November 30, 2011

Spotlight: Super Kmart Center - Virginia Beach, VA


It's Alive! Today we are featuring a visit to the busy and still super Virgina Beach, VA Super Kmart Center. This store is located less than five miles from the beach and is a popular location for vacationers to shop at. It is also right off of Interstate 264 with the large Super K sign visible from the interstate, leading to increased traffic. In an article from 1997, it stated that it "sits on one of the most valuable pieces of land in the Beach's shopping mecca. The Hilltop corridor has the highest retail sales per capita in Hampton Roads and is surrounded by some of the city's most affluent neighborhoods." One must wonder if Sears Holdings opened new Super Kmart Centers in high traffic areas, would they thrive such as this one is? I believe they would, so as long as they are not located across the street from an existing Walmart Super Center. But alas that is a debate for another day.

This is the last remaining Super Kmart Center in the state of Virgina, as the only other remaining Super Kmart Center in Tabb, VA was downsized to a Big Kmart earlier this year. Originally there were several Super Kmart Centers in Virgina, but most shut down during the bankruptcy round of closings in the early 2000's. Now lets take a further look at this location. It is situated in the Hilltop Square shopping center, which features several small shops and restaurants in a strip center and several out parcels. The entire shopping center is 270,000 square feet and was built in 1973. This location was not built as a ground up super center, but was originally a regular Kmart and expanded into a Super Kmart Center in 1998. That would lead me to believe that this Kmart was an original tenant when the shopping center was built in 1973. Construction on the expansion from a regular Kmart into a Super Kmart Center begin in February 1998 and was completed in November 1998. Upon completion, it was the 100th Super Kmart Center in operation and the first prototype location to feature their new smaller footprint of 140,000; of which was rolled out to future Super Kmart Center openings. Up until then, most typical Super Kmart Center locations averaged 180,000-190,000 sq ft.

In an article that was published on November 16, 1998, a week after the Kmart had its reopening as a Super Kmart Center, Laurence L. Anderson, president of the Super Kmart division talked about the new 140,000 sq ft prototype. "We're very excited about the new size," Anderson said, "because 140,000 square feet is the prototype of choice going forward." In the new prototype, food covers about 40,000 square feet, or about 30% of floor space, compared with 65,000 square feet, or 40%, at the larger stores. The new model also shifts perishables - including produce, service bakery and service deli -- from the back of the store to the periphery, adjacent to meat and seafood, "for better labor efficiency," Anderson said. In addition, the prototype incorporates a wall of values up front, opposite the produce department, that will be visual as the customer enters the store, "for a strong price/value impression," he said; it also features a seasonal display area near the front that ties in food and nonfood. Most grocery assortments in the smaller prototype are condensed, Anderson noted. "We've practiced more category management in our decision-making in both food and nonfood, and going forward, we intend to utilize what we're learning to a greater extent." The new prototype will still feature what Anderson termed Kmart's strongest nonfood departments across the front -- ladies apparel, Martha Stewart home furnishings and a seasonal display area.


The pictures featured in this story were taken by Mike K, who visited this location earlier in the year. Some of his observations include that the grocery department is on the left and the general merchandise is on the right. Walking into the grocery side you see the produce first in front, with the bakery, deli, and meat department along the left wall. There is a K Cafe located in the back to the right of the deli and prepared foods, with a cash register and small seating area. Mike noted that the store was busy, with a lot of people in the grocery section. Also the store was well lit, clean, and the staff was helpful. This location does not a have auto center, nor a gas station. You may have also noticed that this location has a different Super Kmart Center logo. This logo was used in the later years during the time the Big Kmart logo was being rolled out. The decor package is different than most Super Kmart Centers too. This is from the location being a smaller, redeveloped prototype location. The top part of the walls feature small sayings written in cursive on them (see pictures below), which is seen in very few, if any other Super Kmart Center locations.

Enjoy the pictures and feel free to leave you thoughts below on this thriving Super Kmart Center.

Special thanks again goes out to Mike K. for providing all of the pictures in this story.

33 comments:

  1. Kmart probably COULD fight back against Walmart head to head if they do it right. Maybe not on price, but they could have a slightly more upscale mix of products (made in America!), better quality too, but cheap enough to entice customers to come in. And of course, it wouldn't be too hard to compete with Walmart on food: meat that's actually cut in the store would bring in grocery shoppers, and upping the beer/wine selection would bring in lots of profit.

    A good grocery store needn't be up to the latest decor. There's an old AppleTree Markets that became a locally owned grocery store: the décor is straight of out of 1988, and it's a difficult market. Walmart quite close, with H-E-B (another large chain) a bit farther out. But because it stocks a good mix of products and has good employees, it does well.

    The elimination of certain lines at Target (and, of course, the underlying cheapness of Target as a whole) and the changes at Walmart leave a golden opportunity for Kmart, and Super Kmart, to rise again.

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  2. It's interesting to note that there is a Target directly to the right of this Kmart. And looking at the Birds Eye view in Bing, it seems to have been remodeled in recent years also.

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  3. I also think that the 140,000 square foot prototype being the norm was also a big mistake. While not such a bad plan in these downscaling days, having a smaller store than the Wal-Mart Supercenters of the time was a definite no-no and probably one of the things that led to the demise of Kmart Corp.

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  4. Well believe it or not they were also planing on experimenting with Super Centers even smaller than that. In the article from Nov 1998 that talked about this store, it also mentioned they were "developing a 110,000- to 115,000-square-foot prototype that will be tested in 1999 and, if it proves successful, converting hundreds of urban-based Kmart stores to supercenters."

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  5. It has a similar look and setup as the Elyria, Ohio store that closed in 2003. That store is currently occupied with very little change done to the majority of the store. I am planning on taking pictures of this store soon and posting them on my blog. Soon, I am going to add tons of photos to my previous posts that have few photos. That store closed just Two years after opening, sad.

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  6. wow nice! let's put it in the list at
    http://superkmart.blogspot.com/2011/11/super-kmart-revisited.html

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  7. Sad that it is the last of four Super Kmarts in the Hampton Roads, VA metro - Wal-Mart's surround, divide and conquer modus operandi with its own supercenters was certainly the demise of the demoted three, although Kmart still has significant market share with 13 Kmart locations left in the area as they occupy prime locations albeit mostly in the older suburbs.

    This last Super K was lucky enough to retain an affluent demographic, plus the fact that Wal-Mart was unable to locate a store nearby, as this part of Virginia Beach is quite low on remaining commercial real estate.

    But at least I am only an hour's drive from this Super K and have made a few pilgrimages there in the past three months. Amazing that with only one supercenter, this Super K is able to undercut the local Wal-Marts consistently in the grocery department. Kudos to the manager and staff of this store. While their fellow Super Ks have fallen to demotion, they have remained an impenetrable force! If only Kmart had the wisdom to aggressively place Super Ks in the outer suburbs to compete with Wal-Mart on a more level playing field. After all, Kmart seems to have the advantage on grocery prices... Of course that's not likely to happen as long as Lampert's holding the reins.

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  8. A Super Kmart opened a NEW store and closed it in 2 years? Seriously? or was it a old Kmart turned Super?

    This store was large, with a good 20 or more registers up front. It didnt feel crowded or cramped, and was well laid out. The toy section was a bit messy, but the food area was bright, clean and open. The beer and wine selection was GREAT by the way.

    Yes, a Target is next door, and has been next door since I could remember. Its odd, as this store is kind of "hidden" to people not on the highway.

    BTW: I am the person who visited this store and took these photos. I am looking for more Super K's and former Super K's, specifically the large format stores. I believe the Concord, NC location was a large format store.

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  9. A comprehensive list of all Sears Holdings's assets currently operating can be found here.

    http://www.shcrealty.com/operating-store-opportunities.aspx

    One can narrow the list to Kmart, Super K (of which there are 34 remaining) - sad :(, Sears and so forth.

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  10. JUST the link I was looking for. I believe the Norfolk store isnt Super anymore, and Im 100% sure Concord, NC isnt.

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  11. Yup. Of the four Hampton Roads Super Kmarts, only the Virginia Beach - First Colonial Road location remains Super. The Norfolk - Military Highway and Tabb - Victory Boulevard locations got demoted to regular Kmarts, while the Virginia Beach - Holland Road location was completely shuttered I think during the 2003-04 bankruptcy.

    I know that of the Super Kmarts in North Carolina, the Greensboro and Burlington locations were definitely demoted, as I go to college in Greensboro. I'm not sure about Concord, but I think the 'Super Kmart blog' noted that the Concord location was also demoted. If that's the case, the SHC website is a bit out of date...

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  12. Here's the list of Super K's that Kmart has on their website- http://www.kmart.com/ue/home/SuperKmart_StoreLocation_102510.pdf It's out of date also though, as some of the stores on the list have been downsized to non Super K's. Best thing to do is call the individual stores on that list and ask if they still are a Super Center.

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  13. Actually the holland road store stayed open til 2009...it was suppose to have closed sooner but they fought to keep it open and renegotiated the lease.

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  14. Concord is a regular Kmart w/ a Sears Outlet.

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  15. You should have got a picture of the K Cafe.

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  16. 2 employees were standing there the entire time, couldnt grab it. I spent atleast an hour in the store trying to get photos. Not a easy task.

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  17. I have a pretty accurate list of Kmart Supercenter locations here http://deadanddyingretail.blogspot.com/2011/10/current-kmart-supercenter-locations-as.html
    I am almost certain all Super Kmart stores on the list are still operating.

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  18. The majority of the Super Kmart stores operating and closed / converted in Northeastern Ohio are large format stores. Some unusual Super Kmart stores in Northeastern Ohio are are Ashtabula (which is attached to a mall), The Former Elyria store (which seems similar to the Virginia Beach store, closed 2003, now Bargain Warehouse and Litehouse pools), and the Former Euclid store (which was something else before the Super Kmart opened in the same building, closed 2003, now Great Lakes exposition center)

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  19. Also, I forgot to add that the largest Super Kmart in operation is the Lorain Supercenter at 195,665 square feet. As far as I know this was the Largest Super Kmart ever constructed. I am not sure if the attached 4,733 Square feet former Kmart Auto Center is included in this calculation.

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  20. Also, The smallest Super Kmart in operation is the Morgantown, West Virginia store at 134,985 square feet.

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  21. This had to be a rebuild. If you look at Google Earth, and use the time slider to go back, keeping in relation with other existing buildings, you'll see the two buildings are distinctly different.

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  22. Looks like a rebuild to me. Follows the design of a 1998 - 2001 ground-up Super Kmart. The Kmart Conversions to Super Kmart has a whole different look with differences in ceiling height and lighting in different parts of the store and the signage for these stores typically say Super Kmart Center.

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  23. As I said in the article, construction on the expansion of this store from being a regular Kmart into a Super Kmart begin in February 1998 and was completed in November 1998. That's nine months that it took to convert this store into a super center. You be the judge on the extent of building work they did during that time frame. The news article didn't specify the extent of building demolition they did for this expansion.

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  24. there is a superkmart in mentor ohio.it was build around 1997.it still seems to do a good business

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  25. Anyone remember the late 1980's K Mart prototype? I remember one that opened in October 1988 in Matteson, IL.....it was the last of the "old K Mart" design with low interior ceilings, exposed (non recessed) fluorescent strip lighting that ran parallel to the front door and a bland exterior with a simple K Mart Logo offset to the right of the entrance. The entrance had a small protrusion that was a red color, but other than that, there was no type of overhang whatsoever! The entry to the store was in the center of the building. I wonder what this prototype was called?

    I remember 2 years later, a newer K Mart opened in Manistee, MI and it contained an offset entrance, higher ceilings, and perpendicular recessed fluorescent lighting. It was a much better design that almost mimicked Wal Mart's new prototype of the early 1990's.

    As many things about K Mart seemed outdated, I was always impressed by their use of Nortel Meridian phone systems. The regular Big K stores used Meridian Norstar Key systems, while the Super K's used a full Nortel Meridian 1 PBX, which is probably the most high tech system ever manufactured. Competitors in the 1990's were not even close to using this technology. I remember the Service Desks at the Super K's had the big Meridian 2616 black phones with the sidecars for all the extra extensions.

    I always like the fact that the stores had paging too....I don't like Target's policy of No Paging and Wal Mart is following suit due to that racial incident a few years back. I don't understand why some K Mart's had the Meridian phone's by the checkouts, but they also had a microphone.....that's was completely duplicitous and dumb....the phone system can do all the paging!

    Just some K Mart thoughts from me!

    I'll add more later.

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  26. Are you referring to this http://www.flickr.com/photos/dyingindowney/2651067092/

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  27. Comparing historical imagery proves this store was rebuilt.

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  28. This KMART is not an original to the shopping center as it use to be GRANTS or ZAYRES (but I really think it was GRANT) and it could have been something else before it was GRANTS. I have lived within 1/2 mile of this shopping center since 1972 and I grew up only two miles away. TARGET is across the street (you make a left for TARGET) and a RIGHT for KMART. Then there is a WALMART turned SUPER WALMART withing 3 miles of this shopping center close to LYNNHAVE MALL. Just thought I would give you a bit of history.

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  29. This looks very similar to the Super Kmart in Southgate, MI that is closing this month-right down to the wall mottoes.

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  31. Sadly This Store Is Scheduled To Close June 2015. Last Summer 2014 The Store Removed The Deli, Produce & Downsized To Only Offer Certain SKU's In The Food Segments. Definitely Hate To See This Place Close For Good.

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  32. It was originally a Grant City (Part of the defunct W.T. Grant Co.)and was converted to a Kmart in 1973. I was the Apparel Manager in that store from 1977-1979.

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  33. It's now a Walmart super center, Kmart totally left and Walmart remodeled it... The big block that once said super Kmart now blue saying Walmart also the two entrances are redone

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