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