Saturday, August 23, 2014

The last Kmart ever built.... Somers Point, NJ

The last Kmart ever built.... Somers Point, NJ

Folks, you are about to see the very LAST Kmart ever built from the ground up. Some may argue it was the store at 7501 W Washington Ave in Las Vegas, NV but I believe they were opened around the same time POST bankruptcy (2002). This particular location opened on October 19th 2002. Yes, these stores hired employees and opened their doors as the company was bankrupt. Cant say many stores have done that before. Since these stores opened, Kmart hasn't opened a brand new, built from the ground up store. Thats 12 years of no new stores. Sure, they went to the Sears Grand/Essentials concept and most all of those stores reverted back to Kmart and yes all those stores got a full remodel and new logo and a grand re-opening, but I'm not counting those. This store has very few photos of it, and I had the chance to go and visit this store on a windy afternoon in August. Enjoy!


video



 Isn't this a great looking facade?



Garden Center Entrance


Main Entrance


Walking into the store from the main entrance


Store Map


Pharmacy Department (Odd, as almost every store in South Jersey had to say "Department" after the word Pharmacy so perhaps it was a local law?)


Toy Zone


An entire section for Pets. Most Kmart DO NOT have this!


Looking from the back to front at Boys and Girls clothing


SportsCenter/Sporting Goods


Garden Center Entrance


Notice theres NO divider between the garden center and the rest of the store?


Some appliances and the electronics department


More of the toys section (in the back left corner of the store)


Mens/Young Mens section


Mannequins in a Kmart? YES!!


Juniors section (notice the more modern racks and displays)


Main Entrance


Belt driven registers (Makes you wonder)


Little Caesars Pizza Station


No auto center was ever present here. Unsure if anything else was originally in the store. Where the customer service and the bathroom was, it did seem like it was modified a bit. This store has open ceilings, which makes the store feel MUCH bigger. It was wet lit and temperature controlled. Most sections were well stocks and organized. If they were, employees were fixing them. The layout was a bit different them most stores, but very easy to navigate. It was odd they STILL used that gray lines on the floor to outline each section in 2002. This store opened with the same Kmart logo, as it was NEVER a "Big K". The signage is all original (though the Little Caesars might be updated a bit). This was easily one of the nicest Kmart stores ive ever been in and I hope everyone reading this can visit one day!

15 comments:

  1. Thanks for capturing this historic Kmart. We'll see if Kmart ever builds another new store from scratch. As for the store itself, it does look nicer than the average Kmart, but I guess the fact that it is much newer than the average Kmart probably helps. I don't know if the store was doing good business, but the Pizza Station seemed to be busy at the time you visited.

    I don't know what to think about the open ceiling though. It probably does make the store look more open as you say. Many older Kmarts have low hung drop ceilings that makes the stores feel a bit smaller than they really are. The open ceiling probably also helps eliminate the issue with dirty ceiling tiles that seems to plague Kmarts with drop ceilings. Of course, the Garden City, MI, Kmart, the first Kmart (though I'm not 100% sure if Kmart built that store new) has what appears to be an open or a semi-open hybrid ceiling too so there is some historical precedent for open type ceilings at Kmart especially when looking at the earliest and latest Kmarts.

    Having said all of that, I'm not a big fan of the open ceiling look. It looks really unfinished and a bit unclean IMO. Most of the Wal-Mart Supercenters around me in Houston have open ceilings, but there is a Walmart near Willowbrook Mall that opened as a regular Wal-Mart in the mid-90s and then was converted to a Supercenter in the very late 1990s. The grocery section has an open ceiling, but the general merchandise sections have a drop ceiling with the tiles. I prefer the tiled section of the store to the grocery section and to other Wal-Marts with completely open ceilings. I guess that is just a personal preference and at least the Somers Point Kmart does not have those hideous concrete floors that some retailers seem to like these days.

    One interesting hybrid ceiling approach that we saw with our Houston Kmarts were at the Kmarts that were in old Venture built stores. Venture came to Houston in the early-to-mid 1990s with built stores that had drop ceilings over most of the departments, but the front of the store and the "raceway" walkways around the stores had open ceilings. It was a strange approach, but it looked better than stores with totally open ceilings IMO. Venture left Houston around 1997 and Kmart brought most/all of the locations and moved into those stores. They left those hybrid ceilings in place. Those stores, along with all other Houston area Kmarts, closed unfortunately in 2002-3. There are still some Venture stores from that era elsewhere that turned into Kmarts with the same hybrid ceiling like this one in IA that Nathan Bush photographed.

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  2. I must agree with both of you. I sincerely hope that this store becomes a model for new construction, however unlikely as it is, since Sears recently has taken another turn for the worst in their quarterly earnings report (Some economists speculate an estimated six months of cash left to burn, unless they sell off Sears Canada or a bunch of other U.S. stores). With that kind of forecast, the prospect of new stores is next-to-nil, even if they throw Lampert off the wagon. His last decade of gutting the company's most valuable real estate has meant slower sales at the remaining, predominantly (at least in the Southeast) older '60-'80s stores. Half-crumbling, dingy stores staffed with employees of declining morale are not the way forward. A shrinking store base also equates to diminished purchasing power against the ever-expanding Wally World and Tar-ghey, of which the former is now expanding aggressively in supermarket and dollar store-sized structures to penetrate the last bastions of independent retailers - those small towns that are too small to support a supercenter. With Walmart's purchasing prowess, think Dollar General on steroids. I fear for Kmart's future, which at this point is too little, too late. Barely enough money to keep the stores they have running, let alone remodeling those stores or building new ones like this. Despite my fondness for Kmart, I wouldn't be surprised if the company folded by this time next year, the way things are going...

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  3. Google walmart. They aren't doing so hot lately and losing ground. The supercenter concept is way past dead as far as what the American consumer favors. They know this but they've gotten too big and rigid to change their business model now. They overtook kmart, which was the giant of the day because they found their weaknesses and attacked. They grew so fast because they used a pyramid type plan of building a new store with lower prices than the competitors in its area, put the competition out of business, raise prices and take profit from that store And repeat the process. Now they are out of locations to build supercenters and on top of that the supercenter has fallen out of popularity with consumers. So they are desperate to find ways to continue the growth they need in order to survive. The smaller stores have not done very well and there's no way walmart can get the growth they need from building small stores in areas that are already saturated with small stores that have better service, prices, merchandise etc. in 10 yrs they'll be just like Kmart is now.

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    Replies
    1. Screw you Walmart will never fail they are to big!

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    2. Hahahaha That is exactly what people said about A&P. And they are now dead. And please learn the proper use of "to" vs "two" vs "too".

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  4. Also, the independents have actually been the ones who have held up against walmart and survived. They had to get leaner and meaner and do a better job and they have. They've joined co-ops and have buying power in thousands which has given them buying power just like walmart. It's all about image and not so much about buying power anyway. As far as walmart goes, they did a good job of creating an image of having lower prices because they are bigger. ActuAlly they had lower prices because in the supercenter, they sold 70 percent hard goods which are higher profit items which enabled them to charge lower grocery prices than a grocery store can. Grocery stores don't have the hard good sales like a supercenter. Groceries are what people buy the most so when they see lower prices than they are paying elsewhere they assume everything is cheaper. Most people don't know the avg prices of hard goods bc they don't buy them too often so walmart could maintain the high margins on most of what they sell.

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  5. Speaking of supercenters, does anybody even know how many Super Kmart Centers are open, if there are any left? I would be glad to know, because most, if not all Super K's have been either converted to a regular Kmart or closed altogether.

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    Replies
    1. 17 Super Kmarts are currently open. That number will decrease to 15 on October 12 and further to 11 in December.

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  6. With some of the features/designs, it almost looks like they had either thought about making it a Super Kmart and/or built it so it could be converted to one in the future (build on where the garden area is and make that a second "main" entryway as most of the Super Kmart stores had)?

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  7. The kmart in burnsville mn is like this

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  8. Someone local to this store, please, please, please post more interior shots of this model location!

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  9. The guy in the video is wrong. There WILL be Kmart stores left in the world after the last US store closes, but they'll be in Australia and New Zealand.

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  10. The Washington Ave Las Vegas Kmart was not opened around the same time as this store, it opened sometime in 2000 according to loopnet. The exterior of the washington ave store looks nothing like this Kmart exterior building wise, and it also doesn't have that type decor and it doesn't have warehouse ceilings like this store does.

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    Replies
    1. The downsized Super Kmart in Henderson, NV which is not too far from the Washington Ave Kmart was built in 2001 according to loopnet, which should make it one of the last few Super K's built pre-bankruptcy. It looks more like that Somers Point store than the Washington Ave store as the font on the front of the building is similar.

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  11. K-Mart: What a lovably crappy store.

    Not matter what they do, that light aqua green color they've always used for trim seems to just ooze cheapness.

    As a kid, did your mom every buy you K-Mart underwear ? Even the label was embarrassing.

    Gotta admit, though. I just love seeing the stores. Will Walmart ever go the same route ?

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