FOUND! Kmart #9610 — Village Center Mall — Harlan, Kentucky

If you havent caught on yet I have a fascination with many things.  If Im “into something”  Im in it for the longhaul and almost obsess over it for long periods of time.  One of my obsessions is Kmart, another is my home town of Harlan, Kentucky.

I come from a generation of Harlanites (yes its a word) whose primary retail destination as a child was Kmart and the other stores located at the Village Center Mall.   Walmart didnt arrive in Harlan until 1991.  Until then Kmart and Magic Mart had the corner on the mass merchandiser market in town.

Sadly, the Kmart store in Harlan closed in the spring of 1995.  The memories of this store still stay with me today.  Naturally with the advent of the internet I have always thought that a photo would pop up of the actual store.  Those wishes had not came true until last weekend when I stumbled upon a website known  as Vintage Aerial.  I immediately searched for Harlan County and discovered that there were sets from the early to mid 1980s on dozens of sets of photos.  It took me the better part of an evening, but I finally found it.

Kmart in Harlan KY -- 1984

I can close my eyes and almost taste the superman ice cream from the deli. The future isnt bright for Kmart as a chain. As Ive stated in this blog before, if (when) they finally go, I am probably going to be very dramatic, over react and travel a ton documenting the stores before they are gone. Someone has to do all three of those things right?
Kmart in Harlan KY -- 1984


2 thoughts on “FOUND! Kmart #9610 — Village Center Mall — Harlan, Kentucky”

  1. Hi there,

    I’m visiting Harlan for a weekend and I’m trying to figure out what I want to do there. I’ll be there with my husband and we are definitely visiting the Portal 13 exhibition mine and the mining museum in the Lynch area. We will also be visiting a couple of old cemeteries and the remnants of the Eastover mine in Brookside.
    What I’d like to see is any locations that were important to the film “Harlan County, USA,” any places that are creepy (not like ghost creepy–I don’t believe in that stuff, lol), places with a kitschy or unusual, and abandoned places.
    What places would you recommend? What are some “must sees”?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi, I would suggest the Mary Helen Commisary. It is the long abandoned company store in the community of Coalgood just to the south of Harlan. Its definitely a must see and probably one of the most complete company stores you will see. Lynch and Benham are spectacular reminants of coal camps. Most of the houses there are coal camp houses. There are many communities along Kentucky 38 (going toward Brookside) that will be excellent for you to see as well. I hope you enjoy your visit!

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