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Kmart faux pas in Puerto Rico

As companies go global it is important they remember the culture and language of the new territory they are expanding into. Even a small mistake can have long lasting negative impressions.

Kmart's look in the 1990s.
Richard Weaver/

During a vendor meeting in San Juan, Kmart’s vendor development department was brainstorming ways to improve the supply chain in their Puerto Rican stores. A new store had just opened near Ponce which, during the construction phase, had been delivered the traditional “Garden Shop” sign for the side of the building. The sign was in English and the local population was 90% Spanish speaking. In pointing out the faux pas, the vendor said, “It said Garden Shop in English which translated into the Spanish words, ‘your kind not welcome here’.”

Kmart changed the sign shortly after the store opened but damage had been done.

This is excerpted from “Send customers a positive message”, part of the “How to” series at, a website based in Rochester Hills, Mich., dedicated to business and individual growth.

© Max Impact, used with permission.

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