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.