Archive for Wednesday, June 23, 2004

NFM attracting people ‘from hundreds of miles around’

Nebraska-based company also providing career opportunities for recent Tonganoxie High School graduate

June 23, 2004

For Megan Hadley, development in the Speedway area has proven to be profitable.

A 2004 graduate of Tonganoxie High School, Megan worked full-time at Nebraska Furniture Mart during her senior year. The job was part of the school's work-study program in which Megan attended classes until 11:30 a.m. and then went to work.

As a cashier, she started out at $8.65 an hour. And now as a lead cashier her hourly wage has increased to $10.

And, she's enjoyed the benefits of medical and dental insurance, 401K retirement plan and vacation and sick leave.

"Nebraska," as Megan calls the store, is a great place to work -- especially while finishing high school.

"They let me off if I had a test or a final the next day," Megan said.

And, when she worked evenings during the week when business tends to be slower, she was allowed to study when she wasn't busy.

Her new job as a lead cashier comes with additional responsibilities.

"They give you certain sections of cashiers that you have to manage," Megan said. "You have to make sure that they're taking their breaks and you fill in for other peoples' shifts if they don't come in."

Holding its own

Mark Hamilton, marketing director of NFM, said the Kansas City store has been doing well.

"And it's probably exceeding our expectations," Hamilton said. "I think the consumers really have found our prices to be incredibly good."

Typically, NFM draws customers from distant areas.

"Kansas City is like the store in Omaha in that our customers come from literally hundreds of miles around," Hamilton said. "So obviously, the core of the business here is in the Kansas City metropolitan area, but we're driving people in from a long ways away."

Hamilton said there aren't many stores like NFM.

"It's a shopping experience that you can't find anywhere else," Hamilton said. "It's a destination to come to. We try to make the store both a destination, and also have it be so that people can come in and get one thing."

For instance, Hamilton noted that the store's selection of DVDs and CDs are located at the front for easy access to shoppers.

Also, Hamilton said, the store was designed for shoppers' convenience so they can enter nearest the department they need.

While the Kansas City store seems to be a success, NFM has no plans for further expansion.

"We took 66 years before we announced this store," Hamilton said. "We had basically one store and one market for all these years and now we've got two."

The lure of the site -- with major highways nearby -- played a role in NFM's decision to add a Kansas City store.

"The access is incredibly good and that helps immensely," Hamilton said. "We're accessible from all kinds of towns around the city, from throughout the metropolitan area -- the access is amazing and that was one of the key elements of that area."

And for Megan Hadley, who lives 30 minutes from work, the store is proof that development near the Speedway opens up a new job market for Tonganoxie-area residents.

Megan said she hopes to be able to move into an apartment this summer, and in the fall she'll keep her ties with NFM as she starts taking classes at Johnson County Community College. She plans to major in fashion design and marketing.

"I'm going to keep working at Nebraska for as long as I can," Megan said.

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