KMART – What the Heck Happened?

The Kmart Story

If you’re looking for a great Kmart deal, keep an eye out for the blue light!

If you were around in the 1970s, you knew where you could find these famous one of a kind blue light deals. This smart shopping slogan was one that came out of none other than Kmart, the US discount retail chain that was founded in 1899. The company was originally called SS Kresge Company and was renamed Kmart Corporation in 1977.

The Blue Light Special was a promotion the company ran in the 1970s. The promotion was simple: a blue light would go on in a specific aisle, and then customers could get a special deal on the items in that aisle.

Kmart Blue Light Special gif
Retro Kmart commercial from 1980

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This creative special was a way for the company to clear out inventory quickly, and it was also a way to get customers into the store. The promotion was so successful that it became a permanent fixture at the store, and it is still running today.

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Kmart’s Appeal

The Kmart brand appealed to a wide range of customers, from families looking for affordable clothes and home goods to bargain hunters looking for deals on items. The retail chain was considered a discount store.


Discount stores are retail establishments that sell products at prices that are lower than the typical market price. the company also sold products under its own brand name, which was another way that the store was able to keep prices low.

Ups And Downs . . .

Although the company has been through some tough times in recent years, it is still in business today

Under a new plan, the company has been investing in new technologies, improving its store experience, and expanding its product offerings. The company has also shifted its focus to appeal to a more upscale audience. This has led to Kmart selling more expensive items and offering more exclusive deals.

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Still. . .

Kmart was once one of the most popular retail chains in the United States. But in recent years, the company has struggled to keep up with its competitors.

So What Happened?

There are a few factors that have contributed to Kmart’s decline. First, the company has been slow to adopt new technologies. This has made it difficult for Kmart to keep up with the changing retail landscape.

Also, the company has stopped opening new stores. This has made it difficult for the company to reach new customers. Kmart has been slow to change its marketing strategy. This has made it difficult for the company to compete with its rivals. Walmart and Amazon are both much larger retailers that have been able to offer lower prices and a wider selection of items. the retail chain is just not able to attract the same kind of customers as it’s rivals.

Another factor that may have contributed to the chain’s decline is its failure to adapt to changing consumer trends. For example, the rise of online shopping has hurt brick-and-mortar retailers like Kmart. shoppers are now more likely to buy items online, which has led to fewer people shopping at physical stores.

Finally, the retail chain’s financial problems may have also played a role in its decline. The company has been struggling to turn a profit in recent years, and this has made it difficult to invest in new stores or make other improvements.

All of these factors have contributed to the retail giant’s decline. But the company is not giving up just yet. The chain is currently working on a plan to revitalize its brand. Only time will tell if this plan will be successful.

Days Gone By . . .

The Kmart of days gone by was a very different place than the Kmart of today. In the past, the retail chain was known for its low prices and its wide range of products. Today, however, the store is known for its high prices and its limited selection of products. So what happened to Kmart?

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The answer is simple: competition. In the past, Kmart was the only place to get low prices on a wide range of products. Today, there are many other places to get low prices on a wide range of products. As a result, the company has had to raise its prices in order to stay afloat.

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The Kmart of days gone by was a great place to find bargains on everything from clothes to electronics. However, the company has fallen on hard times in recent years and has been forced to close many of its stores. It’s a shame to see such a once-great company struggling, but it’s still possible to find some great deals at Kmart if you know where to look.


Little Known Facts

Did you know that Kmart was originally called S.S. Kresge Corporation? Or that the first Kmart store opened in 1962 in Garden City, Michigan?

Here are some more interesting facts about this retail giant:

  1. Kmart was the third largest discount store chain in the United States, behind Walmart and Target.
  1. As of 2018, there were a total of 941 Kmart stores in operation across the globe.
  1. Kmart was one of the first retailers to offer layaway plans and home delivery services.
  1. The Kmart chain was once owned by Sears, but was sold off in 2019.
  1. Kmart is one of the oldest retail chains in the United States?
  1. Today, Kmart is a subsidiary of Sears Holdings Corporation and has 3 stores in the United States.
  1. Kmart was the first retailer to introduce the self-serve checkout system
  1. Kmart had its own line of products, known as “Kmart brand” or “KB” products
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Kmart has a long and storied history, dating back to the late 19th century. The company has weathered many ups and downs, but has always managed to stay afloat, until now. Today, Kmart has only 3 store locations across the United States

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44 responses to “KMART – What the Heck Happened?”

  1. Julie Debrey Avatar
    Julie Debrey

    We miss kmart.

    1. Brett Wilcox Avatar
      Brett Wilcox

      The guy in charge of Sears in my opinion ruined both companies. I worked for Sears for 14 years and did not quit. I worked in the automotive center and they laid off just about everyone that had over 10 years with the excuse of getting out of the repair business and just doing tires and batteries.they sold all the tuneup and brake equipment and have the alignment equipment in the shop I was in. 6 months later they decided to replace all equipment and get back into it. There was technicians that had been in that shop for over 30 years that lost all their benefits and had to start over somewhere else. Out of the 27 people in my store alone I don’t think stepped in a Sears store again. Multiply that by all the stores and their families and you can come to your own conclusion of the people that was hurt by their bad business practices.

      1. Hellblazer Avatar

        It was ruined way before Sears took over . We had a ‘EO that did away with blue light specials the forbade any mark downs at all I started working there in the mid nineties when he was removed. We pull easter stuff out of the back over 5 years old.

      2. Linda Avatar

        In 1963 I worked at Kmart in Nashville tn .I miss this store so much

    2. Anne George Avatar
      Anne George

      K-mart was my go to for clothes shopping for back to school and Christmas. It was the only place my husband could buy the jeans that fit him best! Had many a dinner as a kid and adult in the restaurant. I miss my K-mart!

    3. John C Ferranti Avatar
      John C Ferranti

      i worked at Kmart 1978-1986 became a asst Store manger 1983 , at that time we #2 only sears was ahead of us , the problem was we bought up alot of th W T Grants store location that went out of business that was the late 70s so we went i think from 1400 stores til 2100 then the recession hit 1979 so we cash short to pay bills on time ,it was the over expansion at the wrong time that did them in ,no one predicted that Carter would lead us into a recession

    4. Lise desormeaux Avatar
      Lise desormeaux

      Just loved that sore, with lay à ways, this was great miss them from canada

  2. […] and eventually opened his ownrestaurant called Louis’ Lunch. These restaurants first became popular in theUnited States in the […]

    1. Chris Avatar

      Miss those ham sandwiches they had! Bags of 5! Yummy they were!

      1. Diane Ruhala Avatar
        Diane Ruhala

        I don’t remember oranges or even grocery food being sold in K-Mart as pictured. I liked the women’s Jaclyn Smith clothes before they closed.

    2. Robert Avatar

      Burger Chef business was hurt by the murder of store employees during a robbery in Indianapolis in the late 70’s. Which later led to them being bought out by Hardees. The original Hardees carried some of Burger Chefs food like the Big Chef which is basically a Big Mac from McDowells. Then Hardees got bought out by Carls Jr and became the big turd it is today. And that sir is what happened to Burger Chef RiP for you are missed

  3. […] and people have noticed their disappearance. After all, they’re secure, reliable, and convenient places to put outgoing […]

  4. Carole burns Avatar
    Carole burns

    I loved kmart and miss the layaways. Thats how i got all the kids toys. The best christmas tree i ever got was there. I wish they could make a comeback.

  5. Joseph Avatar

    Miss that store especially the Christmas layaway.

  6. dan Avatar

    8 stores including the territories. most kmart stores in the world no longer have any connection to the company, like kmart australia. this article lets eddie off way too easily. it has primarily been his fault, enriching himself and stockholders by closing stores

  7. Mr. Chris Zimmerman Avatar
    Mr. Chris Zimmerman

    3 stores left? Can we order on line?

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      Yes, they take online orders at

    2. Todd Avatar

      You really can’t order on
      If you aren’t in close proximity to a store. If you try to order it will say not available for pickup or delivery to your zipcode. Same with

      1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

        Yes, you can. If you’re having a package delivered to your zip location, it comes to your home… and that’s online shopping

  8. Marco Avatar

    Eddie Lampert is all you have to know. A greedy prick who’s totally in love with himself ran Sears and Kmart right into the ground. Sad!!!

  9. Shari Avatar

    Where are the 3 lady stores located?

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      Sorry but we do not know

    2. Todd Avatar

      Florida, New Jersey and New York.

  10. John Mcquithy Avatar
    John Mcquithy

    Does anybody remember that they even had am investment opport for awhile? Paid real high interest on your money.

  11. Polly Smay Avatar
    Polly Smay

    I loved Kmart. I miss the store so much I loved it. I shopped there for years.

  12. Teri Lloyd Avatar
    Teri Lloyd

    Great memories of going to Kmart every Friday after kindergarten for lunch and a toy of my choice with my grandma. Grandma always loved the store. She would get a lot of her knitting yarn there. Later I worked in the grill for a time during H.S.

  13. […] Santa Claus was warmly welcomed into Herald Square at the end of the first parade, where he was enthroned on the Macy’s balcony and crowned the “King of the Kiddies.” Despite a lack of media coverage, the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade attracted more than 250,000 spectators. Thus, the store announced it would be an annual event from that point forward. […]

  14. […] of Montgomery Ward and began selling online under that name. This acquisition did not quite work out for them and the Montgomery Ward name was sold again to Swiss […]

  15. […] investing in financial services and real estate. However, by 1992, the company started selling off subsidiaries to focus on its lagging retail operations. Sears discontinued the general catalog in 1993 and, two […]

  16. Jack hansen Avatar
    Jack hansen

    I literally HATE Walmart with a passion if I wanted to buy and bag my own stuff I would have applied for a job there if you are in your fifties you were a fortunate kid in your youth because K-Mart was the place that could make me and my younger brother (RIP) absolutely run and get in the car to go on a shopping adventure and loved to eat lunch at the cafeteria where you slide your tray down the three bars of oh my god I’m bout to eat at Kmart diner usually with three of those delicious chocolate pudding cups and hamburger 🍔 and fries and during holidays you could get turkey and dressing or some types of holiday food items and the great layaway option and the great blue light special. We would stand on anything to make ourselves taller trying to find the cop car light to get ogre at deal and they could stack fruit and vegetables like nobody’s business I sure wish it could return!!!

  17. […] company, which was later rebranded as Kmart, became a household name and a major player in the retail industry. The chain was particularly […]

  18. Lisa Bowman Avatar
    Lisa Bowman

    I miss kmart I would rather shop there than Walmart like if I wanted ro change my bathroom theme they had everything that matches or bedding and curtains to match or kitchen towels with rugs I also loved shopping for holiday decorations whether it was Easter or Halloween or Christmas and I also loved buying their clothes and especially their shoes wish they would bring kmart back

  19. Jay k. Avatar
    Jay k.

    “ If you were around in the 1970’s…”
    You mean 1970s, or the ’70s…

  20. Debbie Avatar

    We moved to Portland OR in 1975 and Vancouver WA in 1977. Shopped there all through junior high and high school. Even bought stuff for my nieces and nephew in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Then they went bye-bye. Sears closed a couple of years ago at our mall, which in the 70’s and 80’s also had Meier & Frank, Mervyns, and very few restaurants and no food court. Miss those days.

  21. Dolores gravina Avatar
    Dolores gravina

    I worked in kresges from 1966 until 1970on the lunch counter in Sayreville New Jersey. I remember well when the Kmart store in east brunswick n j opened in the early 70,s and the one I worked in closed I loved both stores and miss them

  22. […] COVID-19 pandemic only worsened the retailer’s already poor sales, and JC Penney filed for bankruptcy protection in 2020. Late the same year, Simon Property Group and Brookfield Asset Management agreed […]

  23. […] of leather goods corporation Tandy Corporation, saw potential in Radio Shack and purchased the company for $300,000 in […]

    1. Meri lee Testa Avatar
      Meri lee Testa

      Yes I remember KMART here in Ga – all the KMarts in this area closed & The Home Store took over it’s brick & mortar buildings – It’s too bad -I remember when I married the 1st time -& we lived in Lexington KY – Kmart was A great place to shop but the quality of its mdse -esp clothing looked cheap -& was-is a few washings-& the item was ready for dumper

  24. Jack? Avatar

    I worked for kmart 42 years because suits and owner. Owner and the last 2 CEO took there money and ran not caring about others. I hope there happy causing so much heartache and I hope they are pround of the bad job of raising there children

  25. Pam Raym Avatar
    Pam Raym

    I love Kmart and still order online from them.

  26. […] In 1929, the brothers opened their first retail store called Bell Hosiery Shops, which eventually expanded beyond just hosiery and underwear to become a women’s specialty store chain. […]

  27. Luke Thompson Avatar
    Luke Thompson

    I worked for Kmart Georgia Distribution Center from 1979 to 1994. They used us warehouse workers up like forklifts and cast us out like putting them in the dumpster. Hurt my back there in 1992 and was in limbo for 2 years while they said we don’t have a permanent light duty program in other words find another job. I’ve had back trouble for 30 years! I was one of the lucky ones because they forced me out and some of my buddies that stayed there and work 30 years plus got screwed out of their retirement through the 401K and Kmart stock going down to being less than $1 before it got took over by Sears holding company. When I went to work there Sears was number one Kmart was number two and Walmart was number three shortly after that Walmart was number one Kmart was number two in Sears was number three. I don’t know what happened to Sears but they did not change with the times. Nar did Kmart!

  28. Ken Fisher Avatar
    Ken Fisher

    Here is my perspective on what happened to KMart. The company was doomed long before it got involved with Sears. I loved KMart as a kid and in H.S. worked as a stockboy at the Danville, IL store. Loved the experience. Then ended up in IT after college and consulted for a year in 94 at their corporate headquarters in Troy, MI. There were 5k employees there after a layoff of 1000. We came in for a 3 year project to upgrade their financial suite of software. The deal was that we would supply a couple of managers and a director and KMart would supply 10-12 of their people to staff the implementation team. With an IT staff of 500, they told us they could not find 10 people who were not critical to their operations. So we brought in 10 more of our people. At a cost of $30k/day. For a 3 YEAR PROJECT. Somebody said it earlier, competition, and that is right. Like many US companies who had not had any competition for years, the company was not able to adjust to new paradigms. Over the years the company had become bloated, management leaders were more interested in protecting their little kingdoms than the future of the company. After being there for a few months, we were convinced that if their management walked around and counted off 1-2, 1-2, and fired all the twos, all the work at corporate would still have gotten done. KMart had become a safe, comfortable environment and nobody wanted to change. Their software was way behind the times, especially the inventory management/procurement side. They had trouble keeping the shelves stocked in the stores and did not have reliable financial reporting to provide metrics on how stores were doing. Even stores that were losing money sometimes had to kept open as KMart had signed quite a few 100 year property leases and could not get out of them. They had to declare bankruptcy to break those leases. Younger companies, Walmart brought in a new CEO, forgot his name, who tried to turn things around but could not overcome the inertia of his own management and board of directors. Its competitors were younger, more aggressive and could adjust to changing markets much easier. KMart just could not make the right moves in time to save itself.

  29. […] its New York metro division, necessitating the construction of dividing walls in the supercenter stores. Stop & Shop returned to the area in the fall of 2000 by rebranding its Edwards Super Food […]

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