Hoffman Estates, Ill. – For the first time in nearly 60 years, there is no Kmart store in Michigan.
The chain’s first store in the U.S. opened in 1962 in the Detroit suburb of Garden City. The last – located in Marshall about 100 miles from Kmart’s former headquarters in Troy – conducted its final day of business yeterday. According to local news reports, remaining inventory in the store was marked at 85% off.
Determining the number of Kmart units still in operation is difficult. The retailer’s website lists 22 stores in the U.S. and its territories. However, that roster includes the Marshall store as well as the Manhattan location on Astor Place, which closed in July. SB360, which is handling liquidation, also lists a Kmart in California and the unit in White Plains, N.Y. among those in the process of being closed.
Once the largest discount store chain in the United States, Kmart was a new concept established by S.S. Kresge, which operated a large fleet of department stores and five-and-dime shops. Kresge, founded in 1899, changed its corporate name to Kmart in 1977.
Kmart and Sears, both financially troubled, were merged into the Sears Holding Corporation in 2005. After that entity filed for bankruptcy in 2018, the assets were acquired by Transformco, which bought only an estimated 190 Kmart stores.
The company’s influence has fallen far. At the beginning of the 2000s, Kmart was one of the largest accounts in the soft home business, with its more than 2,100 stores selling nearly $2 billion worth of home textiles annually. Only Walmart and JCPenney sold more. By 2010, its store base nearly halved, home textiles sales dropped to $841 million – but Kmart was still among the Top 10 volume leaders.
Kmart made its final appearance on HTT’s Top 50 Retailers ranking after the close of 2019. Whittled down to just 50 units, it landed on the chart at #41, with 2019 sales estimated at $115 million. After shedding more stores, it no longer generated sufficient volume to appear among the Top 50.