July 9, 2009

Spotlight: Super Kmart Center - Rome, GA

In January of 2008 I visited the last remaining Kmart Super Center in Georgia.

Here's the narrative of my visit-
Upon arriving I was impressed with the very well kept up exterior of the store. At the end of the parking lot was a Kmart Express gas station, complete with a small convenience store. I found it funny, there was a small shopping center building in the parking lot with a still open Little Caesar's Pizza.

After entering the store (through the food side entrance), I observed it was fairly busy, quite a bit more so than a typical Big Kmart store. Though it was still a fraction of the business a Walmart Super Center would have. The store inside was very well kept up and fairly well stocked for a Kmart. The signage in the store looked fairly nice too.

Across from the checkouts at the front of the store was customer service, next to customer service there was a ICEE/Soda fountain bar, (with cups purchasable at the register), a Olan Mills portrait studio, a impressively large Floral department, and a large game room (complete with ancient games.) The store had 16 registers, but oddly they were dismantling the first 4 registers, I guess they were getting rid of them.

I walked through the regular part of the store first. They had a large section of Craftsman tools in the hardware department. Electronics was on the far right side of the store and probably the most disappointing department, it didn't have a very decent selection and was the most dated looking department in the store. Surprisingly this store didn't have any of their DVD's locked up, as most Kmart's now do. There was a typical Layaway department in the back of the store. Also along the back wall was the large Appliances department.

After touring the GM side, I grabbed a shopping cart (some carts were blue and some were grey) and headed to the Grocery side. I started at the back of the store where they had the Produce department, Dairy/Frozen Foods and the Meat/Seafood departments. I could tell they used to have a fresh seafood section but they took the sign down and was now using the area for more packaged meats. They still had frozen seafood though. The Produce department was nice, neat, and well kept.

The side wall had the Deli/Bakery and in the front corner the Deli Cafe restaurant. The bakery was excellent and had tons of goodies. They also had a Krispy Kreme case with individual donuts for 50 cents and a Vortman cookie case where you could pick 10 cookies for $1.00. The bakery was definitely better than Walmarts. Next was the deli which was attached to the Deli Cafe. The deli was large with meat, cheeses, specialty dishes, a hot bar with fried chicken, and lots of hot side dishes. You could get the hot food from the deli, or get a deli sub made, buy it in the deli, and eat it at the Cafe. The Cafe had its own large menu with snacks like popcorn and nachos, menu items like chicken sandwiches, a good sized breakfast menu, and a drink bar with sodas and coffee. It had a huge seating area. After I picked out my groceries, I got some food at the Cafe and sat down there to eat.

After finishing at the Cafe, I headed to the checkouts. Unfortunately it was like most Kmart's and had only two registers open with long lines. The store had no self-checkouts, which I don't think any Kmart's have. I headed out to my car and got gas at the Kmart Express gas station. Upon leaving I noticed on the side of the store the empty auto center with 5 or 6 garage bays.

I took as many pics as I could of the store. Outside shots were hard because of the sunshine blocking my shots.

It was my first visit to a Kmart Super Center and I was pleased with the selection and look of the store.
Overall I was impressed with this Kmart.

Fast forward to July 2009 and this Kmart Super Center has been.. well de-Super Centered. It no longer has a grocery section and is not open 24 hours anymore.

According to the Rome Newswire in an article dated April 8, 2009-

'The Rome Super Kmart Store will be laying off 80 employees and closing the grocery section within 60 days, but the store manager says the business will remain open.
“No, the store is not planning to close,” said Mike Barger, Rome’s store manager. He deferred other questions to the company’s public relations department.
Kim Freely, a public relations official, confirmed the layout Wednesday afternoon, saying “we are eliminating the grocery side of the store.”
The move will change the local Kmart from a Super Kmart to a Big K. Freely said the business currently employees about 180 people, meaning about 100 will remain following the planned change.'
In this follow up article dated June 1, 2009, the new signs go up-

'The old signs are coming down and new ones going up at the Super Kmart on Hicks Drive that will soon be fully transitioned to a Big K.
As first reported by RomeNewswire in early April, the store is closing it’s grocery side and becoming a Big K. Kim Freely, a public relations officials with the chain, said the move will results in about 80 people losing their jobs. The stored employed about 180 before the change began.
Workers from Coosa Valley Signs and Rayburn Electric were working in the heat Monday morning to pull down and swap out the signs in the Kmart parking lot.'
So there you go folks, the last Kmart Super Center in Georgia is now gone, at least as a Super Center. This isn't the first Kmart Super Center in the past year to stay open but get rid of the grocery section. There have been several around the US that have quietly phased out the grocery section and become Big Kmarts. According to the Kmart Super Center website, there are only 38 Kmart Super Centers left in 13 states, with over half of them in only 3 states.
I have not been to the Rome, GA store yet to check out the change but if I do, pictures will be posted here.

So what do you think, are the remaining Kmart Super Centers days numbered? Or are they just trimming the "fat" to focus on a few profitable ones?


  1. There is was a K-Mart super center in Humble Texas (Northeast of Houston) that has been closed since 2002. It looked exactly like the inside of this store, so these photos bring back some memories. K-Mart pulled out of Houston in 2003 and the closest stores to Houston now are Lufkin Texas nearly two hours to the north and Lake Charles Louisiana over two hours to the east. I wish that I would have taken pictures of those stores. There was a K-Mart in Baton Rouge with a neon sign the same style as the old logo; that I wish I had a picture of as well. Every time we make a trip to Louisiana; the K-Mart keeps becoming more like Sears. It is a matter of time before Sears pulls the plug on the brand and converts the stores over to Sears.

  2. That was the only Super K-Mart I ever went in. The K-Mart there used to be located roughly where the Home Depot is sitting now. I remember when all that was around there was the K-Mart. The strip of stores east of the Home Depot and the current K-Mart were built around 1983 or 1984. Before then, the K-Mart building was all that was there. East Rome High School sat roughly where the current K-Mart is located. Across the road was RiverBend Mall, a small enclosed mall with Belk Rhodes and Millers that went down quickly after Mount Berry Square opened in either 1991 or 1992.

    That old K-Mart building is the one where I have the most memories since it was the one most frequently visited by my parents (the one in Gadsden was frequently visited as well). Rome was only a 25 mile drive from our house while Gasdden was 40 miles. That K-Mart in Rome was the closest to our house, and the Sears in Rome on 2nd Avenue was the closest full Sears store, so Rome was a big shopping city for us.

    Wal-Mart had not entered the market in our area at the time (not until they bought Kuhn's Big K stores). Then, K-Mart was "the store" to get lots of non-grocery items for the home.

    That old K-Mart had a grocery store in the left portion of the building, as did many K-Marts of the 1970s, but it seemed to be run as a totally separate business.

    In West Rome, during the 1980-1982 time period, another K-Mart opened in West Rome. It was on GA 20 coming into town just east of West Rome High School and the shopping center with the Kuhn's Big K. It didn't last long. Wal-Mart took over the Big K in 1981, then build a newer larger Wal-Mart near the K-Mart. After a few years, that K-Mart was gone, never having the long-term success of the East Rome store.

    In Gadsden, the K-Mart just west of the river on Broad Street is still there in the same building. Another K-Mart located on AL 77 not far from I-59 is still there as well. We rarely visited the AL 77 store since it seemed smaller than the Broad Street one.

  3. I almost think my local Kmart (Bangor, Maine) was once a Kmart Super Center...trying to find out what the adjacent building to it in its plaza once was, I was informed that it was once a "Kmart grocery store," whatever that means. I can only assume that the entire building operated as one unit at some point in time, incorporating the grocery offerings into the more straightforward "discount store" model that still exists to this day (with a very limited grocery section, including a couple coolers for refrigerated products).

    Also, glad (sort of?) to see that the "only two registers open" phenomenon extends to other Kmarts and is not limited to my own, haha.

    Enjoyed the writeup, thanks!!

    1. Bangor ME as never a Supercenter, they were BIG Kmart. The only New England Supercenters were New Haven and Wallingford CT, both closed in 2003 and are both home to Walmart locations.

  4. With a little help, Kmart could remodel a Super Center into a "new format", modeling it after Meijer.

    An old Super Kmart in Waco is still somewhat vacant...the general merchandise section is now an Academy but the grocery part is not leased.

  5. Nice job on the post! I thought the concept was good, but poorly executed. When I did the post on it, it was very shortly after the few other locations closed. The Super Kmart in Gainesville was completely demolished and the entire strip redeveloped. It wasn't old to start with! If Sears doesn't get it together on Kmart and Sears, expect this one to close for sure.

    Also, the Kmart in Gadsden, AL apparently had a Kmart Foods that operated at the very last as a Food Giant. I noticed it sitting there vacant the last time I was there.

  6. I worked for a while right across the street from the former super kmart in Gainesville.. It is now a large shopping center with Publix, old navy, ross, etc.

  7. Many K-Marts had a grocery store, such as a K-Mart foods or a Winn Dixie operating next to them in the same building, but it was not like a supercenter. The stores were separate, although I saw at least one K-Mart and K-Mart foods that had a connection on the inside between the two in front of the store. Most of the grocery stores closed and often, the K-Mart took over the grocery store to expand.

  8. Most people I have talked to are not happy about there being no Kmart stores in or around the Houston area. We preferred Kmart over Walmart and Target! Seems that at least one or two should still be operational in our area! Kmart had many items that neither Walmart or Target had/have and pricing was more reasonable than either of others. We now are forced to shop at Home Depot and the strip malls.... So much for tre rest!! Still looking for Kmarts........


  9. "I just discovered a new word Subalicious"

  10. I remember in the 70's K-Marts in Florida having the grocery store adjacent but separated except for a walkway at the front of the store (inside and out). They closed the grocery parts and some of them were Grand Union's very briefly before they abandoned the Florida market in the early 80's. I am not sure if any are left, but the last time I was back in my old home of Broward County there was still an old combo store at University and Oakland Park Blvd. that had the grocery part closed for 20 years running while the K-Mart was still up and going. It reminded me of another similar effort J C Penney had in S Florida in the late 60's and early 70's called the Treasury, complete with food on one side and general merchandise on the other. They had 4 stores, and when they folded them in the mid-70's the ones in Florida ended up being some of the first locations for Home Depot along with Marshalls.

  11. I used to work at the Super Kmart in Rome GA. Sad to see it go. Back in the 90s that store always stayed packed. Ever since they opened a new Kroger across the street and a new Walmart about 10 mins from there that store lost alot of business. Lots of problems with the Grocery store didnt have alot of variety to choose from and prices were higher than other stores. I know they remodeled that store 3 times since it been open back in 1990. I went in there one time since they turned it in to a Big K and its really sad to see it go to that.

  12. The grocery section was not well managed at all. The groceries were trucked in from North Carolina to North Georgia with a high wholesale cost. Kmart groceries could barely compete with the local quick rips, much less Kroger or Wal-mart.
    Another big corporation that cares more about selling sears junk inside a kmart than running a business. Those 80 jobs were important to the people who were laid off. Kmart will be out of business soon. Their business model is significantly flawed. Who would try to compete with home depot across the street trying to sell appliances? The Kroger across the street ran them out of the grocery business. Wal-mart beats them on the general merchandise. Home Depot beats them on appliances. Good luck Kmart.

  13. I think Super Kmart should merge with walmart because here in mississippi discount walmarts converted to a supercenter. If I were Kmart I would have maken a plan to merge with Walmart.
    If Kmart merged with Walmart in 2002 I think no single kmart would close nor they would not pull their grocery section. I think now since the economy is bad Kmart should merge with walmart to reopen alot of stores and customers atractive.

  14. Please come to Northeastern Ohio and do some post about Super Kmarts. I did my own post on My Kmart about the Super Kmart in Lorain, Ohio. I chickened out and did not take any pictures of the store, it seemed kind of busy and I am kind of Nervous. If you want to see it, it is on my profile page. My profile name on My Kmart is NickE. In northeastern Ohio we have five or six Super Kmarts in operation, Two converted Super Kmarts (one was the first Super Kmart ever), and Two closed Super Kmarts. Please look into doing some posts about these stores, I tried but was afraid of taking pictures in a store.

  15. Now, this whole Kmart in Rome, GA is shutting down permanently. It is starting to transition completely to "CLOSED FOR BUSINESS".