Pondering over Coffee - Kmart closings across the nation....
The business headlines this week are declaring the news of Kmart closing many of their stores across the nation. I watch with a bit of sadness. I don't like to see any long time companies closing down - especially companies I grew up with and were such a big part of my childhood. And reading the list of stores being closed down bummed me out a bit.
But then I realized... I'm part of the problem. They are going under because people don't shop there. And? I don't shop Kmart either! I haven't in years. As a matter of fact I drive past Kmart to get to Walmart. And that particular Walmart is one I hate and can't stand to shop in... but I'd rather go there than Kmart.
And I started to wonder why that is.
When did I start to avoid shopping at Kmart?
Since I was doing dishes and cleaning the kitchen at the time, I had time to think about this.
I would say, in my adult life, I've always stopped into and at least tried to shop the local Kmart a few times in every city or state we've lived. Which is many. We relocated a lot due to my husbands job and promotion opportunities.
In every city, in every state, the Kmarts were all pretty much the same and had the same 'feel'. Horrible store layouts, awful lighting, odd department layouts, weird angles, bad product selection, extremely high prices compared to their direct competitors, an overall messy and unorganized feel to the store and bad use of space. Somehow their stores all feel 'off' when I shop them - as if I've entered a space that is off kilter and uncomfortable and I'm constantly fighting to relax and shop.
I don't like shopping Kmart because if feels off. Uncomfortable. Awkward. Unorganized. Difficult. And then add in the higher prices, typically lousy selection of goods and the unfriendly employees... well, no wonder they are going under (assuming others must feel similar to the way I do). I have always done most of my household shopping at Walmart or Target; depending on where we lived at the time and which store had a better 'feel' to it.
Circa 1996-2000 I lived near Target and did most of my household shopping there but once in a great while would venture into the Kmart near the mall. There are only 2 memories of that store actually.
1) I bought my son's little 4 wheel battery operated vehicle there for his 4th birthday because they were running a sale on them at the time and beat Toys R Us by about $20. Kmart NEVER had the best price for ANYTHING and was ALWAYS higher than anyone else. I suppose that is why I remember this is where we bought his toy.
2) I stopped in with my Mom and tried on a light jacket... only to put my hand in the pocket and find a wadded up used tissue and a pocket FULL of used sunflower seeds.
Ah yes. Kmart memories.
The next time I shopped there was in a city in the Midwest and again... I felt uncomfortable in their store. The layout... the aisles... the weird angled departments they would shove into the middle of aisles so you couldn't just go up and down aisles and comfortably shop. And the open spaces on shelves, old racking, messy shelves and product on the floors, or hanging skewered off the hangers. Just a 'yucky' feeling. Dirty and messy and cheap - even though their prices are not cheap.
Let's fast forward! More relocations and the most recent location with the Kmart I drive BY in order to go anywhere else. I have stopped in about 4 times since moving here.
*The clothing selection got better - although the prices are just as high or higher than a similar item at the mall
*The departments are still weird angled and 'off'
*They divide up the store into short aisles one way, turn them at a right angle and run a bunch the other way, and then back to another area with them turned again and then boom - again. (Compare this to Target with just 3 sets of aisles - and they run the same way - don't make you feel like you are in a labyrinth.
*Wasted space, odd angles, squished racking.
* Rude and uninterested employees
*High prices for the same comparable items at Walmart across the street
*An old 1960's feel to the overall shopping experience of the store
And now... that whole rewards points thing? I have no idea. But it did effect my shopping once when I was there with my college-bound daughter and found a couple items I liked but wouldn't buy because apparently there was some special price for a reward points member something-or-other which I wasn't - and I wasn't going to sign up for because 1) they don't need my personal information 2) I don't shop at Kmart enough to care and 3) It's a Kmart for freakin sake. Just give me good prices, good selection and make it easy for me to shop, pay and leave. I don't want to have to become some rewards member in order to buy a t-shirt or toilet paper at a decent price.
Well... I went back once more, when my daughter had some buy 1 get 1 free coupons for shampoo and Walmart was out. That was the last time I was there. I don't recall the shopping trip, but I recall the uncomfortable feeling of the store and having to be IN the store and we left... I've never gone back and that was about a year ago.
Ok, so this is NOT what I was going to type about when I sat down and started sipping coffee and typing random thoughts about Kmart. Not at all. I was actually going to post about my GOOD memories of shopping Kmart as a child.
But my coffee is cold, I have a list of tasks waiting for me to do, and this post has gotten too long.
So... maybe I'll come back later with my GOOD memories of Kmart... because I have many. But in closing - this list via consumerist let's people know which stores are closing and when...
April: Wicker Park, IL
May: Colonial Heights, VA
June: Wauwatosa, WI
June: Hopewell, VA
June: Schuylkill Mall, Frackville, PA
June: Greenville, NC
July: Ontario, OR
July: Mount Pocono Plaza, Mount Pocono, PA
July: Mobile, AL
July: Tulsa, OK
July: Hilltop, Virginia Beach, VA
August: Bel Air, AL
August: Bellevue Center, TN
October: Vineland, NJ
October: Atwater, CA
October: Chantilly, VA
November: Parkville, MD
November: Sturgis, MI
November: Spearfish, SD
November: Los Banos, CA
November: Davenport, IA
November: Lake Park, FL
December: Belvidere, IL
January 2016: South Burlington, VT
March 2016: Honolulu, HI
March 2016: Lutz and Daytona, Florida
March 2016: Cleveland, TN
March 2016: Canton, IL
March 2016: Daytona Beach, FL
March 2016: Covington, VA
Spring 2016: Florence, Dothan, and Prattville, AL
April 2016: Citrus Heights and Chula Vista, CA
April 2016: Ottumwa, IA
April 2016: Mitchell and Pierre, SD
April 2016: Topeka, KS
April 2016: Pocatello, ID
April 2016: Logan, ID
April 2016: Superior, WI, Virginia, MN, and Ironwood, MI
April 2016: Steubenville, OH
April 2016: Cedar Bluff and Virginia Beach, VA
April 2016: Claypool, VA
April 2016: Milledgeville, GA
April 2016: Dublin, GA
April 2016: Richfield, UT
April 2016: Florence, AL
April 2016: Warren, OH
April 2016: Morton, OH