The new Kohl’s Department Store in Oswego, IL, at 89,000 square feet, is the anchor tenant of what will be Kendall County’s biggest retail complex. Oswego, located 35 miles west of Chicago, has seen fast expansion, and the new Kohl’s shop is part of a 150-acre development that was originally farmland.

Chemprobe’s Series 607 Conformal Stain was employed to preserve the building’s façade. The architect picked Conformal Stain because he wanted a penetrating substance applied to the substrate, according to Chemprobe/Tnemec coating specialist Chris Wascher. Series 607 is a solvent-based acrylic that has great color stability, does not change the natural texture of the surface, and is not meant to peel or flake when applied to a properly prepared substrate.

Pressure washing was used to prepare the retail store’s outside surface. Airless spray equipment was used to apply two coats of Conformal Stain to each split face block. An extra coat of Series 607 was applied to the banding (accent sections), and another coat was applied to the ledgestone (exterior block from grade up to four feet).

Other businesses on the way include a 30,000-square-foot Best Buy, a 50,000-square-foot Dick’s Sporting Goods, and a 10,000-square-foot Ulta. All, like Kohl’s, will be covered with Conformal Stain in the same color scheme to produce a unified color look across the retail area.

Kohl’s History

Maxwell Kohl, who had been running conventional grocery shops since 1927, opened his first supermarket in 1946, the first of what would become Kohl’s Food Stores, a southeastern Wisconsin franchise. Kohl launched his first department store in Brookfield, Wisconsin, in September 1962, after expanding Kohl’s Food Stores into the biggest supermarket chain in the Milwaukee region. He positioned Kohl’s between high-end department shops and discounters, offering everything from confectionery to engine oil to athletic goods.

In 1972, the British American Tobacco Company’s retail branch in the United States, Batus Inc., purchased a majority stake in Kohl’s Corporation, which at the time controlled 50 grocery shops, six department stores, three pharmacy stores, and three liquor stores.

The Kohl family, headed by Allen and Herb Kohl, continues to run the business. Herb Kohl departed the organization in 1979 and went on to become a United States Senator and the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks. Kohl’s presence was later increased from 10 to 39 locations in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. The grocery shops were sold to A&P in 1983, and continued to operate under the names Kohl’s Food Store and, eventually, Kohl’s Food Emporium. As part of a debt-reduction strategy, A&P placed the Kohl’s Food Stores up for sale in February 2003. The next year, A&P shuttered all Kohl’s Food Stores sites, and the Kohl family stepped down from remaining management.

In 1986, the firm was bought by a consortium of investors headed by senior management.

How they became so successful

Building on its current 40 department stores, the business plans to open 27 more locations over the next two years. In 1988, the business purchased 26 shops from the Chicago-based retailer MainStreet, acquiring additional outlets in the Chicago suburbs, the Twin Cities, and Michigan. On May 19, 1992, Kohl’s completed its first public offering and started trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker KSS.

Kohl’s grew nationally to 49 states throughout the 2000s. Kohl’s began with 76 shops in the Midwest in 1992 and expanded into the New York metropolitan region in 2000, after the liquidation of Caldor. Later, the brand expanded into California with 28 new shops in 2003, the Pacific Northwest with 10 new locations in 2006, and the Southeast with 43 new stores opening between 2005 and 2008. Kohl’s sold their credit card operations to J.P. Morgan Chase for $1.5 billion in 2006 to obtain funds for stock repurchases and new store openings. Kohl’s replaced Chase as their private credit card processing partner with Capital One in 2011 for an unknown fee. In 2016, Kohl’s added the Capital One-backed private label Kohl’s Card to the Kohl’s App to create Kohl’s Pay, the first integrated mobile checkout solution for a retailer in the United States, combining Kohl’s Card, Kohl’s Cash, Kohl’s Yes-2-You Rewards, and Kohl’s coupons into a single QR Code Payment, powered by Omnyway, Inc (né OmnyPay), a Silicon Valley startup. That same year, Kohl’s became the first store to accept one-tap payments with Apple Pay using the Kohl’s Card and Kohl’s Rewards.

In Huntington Beach, California, there is a Kohl’s (formerly The Broadway)
Kohl’s recruited DeVito/Verdi, a New York City advertising firm, in 2009 to boost the Kohl’s brand via a series of national television, web, and social media initiatives.

The following year, Newsweek magazine placed the firm 18th overall and first in its category in their “Green Rankings.” An evaluation of 500 of the world’s major companies’ environmental track records. According to Newsweek, Kohl’s has the biggest solar power program of any store worldwide, is pursuing green building certification, and has solar panels at over 78 sites in six states. Kohl’s had also started selling reusable shopping bags the year before.

In 2012, Kohl’s received $62.5 million in tax credits from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. The business was supposed to generate 3,000 employment with the funding, but only 473 were created. Kohl’s sought finance from the community of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, the same year, to support the development of its new headquarters there. Kohl’s got $2 million, the first of five payments for a total payoff of $12 million, but eventually pulled out of the deal.


In 2015, the business created the first Off/Aisle test shop, a chain focused on selling like-new apparel, home items, jewelry, and accessories bought and returned at Kohl’s locations. The shops offered things at reduced rates and had a stricter return policy than standard Kohl’s locations. The Off/Aisle shops were eventually shut down in 2019.

In early January 2017, Kohl’s shares plunged 19 percent in value, according to The Wall Street Journal, in what was described as “the stock’s worst day on record,” and was recognized as a notable exception to the market’s generally reducing volatility.

The company ranked 157th on the 2018 Fortune 500, the annual list of the largest United States corporations, having earned revenues of $19.095 billion in 2017. In that year, Kohl’s entered into a partnership with Amazon, which included a program where select stores would accept Amazon returns; in 2019 it was expanded nationwide. Kohl’s launched a trial initiative in 2018 to lease space to supermarket Aldi and, the following year, fitness facility Planet Fitness, along with up to ten shops each.

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