Kohl’s department store is beloved by shoppers nationwide, but it holds a special place in the hearts of Wisconsinites, as the state was home to the first Kohl’s location to ever open more than 60 years ago.
The company was founded by Maxwell Kohl, a Polish Jewish immigrant who operated a chain of supermarkets known as Kohl’s Food Stores. Together with his son, Herb Kohl, the family opened the first Kohl’s department store in Brookfield, Wisconsin in 1962. They also created several shopping malls in the late 1960s, including Northridge in Granville and Southridge in Greendale.
In 1972, the Kohl family sold their stores to the British American Tobacco Company, which manufactured Lucky Strike and Pall Mall cigarettes. A group of investors purchased Kohl’s from British American Tobacco in 1986 and took it public in 1992. Herb Kohl would go on to become a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin and the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team.
Fun Facts About Kohl’s
- Kohl’s has 1,110 stores, including one in each U.S. state except Hawaii.
- Together, the stores serve more than 65 million customers annually.
- Kohl’s corporate headquarters is located in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
- California is home to the most Kohl’s locations—117 stores plus three distribution and fulfillment centers.
- 80% of Americans live within 15 miles of a Kohl’s.
Here are three more in-depth facts about the Wisconsin-born department store:
1. Kohl’s Uses a “Racetrack” Store Design
Start your shopping engines! When it comes to layouts, Kohl’s has a distinctive “racetrack” store design. Also known as a “loop,” this layout allows shoppers to walk the store’s perimeter while quickly browsing merchandise. While Kohl’s didn’t invent the racetrack layout, it’s been perfecting the design for decades. Compared to competitors like JCPenney, a typical Kohl’s is about half the size with a more straightforward layout; shoppers only need to walk a quarter-mile loop around the store to see everything available for purchase compared to a half-mile in other department stores. The racetrack design increases impulse purchases, boosts merchandise exposure, aids in ease of shopping, and encourages exploration.
2. Herb Kohl Was Childhood Friends with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig
Kohl’s cofounder Herb Kohl was childhood friends with Bud Selig, the one-time commissioner of Major League Baseball. When the two men were in the sixth grade, their teams played each other in a championship baseball game. The pitcher on Bud Selig’s team was over 6 feet tall, while the other boys were at least a foot shorter, setting off alarm bells for Kohl. The boy ended up throwing a no-hitter, and Kohl’s team lost. “So much for Selig, the custodian of the game,” Kohl said, recounting the story years later. He didn’t hold a grudge, however; the two men were college roommates and are still close friends.
3. Kohl’s Launched its Popular “Kohl’s Cash” Program in 2004
You probably know about Kohl’s Cash if you’re a bargain hunter. The department store launched this program in 2004, and it’s been a customer favorite ever since. Shoppers can earn $10 back in “Kohl’s Cash” for every $50 spent during specific promotional periods. The program is so popular that Kohl’s revamped their loyalty program in 2020 to reward shoppers with Kohl’s Cash, too. Want to save on your next trip to Kohl’s? Check out some online tips for maximizing your Kohl’s Cash earnings.
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