in their steps.

"Good morning ladies!" chirped one to the reporter and an elderly shopper nearby, as she hustled to her station.

Then, over the loudspeaker, a comforting sign.

"Attention K-Mart shoppers!"

Good old Blue light special. Excellent.

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9 comments

I understand the Terrace site will soon be a new (2 story?) Whole Foods......anyone able to confirm that rumor?

I hate hate hate that K-Mart. It will take more than a sprucing to right it.

It'll probably be another transit station or homeless drop in center.
God knows we need some GOOD businesses in the City to take some tax burden off the homeowner. Barracks Road and the boutique mall can only do so much
to support all of the other folks who use the myriad services of the
welfare state Charlottesville has become.

We were at Kmart this weekend. Everything's all screwy. The employees I ran into were still either a) nonexistent or b) barely animated above the level of mummy-dom. Poor old Kmart.

Might be something to the Whole Foods rumor. I thought they had a lease signed at Albemarle Place, but god knows when it's opening. One of the double doors at Terrace has been replaced with what looked plywood. Only downside I'd see is the move from one tough-to-access shopping center to another.

Word is Whole Foods is moving temporarily to the K-Mart area until Albemarle Place opens. Even better, Trader Joe's is supposed to take over the space the Whole Foods is vacating. If you've never been to a Trader Joe's, you'll definitely want to check it out. It's an incredible store.

As for a Home Depot fitting in the space occupied by the Terrace, have you ever actually been in a Home Depot? It would probably not fit in the space occupied by the Terrace AND K-Mart. But it's badly needed - the Charlottesville Lowe's is the worst I've ever been in. The staff is deplorably untrained and unhelpful.

I think it would fit, provided it started next to Golds and they graded the next property up (the empty lot next to the old For the Floor bldg)for parking. My guess is if the Whole Foods rumor is true we see HD out in Greene.

Whole Foods is supposed to go into Albemarle Place. Home Depot is heading into the county at Avon Center on the south side of town, if that ever gets approved by the county.

There's probably still room for a home depot where the Terrace is. I'm getting sick of watching that building go the way of Blue Ridge Hospital.