Identity Crisis

It's code blue time for the Blue Light. Despite Kmart's initial declarations of solvency, for months Chapter 11 bankruptcy loomed for the nation's seventh-largest retailer. In medical terms, a "code blue" means a patient has gone into cardiopulmonary arrest and needs immediate resuscitation to survive. If the analysts are right, it's going to take a miracle to bring the discount giant back to its feet, because the Blue Light is indeed flickering. The retailer's problems are many—inconsistent management, shabby stores, poor customer service, etc.—but it's easy to see what the retailer's worst ailment is: It has no niche. In an era of too many stores and not enough time, a retailer needs more than a famous name. It also needs a defined, consistent image and a dependable shopping experience that fills a particular niche. Kmart and the Blue Light special may have instant name recog

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