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ShopKo unveils next generation prototype

Neenah, WI — ShopKo today held a re-grand opening of one of two units updated to a new format that features a new warm color palette, more lighting, easy-to-read signage and new wood laminate fixtures. The store is one of three units ShopKo has spent $5 million to remodel this year.

"In all honesty, the store had a very cluttered look," said Sam Duncan, president and ceo, during a press walk-through. "We had to make sure it was more convenient to shop. We want to create a comfortable atmosphere."

For domestics, the big change was made to the adjacencies, Doug Wurl, senior vp/gmm, hardlines and home, told HTT in a later interview. Now with home décor, RTA furniture and rugs nearby, he said, "the corridor has really become a total home story."

The chain also has a renewed its focus on merchandise. "There was not enough newness in domestics. We got behind the times, frankly," said Duncan.

The window category was given more space, and ShopKo added warm, wood laminate displays so that customers can "see, touch and feel" the product, Duncan said.

Vignettes are located throughout the store, including a dress bed in domestics — ShopKo's first. Depending on space in other remodeled stores, that number could be two to three beds.

Private label in home has also been "deficient," said Duncan. Wurl added that a new home brand will join Willow Bay and Northcrest within six months. In addition, ShopKo will roll out chainwide a 300-count sheet program under the Willow Bay label within 30 days. A 250-count Willow Bay sheet is currently the chain's highest quality.

"We're doing a whole push in differentiation within private brands," Wurl said. But national brands remain important, so much so that major brands are featured on the overhead department signage.

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