December 30, 2011

Spotlight: Big Kmart - Jacksonville, FL

Big Kmart 5751 Beach Boulevard, Jacksonville, FL 32207
First of all, as most of you may have heard, Sears Holdings announced that they would be closing 100 to 120 Kmart and Sears stores. Stay tuned to Kmart World and Kmart World's Facebook page for any updates Sears Holdings may announce including the list of all locations that are being shuttered.

Run down looking Big Kmart building sign.
The same day that the news broke of the store closings story, I visited the Big Kmart on Beach Blvd. in Jacksonville, FL. This store was briefly shown in one of our features back in 2009. It is located at a fairly busy intersection in Jacksonville, almost directly across the street from a very large hospital. This store hasn't had a remodel in many years (as most Kmart's haven't) and is getting pretty run down looking, as you'll see in some of the pictures. But because of the proximity to the hospital and from all the traffic in the area, it has managed to stay in business and stay somewhat busy (for a Kmart store at least.) This location has been here more than likely since the late 60's and has an old Kmart Food's attached directly to the left of the store. The Kmart Foods spot is currently vacant and was previously occupied by a craft store.

Former Kmart foods spot.
Looking inside the former Kmart Foods spot
The location definitely lives up to its Big Kmart name, as it's one of the largest non-Super Kmart's I've been in. I'm not sure of the exact square footage of this store but it's on the highest end of the Big Kmart spectrum. This location originally featured a Little Caesars and many years ago it was changed to just a K Cafe. At last visit about four years ago, the K Cafe was still operating inside (pictured below.) After going to this store again a few days ago, the K Cafe is now closed and was turned into a Team Sports shop. One of the road signs for this Kmart had the pre-Big Kmart logo up until the early-00's, when it was finally changed to the Big Kmart logo.

K Cafe when it was still open in Sept. 2007.
K Cafe now a Team Sports shop in December 2011.
K Cafe label scar is still visible.
 This store is in somewhat of a disrepair. The floor tiles have been patched for one reason or another countless times. There is so many different shades of cream and white on the floor its ridiculous. Some of the associate help call boxes have been haphazardly removed from the poles. The back wall of the store has what looks like rust or some type of orange substance on the white painted cinder blocks. This is a nice store in that it's large and roomy and also does a decent business without a Walmart within several miles. Its just in desperate need of a facelift. If they put some money into a major remodel for this store, it would get even more business with the amount of people that go by it daily. Are you listening Eddie Lampert??

Tile floor patched so many times it's ridiculous.
Broken call box to nowhere.
The layout is a little bit different than the majority of Kmart's, as the electronics department is along the front wall of the store, close to the Pharmacy. For this being such a large store with lots of extra floor space, it has a laughably small, almost nonexistent large appliance department. There are about six total appliances on display in the middle of the electronics department, with an appliance department sign hanging from the ceiling. That sign is completely different than the rest of the department signs and thus looks out of place. This store features a large indoor Garden Center area and a fairly large outside area also. The clothing department being larger than most, features an expanded assortment of items. Looking at back wall of the store, towards the right side is the layaway counter and directly to the left of that is a small Olan Mills portrait studio. The store has nine front end checkout lanes and featured a few more that were taken out several years back. The former K Cafe is on the left wall, right next to the checkouts.

Typical Kmart Pharmacy.
Decent size Electronics department.
Here's the [extremely small] Appliance department.
Looking towards the indoor part of the Garden Center.
Olan Mills and Layaway along the back wall of the store.
9 checkout registers, with space on the right where a few more used to be.
That's about all that I know or can tell about this store. I don't really have much history on this store and haven't been about to find any from searching online. If any one knows anything more about it please leave a comment below. Leave your thoughts of this store below also.

Street sign, with whited out spot where the Kmart Foods sign used to be.
Closer shot of street sign.
Big Kmart.

Taken in Sept. 2007. Notice how the stripes are orange then, they are now red in the current pictures.
Kmart cart corral.
Looking down the hallway of the front of the store.
Closer shot of the former K Cafe.
Inside the K Cafe area. Door leads to a hidden section where the back of the K Cafe was.
Left corner of store looking towards the other end of the store.
Front alley of store looking towards layaway.
Right Corner of store looking toward the other end.
The extent of Kmart's refrigerated offerings.
Back alley of store looking towards the fitting rooms
In shoe department looking towards the service desk/store exit.
Former spot of the Kmart directory picture now covered over with sales ads.
Customer service desk.
Garden shop exterior.

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.