February 20, 2004

Home Improvement Kiosks

Menards opens largest store ever

West Duluth, Minn. - February 19 - After more than seven months of renovations, Menards has reopened its store here, near the shores of Lake Superior. And the remodel proves to be the retailers largest store to date, while boasting a broader assortment of product categories and new merchandising.

The 250,000-square-foot store features new departments, including an expanded appliance section and garden center, which are new to Menards stores. Part of the original building, which dates back to the 1930s, remains intact and brightly lit by sunshine beaming through glass, block windows and skylights.

"We believe that you have to see what you are buying," said Dennis Dixon, Menards assistant operations manager.

Dixon told HCN that the retailer had simply outgrown the previous store, despite neighboring locations in Superior and Hermantown. "We have a lot of skus and we wanted to bring new skus to customers," Dixon said, although he declined to disclose just how many products the store carries.

"All departments received much more of everything," Dixon said.

The former incarnation of the store, which originally opened as a Menards in 1992, carried only small appliances. Now Menards appliance section contains a large assortment of refrigerators, ovens, dryers and washers, including brands such as Bosch, Maytag, Jennair, Roper, Magic Chef and Whirlpool.

A giant rotating signboard, provided by Maytag, sits above and highlights the section. "People are buying their kitchens here and their appliances too," Dixon said.

Other renovations include wide service aisles that both surround the store and penetrate the interior in designated locations. The increase in space allows inventory to be moved and stocked around the store without clogging aisles or getting in the way of customers.

"We prefer this size for getting merchandise in and getting guests around the store," Dixon said. Self-service kiosks are located throughout the store, which provide estimates and product information to allow customers to make better purchasing decisions. For instance, in the home storage section, customers can flesh out the shelving that best suits a walk-in closet based on measurements and an assortment of products.

Since the stores opening on Feb. 13, merchandise has been moving at a quick rate. Store manager Tom Hanson indicated that customers were burning through pallets of the scented candles offered in the stores dcor section. Other dcor offerings include framed prints, floral arrangements and decorative cutting boards.

For Menards pro customers, a massive interior lumberyard makes up nearly a quarter of the store. The retailer also expanded its exterior lumberyard behind the store, which measures in at nearly five acres. The yard includes a 10,000-square-foot shed that allows pros to drive through to pick out the materials they need and leave.

While Dixon would not elaborate on how much of Menards business is made up of pro sales, he did say it was "huge."

"Our building material sales are a strength over our competitors," Dixon said while noting the West Duluth lumberyard is a "medium-sized" yard compared to other locations.

Future Menards openings and renovations will be similar to the West Duluth stores size and merchandise mix, according to the company. "This is the direction were headed in," Dixon said. "Were not going to have the most stores, but were going to have the best stores."

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Posted by Craig at February 20, 2004 09:32 PM