Battle of the big boxes |

Battle of the big boxes

Post Independent/Kelley CoxLeft to right, Summer Pennetta, of Aspen, Shelley Meisler, of Carbondale, and Pippa Klumb, of Basalt, spent part of their Sunday morning at the grand opening of the Glenwood Meadows Target store.

Other than its red-and-white interior and neatly manicured aisles, there’s one striking difference between Target and its rivals Kmart and Wal-Mart: Only Target sells $600 vacuum cleaners, Starbucks Coffee, iPods and Spam all under one roof.

And it’s much bigger.

Now that Glenwood Springs is one of the few small cities in Colorado with all three top big box discount stores squeezed into one community, it’s unclear if there will be any casualties once shoppers discover the new Target.

Wal-Mart’s answer to that question amounts to a battle cry.

“We have always welcomed competition,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Marty Heires. “We think that helps make us better to our customers.”

Kmart was more guarded with their rhetoric. “We don’t comment on competition and can’t speculate on what will happen in the future,” said Chris Brathwaite, spokesman for Kmart parent Sears Holdings Corp.

Both Wal-Mart and Kmart have long histories in Glenwood Springs. The small 40,318-square-foot Kmart store opened in 1982, followed by the 111,000-square-foot Wal-Mart in 1987.

At 125,000 square feet, Target trumps both stores in size.

Heires said Wal-Mart is happy with its store in South Glenwood Springs and has no plans to expand or open a Wal-Mart Supercenter nearby.

Colorado is no stranger to derelict Kmarts, however. In 2003, while the company was in bankruptcy, Kmart shuttered six of its stores in Colorado, including a store in a mall in Durango and another in Alamosa ” both near Wal-Mart Supercenters. Those were part of a second round of store closings after it boarded up three other Colorado stores in 2002.

“The decision about whether or not they can compete in the marketplace is up to them,” said Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association president Marianne Virgili, referring to Kmart. “A lot of it depends on their current lease.”

A call to Glenwood Mall CEO Deb Jacupke was not returned.

Customer loyalty plays a large part in the store’s future, Virgili said, and some Glenwood Kmart customers agree.

“I will still go there, but I’d like to see what the Target is like,” said Lorraine Gardner of Basalt. “I think the prices are good here. They’ve got quite a lot of choice. I think it will survive and I hope it will.”

David Tolbert, of Glenwood, said he thinks Kmart’s future in Glenwood is bleak. “I don’t think Kmart can make it,” he said, adding that most shoppers will go to Target because it has more to offer.

Robert Zupancis, of Aspen, said he’ll continue to drive to the Glenwood Kmart regardless of the competition.

“I for one will continue shopping here because I like the people here a whole lot better, and I don’t like Wal-Mart,” Zupancis said. “Their ethics are bad.”

Some Wal-Mart customers on Thursday weren’t happy with the world’s largest retailer, either.

Louette Lurvey, of Glenwood, said she will likely choose Target over Wal-Mart because, “I worked for Wal-Mart and I don’t like the way they treat their help.”

Wal-Mart shopper Jennifer Justice, of West Glenwood, said she’ll most likely shop at Target from now on because it’s closer to her home.

“I’ve always been a fan of Wal-Mart, but I like the items that Target carries and the quality of the merchandise,” she said.

Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. 520

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