Continuing with my obsession with Kmart and keeping the memory alive, during my road trip through the heart of North Central Indiana, I managed to visit several Kmart stores. The most notable of those was this location in Peru.
Coming in at just over 28,000 square feet, this is the smallest Kmart left in operation in the entire 600 +/- store chain. This store opened for business on September 18, 1975. There are a couple of stores in small towns, particularly in the upper midwest and mountain west that are nearly as small as this store. To give you an idea as to how small this store is, the average Walmart Super Center is nearly 170,000 square feet. This store at 28,000 is basically the size of a small grocery store.
Kmart / Sears this week announced another round of store closings, including 49 more Kmart locations. Thankfully, this little relic wasnt included on the list and lives to fight another day.
4:30 came so early this morning. So early in fact I rolled back over and slept until 5. In doing that I had to leap out of bed when my alarm went off and leave as quickly as possible. I was out the door and on the road by about 5:20. The grand total for the day was 485 miles. That 485 miles included 2 new Kmart stores, a mall in Louisville on Bardstown Road that I didnt even know existed, my customary stop at the Falls of the Ohio River State Park in Clarksville, Indiana, 2 Goodwill Outlets, 1 regular Goodwill store, Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, and the Meadow Lake Wind Farm off I65 near Chalmers. Ill give another update tomorrow with a few more pictures from the day. Enjoy and thanks for reading!
I have spent the evening working on geo-tagging my flickr photos and creating a google map of the Kmart stores that I have visited that have closed since 2016. The grand total is 31. As this Kmart and Sears thing plays out I will continually add to this map and documment the future of Kmart. The map can be seen by clicking HERE
Everyone have a great week ahead and thanks again for reading.
This Kmart is located at 14662 US Highway 25E in Corbin, Kentucky. The store first opened for business on October 26, 1978.
In 1992 the store was remodeled and expanded. The store held its grand reopening in the fall of 1992.
December 28, 2016 was a bad day for Kmart and their existance in the Bluegrass State. Seven (?!) Kmart stores were announced to be closing across the state, taking their store count from 18 to 11. Included in this announcement was the Corbin store. Since the beginning of 2016 the Kmart store count across the Bluegrass state has fallen from 22 to 11. In one year, half have been wiped out. At the height of the chain in the early to mid 90s there were more than 50 scattered across the state. In fact, I come from a generation who in my home town of Harlan, Kmart was our Walmart. We didnt have a Walmart until 1991. So during my early years when I would have been kicking and screaming and throwing tantrums for whatever toy I wanted, I would have probably been doing it inside of the Kmart in Harlan. After the Kmart in Harlan closed in 1995 our closest Kmart was then in Middlesboro, until 2002. After it closed our closest Kmart was a tossup between this store and the store in Kingsport. I guess thats where my infatuation comes from in documenting this part of history that many fail to pay attention to. Right before our very eyes and American institutioin is going away. It’s sad, but it definitely needs to be and deserves to be docummented.
Over the past few days I have been rambling about the Bluegrass state and the southern edge of Illinois and a small corner of Missouri. Why you might ask? Well, like I stated in this blog earlier this week I just had to go back to Cairo one more time before the town declinds even further and also, as you might have figured out I have this weird obsession with docummenting and experiencing Sears / Kmart as much as possible, especially since their future doesnt look particularly bright. What does Sears and Kmart have to do with this area of the country? Well in January, Sears Holdings announced they would close 7(SEVEN?!?!?!) more Kmart stores across the Bluegrass State. All of the ones that were closing that I hadnt been to were from Bowling Green West. Couple this with the fact that the stores close for good on or about March 19th (my spring break isnt until mid-late April) and the fact that once I got to Paducah I would only be 30 minutes from Cairo I just had to do what it took to make it happen.
It snowballed into a trip covering 4 states and by the time I realized I would only be less than an hour from one of the very last Sears stores built from the ground up ( built in 2006 ) AND it is also one of the very last Sears Grand stores still signed as such…..I covered a little over 900 miles, 7 new to me Kmart stores (side note: I have now been to every Kmart store currently opene in the bluegrass state! , 2 Sears stores, (1 closing and 1 Sears Grand) Multiple abandoned schools, throw in an abandoned hospital and the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and I have had a very busy, but fulfilling time. I will be covering all of these discoveries and explorations in the blog over the next month or so. I look forward to sharing my disooveries with you!
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.
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?