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.
When I was little I liked to study maps. I can remember getting the big giant road atlas out and just studying, looking, making notes. Of course living in small town Kentucky, Louisville, the largest city in my home state was often a source of obsession. When thinking back to those maps, Jefferson, Mall St Matthews, and Oxmoor Center, they were all there. Mid City Mall was never mentioned, and being on Bardstown Road, I honestly dont know that I was ever in that part of town until I was a grown man. Before I dive more into the pictures let me give a little history.
Mid City Mall was built on the site of the German Protestant Orphan’s Home, which was founded in 1851 and moved to the 10-acre Highlands site in 1902. It remained there until 1962, but the structure and grounds were sold for $500,000 in 1959 to mall developers. The aging structure was demolished and the orphanage moved to Bardstown Road and Goldsmith Lane. Developers then built what became Kentucky’s second enclosed mall. The initial plan, unveiled in 1958, called for a $7.5 million, five-story mall with a pool in front on the Bardstown Road side and penthouse apartments on the top floor. The plan was gradually whittled down to a one-story plan with a lower level. The main developer of the project was Guy E. McGaughey, Jr., an attorney from Lawrenceville, Ill. The concept of an enclosed mall was very new. There were only a handful of enclosed malls in the US at the time. In drawing up the business model for the Mall, Mr. McGaughey had no basis for the rents. There was not a history for how much to charge the tenants for space, maintenance, housekeeping, repairs, trash pick-up, etc. Consequently, revenues were never enough to keep the Mall up-to-date and clean. Construction began in March 1962 and the mall was completed in October of that year at a cost of $3 million. The shopping center formally opened on October 10, 1962, in a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Louisville Mayor William O. Cowger and Jefferson County Judge Marlow Cook. The mall contained 180,000 square feet of leasable space and 22 stores. On June 21, 1964 an early morning fire that started in the Cherokee Book and Card Stop caused $200,000 in damage to the mall.
There was also a Kresge store in this mall that held its grand opening in October of 1962.
The mall originally opened with Winn-Dixe supermarket. When Winn-Dixie pulled out of the Louisville market in 2004, Buehler’s, a chain based in Jasper, Indiana, (not to be confused with the chain of the same name based in Ohio). Amid financial difficulties Buehler’s filed for bankruptcy in 2005 and closed both Louisville stores. The space was quickly taken over by Valu Market, a local Louisville area chain. Valu Market remains there today.
The mall is basically an elongated square on two floors. The bottom floor was once home to a skating rink. Today the mall is home to many non traditional mall tennants including a comedy club, doctors offices, and a branch of the Louisville Public Library. //embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
In 2015 it was announced that the mall would recieve renovations and new tennants. Today the mall is full and renovations have been completed.
for as long as I can remember I (and probably anyone around my age) have heard my parents talk of a place called Denny Rays. Apparently Denny Rays was a drive in Sonic type restaurant where all of the young people went. This Taco Bell was my Denny Rays. Ive spent many nights in the early and mid 2000’s hanging out and wasting time in this building.
One of my favorite memories from this Taco Bell was from the days when my friends and I thought we were destined for fame as independent film makers (lol). We would film a while, then go hang out at Taco Bell for a few minutes or few hours. After all, the Taco Bell bathroom vestibule is where Krazi Girl broke free from to wreak havoc on Walmart once again. Late last week a friend of mine messaged me and told me that this Taco Bell would be closed and a new building built in its place. Not to be overly dramatic or too sentimental, but my heart sank. All those memories. All that character. Once I done a little snooping and asking, I discovered that yes it was true and that the original Taco Bell in Harlan would close at the end of the day on Saturday March 25.
naturally, with a milestone such as this in my life coming to a close, you know I have to devote a blog entry and flickr photo album to this store. When I went to visit for the final time on Saturday I heard the store manager say that they hoped to have the building demolished by Wednesday (March 29). The store was originally opened in September 1994 and was one of the last stores to have the brown taco bell signage that I can remember……as late as 2010.
I took some interior photos that day, and some exterior photos this morning, as thats probably the last time I will see this landmark of my youth standing. Adios original Taco Bell…..I am going to miss you, but at the same time a part of me is excited to see it updated. Its a conflicted feeling, but regardless, this old building will hold a special place in my heart and memories.
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.
Can we all just agree right off the bat that I am just a big weirdo? A big, sentimental, nostalgia obsessed, incredibly handsome weirdo? As more and more Kmart and Sears closings have been announced over the past 12 months I have raced over the Midwest and Southeast trying to document these stores and give them a footnote in a very small chapter of a minute subject of our human existence. None of the stores, save for the Kmart in Corbin is or was more dear to my heart than the Sears at Fort Henry Mall.
Just after it was announced that this store would be closing i went over and visited and wrote up a blog entry covering the history of the store. That entry, along with photos from the visit can be found by clicking on this link.
Sears — Fort Henry Mall — Kingsport, Tennessee The Sears at Fort Henry Mall will close for good at the end of the business day on Sunday March 26th.
At the time of this visit, with only three days left in business the attached auto center had already been closed for business and the signs removed.
The Package Pick Up area was busy with people picking up fixtures that they have bought from the store. If I was a betting man I would bet that this spot could very well become home to the tri cities area’s first Dunham’s Sports store. (although if I had my way it would become home to the areas first At Home store).
Hull, the company that recently purchased Fort Henry Mall appears ready and willing to do what it takes to reinvigorate the mall and have stated changes are coming to the mall as early as this summer. The company (Hull) also seems to have a knack for filling vacated mall anchor stores with Dunham’s or TJ Maxx.
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.