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New York mixes up a mish-mash

In the heart of Manhattan, Kmart's Penn Station store looked clean and orderly on May 7. New signage throughout the store promoted Mother's Day purchases, although in the domestics area some of the items billed as Mother's Day goods consisted of products from Kmart's regular assortment, such as sleep pillows.

Associates buzzed around the store, with a handful stocking the shelves. However, only one associate made eye contact with HTT's reporter and said hello during the three hours the reporter spent in the domestics department.

The department in general looked good, though upon closer inspection a lot of over-stocked product was slotted into areas with missing skus. Other areas are clearly a work in progress, and shelves were painfully empty. Aside from the professional Mother's Day signage, other signage consisted of simple computer printouts stating prices.

Bed-in-a-bag: Bed-in-a-bag product was pretty well stocked, though sizes were frequently mixed together and it was hard to determine which skus, if any, were missing. There was also a break in continuity, with some product located a few aisles away from similar items.

Comforters: Stocked in bedding but also shoved onto top shelves in both the rug and bath areas, comforters appeared to be in-stock, though the sizes were often mixed together.

In the juvenile aisle, comforters were mostly stocked. In addition, MSE comforters took up 15 feet of the back wall, with four shelves of the four-star program, mixing all sizes.

Sheets: In the sheet area, over-stocks on certain colors were used to fill shelves where other solid colors were not available. So although the shelves appeared to be stocked, many items were in the wrong place. Dan River's Eyelet collection was also on display, and about five skus out of 29 were missing. More MSE sheets were found on the other side of the display, and about 96 skus were spread across four shelves, with about 11 missing, though here again a lot of other product was used to fill in missing areas. Facing it was another bedding display of MSE product, again about 96 skus across four shelves, of which about 10 were missing, though a lot was simply misplaced. The 19 skus of sheets on the other side of the display were all in stock.

Utility Bedding: Basic bedding was well-stocked in its area as well as in bins around the department. Within the department, facing blankets, mattress pads filled the aisle and only two skus were in the wrong place. A 15-foot run near the window area held mattress pads, and the shelves were filled, though the sizes were all mixed together and the shelves lacked sku tags.

Table: Table was lacking in product, though kitchen towels were plentiful throughout the department. Four skus of MSE kitchen towels were absent out of 10, though only one sku from 13 tablecloths was missing. And out of nine skus on three shelves for linens, only three were present. Flour sack towels and dishcloths were fully stocked on eight hooks. On another run, half of the MSE tablecloth program of 32 skus was missing. Another 18-foot run of Home Essentials kitchen textiles with 48 skus was empty by about 13 percent, though all of the 36 place mat skus and 14 chairpad skus were there.

Window: The window area consisted of one 10-foot display and the majority of another one in the back of the department. About 10 percent to 15 percent of Martha Stewart Everyday window product was missing on one run and about 19 percent on another. Some skus had only one product available. In Home Essentials offerings, about 12 percent of 25 skus missing. In the adjacent display of slipcovers, table rounds and pillows, several skus were missing or misplaced.

Bath: The saddest area of domestics, some areas in bath had more empty shelf space than product. On a run meant to hold 84 skus of bath accessories, a whopping 47 percent were missing, and skus on the shelf were thinly stocked. Of the 48 j-hooks designated for liners and fabric curtains, 27 were missing, though a few MSE terry curtains were laying on the display. Another display had 11 out of 17 skus missing in liners, and half of the shower hooks absent. A group of Home Essentials shower curtains was missing 38 percent of its 64 sku count.

However, towels were pretty well stocked. On one display, only one sku of 22 towels in the Family collection was missing, a shelf of wash cloths was missing only one color, and three shelves of bath rugs were missing only three out of 45 skus.

Rugs: Overall, the rug area looked good, though in some cases only one product was available for a sku, or a color was absent and other product had been put there instead. Rolled rugs were also in a cardboard box in an area of the aisles with bins of basic pillows. Kitchen rugs spread throughout department on endcaps.

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