A2faiRnesS: Equal Time for Walmart

Drawing the Carpenter Target arc to a close: the changes are largely completed. I was in there a few days ago and found a few things out.

I wish there was another logo over the other side of the entrance. Then it would look like you were shopping in Domo-Kun’s mouth. (C)A2RS

The new facade matches the modern design on Target’s blog, though without the second entrance they suggest will be the future of new stores – the area north of the entrance is probably going to be some kind of carside delivery area.

They just put some wood panels here to keep it going across the whole front, I guess. (C)A2RS

It was temporary restrooms when I last visited, while the front ones were being renovated — but I think online orders will be delivered to vehicles from there. These online orders could be shopped and prepared for curbside by Target team members, or by shoppers from SHIPT, the retail delivery firm that got a foothold in Detroit as a Meijer partner before being acquired by Target. So far it sounds like SHIPT shoppers in Detroit are still only getting Target orders for delivery to customer premises, though in some other markets they may receive offers to compile an order instore and then prepare it for pickup.

Drive-up lanes for online orders at Carpenter Road Target. (C)A2RS

As a Target team member recently confirmed here on the blog, the Pizza Hut/Food Avenue restaurant is gone, leaving only the Starbucks counter. (The former photo lab has been converted to a seating area for Starbucks.)

The whole store in general seems a little less red and a little more light grey. There are more displays and fewer rows of shelves along the high-traffic corridors. You still have to walk past Literally Everything in the Known Universe to get to the grocery, though.

This is the end of Carpenter Target coverage for now, unless something really photoworthy happens — but if you aren’t sick of reading about Target yet, hit up this Fast Company article about the Mock Store on the third floor of Target HQ in Minnesota.


Meanwhile, up the street at the Carpenter Road Kroger, they’re rolling out Scan-and-Go. Thanks friend of the blog Josh for this photo of the display:

Scan-and-Go device display at Kroger, Carpenter Road. Courtesy of Josh, all rights reserved.

This is intriguing to me. Stores like Sam’s Club and Apple have offered similar systems for years. As much as I eschew the U-Scans to seek out a real clerk, I would consider this some nights. I like being trusted, and it would make checkout a lot quicker, especially for just a couple of items. But I still use coupons often enough that I wouldn’t be ready to leave them behind. I STILL WANT 50 CENTS OFF THESE POP-TARTS, DANGIT.


A few days back I made a remark about how Blockbuster Express offered DVD kiosks that were “like Redbox, but blue.” Turns out Redbox also has redboxes, but blue:

Redbox disc rental at Walmart, Saline, MI. (C)A2RS

Like all vending machines in front of all Walmarts, the Redbox is blue, the better to match Walmart’s visual merchandising guidelines. Their social game is (fire emojis) too:

Also Walmart has a fashion cross-promotion with Lord & Taylor, formerly the snootiest store at Briarwood, now a subsidiary of Hudson’s Bay, the Oldest Firm in Canada.

And if you’ve ever wondered what the heck the mythical Platt Road location in Saline looks like, it’s actually a Walmart-managed pharmacy attached to a clinic inside the Toyota Technical Center, for Toyota employees. Walmart.com totally lets you use it as a pickup site for orders from their site, though! Are you are a Toyota employee who has purchased an item on Walmart.com, and chose pickup at the Walmart Pharmacy inside the Toyota Technical Center, to save yourself a drive to Walmart? You could be a guest on the A2 Retail Show! Get in touch with us here at 888-45-MAURY. Bonus: a free Paternity Test!


Circle K store at Stadium and Packard, June 2018. (C)A2RS

This week while in Ohio I happened to catch a commercial for Circle K convenience stores that featured a modern store design that might give us a clue as to how the Stadium and Packard store will look when it’s completed.

I can’t find that commercial now, but I did happen across this walkthrough of a newly opened Circle K store in Ashtabula that probably contains strong indications of what the new Ann Arbor store will be like.


Finally, if you are a longtime subscriber to the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Nixle alerts system, the two frequent alerts that numbed you to its harbingers of doom probably included Fairfax Manor in Superior Township (an assisted living facility that managed to frequently lose its residents) and the old Bank of America branch at the Packard/Eisenhower gore point (a bank branch that was always gettin’ robbed). Bank of America left the building over a year ago, but recently major work has occurred within:

Lots of construction inside and a big ol’ dumpster outside. (C)A2RS
“CONTRACTOR: K-4 Medical and Dental Const.” (C)A2RS

It appears that a clinic or dental office is coming to the space. If you look closely in the windows (not pictured) they are building many small rooms inside, likely to be exam rooms.

 

Things to Come (and Gone)

I made it to the movies this past weekend to see “The Incredibles 2” with my family. We’ve watched the original many, many, many times — the DVD has been a road tip fixture in each family vehicle. I still remember the first time I saw it in the theater, when it was released.

Britain w/lit tree

The photo above was taken about two years before I saw “The Incredibles.” I apparently packed a Negativland “Copyright Infringement” shirt for my honeymoon, in case you question my credibility.

I honestly can’t imagine how past-me would react if I could visit him now, ambling out of a cavernous AMC multiplex in Columbus, and confront him with these actual facts about the sequel:

  • You’re gonna get three movies starring Owen Wilson as a talking racecar, four more Johnny Depp pirate movies, and twelve movies starring Marvel superheroes out of Disney, before they give you another Incredibles movie
  • They’re gonna start the movie with a short live-action anti-piracy segment featuring Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, and Brad Bird assuring you this film was worth waiting fourteen years for
  • They’re gonna be right, it’s a fun movie and the action scenes make the first movie look like a Game Boy game, and it’s well worth the 3-D upcharge
  • Oh yeah, 3-D is back in movie theaters again, though it’s already come and gone at home
  • You will purchase the tickets by touching a glass rectangle that is also your telephone, at four in the morning, and choose your seats in the movie theater like you’re buying concert tickets
  • The seats will be motorized La-Z-Boy styled recliners with discrete armrests
  • You (Britain) will enjoy the film while drinking a zero-calorie version of Coca-Cola that you can still tell the difference between, but it’s close enough, especially if you mix in a couple ounces of regular Coke
  • People are depicted conversing on landline telephones, cars look like sixties cars, and people watch television on picture-tube sets; but there are also flat panel displays and very modern-looking other kinds of vehicles, so I can’t exactly tell when this movie is actually supposed to take place

Anyway, in a nearer, more mundane future, I (and some friends of the site) caught glimpses of some future stuff that’s happening to places I’ve discussed recently.

Front entrance of Target Ann Arbor store. (C) A2RS

While I was obsessively photographing the dramatic changes to the east side Target store, the west side Target was already getting some updates inside the store. The photo counter and Target Mobile section by the front door are now a Customer Service and Order Pickup desk.

Exchanges, refunds, and packs of gum. (C)A2RS

The one checkout lane that was also a customer service desk is now a row of self-checkout stations, as have been appearing in newer Target stores.

A2RS regrets the error.

And how about the store’s tiny, vertical CVS Pharmacy sign, set far away from the store entrance?

“Hey everyone, I’m here too!” (C)A2RS

I believe it’s Target’s attempt to reconcile a contractual signage obligation with CVS, and the shopping center management’s restrictions on exterior signs.

In other news, Meijer stores on both sides of town have decommissioned the belt-drive U-Scan machines, encouraged for shoppers with 12-items-plus orders, and replaced the lanes with a mix of the smaller U-Scan machines intended for U12 orders and staffed checkout lanes.

The shiny new kiosks still run Windows 7. Credit for the crash goes to John, security expert and friend of A2RS

This decision is welcomed by people who view self-checkout as robbing a human of a wage-earning position, this writer included. But to be frank, it’s not an improvement to put more humans at these lanes if they don’t know how to bag groceries. I always group like items on the belt — milk with yogurt, beef with bacon, Dranō with “Mountain Dew Pitch Black.” But I think sometimes the cashiers are taught to place items in the bags to fill them and use fewer bags.

Bags are probably a major consumable expense for grocery stores and this kind of efficiency is probably welcomed in areas where the bags carry a surcharge. Thanks to Lansing, though, Ann Arbor isn’t one of those places, and I swear to you, nary a plastic shopping bag goes to waste in our household. (We have pets, enough said.) Don’t crush my delicate beer with a bag of dinner rolls!

I think this blog was first, and only so far, to report the changes at Speedway on State and Ellsworth. The signs are up all around town at other Speedway stores, looking for employees to staff the new Speedy Cafe. (They may have their work cut out for them.)

“Inventory Low Due to Remodel” at Speedway, State and Ellsworth. Courtesy of Pete.

Late last week I visited the store and encountered employees and contractors hard at work emptying the shelves and racks during the morning drive time. I was too shy to take a photo then, but A2RS friend Pete was not:

Panorama of the emptied, pre-renovation Speedway store, courtesy of Pete. I remember when the Blockbuster Express DVD kiosk was riiight over ☞ there. It was like a Redbox, but it was blue.

At the time these photos were taken last weekend, Pete reports, the store was out of “most pop flavors and all straws.” I haven’t been by since then to see what it’s like now, but apparently the store will stay open throughout the project to sell gasoline and smokes.

“Toys ‘n Kay-Bees: Resurrect Dead Chains,” or “More Blogs about Buildings and Food”

The other day I was so excited about the big Target Reno on Carpenter Road, that I forgot to take note of a couple of other changes there.

Ext. Babies “Backwards R” Us, now closed. (C) A2RS

Babies “R” Us has completed its liquidation sale. Soon its facade will be just as bare as its sister store’s labelscarred front on Washtenaw, as seen below. Some TRU stores in other areas of the United States are expected to remain open until midsummer.

Exterior, Toys “R” Unable To Type The Backwards R On An iPad Keyboard, June 2018. (C)A2RS

TRU Canada will remain in business following its sale to a Canadian bank. The nearest location is in Windsor, across the street from Devonshire Mall, so get your Enhanced Driver’s License ASAP. It’s not too much to pay too late! (I said that wrong.)

On the other hand, it seems possible that Kay-Bee Toys will be back in malls for the holiday shopping season. The IP firm that holds the KB trademark (and has reintroduced Bonkers Fruit Chews and Hydrox Cookies) is hoping to start with 1000 stores across the country this holiday season, then negotiating leases and maintaining the best performers beyond the holiday.

Ext. Mattress Firm & AT&T, Carpenter Road. (C)A2RS

Mattress Firm also showed up in the outlot building where Pier 1 used to be. (This Firm store opened nearly at the same time as its sister store on Eisenhower. That location’s former tenant, Old Carolina BBQ, was one of the first locations I wrote about here.) I don’t know what it is with mattress stores, it seems like a very volatile business always on the verge of being eaten by those foam-mattress companies that ship you one all smooshed up. But I guess if you’re good the rewards are worth it. Like, I don’t know, nearly all businesses.

The AT&T franchise moved out from next-to-Target to that outlot building as well, surprise surprise. I hope this leads to an expansion for Fun4All, purveyor of fine board and card games, among many other items.

Also, up Carpenter Road, UMCU is building a brand new bank branch next door to the Regent Hotel. This is a big improvement, because UMCU’s presence on the east side has been a little weak. I think they gained a branch in central Ypsilanti when they acquired the EMU Credit Union, and I sometimes use the CU Family Service Center at Glencoe for deposits, when I want to hand my checks and bills to a real person. But it’ll be nice to have a proper branch out this way.

Exterior of Mast Shoes with addition at Westgate Shopping Center. (C)A2RS

Mast Shoes at Westgate is more than doubling in size. It’s nice to see a local, family-owned store expand in a healthy way. I don’t exactly recall what was here before Mast took it over, but I’m pretty sure it was “Hit or Miss” or another women’s chain clothing store. Avenue? Bueller?

The Speedway at State and Ellsworth was looking remarkably spacious today. Many of the shelves (including the Arctic Coke machine) were empty, and most of Speedway’s free-standing waist-level coolers near the checkout line — the ones that say “here’s a couple bottles of Dew and/or a 24oz can of malt liquor, you know, FOR THE ROAD” — were not on the Plano. The clerk told me that the store was about to undergo a renovation, but that the side with the registers would remain open throughout. She also assured me that I would still be able to get to the soda pop fountain.

This Speedway building barely opened a couple of years ago, maybe three at the latest. That development was a refresh of a site Speedway originally took over from Total Petroleum of France decades ago — it doubled the number of pumps and introduced a brand new store building. It’s already very modern by Speedway standards. So I reckon it’s going to get the ready-to-eat selection (like Sheetz and Wawa, popular regional fuel station chains that offer prepared sandwiches) that more Speedways near a highway are starting to get. (EDIT 9:30AM: Confirmed by another clerk!) Examples nearby of this concept include US-23 and M-59 in Hartland; off US-23 in Dundee near Cabela’s; and the Merriman Road Speedway, just across I-94 from Metro Airport.

Finally: guess what, suckers, I have A Source and they told me that the former gas station site on Stadium between Burger King and HotPot Chen — I mean, Ponderosa — is going to be an office building, so I don’t know where you’re gonna get your Kerosene now.