Arne Alsin

may be right: When it comes to discount retailers,

Kmart

(KM)

might be a cheap alternative to

Target

(TGT) - Get Target Corporation Report

.

Image placeholder title

Walk into any Kmart store and you'll see a cheap attempt at Target imitation. Problem is, as my mother always said, there is a big difference between cheap and inexpensive.

I won't argue with Arne's metrics. He has been "Mr. Money" all year long. And, I won't claim to have the intuitive skills of

Peter Lynch

in picking winners simply by wandering around. But I do use personal observations to help temper convictions created by statistics.

And those observations say avoid Kmart. If I walk into a Target, I want to shop. If I trip into a Kmart, I want to leave.

It's all about merchandising. At Target you find what you want, where you want it. With Kmart, you find an unpleasant safari, never knowing what lurks around the next corner. Target stores are bright, clean and cheerful, qualities that suggest "buy." Kmarts are poorly lit, dingy and uninspiring, characteristics that scream "cheap."

TheStreet Recommends

The "feel good" experience prompts consumer purchases. Target gets it; Kmart does not.

What about

Martha Stewart

? A solid branding strategy, but can they leverage it? As reader

Joshua Weiss

chimed in, "While we have been to Kmart for Martha Stewart merchandise -- my wife is a big fan -- the merchandise was thrown together haphazardly and the experience very unsatisfactory. Martha is a draw for Kmart, but I think Target could do a much better job with that line."

Exactly. Didn't Kmart once hold out great promise for a

Jaclyn Smith

clothing line?

Arne may be right: Kmart, which was trading at $11.31 recently, might be cheap. Then again, Target, trading at $36.27 about midday, may be expensive. But, there is almost always a good reason merchandise (stocks included) ends up being sold under the

Blue Light

.

The Peter Lynch in me suspects that's where Kmart is destined to remain.

Christopher S. Edmonds is president of Resource Dynamics, a private financial consulting firm based in Atlanta. At time of publication, neither Edmonds nor his firm held positions in any securities mentioned in this column, although holdings can change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. While Edmonds cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he welcomes your feedback and invites you to send it to

Chris Edmonds.