Store # 0292

Winchester Plaza
1403 Winchester Rd.
Decatur, IN 46733


Region: 0
District: 0
Submitted by: Retail4Life2000 / Thomas Taylor
Source: 1991 Phone Dir

Opened: 1987
Closed: 1991

Associates at close:
Full Time:
Part Time:

 Visitor Updates / Comments
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Tim Lockwood04-06-2008 01:54 [E,W]
Here are a few details to help fill in some blanks on this store.

First of all, a minor correction. ZIP code is 46733, not 43733.

The Ames store opened in 1987, occupying the former G. C. Murphy location at Winchester Plaza. It was one of two anchors in the L-shaped plaza, the other being Gerber's Super-Valu grocery store at the opposite end.

In September 1988, at the time I hired on in the Receiving Department, the store's manager was A. V. Fleming. While I am not completely sure, I think he was the manager from the time the store opened. He was replaced approximately three weeks to a month later by Deborah Bowles. She stayed on at this location until around late March or early April of 1991. She was replaced by Teri Granzow.

While Granzow seemed at the time to be a nice enough person, rumors swirled that she had a reputation as a "closing queen" - that is, had presided over the closing of another Ames store, possibly more than one - and that our store would be next.

Around Christmas of 1990 and into early 1991, we had been putting flyers in all shoppers' bags letting them know that "Ames is here to stay!", because even then it was rumored that our store would close; sales were very sluggish and well below goals. But in April of 1991, shortly after Granzow's arrival, the announcement was made that our store would indeed close the following July 31.

The very day after the announcement came out that we would close, a complete ceiling-mounted security camera system was installed over all registers, including those in the Jewelry and Home Entertainment (electronics) Departments. Also, all employees aged 18-24 were given the axe over what amounted to little more than very minor rules infractions (such as taking home a pack of cigarettes off the shelf after closing when the registers were shut down, and paying for them the next day). The main reason this hatchet job took place was because, by Indiana state law, any person who was employed from the time the closing announcement was made until the last day of business was allowed to receive free vocational schooling at the company's expense. And of course, 18-24 year olds are the prime candidates to sign up for such schooling.

There were three main reasons, in my opinion, why Ames did not survive in the Decatur market.

First, Wal-Mart had recently secured land down the road and was proceeding with construction, and in February 1991 had started accepting applications.

Second, K-Mart, which was located directly across the street from Ames, usually had better prices. Ames' competitive pricing program was moribund, and no one was actively shopping the competition.

Third, Ames had a notoriously slow checkout process at the front registers, especially compared to K-Mart, who had barcode scanners. Each piece of merchandise at Ames had a cumbersome proprietary 8-digit SKU number which had to be manually entered into the register. Additionally, the SKU was found on price stickers and tags, each of which had to be manually applied by the floor staff or by receiving. This was a huge and error-prone process which caused price-check delays when SKU digits were accidentally misapplied. It was nearly impossible for a customer to get in and get out quickly unless he or she had a very small purchase. The register system was supposed to have been switched out to a barcode scanning system around 1989 or 1990, but it was never rolled out due to the acquisition costs of the urban Zayre stores.

I hadn't thought about Ames in years. Very interesting to see this site.
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