Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stein Mart Focused on Its Own Strategy

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stein Mart Focused on Its Own Strategy

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Brune Mathis

Curiosity is a survival tactic in the world of retailing.

That's why a Stein Mart Inc. staffer or two probably will check out the three Kohl's stores that will open Thursday morning in Jacksonville and Fleming Island.

It's not that Jacksonville-based Stein Mart doesn't know Kohl's. It knows quite a bit considering the chains compete in at least 29 states, and sometimes along the same street or in the same shopping center.

It's just that Kohl's, being the new and splashy kid in Florida, will attract some Stein Mart shoppers, but Stein Mart wants those core customers to satisfy their curiosity quickly and get back to business.

My hunch is that Stein Mart's area customers will give Kohl's a fair shot and that those core customers will return. That's because Stein Mart has been there, done that with the massive Kohl's grand openings and is focused on its own strategy.

Kohl's, based in Wisconsin, opens in huge waves. "We have been on the receiving end of their grand openings in a number of other markets," said Stein Mart spokeswoman Susan Edelman. "They come in in a very big way. They come in with multiple locations and a lot of advertising fire power."

Kohl's has been advertising for about two years, long before it began laying brick and mortar. It's a Kohl's strategy to seed a market well before opening.

Stein Mart honed its strategy about six years ago, which is to focus specifically on its core customers: 35- to 60-year-old women.

Kohl's advertises to families, teens, young people and professionals, while Stein Mart focuses on women and men in its targeted age market. Stein Mart figures that women in that age target like to shop and often buy clothes for the men in their family as well as home accessories and baby gifts.

Still, Stein Mart knows that the opening of a competing store can lure its most loyal consumers. …

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