What You May Not Know About Kmart

Most everyone today is familiar with Kmart—or what they think is Kmart. It has been around since 1899 (110 years) and began as S.S. Kresge stores in the form of what was then called “five-and-dimes.” In 1962, it emerged with a new image of the giant box stores and changed its name to Kmart.

Once the #1 discount retailer in North America and many other countries, Kmart is now ranked 3rd behind Wal-Mart and Target … both of which opened their doors in 1962 (47 years ago). Kmart is ranked 29th in the top-250 global retailers where Wal-Mart is first and Target is 7th.

Since purchasing Sears in 2004 for $11 billion, Kmart has done little to regain prominence in a very competitive retail environment. Many experts predict the demise of the retail icon if major changes aren’t initiated in the very near future.

While most people are aware of the continual decline of this one-time retail giant, very few are familiar with its colorful history. The average shopper obviously knows Kmart and many baby boomers will remember the friendly atmosphere of the Kresge store. However, very few remember the many other divisions of this colorful organization. Do you?

  • S. S. Kresge Co. (five-and-dime chain) 1899-1962
  • Jupiter Stores (dime store chain) 1960-1987
  • K-mart Chef (fast food) 1967-1974
  • Holly Stores (clothing) mid-60s
  • Dunham’s Sports Corp. – mid-60s
  • Designer Depot – early 1980s
  • Furr’s Cafeterias, Inc. – 1980-1986
  • Builder’s Square (home improvement) 1984-1997
  • S.S. Kresge Waldenbooks – 1984-1995
  • Detroit Pay-Less Drugs – 1985-1997
  • Sports Giant – late 80s
  • American Fare (hypermarkets) – late 1980s
  • Office Square (office supply) 1989-1992
  • Pace Club (warehouse club) 1989-1993
  • Intelligent Electronic’s Biznet – early 90s
  • Sports Authority – 1990-1994
  • Office Max (office supply) – 1990-1994
  • Border’s Books – 1992-1995
  • Sears Roebuck – 2004

Someday, maybe in the near future, someone will undoubtedly pen a best-seller with a title similar to “The Rise and Fall of the Big Red K.”

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

5 thoughts on “What You May Not Know About Kmart

  1. I was somewhat shocked to learn that K-Mart has, over the years, had so many affiliations with so many other retail organizations, and all of which obviously failed. I thought little of them before reading your article. Now it’s quite obvious that their days are numbered. Our local store is a disgrace to the K-Mart I grew up with. Very sad.

    James Bufferson

  2. You forgot their short lived (early 2000″s) internet service provider mybluelight.com The service cheap, but was just miserable. I had it for less than six months.

  3. Wayne,
    Thanks for the addition to our list. It’s a real challenge to keep that particular list up to date. It appears K-Mart had a bit too much on their plate. Thanks again for the update.
    Harry K. Jones

  4. Kmart also had a blue collar version of “Designer Depot” called “Garment Rack.” In addition there were two other food endeavors, one was a pizza parlour concept like Chuck E Cheese called “Abracadabra” and Kmart also operated a few “Kmart Steak Houses” in the Detroit area for several years.

  5. Marty,
    Thanks for the additional information on our friends at THE BIG RED “K”! There’s seems to be no end to their legacy … good or bad! Thanks again for the input… much appreciated!

    Harry K. Jones

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