MORE SIZZLE AT WAL-MART
Byline: Georgia Lee
ATLANTA — Wal-Mart has added more punch to its lingerie department with a lot more fashion prints and colors, and expanded specialty items such as shapewear and sports bras.
But despite more variety, the department is not well organized or displayed and does not appear to have a sales staff to sell lingerie.
That was the story that emerged during a visit to a suburban Wal-Mart 15 miles northeast of Atlanta, where the lingerie department had the look of an area in transition.
Moreover, even with the fashion thrust, lingerie — a highly personal product — still appears to be a self-serve business at Wal-Mart. While perusing the entire department for at least 15 minutes, the shopper was not approached or offered help. There was no evidence of a salesperson anywhere near and no clearly marked fitting rooms.
Other shoppers included several women with small children in tow, none of whom were being helped. The shopper walked through sleepwear, activewear and children’s wear before spotting a male employee. Although not wearing the orange vest of the store employees, he was busily stamping price tags on shorts and did not appear eager to answer questions on lingerie. The shopper walked further, but the only employees in sight were at the cash registers.
Under the overall sign “Intimates” were six fixtures filled with merchandise. Signage above each fixture — which indicated brands including Bill Blass and Hanes Her Way — did not always match the brands that were merchandised underneath.
Traditional items, such as Playtex Cross-Your-Heart bras and promotional packages of panties by Fruit of the Loom were well represented. But there was no Bill Blass line of bras — even though there was signage saying Bill Blass. The Bill Blass foundations line produced for Wal-Mart by NCC Industries was canceled some time ago.
Under a worn-looking sign saying Vassarette and Lady Manhattan was a wide array of large and full-figure sizes by Hanes Her Way, in a variety of underwire and other highly constructed looks.
A Fruit of the Loom display included basic bras as well as push-up bras in satin or quilted finishes, priced at $12.96. The Vassarette brand comprised about one-fourth of the department’s space, and included specialty items such as the Secret Tee bra, a smooth, seamless, molded-cup style for $8.88. There also were push-up bras and low-cut demi-bras by Vassarette in colors such as green, taupe and peach, as well as black and white. Other styles included convertible bras that can be worn as strapless or as a halter.
Fashion items — including camisoles, demi-bras and push-up bras by Bonjour and Secret Treasures — were clearly and neatly highlighted at each end cap. One display featured a seamless, red satin bra from Alana Gale, priced at $3.96. Prints ranged from romantic florals with ruffled lace trim to more contemporary denim and mattress-ticking patterns. Bikini and thong-back panties were priced at $2.96, and coordinating bras were $6.96.
One entire fixture was devoted to sports bras. Starting at $6.96 for a style by Simply Basic, the group also included styles by L.A. Gear and Gitano for $8.96. The most expensive sports top was a zipper-front style by Catalina for $10.96.
Wal-Mart apparently is targeting the junior customer. A “Mickey Unlimited” group of sports bras and gym shorts in solids, plaids and various prints was set up in one area. Another niche was devoted to shapewear — from tummy-control briefs to full-length pantliners. Brands included Lady Manhattan and Cupid.