March 23, 2012

Spotlight Part 2 of 2: Sears to Kmart - Marietta, GA

Kmart is back!
After our January visit documenting the conversion process of this store going from a Sears to a Kmart and being featured in part one of our Spotlight here, we will now look at the finished product. Fast forward to March and the store is now a Kmart again. It has undergone quite a transformation and the end result is very impressive.

Kmart Now Open? When's the last time you saw a sign say that?
Pulling into the parking lot, first thing you'll notice is the big new Kmart logo on the front of the building. There are new signs on the cart corrals and the shopping center road signs. The stripes on the doors went from blue when it was Sears to the Kmart red. Just inside the doors is a small lobby with an area for the shopping carts on the right.

The new Kmart lobby.
As I stepped foot into the actual store, I let out an audible "Wow!" I was thinking "Did I really just step foot into a Kmart store?" As soon as you walk in, you are greeted with a big open space at the front of the store. The clothing department is directly in front of you and on the entire right side of the store. The store has a big, open 'racetrack' format around it. The racetrack is a lot more open and defined than most all other Kmart's. Just to the right of the entrance was the greeting cards. The jewelry department was in the middle of the clothing side of store. The back wall behind the clothing was the shoes department. Several of the departments in the store including the clothing department had carpeting, which is almost non-existent in Kmart stores.

Looking at the Women's clothing dept.
Jewelry department, right in the middle of the clothing store side.
 After passing the shoes along the back wall of the store was the appliances and electronics department. The electronics department honestly looked like it was one from a Sears store. There was even new display cases for the video games. Just past the electronics was the mattress department. Yes, this Kmart sells mattresses and has them on display.

Are we in Sears or Kmart's electronics? Yes we're really in Kmart's.
Kmart's mattress department, a first for me.
Just past mattresses was the layaway area and then the furniture department. Following that was housewares and then sporting goods. Along the left side wall of the store was hardware. automotive, toys, books, and then home office.

Sporting goods and luggage on the right.
Tools and automotive.
Books, magazines, and home office departments.
At the front left corner of the store you have the seasonal area, followed by the entrance to the inside garden center area. The inside garden shop featured lawn mowers and the typical garden shop fare, just merchandised a lot more nicely. The outside garden shop area was open and featured several gardening plants and flowers for sale.

Seasonal area, which is set up for the summer time.
Inside garden shop area, merchandised very nicely.
Outside garden center with plenty of spring plants.
Once past the garden shop entrance is the health and beauty department including the cosmetics. Very strangely the Pharmacy was no longer open. A sign was posted where the Pharmacy window used to be stating that the records had been moved to CVS. I didn't understand that at all because the Pharmacy was left open when the store was originally converted from Kmart to Sears. It was still open as of January when we visited the store as it was being converted from Sears to Kmart. I don't understand why they would close it now that the store is back to a Kmart, but that's Sears Holdings Corp for you.

Health and Beauty department.
Shuttered Pharmacy, don't understand why it was closed down.
As stated earlier when you walk into the store the Women's clothing is in front of you in the middle portion of the store. To the left of that is the domestics department including the sub-departments of curtains, home decor, bedding, bath, and small appliances.

Looking towards all the domestics departments.
Looking towards the other domestics departments.
Following the domestic department was the household cleaning products and the pet supplies. And finally following that was the Pantry department with all the food and drink products. It still featured the same sad looking milk coolers that all Kmart stores have for their refrigerated items.

Cleaning and home products, with pet supplies just past it.
Pantry food aisles.
Pantry aisles with the infamous milk coolers.
That pretty well covers the departments. The customer service desk and checkout registers were at the front of the store just to the left of the entrance. The register set-up is very unconventional. It was left the same from when it was Sears, as the register counters are blue for that reason. There are seven registers, but they are in an L shape. There is one central line for all the resisters. The customer service desk is directly to the left of the registers along the wall.

Just inside the entrance looking left towards customer service.
The unconventional register set-up.
Unlike most of the more recent Kmart remodels, this store doesn't feature the orange and brown color scheme but instead uses the traditional Kmart red for all the signage and walls. The red looks a lot better and goes with the Kmart stores more I think. This store also doesn't have an Internet Cafe that a lot of the remodeled Kmart's from the last few years have gotten. There is no restaurant or K Cafe type place at this store either. It has the same Kmart low ceilings and rows of florescent lights, but the store doesn't feel cramped or closed in. That's mainly because the aisle's aren't as high, the racetrack around the store is a lot wider and overall it's a lot more open feeling. It looks less like a Kmart inside and more like a small Target store. Everything is different about this store than most every other Kmart, so it's hard to even compare it to another Kmart.

Remodeled Kmart with an 1980's facade.
If Sears Holdings invested the money to remodel most of their Kmart stores to look like this one, it would be a very good start for them to getting business back. Next would be to lower their everyday prices, widen their selection of food products, and add a small restaurant up front. But at least this store is a start and a very good one at that. What do you think of the way this store looks? Could making all Kmart's look like this one help save the company? Leave your thoughts below and enjoy the rest of the pictures.

Just inside the front door.
Just inside the front door looking to the left.
Shoes on the right, accessories on the left.
Women's clothes with the wide racetrack running through it.
Appliance department, small one at that.
New video game cases in a Kmart!
Back wall of electronics.
Another shot of electronics.
Wide racetrack cutting between domestics and accessories.
Furniture department.
Hardware on the right, sporting goods on the left.
Toys on the right, pantry on the left, Easter in the middle.
Looking towards the front of the store.
Garden shop entrance.
Inside garden shop.
Another shot of the inside garden shop.
Around the side of the outside garden shop.
Pantry aisles.
Pantry, Pets, and Home cleaning aisles.
Cosmetics right next to health and beauty.
Front registers and the central checkout line.
Entrance/Exit doors. Not your typical Kmart doors.
Looking towards the inside garden shop.
Kmart road sign.

March 16, 2012

Spotlight Part 1 of 2: Sears to Kmart - Marietta, GA

Marietta, GA Sears
 It's not everyday that you see a store go from one name to another name and then back to the original name all in the span of less than five years. But today you will see it in this special edition of our Spotlight feature post. In part one we will be exploring the process of transforming a Sears into a Kmart, but first a little back story.

Bing Maps view of when it was originally a Kmart.
This store located at 4269 Roswell Rd in Marietta, GA and is 106,702 sq ft according to Sears Holdings reality website. It opened up in 1980 as a Kmart, and was re-branded in the 90's as a Big Kmart. In 2007, the Kmart liquidated and opened up as a Sears store in November 2007. In November 2011, the Sears was in the process of liquidating and it opened back up as a Kmart in March 2012. Sound confusing right? I can only imagine what the local customers are thinking. 

Inventory Clearance signs line the outside of the store.
Before being converted into a Sears, it was just a typical 80's/90's Big Kmart with no real standout features. In a long article about Sears Holdings from, the author talks about the Sears conversion being another of Eddie Lampert tests. At the time it featured the "largest Lands' End store-within-a-store in the country," taking up almost a third of the store's floorspace. We featured this store on our site in July 2009. We documented what the store was like after it was remodeled into Sears. One thing to know is this wasn't a Sears Essentials or a Sears Grand store. It received a lot more extensive remodel and sold Sears only products, nothing was held over from the Kmart store days. This store was also converted after most all of the Essentials/Grand conversions happened.

Kmart coming soon! Again!
Unfortunately the test of converting this Kmart store into a unique Sears store failed. The store lost most of the business it had from when it was a Kmart. Only 4 years after the conversion, Sears Holdings announced that it would be one of several Sears/Sears Essentials/Sears Grand stores around the country being converted back into Kmart stores in 2012. During the process of being converted, all Sears merchandise had to go. When I visited the store at the beginning of January 2012, most everything was 25-50% off. The Health and Beauty products and a few others items were the only things not discounted, as it was being retained for when Kmart reopened. Work had already begun on the conversion with over half of the store being closed off with blue curtains. Contractors and Kmart employees were both actively working on getting the store prepped and ready for the March grand re-opening. Part 2 of this Spotlight will focus on the new 2012 Kmart after the conversion. 

Sears? Kmart? Both?
Walk up Pharmacy window, added when the Sears opened.
Everything must go! Got to make room for Kmart!
Half of the store was curtained off already.
Behind the curtained off area.
Looking towards the front checkouts.
Greeting cards and looking towards the Pharmacy area.
Everything is marked down to go!
Empty shelves.
Exercise equipment priced to move.
Lawn and Garden department.
Inside the garden shop, now full of new Kmart fixtures.
Hardware department
Outside garden shop area, full of more fixtures.
Behind another curtained off area.
Another shot of the curtained of area.
Appliances priced to sell.
What was left was condensed to a small area.
Whole back wall of store was curtained off.
Where one of Sears internet kiosks once sat.
Looking towards the back wall.
Sears shoe department.. what's left of it.
More of the shoe department.
Contractors were working on the deconstruction while the store was open.