Updated: Jan 14
My wife and I are big fans of K-Mart, and although we weren't surprised to hear that our local store is on the chopping block, it was disheartening. Come March, another local retail staple will be no more. It's sad to say that "going out of business" sales are proliferating these days.
With everything in the store on sale, we knew time was limited before K-Mart would be a husk of its former self. The following trip ensued with the purpose of capturing this location's final days. Incredibly, no one stopped to question me as I was taking photos and video. I guess at this point, the employees had ceased to care (assuming they ever did). My wife tells me I have a tendency to look suspicious. She's always afraid I'm going to get arrested, but that hasn't happened in years!
Our K-Mart had long been a regular excursion for us. There never needed to be a reason to make a K-Mart run, and often the best trips were just to browse. We'd sometimes leave with random items that were too much fun to pass up. K-Mart's inventory has long had an '80s and '90s vibe, and that suited me and the Mrs. just fine. Our K-Mart almost felt like a secret. Why get trampled at Wal-Mart, when you could enjoy leisurely shopping in a store that seemed to be suspended in time? (Of course, K-Mart's perpetual emptiness would be the precursor to its closing, but let's not dwell on that.)
Besides, where else could you find neon shoelaces...
... for your Mr. Rogers footwear?
Here's a quickie K-Mart walkthrough. The piped-in music is Annie Lennox's "Walking on Broken Glass," although you might have a hard time hearing it over what seems to be a jet engine. (I didn't notice it at the time, too paranoid I was going to be interrogated. Maybe it was an industrial vacuum?) The store would always play '80s tunes, which would make trips there even better.
The "Music and Video" section was always my favorite. The black wall used to feature photos of a woman listening to a portable CD player, and a teenage girl talking on a corded phone. These pictures must have gotten too dated, even for K-Mart. This place always had the best selection of B-movies; I bought a kung-fu flick there on a recent visit.
When we swung by, K-Mart had the second season of Miami Vice. I bought my season one DVD set there. I'd seen it elsewhere, but wanted to give K-Mart the money. The highlight of the first season is the episode "The Great McCarthy," wherein Richard Liberty (Day of the Dead) makes his uncredited TV debut. His minor role was playing a cocaine-dealing college professor! It was a great surprise, and one I enjoyed showing to contributing writer Luke Worle, a fellow Day of the Dead devotee.
I always enjoyed perusing the toy section, as well. In December of 2013, I was there with my father, checking out Christmas options. (Not necessarily for others.) My dad was looking at a Superman Hot Wheels, and a store associate asked him rhetorically, "Why would Superman need a car?" We both cracked up. That's my favorite K-Mart memory.
During the '90s, our K-Mart had a restaurant. My family would eat there every once in a while, and I absolutely loved it. The wall with the jerseys was built to erase any memory of its existence, and the former eatery is now storage space. (I peeked.)
K-Mart's cheesy mirror plaques have always appealed to me; they're the kind of thing you would give to your grandma. As long as these are being exchanged, the world could be worse.
It was a bittersweet outing, but I'm glad we were able to document a store which will be missed. I take comfort in knowing K-Mart locations are still out there, and I hope it stays that way for a while.
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