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Author Topic: Ames & Zayre  (Read 11729 times)
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SacramentoLifeForce
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« on: January 15, 2007, 09:07:23 PM »

I feel that Ames went under because they acquired Zare.  Zare had HUGE debt they owed and when the folks from Ames were looking at buying Zare, in those days not much was on computers. Zare Corp. hid the debt so they could not see the full amount of the debt owed.

The company (Zare) turned around and changed their name to TJX Corp. (Zares owned T. J. Maxx).  That is why the old Zare headquarters in Framingham, Massachusetts is the TJX's Corporate Headquarters for all the differant stores they now own.

So TJX made BIG money off selling the Zare unit to Ames, as well as the HUGE hidden debt was passed off to Ames.  So over all in a nut shell TJX (Zare Corp.) screwed Ames.  One could argue that sealed the deal of Ames being doomed.  This is why to day T. J. Maxx is cost to cost and Ames is dead.

In the past Ames had taken over other chains and things worked out well.  But not with the Zare acquisition, not only did they get stuck with the debt but the stores in many cases needed a huge amount of work to be brought up to the Ames standard.  

Plus, the Zare inventory system was a mess and had to be run totally separate from the Ames system for quite a while.  In many cases Ames had no clue what the Zare side had or did not have in its supply chain, or at the Zare warehouses. Now!! here also is what cost Ames HUGE cash, the supply chain network was antiquited.  The integration and change over to the Ames system is a living hell.

As many of you folks will remember it took quite a while for many of the Zare stores to be converted over, this was because the Zare stores needed SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much work.  And once again big bucks out the window.

I feel had Ames not taken over Zare they would still be with us today.

I live in CA but I am from Massachusetts, I loved Ames.  Does any one remember the old Zare in Natick on Rt. 9???  I loved that Zare when I was a kid, that one also became an Ames.  So I loved it as a Zare and as a Ames.

Regards!!!
SacramentoLifeForce :)
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SacramentoLifeForce
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« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2007, 09:35:34 PM »

Quote
Originally posted by SacramentoLifeForce
I feel that Ames went under because they acquired Zayre.  Zayre had HUGE debt they owed and when the folks from Ames were looking at buying Zayre, in those days not much was on computers. Zayre Corp. hid the debt so they could not see the full amount of the debt owed.

The company (Zayre) turned around and changed their name to TJX Corp. (Zayres owned T. J. Maxx).  That is why the old Zayre headquarters in Framingham, Massachusetts is the TJX's Corporate Headquarters for all the differant stores they now own.

So TJX made BIG money off selling the Zayre unit to Ames, as well as the HUGE hidden debt was passed off to Ames.  So over all in a nut shell TJX (Zayre Corp.) screwed Ames.  One could argue that sealed the deal of Ames being doomed.  This is why to day T. J. Maxx is coast to coast and Ames is dead.

In the past Ames had taken over other chains and things worked out well.  But not with the Zayre acquisition, not only did they get stuck with the debt but the stores in many cases needed a huge amount of work to be brought up to the Ames standard.  

Plus, the Zayre inventory system was a mess and had to be run totally separate from the Ames system for quite a while.  In many cases Ames had no clue what the Zayre side had or did not have in its supply chain, or at the Zayre warehouses. Now!! here also is what cost Ames HUGE cash, the supply chain network was antiquited.  The integration and change over to the Ames system is a living hell.

As many of you folks will remember it took quite a while for many of the Zayre stores to be converted over, this was because the Zayre stores needed SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much work.  And once again big bucks out the window.

I feel had Ames not taken over Zayre they would still be with us today.

I live in CA but I am from Massachusetts, I loved Ames.  Does any one remember the old Zayre in Natick on Rt. 9???  I loved that Zayre when I was a kid, that one also became an Ames.  So I loved it as a Zayre and as a Ames.

Regards!!!
SacramentoLifeForce :)
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dmx10101
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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2007, 10:03:18 PM »

You spelled Zayre's wrong, it's Zayre not Zare.
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SacramentoLifeForce
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« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2007, 01:11:53 PM »

Now it is true the Hills take over by Ames did not help. However, if we look back you will see it all started (to go wrong) with the Zayre acquisition....thus spelling the end for Ames.  Over all it was a good risk taking over Hills because it might have worked out. They had to do it to see if they could make it.  Meaning to see if they could grow to keep up with Target, Wal-Mart and Kmart.  

So, I agree with the Hills take over it was a "Defining Moment".  It is just the moment didn't work out as we all would have liked.

PS............

ONCE AGAIN SORRY FOR SPELLING ZAYRE WRONG, IT IS SOMETHING I HAVE DONE SINCE I WAS A KID (SPELLING IT THAT WAY).  AND TO BE HONEST I HAVE NOT HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPELL THE WORD ZAYRE IN A LONG TIME!!!!!!!!!!   SO PLEASE DON'T TELL ME I SPELLED IT WRONG ANY MORE!!!!  TAHNK YOU!!!!  HAVE A GREAT DAY :)

AMEN!! :)
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« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2007, 07:43:01 AM »

Nice Zayre patch...how old is it, and how did you get it?

(P.S.: It's OK about the "Zare" issue.  It's very easy to misspell. :bouncing:)
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beachgal26
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« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2007, 03:37:42 PM »

I could not agree more that acquiring the Zayre chain spelled the beginning of the end for Ames.  They tried to do too much with adding Zayre and then Hills and in the end, everyone lost.

I had not had the opportunity to shop in an Ames since the mid-80's, but I remember the nice people and selection very well.  Plus - it was a kick to go in on the Senior Day with my baby daughter and it was a sea of grey hair and loaded shopping carts.  

I find it interesting that no chain has ever thought to bring up a marketing idea like the Senior Day since it can be a great way to introduce people to the store and find a whole new market.  Can you imagine if the nursing homes were able to bring in busloads of seniors to do all their shopping when the store would be more amenable to older shoppers?

Wink
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d_fife
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« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2007, 10:58:55 PM »

Quote
Originally posted by beachgal26
I could not agree more that acquiring the Zayre chain spelled the beginning of the end for Ames.  They tried to do too much with adding Zayre and then Hills and in the end, everyone lost.

I had not had the opportunity to shop in an Ames since the mid-80's, but I remember the nice people and selection very well.  Plus - it was a kick to go in on the Senior Day with my baby daughter and it was a sea of grey hair and loaded shopping carts.  

I find it interesting that no chain has ever thought to bring up a marketing idea like the Senior Day since it can be a great way to introduce people to the store and find a whole new market.  Can you imagine if the nursing homes were able to bring in busloads of seniors to do all their shopping when the store would be more amenable to older shoppers?

Wink

yah most zayre were built in the 1960s. I bet Zayre would have gone out eventually. wal-mart would crush them. Zayre and Ames seemed to be about the same. ames never learned their lesson from acquiring hill's.
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HatTrick
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« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2007, 01:57:57 PM »

As I stated in Hills, the problem was even after Ames acquired Hills in 1999 they went out and bought other stores moving into Chicago buying Goldblatt's before the Hills acquisition even was given time to gel. They went into Chapter 11 after buying out Zayre's much around the same time that Hills did after buying out Gold Circle. That was in the early 90's-far before Ames acquired Hills. Zayre's were very much a junk store:bouncing: in my area (sorry, don't mean to offend any old Zayre's employees but they were really junky stores in my area) and they usually had poor locations that didn't offer much business. Hills was actually a better fit since they were considered similar to Ames in more ways with much better retail locations. Granted, some of those locations came at a hefty price tag and I had heard some of the leases were renegotiated to a higher rate right before Ames bought Hills(perhaps, as an act of defiance). In fact, some of the stores that closed during the acquisitions were Ames stores (perhaps, originally Zayre's) because Hills stores had a more desirable and shopped location. Both the acquisitions of Zayre's and Gold Circle for Hills started the decline of both companies. In fact, the Hills acquisition may have worked better if initially more stores had been closed but it may have been a PR disaster since many people would have initially lost work. I have always contended that had they left the Hills logo and saved money by not remodeling the former Hills into Ames and just made Hills a division of Ames- Much like TJX has TJ Maxx, Marshall's and AJ Wright- and just ran it more like they did an Ames Store with their promos, etc. It may have lasted longer and who knows? I don't think Ames would be here since the expansion of Wal-Mart and Target into the North East would have eventually hurt Ames far too much.:(
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beachgal26
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« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2007, 10:29:51 PM »

I totally agree since I remember well that any Zayre store that I ever saw was in a depressed area and they just always looked so old and unkept.  The Ames stores where I shopped seemed like it was a draw for all the locals.  However, the Gold Circle and Hills stores that I saw in PA and WV in the 80's were clean and bright and very well kept.  

Since I had left the PA area in the mid-80's, I was stunned to discover that both of those chains had gone out of business.  The stores were always full of people with loaded carts and I seem to remember some regular special shopping day that my Gold Circle (outside of Pittsburgh, PA) had with double coupons or something that made a weekday trip and waiting in long lines really worth the drive.

How I miss them all!!!

:(    :(    :(
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davcolli
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« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2007, 11:31:16 PM »

There were a number of  issues:

a) Ames didn't bother to remodel enough of their core stores. Many looked old and nasty. People didn't want to shop places that look old and run down

b) They abandoned the thing that made them what they were - focusing on markets that Wal-mart and Target ignored. They tried to go head to head with too many other chains

c) Hills. Hills was a good chain at one point, but they were not profitable when Ames bought them. There was no way anyone was going to be able to make them profitable without a major change - more than just a name change on the outside. Most people above the level of cashier knew that was a bad idea when it happened, you just had to look at the numbers. They needed to bite the bullet and close about 50 Hills stores.

d) The Chicago stores - Goldblat's I think - they dumped MILLIONS into these stores and they never made a dime. Some of these stores were originally dumped by ZAYRES years ago because they were in crappy areas, and Ames was stupid enough to pick them up again - DUH.

e) Poor financial planning - they pissed away their cash reserves on Hills and the Chicago stores, and didn't have enough left over when the economy went in the dumper to get them through the slow times.

By the last 10 years, Zayres had nothing to do with it. Ames got out of the bankruptcy that the Zayres purchase caused and moved way into profitability for years afterwards. In fact, many of the old Zayres stores that were still open were some of the biggest profit makers at the end.

Ames was a great place to work. The people were good. It is a shame that one or two people can make so many poor decisions that it alters the lives of thousands of people that sacrificed a lot for something that they thought was going to provide a living for a long time.
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Zayre88
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« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2007, 02:11:14 PM »

The Zayre acquisition almost killed Ames.  They were able to make a comeback abd become the strongest regional discounter.

I agree with davcolli, stores were old and outdated, Goldblatt's, Hills, and focus on core market.

Ames always acquired chains to expand, from King's, Neisner's, Murphy's, Zayre.  They should have remembered Zayre when they bought Hills (even if it was a smaller chain).  It looks like Ames thought that the only way to survive was to get bigger and bigger in the late 90's.

They should have invested that money into their current stores with major improvements.  Maybe try to place Ames in a special "small town discounter neighborhood bargain store" niche instead of wanting to become a national player.

At least Ames did not tried to be exactly like Wal-Mart like Kmart did.
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davcolli
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« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2007, 09:07:28 PM »

The other thing is........America's shopping habits changed.

Why go to Ames for school supplies and find a limited selection, when you can go to Staples and find everything you need with tons of options? Why go to Ames for an oil filter that they may or may not carry, when you can go to NAPA, Advance, Auto Zone, etc that are definately going to have what you need. I can go on and on. So really, there were a myriad of things combined.

But then again, I was with Jamesway for 10  years until they went out, then I went with Ames until they closed. Obviously I'm not too smart :)
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shore72
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« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2007, 12:16:19 PM »

My take on Hills/Zayres may be a little different. Locally there were never any Zayre stores, but one was preparing to open when Ames took them over. It easily became the premier Ames store in our area. So I just naturally assumed that all Zayre stores were like that one-now I know better!

I shopped at a Hill's once. That place was a dump. Worse than any of the Ames I was ever in. But, again, I guess what I saw were not universal!

Ames to me was a very convenient place to shop, without the circus that is walmart. They often surprised me with some of the variety they had in stock, and the prices were usually competitive. I do know more than one person from my mother's generation who wouldn't shop there in later years because of bad experiences in the 80s-there always seemed to problems with the SKU numbers that meant long wait at the checkout. Teething pains with early computers?

My first time here at the fan club!
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« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2007, 02:02:25 AM »

Everyone has some great points here. I am biased.. i loved Hills and then along came Ames. Hills had debt, yes. All retail companies due to some degree. Hills should have been left alone. Ames did right in buying them out, but not converting them. Ames tried to become too large too quick. Ames was not ready for the supercenter concept that we are facing today. I do not think Hills nor Ames could have survived without a merger of some type. In many ways the stores as well as the companies were the same. It was only right. You are going to pair your company up with another of equal or greater commonalities.
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Zayre88
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« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2007, 07:51:59 AM »

I think that Ames did not have a lot of money to expand, renovate and build new stores.  Their only way to grow was with acquisitions.  It was probably cheaper than do research on potential new markets, finding land, build new stores from the ground up.

When they acquired chains, they get the locations already in retail areas, buildings, they just need to change the logos.  It was a cheap and fast way to grow.

In the end, it may have cost more to go this way.  As i said, they should have used their money to upgrade current stores and maybe open 10-20 new stores in new markets to grow wisely.  Roll out a fresh concept for the new stores so customers would be more impressed than with a rebadged Hills or Zayre!
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davcolli
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« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2007, 11:00:48 PM »

Sarbanes-Oxley  - did the paperwork ever get signed?
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« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2008, 03:21:55 PM »

I, still, to this day say they should have just made Hills a subsidiary and spend money to remodel core stores. Think about it... upgrade some stores or boost numbers to add more stores that are in need of remodeling.
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Anonymous
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« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2008, 10:45:36 AM »

Personally, I believe it was more a reflection of our consumer economy than anything else. Department stores starting getting much much larger and more specific with their target shoppers. The middle class was beginning to disappear with the wealthy getting wealthier and the middle class getting poorer.

Walmart = big huge bargain basement stores catering more to the blue collar folks. It is bigger and cheaper than Ames, so people on a budget will always choose Walmart, despite lack of service. See stores like Bldg. 19, the Dollar Store, Ocean State Job lot. If you worked at Ames, you could only afford to shop at Walmart... even with the generious 10% employee discount. heh.

Target/Kmart = Huge and catering to the wealthier portion of the middle class. They are pricier, but cleaner and more stylish. The quality and selection is much better.

Ames/Caldor/Bradlees kind of got caught in the middle. They weren't as cheap as Walmart or as nice as Target. I worked at Ames for many years as a kid, and their products were not that cheap or that nice a quality. I would occasionally buy t shirts or jeans and they were just bad. I don't have one item leftover from my Ames days.

It's not just department stores either. Medium sized grocery stores are also dying. Massive bargain shops like Stop and Shop/Shaws now rule. Then fancier stores like Whole Food and Trader Joes are starting to pop up to take the wealthier market. It's all very sad, but today's market lends itself to this sort of thing. Pretty soon there will be no competition. We will have 2 or 3 department chains and 2 or 3 grocery chains. I'm suprise the FTC isn't more concerned.
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The Adamantium Elbow
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« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2008, 04:14:35 PM »

I think another big problem with The Hills merger was just about every Hills in western PA was usually no further than 5 miles from the nearest Ames . In fact I remember over on McKnight Road in that one mall there was actually a Hill's on one end of the building and an Ames on the other so you can pretty much see where that was going. I really think whoever made that decision to buyout or merge with Hills really should have scouted the locations a lot better.
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« Reply #19 on: July 13, 2008, 01:44:14 AM »

I think they should have kept Hills around instead of spending the money they did to transform them. Both companies were amazing apart but together made a mess.
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TheFugitive
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« Reply #20 on: March 25, 2014, 08:58:00 AM »

If anyone still cares to discuss this topic....

There were a lot of logical non-sequiturs in the combination of the two chains.
Zayre was heavily urban.  Often gritty, edgy, really rough and tumble urban.
There were stories of stores in inner-city Chicago with 30% shrink.  And many
were dilapidated dumps that were poorly run (I remember standing in line at
one in Pittsburgh for close to 30 minutes once when nobody could figure out how
to do a void)

Ames on the other hand was small-town and rural.  Very different environments.
This resulted in oddities like Country Geese pattern comforters and window treatments
being shipped to inner-city Zayre stores. 

The transition was also slap-dash and badly handled.  I remember being sent to a Zayre in
Jacksonville, Florida to assist with the transition.  They in turn sent a manager from their
store to my Ames in Michigan to cross-train.  I got off the plane and was met by a lady from
MIS in Rocky Hill who informed me that "IBM has discontinued the 3680 register series.  We are
installing 4683's here.  And they work very differently from the 3680's, both at the checkout
and back at the office controller.  Here is the manual.  You have two days to learn it and then
train everybody in the store."

Somehow I pulled that off, and actually got compliments for doing a good job.  Something I am
very proud of to this day.  Of course the manager from their store was up in Michigan being trained
on 3680's, so I had to hang around an extra day to retrain her.

When I think of what they must have spent on this exchange program, flying hundreds of managers all over the country,
paying our hotel and expenses for up to six weeks....one obvious problem right there.  Even if they did stick me in
one of the scariest, dumpiest hotels I've ever seen.

Ames also ended the long-standing Zayre policies of extending both Senior Citizen and Military Discounts.
In Jacksonville, Florida! Don't know who made that decision, but as the only guy there with an Ames
name badge, I received swift and very direct customer feedback.

Another thing I remember was the mail bag.  For years we would put our dailies into a red canvas bag
and UPS it off to Ames HQ in Rocky Hill.   When we acquired Zayre they had some sort of financial center
in Syracuse, NY.  For political reasons Ames did not want to close it.  So they sent us a new set of blue bags.

Now our girls in the office would have to sort their paperwork.....red for Rocky Hill, blue for Syracuse.
We were burning up a lot of labor to do this, and it was totally unnecessary.  Plus we were doubling our
daily UPS bag shipping charge over what was, at the time, an 800 store chain.

I'm no graduate of the Harvard Business School, but...
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ynkeesfn82
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« Reply #21 on: March 25, 2014, 11:53:11 AM »

Really? Because the town I live in now Southington, Connecticut had a Zayre and the town is not Urban now and it sure as hell wasn't Urban back in the early 70s when Zayre opened. Sure the town has grown (with population more than doubling from the 70s to today), but it's never been Urban. Back then there were only 2 shopping centers on Queen Street (Route 10) and Queen Street was a 2 lane road - one lane in each direction. Farm animals were frequently grazing along the side of Queen Street back then.
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TheFugitive
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« Reply #22 on: March 25, 2014, 02:25:59 PM »

I wouldn't say Zayre was exclusively urban, but they had a heck of a lot more urban
stores than Ames ever did.   I remember they hired some PhD to try and advise Ames
how to succeed in the urban market.  He spoke at the annual meeting after the merger
came through.  Sure did not earn his paycheck!
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d_fife
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« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2014, 12:13:59 AM »

how similiar was Zayre to Ames


how Similiar was Ames to Hills?
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TheFugitive
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« Reply #24 on: March 27, 2014, 08:33:40 AM »

Zayre stores were typically larger than Ames stores.  At least the ones I recall.
Product mix was similar though Zayre had a reputation for stocking low-quality or
"junky" items, especially in softlines.  I believe Zayre also had stores with auto centers,
which Ames never had.  And Zayre offered their own store credit card, which Ames did
not, at least during the years I was with them.  Floor maintenance in any Zayre store
I can ever recall being in ranged from poor to horrific.

I had worked for both Ames and Hills, and some of the differences I recall were that
Hills had a larger toy department, whereas Ames committed a lot more floor space to domestics.
Ames dabbled in "fashion forward" in softlines (our store had a Gitano shop for awhile) where
Hills did not.   The snack bar was a fixture of every Hills store (I will take the scent of hot dogs
and fresh popcorn with me to my grave).  Had never seen one in an Ames store.   Hills was
much more aggressive in television advertising.  Hills stores also started out with larger management
staffs, at least until they started to feel the pinch.  They began eliminating in-store management
positions and redistributing those functions to remaining managers.  By the time I worked for them
we were down to 4.  General Manager, Hardlines, Softlines, and Operations.  I was an Operations
Manager, which by that time meant "everything that is not hardlines nor softlines".  My official
job description would have filled a four-inch ring binder, and was, in reality, impossible for one
person to do.
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