March 6, 2011

Special Report: The slow death of Super Kmart Centers & the rise of Eddie Lampert

© Kate Bingaham-Burt
One of my most popular posts on this site was from back in July 2009. It was a spotlight on Georgia's last Super Kmart Center and the subsequent removal of the "Super" part of the store. Fast forward to March 2011 and we are getting closer to talking about the Nations last Super Kmart Center. Super Kmart Centers are becoming an increasingly dying breed and it's unclear how many Super Kmart Centers are now left in the US. Kmart has removed the Super Kmart Center part of their website and thus the store locator for Super Kmart Centers. As of last count, there were just over 30 left but now that number is less because of the recent de-supering of several locations. And by de-supering, I mean the increasingly frequent practice of Kmart completely removing the grocery sections and changing them to Big Kmart's, which are no longer open 24 hours as the Super Kmart Centers were. This was the fate of the Rome, GA location I visited and reported on. Locations that aren't worth changing to Big Kmarts are closed all together, which happened quite a bit in the earlier 2000's during Kmart's bankruptcy stage.

© Kate Bingaham-Burt
You can pretty much put the final nail in the coffin of Super Kmart Centers. It's an unfortunate but true fact as the number of Super Kmart Centers dwindle down closer to zero with the closure or de-supering of most locations. Sears Holdings has all but given up on the concept, realizing that it's too little, too late now to try to expand it further to compete with Walmart Supercenters.

© Kate Bingaham-Burt
I am for one disappointed that they didn't try to maintain and expand the concept in the late 90s/early 00s, before Walmart got a stronger hold than it already had on the grocery market. Instead, during their bankruptcy of 2002, they closed several of the Super Kmart Center locations. Then in 2003 when Eddie Lampert started his rein of the company, you could all but forget any hope of progress for Super Kmart Centers.


© Kate Bingaham-Burt
Ever since Lampert has taken control of Kmart and then subsequently Sears any chances of progress for the company has died before it even started. Lampert runs the company to get profits for his hedge fund, instead of worrying about increasing sales or making improvements to the stores. Most people can tell this from the 90s and even 80s time warp they get when stepping into most Kmart stores. A lot of us love the nostalgic feeling we get when going into Kmart's but no matter how much we love it, it's bad for business.

© Kate Bingaham-Burt
Sears Holdings idea of progress is their never ending testing of different concepts, only for them to be abandoned or die a slow death. I recently did an article on mygofer, one of Sears Holdings most recent concepts that they have been focusing on. To give you a short summary, I'm not that impressed.

© Kate Bingaham-Burt
I hate to be critical about Kmart and Sears Holdings so much lately, but there really isn't much they've done recently to be positive or happy about. Here's hoping that Sears Holdings can do something to make Kmart a tour de force in the retail world again. Until then Kmart's outlook is looking as bleak as these pictures.

© Kate Bingaham-Burt
Special thanks to Kate Bingaman-Burt of Obsessiveconsumption.com. She captured these awesome photos after her local Super Kmart Center went out of business. She wrote an interesting article about that location to go with these photos, it can be read on Core77.com. These photos are sole property of Kate Bingaman-Burt.

© Kate Bingaham-Burt

14 comments:

  1. In April, after the conversions, there will be 26 Super Kmart Center left in operation. Shop Super K, prove to Sears Holdings that Super K is 'Super' K'ool.

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  2. That is very sad. Kmart has 26 Super Centers in the US and Walmart has nearly 3000 Super Centers in the US. That's quite a difference.

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  3. /shrug

    Well, with Wal-Mart really phasing out "Supercenter" out of the name of their stores, with Walmart being on all stores big and small, there may be hope for a Kmart grocery. Sadly, this looks like to be not the case.

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  4. In Northeastern Ohio there are still 3 Super Kmarts in operation(That I know of). Surprisingly, these stores seem to be very busy at times, even though all three are within a mile of a Walmart. Also, Kmart Supercenter ads still come in the paper. The store in Lorain has made many improvements since a Walmart Supercenter opened very close by last year. There used to be five Super Kmarts,but the Medina and Fremont stores were converted to Big Kmarts. The remaining stores I know of are in Lorain, Brooklyn, and Mentor.

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    Replies
    1. AFTERMATH:
      Since one of the only gains Sears/Kmart had in 2011 was in Groceries, it was therefore no surprise that the Medina Kmart store got the axe due to dismal 2011 holiday sales, closing down for good on May 6, 2012. Also, the Fremont store is also closing its doors permanently for the same reason, which is of course, in my opinion, dismal Christmas 2015 and early 2016 sales.

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  5. They should have managed those businesses well. Thanks a lot for that info anyway.

    office space

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  6. Here's the problem. They managed the grocery store like a kmart, no help and being non- competitve. when the cost of groceries are a big part of consumers budget, why on earth would you shop at a store like the kmart supercenter, where the prices are MSRP. Only cherry pickers shop at kmart. Lets face it, incompetent people at the top, who know nothing about the grocery business, who pretended they did. There's more turnover in the corporate grocery division than in a stack of pancakes. They just should have left it alone when Dave Marsico was in charge ( even though he had the personality of a lemon ), at least he knew how the business should have been run and how competitive it had to be. Oh well, at least most grocery stores know the business and thats where the people shop.

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  7. BAD NEWS; Walmart is reopening layaways in all their stores by november.

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  8. Here's what I saw on BusinessWeek (a comment):

    We've just seen what hedge funds have done to banks and insurance companies. How is no one realizing that Lampert has hedged his bet here and that he and his cohorts will make money if Sears loses? In this current retail scenario, it will hurt consumer confidence now more than ever if Sears and Kmart are empty shells. Lampert's lack of investment and poor retail management has contributed to double-digit sales declines in both Sears and Kmart for the last three years. What happens when the revolving line of credit he has against SHLD expires in February of 2010? My guess is that there is a liquidation; and Lampert makes money in the long-term by moving any of the valuable brands over to KCD IP prior to the bankruptcy and leaves Sears Holdings with nothing of value. Wake up people! This guy is contributing to an already catastrophic retail environment. He is driving Sears and Kmart into the ground and will make money by putting a company out of business. He's the anti-Warren Buffett.



    ---

    THIS IS HAPPENING. Lampert and his goons are killing the stores and outsourcing the best brands.

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  9. I loved Super K, and I miss them.

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  10. Raul Sanchez-AlvaradoAugust 19, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    Eddie Lampert: Hedge funders first, Kmarts and SEARS stores last

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  11. BAD NEWS: The Rome, GA Kmart is shutting down. A going out of business sale will occur, and then, the store will close down altogether.

    http://coosavalleynews.com/2016/05/rome-k-mart-to-close-this-summer/

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  12. Only 1 Super Kmart Center remains - in Warren, Ohio.

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