At less than half the size of a standard store, a new Kohl's opens in Blue Ash

Site intended to be more online shopping-friendly

BLUE ASH, Ohio -- Kohl's is bringing a new look and a smaller store to Greater Cincinnati.

The retail chain will hold a grand opening event Saturday for a new small-format store in the Blue Ash Commons Shopping Center. The 35,000-square-foot store, which opened for business Sunday, is one of four small-format Kohl's locations opening this year across the country.

"If they can keep their rent as low as possible and maximize their sales volume, then it makes all the sense in the world," said Joshua Rothstein, a retail specialist with OnSite Retail Group.

Smaller stores and improved analytics are an increasingly common tactic among brick-and-mortar chains trying to compete with online retailers like Amazon, he said. A new Big Lots nearing completion adjacent to Kohl's is mimicking the same approach.

The new Kohl's and Big Lots, located at 4150 and 4154 Hunt Road respectively, are taking the place of a Kmart that closed in 2014.

In addition to the smaller size, Kohl's will feature a new layout.

The new small-format Kohl's features all the typical departments, with the exception of fine jewelry and beauty products.

"This is the latest design," said store manager Scott Hagar. "All new fixturing, completely different design, but it's still the same products."

The store's flexible fixtures include adjustable display walls that can be adapted seasonally by adding or removing racks or shelves. From a centralized checkout near the single entrance to quickly visible dressing rooms at the front of the store, the new design offers a more open floor plan than those of the past.

"It really does give a really open feel to the customer, and I think it makes it a much easier experience for the customer to find what they're looking for," Hagar said.

Although smaller than the traditional Kohl's store of 80,000 or more square feet, the new location includes all the usual departments except fine jewelry and beauty products. The store will carry fashion jewelry and fragrances, along with men's and women's clothing, housewares, electronics and home decor.

The store also features a redesigned kiosk for online ordering. Online ordering and in-store pickup are additional tactics brick-and-mortar retailers are employing to keep up in the digital age.

"It is far easier for me to go online to buy shoes and towels and pillows," Rothstein said. "It's all about time."

While Kohl's and Big Lots offer a contrast from the struggling retailer formerly housed in the plaza, new locations aren't always proof that a company is thriving.

"I don't think it necessarily is any indicator of their strength," Rothstein said.

Hagar declined to comment on the overall well-being of Kohl's. Representatives for the corporation could not be reached for comment.

Regardless of the company's overall success, the new design of the small-format store lends itself to a better shopper experience. With few other stores offering home goods in the immediate area, the store also is well-suited to its location."I think it's a good fit," Rothstein said.

The addition of two new retailers promises a boost for the city as well.

"It's great that Blue Ash was able to secure two strong tenants for their vacancy," Rothstein said.

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