Saturday, January 12, 2019

Kmart #3164 - Lake Park, FL


Kmart #3164
1220 Northlake Boulevard, Lake Park, FL - Kmart Plaza

     This Kmart opened in 1974 as your usual 70's era arched front Kmart store, similar to this one. Around the year 2000 or so, this store received an exterior remodel to the semi-rare rounded front design Kmart began to push as they neared their original bankruptcy. In the years after the bankruptcy, this store received an interior remodel (complete with the current logo added to the storefront) in the late 2000's. Unfortunately, this Kmart would closed in mid-November 2015. A Rooms to Go Outlet would operate out of this Kmart building for about a year after Kmart closed (more than likely as a temporary tenant until a permanent one was found). After about a year in this space, Rooms to Go Outlet left in order for this building to be subdivided between a Burlington (Coat Factory) and Hobby Lobby, both of which opened in late 2017.

     Ever since I saw some (since deleted) pictures of this store on flickr, photos showing this store in full closing mode, I kept tossing around the idea of making a trip down to Palm Beach County. Considering this store's rare exterior and late 2000's remodel, I really wanted to see this interesting Kmart for myself before it was gone for good. Thankfully, everything fell properly into place one day in late 2015, and I was able to visit this store before most of it began to be taken apart. Before it got trashed though, not so much!

     I think the closure of this store came suddenly and without much warning. There was absolutely no public announcement of this store's closing made to any news outlet, and it looked like they were in the middle of setting up all the Christmas merchandise when the announcement of closure came. If Kmart was planning for this store to close, they would have probably held back on sending out the Christmas stuff, which had just begun to roll out to their stores over the last few weeks at the time of my visit. The employees really didn't seem to know much about the why part either when I spoke with them about it. Anyway, this looked like it was a really nice Kmart before the closing sales began, although you would never think that now as you begin to view some of the interior pictures, and the complete disaster this place became over the last few weeks.


     These Sears brand logos were added onto the right portion of the exterior during the late 2000's remodel.


     The Garden Center is located off to the left side of the building, around the corner (we'll see more of the Garden Center later in this post). You can also see the labelscar from the Pharmacy sign here as well.


     I'd have to say this is my favorite Kmart exterior. This look was introduced around 2000 and was used by Kmart as a way to refresh the exteriors of some of their 70's stores. The current Lantana Kmart also got this exterior remodel, and the former Hollywood Kmart on 60th Ave that became one of those failed KDollar stores also got this treatment. I think the current logo looks much better on this exterior than the Big Kmart logo did. If every Kmart looked like this on the outside, they could have been in such a better place. Well, other factors contributed to how Kmart got into their current mess, but a nicer store appearance would have certainly helped them. Alec and BatteryMill Retail both agreed that is was shame this nice looking store was closing, saying (respectively): "Sad to see it go it looks nice" and "Yeah, come on. Can someone just make a petition to oust the Lamp and stop cool Kmarts like these from shuttering?"


     Kmart's road sign facing Northlake got the new logo as well, but as Retail Retell pointed out: "...unlike the Payless across the street." For a refreshing change, it looks like Kmart is actually the up to date place for a change! To that Retail Retell replied, "Haha, yep! I especially like the façade on this store, at least with this logo... I think I'd agree with you that the Big Kmart logo would've been tacky there!" (l_dawg2000 went on to further say that the Big Kmart logo looked tacky on just about everything!)


     Kmart kept the store closing signage to a minimum on the exterior - just that banner and some signs in the front window, although the banner is very visible from the road. There weren't any other banners, signs along the main roads leading to the store, or people standing with signs announcing the closure. However, when we go inside, it's a different story. There are large, gaudy closing signs everywhere!


     Here we are standing under the fancy front canopy, looking toward the entrance. This area looks so much nicer than at the typical Kmart store.


     A straight-on look at the massive exterior, before we start looking at the interior. Lots of interesting things to see in there, although it's going to get really depressing really fast, but don't let that scare you off...


     When you first walked into the store, they had this sign with all the markdowns featured on it. While that looks like a lot of substantial markdowns, the majority of the store was only at 10% off, and clothing at 30% off as of September 28th, 2015. However, I did see quite a few people buying those half off live plants.


     Turning right after first walking into the store, we have this view. The clothing departments are located on this side of the store. In the background of this photo (behind register 12) is the customer service desk, which relocated from near the entrance to this spot during the remodel. Since this counter was newly installed as part of the remodel, there are no triangles or giant TV screens to be seen anywhere! Also, 12 registers seems to be more than usual for a typical non-super or ex-super Kmart these days too. It seems as if most Kmarts have anywhere between 6-8 registers on average, with no more than one or two ever open.


     Moving further into the right side of the store, here is one of the aisles in the infants and toddlers department. This photo also provides us with a sneak peek of some of the chaos that was beginning to occur as part of the closure process. In this photo we have some merchandise that was thrown around, but this aisle was not as bad as some others that I got pictures of. And one of those shopping carts filled with random junk was actually taken from the Dollar Tree at the other end of the plaza.


     One of our first close-up shots this store;s wall decor, as seen in the children's clothing department. This department is located in the front right corner of the store. As andsome96 noted, "I can only assume that this was where the Kmart cafe originally was." He was correct on that assumption as well, as "one of the things to look for when identifying where the Cafe was in the remodeled stores is a random cluster of small air vents." Some of those air vents in question are located at the top right corner of this photo, confirming the assumption.


     In this photo, we can see some green coloration beginning to peek out here.


     This photo provides us with a much better overview of the coloring pattern down most of the right side wall. I actually like the multi-color look Kmart used here. It's different from most stores, who tend to prefer using a single solid color on the walls.


     Looking into the front right corner of the store, we find more of the children's clothing department. As andsome96 noted a few photos prior, this area was previously home to the KCafe area. As I was walking around this store, I realized the lack of a glaring former KCafe space, but I was looking for clues of the old KCafe on the floor or walls. Thanks andsome96 for directing my attention to the ceiling for the clues I needed!

     Also, another feature of this decor package are those sets of three pictures featuring items from the department they're hanging in (an example of those pictures are visible in this photo). We'll see more of those pictures as we continue out tour of this store.


     Still in the children's clothing department, we turn 90 degrees to get this view. In this photo we're looking toward the back right corner of the store, which is home to the layaway counter and shoes.


     Entering shoes now, with the layaway counter and the former Olan Mills Portrait Studio up ahead.


      The former Olan Mills Portrait Studio can be seen here, the entrance covered by that curtain. The entire Olan Mills company went out of business in 2012 when they were bought out by Lifetouch, so this probably closed around then at the latest. However, some of these portrait studios closed long before 2012.


     Another picture of the former Olan Mills Portrait Studio, taken from a different angle. The Olan Mills labelscar is quite visible here. Kmart was using this space for storage from my quick peek behind the curtain.


     The layaway counter, which is to the left of the former portrait studio. It looks more presentable having the layaway desk at a counter like this, opening out into the store, rather than having it stuffed down a hallway in the back of the store. As usual, no more layaways were being taken here due to the closing, but this area was still left up and running for people with existing layaway contracts to finish paying them off before the store closed for good.


     To the left of the layaway counter were the restrooms.


     Moving away from the corner, here's a look down the back main aisle. The department we see here was the men's clothing department, which had since spilled out into the main aisle as part of the closing process (making it feel very cluttered here).


     The fitting rooms, located in the back of the store.


     Another look at the fitting rooms. It looks like most of the letters in 'caballeros' are about to fall off.


     Over by the fitting rooms, Kmart had this random framed poster hanging on the wall. This poster advertised a video game, probably from when it was first released. Kmart chose to stop selling video games in early 2015, so I Googled Super Mario Galaxy 2 to see what the release date was: May 23, 2010. And that's not the most outdated thing I've seen floating around at a Kmart! (Which was an outdated road atlas from the 1990's, spotted for sale in the 2010's!) DBlackwood has also found some really old stuff floating around at his local Kmart stores - his most outdated find was "a 1997 Mattel Barbie ball at the Wichita west Kmart." However, there were other outdated things he's found since: "The worst thing I've found since [the 1997 Barbie ball] were Hanna Montana School Supplies in Salina, Kansas. I really wish I had been into retail photography a few years ago and had gotten a shot of the Game Boy Advance games for sale at the ALCO in Kingman, Kansas."


     A door in the back of the store with an old Kmart logo decal.


     The little bit electronics remaining was condensed into these few TVs flashing "No Signal" (or nothing at all), and a small aisle of other electronics accessories behind me.


      Remember how I said this place looked like a disaster inside? Here's your first example of that, over in the shoe department. There were shoes strewn about everywhere. What really got me was the fact people were leaving shoes on the floor like that. I don't ever recall it getting this bad back when the Palm Bay Kmart closed in 2014, and this wasn't all. I'm sure this probably only got worse after my visit.


     This photo was taken looking down one of the main center aisles, with this being the aisle that separates the hardlines and softlines departments.


     The furniture department. The last remaining touch of class from this store's pre-closure days were those fake potted flowers placed on the tabletop of the breakfast nook dining set.


     Here we can see the main back aisle from the furniture department, looking back toward clothing.


     More from the clothing department, looking toward the front end.


     Interesting. Well, I guess it saves perfectly good watermelons from being wasted.


     Yet another photo of back main aisle. In this photo, toys, electronics, and seasonal line the right side of this aisle, with housewares and food on the left.


     The former electronics department, which has since been converted into overflow from toys for the closing. Even though this area had become mostly home to more toys, a few random appliances and TVs were still thrown in.


     I think this is the most modern electronics signage I've ever seen in a Kmart, although the TV in that picture would even be considered dated these days. As Alec also spotted: "They still have a picture of an original Xbox controller." Considering how much electronics change, it's probably a bad idea to use pictures of electronics in your decor - especially if you're a chain that doesn't like to update much!


     Moving further down the left side wall, we enter the former appliances/seasonal department. This area was being used as space to sell off whatever large boxed items remained in the back, such as furniture, grills, electric scooters, etc.


     Pictured here are some of pallets of boxes that were brought out to the floor as the backrooms were purged of inventory. A lot of the large box stock that made it out to the floor was leftover patio/summer items.


     More of the furniture overstock.


     The fairly picked apart food department is where we head off to next. This is looking down one of the grocery aisles toward the front wall.


     While that grocery aisle was just picked bare, this aisle in the toy department was an example of complete destruction! This was an aisle of toys near the entrance into the garden center, this aisle being home to a mix of outdoor/beach toys and some other toys they probably found in the back. As DBlackwood commented, "Looks like most of the "open" stores ;)."


     Returning to the grocery aisles, here's a photo of one of the numbered aisle markers. These aisle markers were only used in the food department, and were added as part of the late 2000's remodel. Health and beauty also got these same aisle markers, but the ones in that department did not have numbers. We'll be seeing those signs later in this post, although one is partially visible in the background here.


     Some random Christmas trees being stored in the middle of the food department. A bit prickly for my taste...

     From the looks of it, this store had just gotten all of its Christmas stuff in when the closing was announced (hinting at a rather abrupt closure). Seasonal was moved into the main aisles (which we'll see a little later in this post) so the old seasonal area could be used for large overstock (which we saw earlier). Kmart also decided to use some of the empty food shelves to store more toys on as well. There certainly wasn't any shortage of toys here!


     The infamous Kmart coolers. These were all pretty much emptied by the time of my visit, except for those few bottles of drinks visible in the first cooler.


     Another one of the food department aisle markers, with the former electronics department visible in the background.


     The entrance into the Garden Shop is located in the back left corner of the store, in the area where seasonal once was. Might as well go inside the Garden Shop while we're back here...


     Here we have the interior portion of the garden center. This space wasn't altered much when Kmart did the massive exterior remodel to the rest of the building in the early 2000's. Since that was the case, most of the garden center's original characteristics from when the store first opened in the 70's have been retained.


     Most of the garden center merchandise was already sold out when I made my visit here in late September 2015. What little garden merchandise was left was condensed into the front part of the garden center. As of 10/16/2015, the garden center had been closed off to shoppers.


     From this perspective you can see the original 70's arch design still in use over the windows.


     And here's a closeup of the original arched windows, which would have matched this store's original facade.


     They weren't lying - all the plants left in the store were 50% off when I was here. The old logo is still present on the bottom of the sign, although I'm not sure how old this sign is. As PlazaACME guessed, "I would bet this sign was left over from a end of summer sale."


     Now that's we've looked around the interior of the garden center, let's now head outside to where all the plants were located. There were still quite a few plants left at the time of my visit, although some of them weren't looking that good.


     Those people that managed to tear apart some of the aisles in the store even found their way out to the garden center! Well, this could have been due to the wind, but who knows for sure...


     The garden center register, aka "Register 13" as noted on that blue folder hanging from the wall, is pictured here. From the looks of it, I think it was pretty safe to assume that this register hadn't been used in quite a long time.

     The exterior entrance into the garden center, which also looks as if it hasn't been used in a very long time. Commenting on the sign on the door, PlazaACME said, ""Now open" Not for long, I guess!" As for the other sign on the door, that one read: "Please watch your step/Use caution/ incline ahead" That sign was placed there to warn shoppers about how through this door is a ramp with a bit of a steep drop, almost to the point where it's better to be referred to as a sloped step. I completely forgot to take pictures of exterior portion of this store's auto center, so unfortunately we won't be seeing that in this post.


     Returning to the main store, we'll move our attention to the departments located along the building's left side wall. Those departments are visible in this photo, and include the seasonal, automotive, and hardware departments.


     Here's the main left side aisle again, this time looking toward the back of the store. All the Christmas merchandise that remained was placed in this aisle, on the shelves to the right.


     A sample of some of the remaining Christmas merchandise for sale, with the Christmas merchandise season beginning just as this store's closing was announced.


     Here is a look toward aisle 1 in the food department.


     The left side wall can be seen here, the shelves along which had been cleared of merchandise and begun the process of being disassembled.


     The interior entrance to the former Kmart/Penske/(and most recently) Sears Auto Center. The Sears Auto Center had closed long before the closing of this store had been announced, probably in the early 2010's if I had to guess.


     The sign for the Home Improvement department takes the foreground here. This photo also happens to give us a closeup of the style of department signage this Kmart uses.


     Some empty shelves had begun to appear in the hardware department. This was certainly the emptiest part of the store during my visit, which occurred two weeks into the closing process.


     One of the aisles in the hardware department, looking into the main front aisle.


     The store's front wall is visible here, with this photo looking toward the pharmacy and health and beauty departments.


     During the remodel, the books and magazines aisle got these new bookshelves, which I believe are lighted along the top. As DBlackwood commented, "At least they're clearing out some merchandise. I think the liquidation company that had to clear out ALCO finally had to send the merchandise to other chains because the stuff wasn't selling at 80% off haha."


     The is a look down the aisle that runs along the front wall of the store.


     The decor pictures for the health and beauty department can be seen here, which look to have gotten clipped by a ladder or other tall piece of equipment considering that large gash on the photo of the lipstick.


     One of the health and beauty aisles can be seen here. Also visible here are one of the health and beauty department aisle markers. Like I said earlier, these aisle markers look just like the ones found in the food department, but without the numbers.


     Another one of the health and beauty aisle signs, this one in particular looking like it got hit by something, causing the panels to shift like that. As you can see in the background, the remaining Halloween merchandise was moved into the front main aisle from the seasonal department in the back left of the store.


     The now closed pharmacy counter.


     The left side of the pharmacy box. That blood pressure machine over there on the right was modernized and did not have the original Kmart logo on it, unlike at some stores.


     The prescriptions were moved to the Walgreens across the street. As l_dawg2000 noted, "Funny to see "KMART" in that font Walgreens uses in their ads!"


     The main front aisle is pictures here, which had been turned into the makeshift Halloween department. This photo looks back at all the departments we just saw in the front left corner of this store.


     A rather blurry photo I took of the Kmart Refreshment Center, aka "Kmart's Coolest Choices," while I was waiting in line. It was really nothing more than a soda machine and ICEE machine, but you can never go wrong walking around Kmart while drinking an ICEE. Since the store was closing, neither machine was working.


     Thank you for shopping your Lake Park Kmart for the last 41 years. I believe the last day for this store was November 7, 2015, but I'm not exactly sure on that. It was nice seeing this place in person though, even somewhat in shambles, as this was probably a nice store at one time. The Rooms to Go Outlet that occupied this building right after Kmart left did nothing to the place, as it appeared they were in this space on a temporary basis until a more permanent tenant could be found. If you click on that link and view the Google Streetview image, you can even see through the front doors that Kmart's wall decor was left in place during Rooms to Go's tenure! However, the conversion of this building into a Burlington and Hobby Lobby was much more thorough and brought much more change (and yes, an end to rare Kmart facade). You can see in this streetview image what the building looks like now. Certainly not as exciting at the design that once was here!


     As I was leaving the Lake Park Kmart, I saw this old gray 90's Kmart cart sitting along the front walkway. This was the only one I saw, as all the other carts were the modern gray metal ones. Had I seen this on the way in, I would have used this as my cart. As Baltimore Will commented, "I wonder if this had to be living in the stock room. I believe that they switched over to a red plastic cart for some time before Kmart got the newer metal ones." That's probably the most likely theory for this cart to have been wandering around here long after this design was decommissioned from use. And as Harvestman Man noted about this cart's condition: "That thing has had a hard life - the black rubber around the red wheels has been completely worn off."


     The top of the receipt from my small purchase this day.


     The savings are here to stay (or so they claim). The bottom of the receipt had this message directing people to the other area Kmart stores, which would be the West Palm Beach (since closed), Lantana, and possibly Boca Raton stores. When the Palm Bay Kmart closed, they never printed this message on the receipt, probably because our next closest Kmart was 45 minutes away! As RetailPhotos2014 said, "Every time I read that part of any receipt from a closing Kmart, I think "They've certainly done a lot of regretting!" especially with the number of stores they've done away with..." With Kmart hovering somewhere between 200-300 remaining stores as of early 2019, there sure is a lot of regretting to be had! Additionally, Retail Retell commented, "They might as well be printing that on every Kmart receipt anymore...!" With the way things are looking for Sears Holdings now with all these bankruptcy deadlines looming, that statement couldn't be any more true! 

So that's all I have for now. Until the next post,

AFB

1 comment:

  1. It's Kmart's colorful market! I've never seen one of their stores with this look! Then of course I haven't many opportunities to shop at a Kmart, and my chances are continually slipping away! That is weird seeing Kmart in that Walgreens font. I didn't catch it before it closed, but I'm sure Gainesville's Kmart transferred their prescriptions to Walgreens, since there's one practically next door on Newberry Rd. What's sad about all these Kmart closings is the fact that since they're so large, there's really no other comparable sized retail store (except Rural King) to take their place.

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