This Iconic Store Has Closed All But 3 Locations
The beloved retailer is nearing complete extinction in the U.S.
Store closures have become something of an epidemic in the U.S. over the last couple years—largely as a result of the financial hardships brought on by COVID. In 2021 alone, several big-name retailers downsized significantly: Bed Bath & Beyond closed 40 locations in January and February, Disney shuttered 60 of its physical locations as of Sept. 15, and Victoria's Secret axed another 50 stores last year after closing more than 240 locations in 2020. But one company has downsized so drastically that they're now about to have just three stores left across the country after plans to close yet another location this week. Read on to find out which iconic retailer has become almost entirely extinct.
Kmart is closing another store this month.
Kmart is gearing up to close yet another location this week, the Associated Press (AP) recently reported. According to the news outlet, the company is permanently shuttering the doors to the Kmart in Avenel, New Jersey, on April 16.
Kmart employees in Avenel found out last month that the location would close. "You're always thinking about it because stores are closing all over, but it's still sad," cashier Michelle Yavorsky, who said she has worked at the Avenel store for more than two years, told the AP. "I'll miss the place. A lot of people shopped here."
The retailer will only have three U.S. locations left after this closure.
The most recent Kmart closures just hit earlier this year. In February, the company closed a store in Montana and another in Key West, Florida, The Oregonian reported. When the Avenel location closes its doors on April 16, Kmart will be down to only three remaining locations in the U.S., aside from U.S. territories. (There is at least one Kmart left in Puerto Rico, according to the website.) The last three standing department stores are spread throughout the country, with one in Westwood, New Jersey, one in Bridgehampton, New York, and the other in Miami, Florida, Fox Business reported.
The remaining Kmart locations are likely where they are for a reason, Ben Schultz, a graduate student in public history at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee who has studied the history of the former superstore, told The Oregonian. But the upcoming New Jersey closure doesn't bode well for the remaining locations' futures. "New York has had a strong stance against Walmart, so that has helped [Kmart]. But they still have to compete with Target and Amazon," he told The Oregonian. "I have a hard time imagining them staying around much longer."
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Kmart once had more than 2,000 locations in the country.
In its heyday, Kmart was a major success. At its peak in the early '90s, the company had more than 2,400 locations in the U.S., according to 24/7 Wall Street. "Kmart was part of America," Michael Lisicky, a Baltimore-based author who has written several books on U.S. retail history, told the AP. "Everybody went to Kmart, whether you liked it or not. They had everything. You had toys. You had sporting goods. You had candy. You had stationery. It was something for everybody. This was almost as much of a social visit as it was a shopping visit. You could spend hours here. And these just dotted the American landscape over the years."
By the end of last year, the retailer only had 27 locations left in the U.S., 24/7 Wall Street reported. And according to the AP, some former Kmarts have remained empty while others have been replaced by other stores, fitness centers, self-storage facilities, and even churches.
Kmart has filed for bankruptcy twice in the past 20 years.
The newest store closures follow a slow and steady decline for the brand. According to the AP, the department chain has struggled to compete with other companies, like big-box retailer Walmart, over the years. As a result, Kmart first filed for bankruptcy in 2002 and announced it would be closing more than 250 stores.
There were signs of life a few years later when the company merged with Sears after it was bought out by hedge fund executive Edward Lampert. But despite Lampert's promise to bring both stores back to their former glory, Kmart had to declare bankruptcy again in 2018, alongside Sears. The former only has a handful of locations left in the U.S. as well, according to Fox Business.