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  • Andrea Lillo

Wal-Mart fashions new image

East meadow, NY — "Always Low Prices" has always worked wonders for Wal-Mart, though the world's largest retailer has begun repositioning its home merchandise to thread a more coordinated look throughout its domestics department — and respond to the higher fashionability quotient evident at Target and Kmart.

The new initiative, called "your home," has already been the subject of Wal-Mart's new nationwide television advertising campaign, which heralds coordinated looks and a remodeled department, though the reset is still evolving at store level.

Using a fashion-forward sage color as the background for the new signage, the program is also notable because of what it sometimes doesn't emphasize — the prices.

In two stores on Long Island, NY, here and in Uniondale, the program is visibly in its initial stages. Endcaps herald the new program throughout the department, though the merchandise displayed on the shelves seemed to be saving space until the program gets rolling. In addition, the signs that showcased Wal-Mart's "Always Low Prices" slogan mirrored the new program in that they were also colored in the same sage green.

In areas where the program took up the full endcap, the signage included the tagline, "bed • bath • kitchen • floor • window" — a clear step toward the idea that customers sometimes favor fashion over cost. Indeed, though most of the signs seen in these stores displayed pricing, there were others that were pushing the fashion factor instead.

But this bud hasn't begun to flower yet, and the product included in "your home" seemed a random selection. In the East Meadow store, merchandise included rug pads on one endcap and decorative pillows on another within the department. At the back of the department, body pillows (from Pillowtex and American Fiber) and juvenile bedding with coordinating playhouses each took up endcaps. Solid-color blankets from Wal-Mart's Basics and Mainstays labels were placed on an endcap at the front of domestics.

Twenty displays on the side of the endcaps also showcased "your home" product. Six of them displayed vinyl tablecloths in assorted colors and styles (though one display was clearly a work in progress, with only one lonely J-hook holding product). Other displays included HomeTrends tablerunners (from Mohawk), licensed and chenille throws, HomeTrends vinyl tablecloths, comfort mats (from Ginsey), Jubilee valences, window rods, SuperValue kitchen towels (from Franco), HomeTrends khaki bar stool covers, bathroom appliques (from Ginsey), Jubilee twin bedskirts and balloon valences and bed-in-a-bag extras (from WestPoint Stevens).

The Uniondale store devoted more full endcaps to the program, with fewer smaller, side displays. The store also used a sign with the wording "paint your home," accompanied with a circular picture of opened paint cans, and which was also found in the frames department.

The merchandise for the program in this store included Springmaid sheet sets and bed-in-a-bag sets, Hanes jersey knit sheet sets, No Boundaries towels, Jubilee and Select Edition scatter rugs, Jubilee Soft-Natural reversible rugs (from Mohawk) and chenille throws. In addition, two adjacent endcaps displayed Jubilee ruffled bedskirts and shams along with chenille bedspreads. The side displays included mesh solange bath poofs and vinyl tablecloths.

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