K-mart

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K-mart an American retailer company, with privately owned companies using the same name in other countries throughout planet Earth. The company was incorporated in 1899 as S. S. Kresge Corporation. In 1962 still operating as S.S. Kresge Company, there was a first, single store, renamed to Kmart. The franchise was fully renamed to Kmart Corporation in 1977. Kmart, once the United States largest retailer, was an early leader in the discount merchandising. The giant Kmart Corporation grew from a Detroit Michigan five-and-dime store that initially opened in 1899. Its proprietor was Sebastian Spering Kresge, a former Pennsylvania tinware salesman who adopted the chain-store idea first used by Frank W. Wool-worth.

At its peak in 1994, Kmart operated 2,486 stores globally, including 2,323 discount stores and Super Kmart Center locations in the United States. Kmart introduced the Big Kmart brand almost companywide when it was introduced in 1997. Kmart purchased Sears for $11 billion in 2005, forming a new corporation under the name Sears Holdings Corporation from 2005 through 2019. Currently Kmart is now a subsidiary of Transform SR Brands LLC.

A Kmart store in Ramona thats in San Diego County and still open in Southern California.

The store and website contents of items

A Kmart Oil Filter for multiple automobile brands including Studebaker in its box from the 1960s.

Many stores also have a garden center, a Jackson Hewitt tax center, a pharmacy, and usually a K-Cafe or a deli serving Nathan's Hot Dogs and some stores had a Little Caesars Pizza Station. Kmart stores range from 80,000–110,000 square ft. (7,400–10,200 m2). Most of them were either converted to or rebranded as Big Kmart while some were converted into Super Kmart stores. Kmart is a chain of discount department retail stores that are usually free-standing or located in strip malls. They’ve predominantly carried compact discs (CDs) and DVDs when the technology was at the top of its class. Additionally, carrying electronics, bedding, household hardware, sporting goods, clothing, jewelry, office supplies, health and beauty products, home decor, and a limited selection of food items. Many of the stores had a Pharmacy Department and later would close the pharmacy departments and still sell over-the-counter medications. Lastly the toys section or Toy Zone is still one of the largest retail toy sections for a retailer when compared to the rest of the department store, comprising all the major retailer brands like Mattel, Kenner, Lego, and Hasbro, including the largest retail store collection of G.I. Joe’s for sale in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Kmart also had an entire 1-2 isles of automotive parts and replacement filters with oil to keep automobiles running and offered an automotive service usually off to the side of their stores or back with garage bays.

K-Café aka Kmart Cafe

Kmart Cafes in the 1980s had dinner meals like liver and onions, tuna melts, and desserts like apple dumplings that were served in a sit down style in-store restaurant. There were booths and tables within the restaurant. Frequently used by it’s customers for a long while, there were even K-Café Mighty Morphin Power Ranger collectors cups and sunglasses given away in kids meals at high points of the K-Café. The Kmart Café’s would serve a standard menu of hamburgers called a Double K Burger or Double K Cheeseburger, fish sandwich, hot dogs, fries, grilled cheese sandwiches, Philly cheese-steaks and even deep-fried beef burritos. Kmart Café’s would have pancakes on Saturday morning from 8:00am until 10:30am and occasionally at big all day sales. The price was $1.99 for all you can eat pancakes. Kmart Café’s also offered a full breakfast menu of baked goods, bagels and egg platters with bacon or sausage and such snacks as nachos, pretzels, popcorn, Icee-frozen slushies and ice cream. ICEE Sip-N-See Straw’s were also available at Kmart as one of the first places to sell the interactive straw with the ICEE drink being so closely associated with the Kmart Shopping experience. In addition to the cafe's menu, hot food items can also be purchased at the deli and eaten in the Deli Cafe at Super Kmart Center stores. K-Café has been discontinued in most stores. The ones that are located at Super Kmart Center stores are known instead as Super K-Café. In the 1990s, many Kmart stores transformed to have a Little Caesars instead of a Kmart Cafe.

The 21st century and beyond

Kmart Corporation, which entered 2002 as the second largest U.S. discount retailer (behind Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.) with over 2,100 outlets in 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, once so dominated the discount store marketplace that few believed any competitor could shake its mighty grip. Yet too much diversification, too little attention to its core business, and brutal competition—particularly from the retail giant Wal-Mart—led to a prolonged state of decline and ultimately to a filing for bankruptcy protection in January 2002 filing for Chapter 11. Rhode Island was the first state to have no Kmart left, closing the last of its stores in late August 2017, in Cranston. The last Kmart ever built from the ground up was in Somers Point, New Jersey. There has been a debate over the last store being built as 7501 W Washington Ave in Las Vegas, Nevada. Both stores were opened around the same time POST bankruptcy in 2002. These particular locations opened in October 2002. There were no longer dividers between the Garden Center and the rest of the store. These new stores had a Little Caesars Pizza Station, Pharmacy, and Pet section next to the Toy Zone. Later older stores would adopt the same names and sections throughout the United States. Both of these Kmart stores closed in 2019. The Kmart preceding the next to last to be built from the ground up was located at 1200 N. Main, Bishop, California. This Kmart opened in 2002 replacing a 54000 square foot store nearby. Kmart posted two consecutive quarters of comp-store declines, but its problems go deeper than that. Sales at the retail chain continued on a nearly steady downward trajectory since 2005. That's when Eddie Lampert, Sears’ largest shareholder and CEO, orchestrated its merger with Kmart. Lampert’s critics say Kmart’s troubles in part reflect his lack investment in the chain. What’s clear is that the retailer failed to carve a meaningful niche amid low-price leader Wal-Mart and cheap-chic discounter Target, surprising a far cry from Kmart’s heyday in the 1980s and 1990s, when it was the nation’s biggest discounter retailer. As of June 30, 2020, only 43 Kmart’s in 11 states (California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania), Guam, Puerto Rico and United States Virgin islands, and none in the other 39 states, leaving vast stretches of the United States without a Kmart.

Principal Subsidiaries

Builders Square, Inc.; Kmart Canada Limited; Pay Less Drug Stores Northwest, Inc..; Variety Outlet; Walden Book Company, Inc. (Waldenbooks). PACE Membership Warehouse, Inc. was Kmart's warehouse club brand, until the chain was purchased by Walmart. In 1993, Walmart converted most of the stores into its Sam's Club brand.

Designer Depot: A discount clothing store chain operated in Metro Detroit in the 1980s. The first opened in a former S. S. Kresge dime store in St. Clair Shores, Michigan in 1982, selling brand names such as Yves Saint Laurent, Izod Lacoste, and Calvin Klein at discount prices.

Makro, a Dutch warehouse club chain, operated locations in the U.S. from February 1981 to 1989, in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and the Washington, D.C. suburb of Largo, Maryland. Kmart bought the chain's entire American holdings in 1989, having owned a 49 percent share before. The Makro stores were later converted to PACE Membership Warehouse or closed in 1990.

In 1990 Kmart bought The Sports Authority and converted the Sports Giant stores into Sports Authority. It also bought a 21.6% interest in OfficeMax, Inc., an office-supply chain. Office Square was a chain selling office supplies and office furniture which was a spin-off of Builders Square. In 1991, OfficeMax was acquired by Kmart and Office Square was merged into OfficeMax stores. Borders Books was a chain of bookstores acquired by Kmart in 1992. In 1994, Borders merged with the Kmart chain Waldenbooks to form Borders-Walden Group, which was sold in 1995.

American Fare was a chain of hypermarkets that operated from 1989 to 1994. It was a joint venture involving Kmart, which owned 51 percent of the store, and Birmingham, Alabama-based Bruno's Supermarkets, which owned 49 percent of the stores.

In 1999 Kmart began offering a dial-up Internet service called BlueLight, which was eventually spun off as an independent company.

Australia Kmart

The first Kmart in Australia opened on April 30, 1969 in Burwood East, Victoria; with an estimated 40,000 people passing through the checkouts on the first day. The store was opened by Mrs. HB Cunningham, wife of the president and chairman of S.S. Kresge Co. This site was renovated in 2010 to be a shopping mall known as Burwood One. Kmart Australia was born out of a joint venture between G.J. Coles & Coy Limited (Coles) and S.S. Kresge Company in the United States, with Kresge owning 51% of the common stock in the company. They began to develop Kmart stores in Australia in 1968. The first New Zealand store opened in Henderson in 1988. Kresge later exited this partnership. Since 2007, the Australian and NZ Kmart stores are owned by Wesfarmers. Other changes included the 1978 sale of the company’s 51% interest in K mart (Australia) Limited to Coles Myer for new Coles Myer shares, thus closing out K mart’s ownership of the Australian K mart stores. It is an independent entity calling itself Kmart that operates in Australia and New Zealand, but it no longer has any relation to the American stores except in name. A long-term licensing agreement between Sears allowed Wesfarmers to use the Kmart name in Australia and New Zealand. In August 2017, Wesfarmers purchased the Kmart brand name for use in Australia and New Zealand for $100 million outright, ending the licensing agreement.

Shop Your Way

A Kmart $5 award card from 2014 issued to Shop Your Way members at the register after a high dollar purchase.

Redeemable at Kmart, Sears and other online retailers as an integrated retail innovation. The program is designed to make repeat shopping and follow-up shopping rewarding. In 2012, Kmart and Sears began to allow customers who are members of their Shop Your Way Rewards program to receive receipts by e-mail, eliminating paper waste and cutting down on the usage of ink. Shop Your Way is a free social shopping destination and rewards program offering millions of products, personalized services, and advice. Through a network of retailers, Members enjoy special pricing discounts, access to celebrity brans, sweepstakes, and exclusive sales. Download of the free Shop Your Way app is available on iTunes or Google Play. There is no minimum purchase required for Shop Your Way members to redeem points and points can be used toward purchases across countless product categories. In addition to special incentives for being a Shop Your Way member there are extremely low-priced oil changes for $6.99 multiple times per year available at all participating Kmart automotive and Sears Automotive centers.

Blue Light Special and catchphrase ads

National Hockey League players from the Detroit Red Wings in action with a large center ice Kmart ad in the 1990's at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan.

Perhaps most recognized for the iconic “Bluelight Special”. Kmart’s Bluelight Special debuted in 1965 as flashing blue sirens and a mobile blue police light in the center of Kmart's stores that would go off to direct shoppers to a discount item. Kmart started this to move a particular stock item for a reduced sale price or discount by placing a blue light that revolves in front of the item as an announcement was blared on a loudspeaker, “attention, Kmart shoppers,” a term that became part of the American lexicon. At the height of Kmart's popularity, the phrase "Attention Kmart shoppers!" entered into the American pop psyche, appearing in films and other media such as “Troop Beverly Hills”, “Six Days Seven Nights”, “Rain Man”, “Beetlejuice”, “Madea Goes to Jail”, and “Dawn of the Dead”. Kmart phased out the Bluelight Special in the early 1990s. Kmart revived the Bluelight Special bringing it back in 2001 and filed for bankruptcy the following year. The comeback of the Bluelight Special was an attempt to inject some excitement into Kmart’s under performing stores. The Bluelight Special returned intermittently as part of one-off holiday campaigns since then, but the last reintroduction marks the Bluelight Special’s full-fledged comeback, for good in Fall 2015. The retailer revived the blue sirens in 942 stores in its last week of October 2015 to kick off 15-minute deals. Kmart then launched a Marketing campaign to highlight the move with a TV ad on "Sunday Night Football" on NBC, Reuters reported.

Kmart frequently advertised with sports in mind as many consumers were sports fans buying their in-store products. The National Hockey League teams Minnesota North Stars and Detroit Red Wings had Kmart ads on their rink dasher boards for several years in the early 1990's.

Stock

Kmart is a publicly owned company traded on the New York, Chicago, and Pacific Stock Exchanges. Ticker symbol: KM

Slogans

  • The Saving Place 1960s–1993
  • We've Got It Good 1986
  • Your Lowest Price is a Kmart Price 1990–1998
  • BlueLight Always 2001
  • Stuff of Life 2002
  • Kmart. Right Here. Right Now. 2003–2007
  • Life is ridiculously AWESOME 2007–2019
  • Love where you live 2019-present


External links