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?