2211 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, FL - Kmart Plaza
This Kmart originally opened in 1978 as part of a two tenant complex that included a Kmart and a Publix. This store was one of the many stores sold to Seritage Growth Properties as a part of Sears Holdings' REIT in 2015, classified as one of the stores where 50% of the Kmart space could be given up to other tenants. However, in January 2017, in was announced that this store would be closing outright, with its final day expected in March 2017.
The Kissimmee Kmart was one of two Kmart stores remaining in the greater Orlando area upon the announcement of its closure in early 2017, both of those store being on the fringes of the metro area. The other remaining Kmart in the Orlando area, located west of Orlando in Clermont, lasted a year longer than this one in Kissimmee before finally closing for good in March of 2018. I was very much expecting the Clermont Kmart to go before the Kissimmee store did, but that's not what ultimately panned out. On my few trips to the Kissimmee Kmart, it seemed to attract a bit of a crowd as it was one of the few major retailers left in this part of town. Most of the other stores abandoned central Kissimmee in favor of new shopping districts located to the north and west of town in the last decade, leaving the many residents of this area with few shopping options. The Clermont Kmart, on my one trip out there, was practically dead during my visit. I don't know how that store became Orlando's last Kmart, unless I just caught that place at a bad time. However, the Clermont Kmart is a story for another day, as today we will begin our tour of the Kissimmee Kmart to see what it was like before it met its ultimate fate in March 2017...
While this was an older Kmart store, it seems like it was on the better end of the spectrum as far as upkeep went. The "BIG" sign was removed at some point as well, and the way they repositioned the 'K' on the building (at least to me), makes it look like the 'K' is about to leap off of the building! Retail Retell agreed, saying "Ha, I can see that! It's ready to jump right off when the time comes..."
Here's an overview of the front of the building, looking toward the front entrance. The garden center is way off in the distance.
Exterior signage for the store's pharmacy is pictured here, located on the left side of the building. The old Publix is off in the distance, and is a rather well preserved 70's style Publix from the exterior. That building, however, will be the subject of a future post.
This store also had a Little Caesar's until the very end, its exterior signage pictured here. The "Pizza Station" portion of the sign was removed when Little Caesar's did some rebranding a few years ago.
The store's main entrance can be seen here, as viewed from the parking lot as we prepare to head inside...
A closeup shot of the entryway doors. On this particular visit, both sets of automatic doors were out of order, so everyone had to enter and exit through the one set of manual doors in the middle. (The previous picture, in which you can see the exit door open, was taken during a different visit.)
Just inside the entrance was this little display. Along with the bluelight advertisements, you can see the fixture where the store map once was (although the map is now covered over with the week's circular, although I'm sure it's still there under it). The pizza boxes served as an advertisement for the store's Little Caesars. The sign taped to the table (which was only in Spanish, so I'm relying on some scraps of what I remember from Spanish class here) says something along the lines of: "Carry this box to Little Caesars and receive a large pepperoni or cheese pizza for only $5.00!!!" According to PlazaACME (in reference to my Spanish), "That's an accurate translation!" Hey, I guess I do remember something I learned from high school!
The first department you encounter upon entering the store is this large area filled with bathing suits and pool toys, probably to serve the many tourists staying at the nearby hotels. This part of Kissimmee is somewhat out of the tourist district, however this is a still popular area for many tourists to stay in because the hotels in this part of town are much cheaper than the ones closer to the attractions and the tourist corridor.
Moving away from swimwear, this is the view down the main front aisle looking toward the right side of the store. To the left we can see part of the jewelry counter, cosmetics, and the beginning of housewears, and to the right is party supplies, greeting cards, and the beginning of health and beauty.
That pillow display blocks much of this view of the pharmacy, yet for some reason I decided to keep this photo for this post. I guess it adds some kind of perspective to this part of the store.
Here's a much clearer and less obstructed view of the pharmacy box. Even though that light up 'Pharmacy' sign is at least 25 years old, it goes well with the modern signage around it.
Across from the pharmacy is the jewelry counter. This photo is looking into the front part of the jewelry counter from the counter's right side.
Moving back into health and beauty with this photo. This is looking down the front wall from just beyond the pharmacy box. The office supplies department is straight ahead, with electro-pli-mattresses off in the distance.
Back yet again to the main aisle now, where pantry lies immediately ahead on the left. To the right you can see the signage for home office and electronics.
Moving further along down the main aisle, we now enter the pantry department. This photo makes the store look really nice, although I will say this was one of the nicer older Kmart stores I've been to.
This was one of the main aisles that connected the front of the store to the back. This aisle separated the grocery department from housewares, and the center of the aisle was filled with shelves of promotional grocery products.
Another look down that main aisle. They were able to cram a good amount of sale merchandise in this extra wide aisle.
The view from food back toward housewares. This store received the 2014/2015 grocery refresh, which included new promotional display bins and new signage for the grocery department.
The drink aisle, which is also home to the stereotypical Kmart coolers. These coolers were home to chilled drinks and beer. If you look at the center cooler, you can see where a Budweiser sign was stuck over the original "Dairy Products" sign.
A closer look at one of the new aisle signs for the food department, which were added during the food department's light remodel around 2014/2015.
I think I've mentioned this before, but it bugs me so much how Kmart and Sears refer to their shoppers solely as "members" in most of their advertisements and in-store announcements now. Who do they think they are, Sam's Club?! I know Kmart and Sears are really into pushing the whole Shop Your Way thing (where the "members" term is derived from), but their use of the word 'members' is just ridiculous. I know this sign isn't the best example of this as it's just advertisement to get people to sign up for SYW, but I've seen in-store made signs saying things like "Attention Kmart members - This door is not an exit"! What does being a SYW member have to do with something like that? I'll never understand SHC's logic behind these decisions of theirs.
That "Members get lower prices on thousands of items" sign seen in the previous photo wasn't the only one hanging around. As you can see in this photo, there were a lot of them hanging over the food department!
Yet another look down the beverage aisle toward the coolers. This photo was taken from a point further back than the previous photo I posted from this aisle.
In the next aisle over were some more coolers and the selection of non-chilled beer. For the beer selection, Kmart had this cheap looking but unique sign printed up.
I believe I took this photo for a closeup of the price scanner sign, however you can also see some more of the grocery aisles in the background.
Looking at the front of one of the food aisles.
Here's another good overview of the main front aisle, this time looking from electro-pli-mattresses back toward the pantry and the pharmacy.
Another view of the main front aisle. As styertowne noted (and you may have noticed looking at these pictures rather closely), "I have never seen these 1990's department signs from the Primary Colors package with Spanish subtitles (and I have been to a lot of stores with this package)! At first I thought you must be in South Florida, but you aren't. Is Kissimmee a very heavily Latin area?" Yes, those old Big Kmart signs with the Spanish translations are definitely not as common as the regular English-only version. Kissimmee has the second highest Hispanic population concentration in Florida (the largest being the South Florida counties), which is why this store got the dual language signs you see here.
Now that we've seemingly gone through a huge chunk of photos focusing on the food department (yes, I went photo crazy at this store), we can finally leave the food department and venture into the electro-pli-mattress department...
Instead of this store getting its entire electronics counter removed during the recent electronics shrinkings, it was instead rearranged and moved over to the side of the department like this. There was also a sign advertising that layaway payments could now be taken here.
The wall of TVs at this store. TVs must be the one electronic item that Kmart sells a decent amount of, as most stores still carry a good number of them, even if the rest of the department has been shrunken down to practically nothing.
One of the aisles of electronics accessories. My timing happened to work out well enough to where I captured this photo when "Kmart" flashed on the screen of the TVs in the background.
In the electronics department was the store's online shopping computer, which you can see above. In the background you can also see part of the sparsely stocked DVD selection.
Lots of appliances available at the Kissimmee Kmart! Instead of the usual one or two appliance options you see at most Kmart stores, this store had a good 4-5 varieties of stoves, freezers, washers, etc. You can also see the newer appliance and mattress department signs in the background.
More of the appliance department, with the food department and its abundance of red signs in the background.
Behind the appliance selection was this store's overstock mattress rack. Just out of view were the mattress displays, which were located behind these stoves.
This photo shows the entirety of the mattress department. In addition to the mattress overstock rack and the stack of new mattresses in the center of the department, there were three display beds. From the other Kmart mattress departments I've seen elsewhere (in person and online), this one looks to offer the average mattress selection.
Alongside the mattress department was a small aisle of mattress accessories (such as covers, toppers, etc.). Beyond that was a small corner filled with seasonal merchandise.
Now that we've gone through the electro-pli-mattress department, we find ourselves in the garden center. This photo looks from the interior portion of the garden center back into the main store.
This is the grand overview of the interior portion of the garden center, looking from the front toward the back. This garden center was built in the early 90's when the main store was also expanded. The original garden center was also located on this side of the store, but was pushed more toward the back of the building. Retail Retell and Ryan Busman_49 both enjoyed seeing the natural lighting in the garden center, which really made this part of the store look very nice!
One of the aisles of lawn care/outdoor supplies (and garden gnomes) toward the back of the garden center.
Looking from the back of the interior garden center toward the front doors.
The garden center had stations set up for two registers, although only one register remained in here. However, that remaining register was probably never used as the garden center entrance at this store was blocked off and locked. In addition to all of that, I think the door handles were removed as well.
When all of that junk isn't in the way of the door, this is the typical sight. Personally, I think the plastic pools leaning against the door do a better job of saying "Don't use this door" than the sign on a stick.
I thought it would have been redundant to post two separate pictures of this door, so I combined these two photos into one. This is the door that connects the interior and exterior portions of the garden center, as viewed from both sides. The interesting thing about this door is that "In Case of Emergency Pull Handle" decal. While the garden center here was only constructed in the early 90's, that decal looks like something out of the 60's or 70's!
After walking out the door and turning left, you see this view. All of the plants and garden supplies were kept at the front of the garden center. As usual, the back portion of the garden center was devoid of merchandise and being used as storage for the main store. You can see some pallets and fixtures sitting in the back, as well as what looks like big bales of recycled plastic immediately in front of me.
Another look toward the back corner of the garden center, where the extra pallets and cardboard bales were being stored.
While the back of the garden center wasn't the most visually appealing, the front part where the plants were kept looked very nice! The flowers were in bloom, the plants were green and lively, and the selection of plants was pretty good for Kmart standards. This was definitely one of the most presentable Kmart garden centers I've seen.
Moving back inside now, I noticed this stack of old Kmart baskets on the unused register counter. These gray baskets with the Big Kmart logo date to the late 90's. The selection of baskets at this store was comprised of ones that were mostly this design. As YonWooRetail2 said (and I'm sure many others thought to yourselves), "I wish I could snatch one of these and keep it as a souvenir. For all we know, Kmart baskets could be extinct in about 5 more years!"
Here's the entirety of the remaining register station in the garden center. With the garden center's exterior door sealed off, I can't imagine this register got a whole lot of use in this store's later days. They did have this register set up like it got used somewhat often, so maybe I'm wrong. As PlazaACME noted, "Those bags on the right are pretty old." Well, I guess that's more proof that this register wasn't used often!
A closeup of one of the fancy new card readers Kmart installed throughout their stores in early 2016. The graphics that display on the screen are designed to match the current "totally awesome" (or whatever it's officially called) marketing scheme. I must have taken this picture because this was the first time I had seen one of the new keypads. If you scroll back up to the photo of the electronics counter, you can see what one of the old keypads looked like.
So that completes our look around the garden center. Let's go back inside the main store and pick up where we left off in there...
Between the garden center entrance and the food department is seasonal. Here you can see the large open area for the seasonal department is filled with Christmas trees, decorations, and fake snow.
Once the fake snow fluff melts away, Christmas tree land morphs into the slightly less magical patio furniture land. While taken from a different angle, this is the same area where all of the Christmas trees were placed in the previous photo.
Looking down the right side wall from seasonal we have this view, with the toy department off in the distance.
This main aisle separates the food department from seasonal and toys. They were able to cram a good amount of stuff in the center of this aisle too!
This aisle served as the transition between seasonal and toys. What toys were in this aisle were mostly clearance toys.
Here we can see much more of the toy department, as viewed from the main aisle.
"The best toys at a low Kmart price". That was a new sign for me to see. This was a display I saw in the center of the main aisle, filled with many random toys (although the bulk were Lego sets).
In the very back right corner of this store, behind the toys, we find the automotive department.
Beyond the automotive section, the next departments we find along the back wall are the luggage and sporting goods departments.
Here's a small portion of the luggage department, located between automotive and sporting goods.
Also along the back wall we can also find the sporting goods lock up case, where the paintball guns/ammo and BB guns are kept. If you look at the floor, you can see the scars from where the sporting goods counter once stood.
From this viewpoint we're peeking back at the main aisle that runs from toys to seasonal, as seen from the sporting goods department.
The main back aisle was a bit narrow and cluttered. This is looking from toys toward housewares.
Going just a bit further back along the main aisle we have this view. Behind housewares is this aisle, along which sporting goods, automotive, and hardware are located. Those departments I just mentioned (along with a little overflow from housewares) are pushed in a small alcove that was added as a part of this store's expansion in the early 90's.
Moving further down that same aisle we see the bicycle display. The furniture department is in the distance.
Jumping to the main back aisle yet again, where we see more of the housewares department.
One of the aisles in the housewares department, this one home to the vacuums.
I found the bluelight special! Well, I think I did. Maybe. This was my first time seeing the new bluelight somewhere in the store away from the front entrance. My guess is they were using it to dress up the appearance of the clearance aisle rather than advertise a legitimate bluelight special, as one was never announced when I was here.
This corner is where the 1990's addition bumps up to the original portion of the building. This photo was taken in the small alcove created due to the addition going further back than the original salesfloor.
Moving out of the alcove, here's a look down the store's back wall. This is looking from the furniture department toward clothing, which lies off in the distance.
Rather than hanging it to face the main aisle, the sign for the furniture department was hung like this against the back wall.
This store had a nicely laid out furniture department. Rather than randomly lining the furniture up in rows, at this store they arranged the matching furniture pieces into model "rooms" with different tables, chairs, and accessories like you would see at a furniture store. As yonWooRetail2 said, "Such a nice Kmart! Don't understand why it's closing..."
An overview of the furniture department. To the left were a few more dining table displays, and to the right were the displays containing the wooden furniture pieces (bookshelves, dressers, beds, etc.). Like I mentioned at the previous photo, this was a very well presented furniture department overall.
In this picture we're looking from the furniture department back toward housewares, food and toys.
Here's a random photo taken in the soft home section, located in the center portion of the store between jewelry and furniture.
Finally, we've reached the left side of the store - home to the clothing and softlines merchandise. This is looking down one of the aisles that runs from the front to the back of the store in the women's clothing section.
The main back aisle as it enters the clothing departments. Men's clothing is to my right.
The main layaway counter is located in the back of the store in the men's clothing department, although this store also accepted layaway payments at the electronics counter as well. From I was told by Kmart expert Mike Kalasnik, this blue color scheme for the layaway signage and fitting rooms was rather rare.
The layaway counter is located immediately to the left in this hallway, with the restrooms immediately to the right. Beyond that was probably the breakroom and doors that lead to the store offices and the backroom.
Over in the men's clothing department, someone happened to prop open one of the doors that led into what looks like a clothing stockroom. On the back wall you can see some vintage Kmart wood paneling! I don't think this room was originally indented to be used for clothing storage, but I really don't know what the original use was. However, according to PlazaACME, "This was most likely the restaurant." That seems very likely, considering where this room was located in the back of the store.
Moving further along in the clothing department, here's a look at the blue colored fitting rooms.
This photo is looking toward the right side of the store, with shoes to my left and women's clothing to my right.
This photo was taken at the edge of the shoe department, looking down the main left side aisle toward girl's clothing. In the background is this store's Little Caesar's, which we'll be seeing up close in just a moment...
This is looking into the back left corner of the store. Girl's clothing is to my left, with the baby department located in the back corner itself.
Another photo from the left side aisle, looking back toward the baby section.
The Nicki Minaj section of the women's clothing department, which is located immediately in front of the Little Caesar's (just out of frame to my left).
Here's a view of the main front aisle as seen from the front of Little Caesar's, looking out toward the front end. The front end is in the distance somewhere, hidden behind the many clothing racks you see here!
This store was lucky enough to retain its Little Caesar's until the store closing began back in January 2017. With all the other Kmart closures that have occurred since January 2017, I can't think of any remaining in-store Little Caesar's in any of the remaining Florida Kmarts. There could still be one in the dozen or so Kmart stores floating around Florida that I am unaware of, but the odds are certainly are not in anyone's favor of that discovery happening.
A better overview of the Little Caesar's. All of the photos I took of this store's Little Caesar's were taken early in the day before they opened. Every one of my visits to this store was early in the morning, so I never had a chance to have lunch here.
Another overview of the dining area at the Little Caesar's. While the entire cafe was branded as a Little Caesar's, you could still buy the more KCafe style items like popcorn, ICEEs and soft pretzels here in addition to the standard Little Caesar's fare.
Looking into the cafe from its main entrance, with the ordering counter immediately ahead. Just a little fun fact for those who may not have known: Little Caesar's and Kmart were both founded in the same town, Garden City, MI, just down the street from each other. Unlike the first Kmart, which is nothing more than history itself now (shame on you Eddie!), the first Little Caesar's is still going strong in the same spot all these years later. With all of these pictures of Little Caesar's going around, YonWooRetail2 had this to say, "It's a good thing I already had dinner, otherwise this post would prompt me to make a quick run to grab one of those $5 Hot N Ready pizzas! That's really neat about the history of Kmart and Little Caesars. Its real sad Kmart is not doing as well as them."
Immediately to the left of Little Caesar's was this propped open door, which I believe led into a supply room for the cafe.
Like most stores in Kissimmee and Orlando near the tourist district, this store had its very own section for Florida and Disney souvenirs. The entire front left corner of the store between the registers and Little Caesars was dedicated to souvenirs, although the in-store souvenir sections begin to grow much larger than this the further into the tourist district you go.
More from the souvenir department, looking toward the registers and the front end.
More Florida souvenir knickknacks could be found on this large wooden display near the registers. I assume that "Souvenirs and Gifts" sign must be generic, as you can see that same sign in use at the Indian Harbour Beach Walmart here. At least to me, this sign looks more like something from Walmart's 90's decor than anything from Kmart.
A sampling of some of the Orlando magnets you could bring home from the souvenir display. And don't fear the next time you visit Florida, us Floridians do not feed tourists to alligators!
The souvenir displays bump up to register 9, which was being used for the storage of junk. I think I took this photo primarily to capture that old gray Big Kmart basket on the rack.
Here's yet another look at register 9, just covered with slightly less junk compared to the previous photo. Also note the retro logo Pepsi cooler in place here.
Another photo of register 9. I guess this was just a very photogenic checkout lane!
An overview of this store's front registers. Sorry about this photo being so out of focus.
A look toward the registers from the women's clothing department.
Registers 1 & 2, with the customer service desk hidden just beyond this. We're getting close to the end of our visit to the Kissimmee Kmart, but there are still a few more things to see before we finish off...
One final look across the front end as we prepare to leave the Kissimmee Kmart for the last time...
Thank you for shopping your Kissimmee Kmart for the last 39 years. Instead of the usual foam letters stuck to the wall, this store had its thank you sign printed on cardboard and hung from the ceiling due to those electrical panels being in the way, a rather unusual treatment.
Back outside now for an exterior photo of the garden center. As I mentioned earlier in this tour, this garden center was added on in the early 90's as part of a small addition to the building. Nearing the end, this store's garden center entrance was closed off, although they still had displays of plants set up on the sidewalk next to the door.
Sorry about the rather scratchy print job of this receipt, but this was the only one I was able to track down from this store to add to my small selection of souvenirs from this place. Unfortunately, I was not able to make it back to this store to cover its closing, so these pre-closure photos will conclude my coverage of this store. However, if you do want to see some photos of this store during its closing, fellow flickr member gameking3 has some photos of it which you can see in this album.
One pretty neat feature of this store was that it retained its original oval shaped road sign frame all the way to the end. This sign was designed to match the old In and Out signs that all Kmart stores once had. Unfortunately, those vanished from this store many years ago. Also, the Big Lots sign in the background is reusing Publix's old sign frame.
A long view of the building as seen from Kmart's garden center. Off in the background you can see the old Publix building, which is now a Big Lots. Speaking of which, let's begin to head down that way...
This is the view from under Kmart's awning, to the left of the main entrance, looking toward Big Lots.
Big Lots lies straight ahead of us, the front of their store visible just beyond Kmart's pharmacy signage. We'll be seeing more of the Big Lots in a separate post to come shortly, but for now, this photo will conclude our very long and extensive tour of the former Kissimmee Kmart. As of late 2018, the Kmart building still sits empty. The most likely reuse of this old Kmart space will probably involve subdividing this 117,000 square foot building, but who knows what the future has in store for this place.
So that's all I have for now. Until the next post,