A Blue Light Special at SearsMart

Sears/KMart has announced that they will start closing stores. One writer suggests that we are witnessing the beginning of the end. Sadly, I agree.

I grew up in Garden City, Michigan, which is known for several “firsts”, including the first KMart. This was a point of (some) pride 40 years ago but probably needs to be expunged from today’s chamber of commerce pamphlets. It’s not that KMart was never great, it’s just that nothing has changed in the past 25 years, except for the demolition of the in-store cafeteria. Mom and I used to go and get apple dumplings with vanilla sauce. Life was good. Our shopping cart, half full of discount merchandise, sat parked in the aisle that separated the cafeteria from sporting goods. Shoppers would get exhausted from pursuing deals, I guess. Over 100 of us could have fit into the cafeteria, if the need arose. Eat. Talk. Ask questions of our parents.

“What does ‘K’ stand for?” “Kresge.” “Oh.” “This is the first KMart.” “Hm. No wonder the apple dumpling sauce is so good.”

I remember the blue light specials. The rolling cart with the big blue beacon on a pole, noisily flashing as its capacitor charged and discharged, over and over again. “Attention KMart shoppers!”

I remember the darkness of the store. Dirty beige. Dimly lit. Glaucoma-ish. But we didn’t have much to compare our experience to… until Target came to Dearborn Heights. The first thing I noticed when I walked into Target at age 7 was how overwhelmingly bright it was.

I remember KMart brands… the red K and the blue/green mart logo… emblazoned upon everything from crayons to coolers. Sewing stuff said “KMart quality”, with the “quality” in cursive.

The mighty reasonably stable have fallen. Merging with Sears probably wasn’t a great idea. The fact that you can buy Craftsman tools at KMart doesn’t do much for KMart, nor does it do much for Craftsman tools.

Closure is immanent. Not if but when. I need to go back and see the Garden City (#001) KMart at least once more, and walk to the back of the store, past the clothing and picture frames, past the bowling balls and toys, and just see where the cafeteria once was, so I can pay my respects.

About radamdavidson

When I'm not blogging, I'm hanging out with my family, pastoring a church, or listening to vinyl. I think and write about Jesus, music, communication, organizational leadership, family whatnot, and cultural artifacts from the 1980's -- mostly vintage boomboxes. You can read my blog at www.radamdavidson.com, watch [RadCast], a daily 3 minute video devotional, or find me on socials (@radamdavidson). I also help Pastors in their preaching and public speaking (www.CoachMyPreaching.com).
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