Saturday, January 19, 2019

Kmart #4415 - Daytona Beach, FL

Kmart #4415
1300 W. International Speedway Boulevard, Daytona Beach, FL - Daytona Plaza

     If it were only another average day at Kmart...

     This Kmart originally opened in November 1970, along with a Kmart Foods next door. Kmart always claimed this store was a high performer all the way up until the last few years. In 2013, this Kmart was shrunken in size from 120,000 square feet to 80,000 square feet to allow for new tenants GFS Marketplace and West Marine to open new stores on each side of the existing Kmart. This 2013 reduction in size also cost this store its garden center. This store wound up closing in mid-March 2016 after Old Time Pottery and SkyZone Trampoline Center conveniently decided to take over Kmart's space for new locations. OTP takes up roughly three quarters of the former Kmart space, and SkyZone in the remaining portion of the building (click here for a Google Streetview of what this place looks like now). This store was also the last Kmart in the Daytona Beach area, the nearest Kmart (as of early 2019) now being the Vero Beach Kmart nearly 100 miles to the south of here.

     From this photo, it looks like just another average day at Kmart. Well, the crowded parking lot might tip you guys off to something funny going on, but there wasn't a single closing sign on the exterior of the building or anywhere else along the road. Inside is a different story. I feel that the closing of this Kmart was yet another of the many examples of Kmart selling off decent locations to others just for the value of the real estate (thanks Mr. Lampert). In the many articles about the closing of this store that I found, the locals, who are happy Old Time Pottery is coming, are still slightly hurt that new store is coming at the cost of their last Kmart. However, the landlord responded to all the Kmart closing criticism by saying "Kmart is an outdated concept". A bit harsh of a statement, in my opinion. Many of Kmart's physical buildings are a bit outdated, but the entire concept of what Kmart is? Retail Retell responded to this by commenting, "Kmart itself may be on its deathbed, but the entire concept certainly isn't outdated! Walmart grew out of the same one, and Target is essentially what Kmart strove to be." Anyway, I'll spare you any Kmart closing rants right now.

     When I was here, this store was 1 week into the closing sale. To quote l_dawg2000, the "vultures" were already picking apart this Kmart, and they were packing into this place as you can tell by all the cars (and this was a weekday afternoon too!). If only Kmart could do this type of business on a normal day!

     The bluelight is back - but not for long! What's interesting about this store is that when it was shrunken in size, the 'BIG' part of the Kmart sign was removed, the red K was centered, and the background, which was entirely gray, was repainted to its original early 90's color scheme with the red stripes to each side of the K. If it wasn't for that new-ish Dodge Challenger in the background, and the "Bluelight is Back!" banner, I probably could have convinced some people this picture was taken in 1993!

     And if you look to the right of the front door, there was a guy sitting at a table selling subscriptions to the local paper there. It seemed odd someone would do that at a store closing sale. But there were other more interesting things that I experienced while I was here, which I'll mention as I go through the photos of this store.

     The left side of the building, which still has the pharmacy signage up. I have something interesting to share about the pharmacy when I get to those photos too.

     Even Kmart's road sign looks like something from the pre-bankruptcy early 2000's!

     The left portion of the Kmart building can be seen here. The Gordon Food Service Store you see off to the left was originally the home of a Kmart Foods store. The Kmart Foods opened with the main store in 1970, and was closed by the end of the 70's with the rest of the Kmart Foods locations. That space sat empty for a very long time. I'm sure it was something else in the time between Kmart Foods closing and Gordon Foods opening, but I couldn't find anything online saying what may have been in there. That space sat empty from at least the early 2000's until Gordon Food opened on June 16, 2013. Here's a picture of this space before Gordon Food Services opened, showing the original look from Kmart Foods.

     While Kmart never did anything with the Kmart Foods space, it was still considered a part of the main Kmart store's square footage. That's why the articles mention the store was shrunken down 40,000 square feet, although technically the sales floor only lost 20,000 square feet when the West Marine was carved out of the right side of the store. Gordon Food Services Stores are basically a mini Sam's Club that doesn't require a membership. They sell bulk foods, paper products, and party supplies, so if you're in need of a package of 1,000 Styrofoam cups and a gallon of ketchup, and you don't have a membership to Sam's, BJ's, or Costco, this is your place to go. While parent company Gordon Food Services supplies food nationwide to restaurants, their retail stores are primarily confined to the Midwest and Florida.

     When the former Kmart Foods became home to Gordon Food Services in 2013, that same year Kmart also agreed to give up their Garden Center and a portion of the right side of the main store so West Marine could build a new 20,000 square foot store in this part of the building. The outdoor part of the Garden Center was torn down for more parking, and the interior part of the garden center and some of Kmart's sales floor was turned into this. West Marine is a chain that sells boating supplies and accessories. They opened their new store here on February 14, 2014.

     Another look at the West Marine store, this time with a portion of the Kmart visible to the left. I didn't go in either West Marine or the Gordon Food Store due to time constraints, and there didn't look to be any Kmart remnants left in either space.

     So I believe I've covered most of the background on this store. Here's a closeup of the front of the Kmart and its sign. The old red K in this store's Big Kmart sign was badly faded, so either this is a new old sign recycled from a closed store, or a very neatly done repaint. As Retail Retell commented, "Great shot! I love seeing the old Kmart logo by itself." Back in 2013, Kmart had plans to do an interior and possibly an exterior remodel of this store, back when they said this store was "here to stay". Unfortunately, neither of those remodels happened, and Kmart eventually backed out on that claim of "here to stay", as they were quoted in a newspaper article in 2013.

     Next, we go inside and deal with the madness and all the people picking at the remains of the closing Daytona Beach Kmart...

     Attention Kmart Shoppers... The new bluelight special light and advertisement was displayed right as you walked into the store. What was weird was that a bluelight special actually went off while I was here. I think that's because they're programmed through the Kmart Radio system to go off at the same time in every store, regardless of whether it's closing or not. Not sure if this was coincidental or intentional, but after the bluelight special announcement came on, the song "Do The Hustle" came on right after it, which was pretty fitting. As you could probably tell, this store wasn't participating in any of the day's bluelight specials, so I didn't bother chasing after it. As Retail Retell commented, "I was just in the Memphis Kmart. They kept coming on with announcements about a bluelight special in pharmacy. Never saw the stand by the time I got over there though." 

     Turning to the right after first walking into the store, we see this. Pharmacy and Health and Beauty is to the right, followed by stationary and electronics. To the left we have housewares followed by the grocery department. Kmart even went through the effort of putting out Super Bowl decorations and (as you'll see later) Valentine's Day items, even though the store closing would be announced soon after all of that was put out.

     And over in the pharmacy is the unupdated Kmart Health Monitor Center, although the old Kmart logo is pretty faded on this one.

It's Open...
     The pharmacy counter, which was still open even though it was now one week into the closing, the sign still lit as well. I didn't know this at first, but apparently the pharmacy at this store closed permanently at 1pm the day I was here. I took this photo at 12:57pm. I also saw the pharmacist pull down the window covers and turn off the light on the sign. As Retail Retell commented, "Wow! Good timing!" l_dawg2000 had different thoughts on his mind about this: "Right after the pharmacy closed, did they knock the sign off the wall with some small explosive charges, like they did with the exterior sign in that Domino's Pizza commercial from a couple of years ago!?" Ah, so that's what all of those explosion sounds were from! :)

It's Closed...
      And the pharmacy after 1:00pm, now permanently closed. It was strange witnessing the closure of the pharmacy. That sign over the pharmacy box was probably taken down in the next day or so, along with the sign outside.

     Looking down the front wall toward electronics, which is in the front right corner of the store.

     The electronics department. The wall to the left is the new wall that was constructed in 2013 to carve out the West Marine from Kmart's salesfloor. I'm not sure how the store was originally configured, but I'd have to guess Seasonal and electronics took up most of area that was cut off. Seasonal was moved to the other side of the store, next to the cash registers. The electronics selection, although shrunken during the remodel, was still pretty large for Kmart standards. They even kept the electronics counter too, which is somewhere in the background behind some of that stuff, complete with an attendant too!

     Looking into the front right corner itself. In the background, the guy in the blue shirt was the attendant to the electronics counter.

     Three years ago, I would be looking toward the garden center entrance here. Now all we can see is a wall. As Retail Retell commented, "I don't think I've ever seen a Kmart beer and wine sign before!" I hadn't either until this day!

    Here we can see the front of the grocery department, looking back toward the pharmacy and health and beauty. They were stuffing pallets of everything wherever they could on the sales floor to get it out of the back. As Retail Retell commented, "I'm amazed with the amount of stuff Kmarts can have stuffed in the backroom and elsewhere. At the Memphis store they have the backroom plus the entire former grocery space that they use for storage. To my dismay (and confusion) they also had the former café area - which I distinctly remember being completely open back in the day, and was most excited to get pictures of - partially closed off for more storage space."

     One of the main center aisles in the store, this one to the left of the grocery department. All of the Valentine's Day merchandise at this store ended up on the shelves in the middle of this aisle.

     Looking back down that same center aisle here, back toward the pharmacy. One thing I just noticed: All of the tacky red and yellow signs in the store only mentioned a "Huge Inventory Blowout!", and there wasn't a single reference to "Store Closing" at all here. As Retail Retell commented, "That's odd! Usually you'll see those % off signs flanked by the inventory blowout ones on one side and store closing signs on the other." l_dawg2000 also left a comment about these signs here: "I dislike these signs with a passion, no matter which way they're configured! Flickr member MemphisRetail reported a couple of weeks ago that they even had people out on the street wearing those sandwich style signs at the Poplar Ave. Sears closing."

     The cleaning supplies aisle near the grocery department.

     A not so great view of some of the grocery aisles, with the infamous coolers over there to the right behind the Little Debbie display.

     This store's small selection of appliances is hiding back there behind all of the beer.

     A better picture of the Beer and Wine sign, which looks to have been added during the 2013 shrinking. This is the only Kmart I've seen with a special department sign for beer and wine, but this Kmart has the largest beer and wine selection I've ever seen at a Kmart. All together, alcohol took up an aisle and a quarter of shelf space here. In most Kmarts, alcohol only takes up half of one side of a grocery aisle, or not even that much. As l_dawg2000 commented, "Usually Kmart has really good photos on these newer signs (better than Walmart's photo decor actually). But for some reason or other I find this one rather odd, and not very representative of the product. Is it about eating salads, romantic dinners, cooking supplies, wine, or what!?"

     One of the food aisles is pictured here. Alcohol took up the entire right side of the aisle in this picture, and all the shelves behind that in the next aisle over. This Kmart probably has a large alcohol selection since it is/was the closest place to purchase beer and wine to the Daytona Speedway, located across the street, and Daytona State College and Embry Riddle University also have their main campuses on the same corner as this Kmart as well. None of the alcohol was included as a part of the store closing discounts, although when the Kmarts in Palm Bay and Lake Park were closing, alcohol was included. Maybe it's a local restriction here. However, as PlazaACME commented, "Discount liquor near colleges is a recipe for disaster..."

     The rest of the wine and beer is located in this aisle that runs along the new wall added in 2013. The other side of the aisle included camping equipment, followed by Daytona Beach souvenirs.

     Heading over to the back of the store, we find ourselves in the back right corner. Kmart's backroom is located behind that door. During the 2013 size reduction, only the sales floor was reduced in size. The backroom still goes behind the new West Marine space, with West Marine's loading docks located on the side of the building.

     Looking down the back wall from hardware.

     Here we can see the main back aisle looking toward the softlines departments, which take up the left side of the store.

     More from the main back aisle here.

     One of the toy aisles. The aisles in the back of the store were fairly short, what you see here is almost the entire length. Also, believe it or not, this store was on the neater side for a closing Kmart. Toys and the clothing departments were the messiest departments, although clothing I'd say was a bit worse than this, since there were clothes tossed everywhere. Compare this to a similar scene at the closing Lake Park Kmart late in the year prior here.

     Looking down one of the main center aisles of the store, toward furniture, housewares, and the front entrance.

     And another look further down that same aisle.

     A look over at the furniture department, although partially obstructed by the pallet of cotton candy makers and the Stormtrooper.

     The main back aisle over in the clothing department. Like usual during the closings, extra clothing racks were brought out into the middle of the main aisles to place overstock clothes on.

     Looking toward the back of the store from a center cut through in the clothing department.

     Going into any of the clothing departments, clothes were just thrown everywhere. None of the pictures I got actually show the large amount of the disarray I saw, but if you look in the background of this one you can see little bits of it.

     Here we see the main front aisle, looking from the front left corner of the store toward the checkouts. Seasonal is now in this corner of the store, most likely relocating over here from the closed off section of the store where the garden center (now West Marine) is/was.

     Layaway was oddly located in its own little box in the back left corner of the store, in the middle of the ladies clothing department. I think there's also an office above the layaway counter as well.

     Moving to the left of the layaway counter were the fitting rooms, located along the center part of the left side wall.

     Some of the Seasonal department in the front left corner of the store. As I mentioned earlier, I believe seasonal was moved here from the other side of the store near electronics when the store was shrunken in size. This big empty space, which should have been filled with patio furniture displays by now, was just home to some random leftover Christmas stuff, and some boxes of summer items that had just begun to arrive.

     Looking down the front wall of the store and into the front left corner. The space along the front wall was reserved for beach items, like towels, beach chairs, boogie boards, etc.

     In this photo we can now see the former KCafe, located in the front left corner of the store. Kmart at least decided to put the old KCafe to good use here, and turned the space into the accessories department rather than leaving it as wasted space.

     Here we are looking up the main left side aisle, as seen from the front of the former KCafe. As andsome96 commented, "Holy crap, is that ever a narrow aisle. I bet that was one of risks associated with shrinking this store." The aisles in the front of the store were pretty narrow, but the ones in the back seemed fairly average in size. I guess wide aisles are something that are sacrificed when you lose 20,000 square feet of floor space.

     Sorry about the blur in this picture. I thought it had come out clearer when I first took it. Anyway, this is looking inside the old KCafe, now the slightly strewn about accessories department. I think this was one of the better reuses of a former KCafe space that I've seen. You can still see the old menu boards peeking out behind the shelves.

     The KCafe - Featuring...Purses! The signage for the accessories department was hung to block these remnants from the old KCafe signage. I'm not sure how long ago the cafe closed, but I'm pretty sure it has been gone since at least the mid-2000's.

     Taking a peek behind the shelving. This area is now used for random storage. I also wonder what they tried putting in that cart to bend it that bad out of shape. As Random Retail said, "That cart definitely has seen better days." Anyway, I thought this was going to be my best picture from behind the counter, however...

     ...I decided to take a chance and took a step inside the old cafe prep area to get this picture. (So please, just pay no attention to the kitchen behind the shelving!) Normally, I probably wouldn't have done this fearing an employee would be back here, but I decided to go for it. Random Retail had similar feelings, saying "I'd be mixed on taking a picture in this area as well. Since the store is closing though, I may have leaned toward taking a chance. Hard to say for sure though unless I was in that position myself." While I was in this area, there was a couple randomly wandering around the accessories department. As I was pretending to be interested in a rack of sunglasses waiting for a chance to get a picture of the KCafe labelscar behind the accessories sign, I saw that couple just walk right back here (and neither of them looked like employees). A few seconds later, they popped out again, and that's when I made my move to pop back here. I'm not sure why the couple went back here (this area really doesn't present itself as being an extension of the department), but I didn't hear any employees yelling at them for wandering back there. So yes, this is what it looks like on the other side of the curtain, or more accurately, shelf. It looks like they did something with clothing back here in this store's later days. You can also see the old menu boards up close here, and I believe that large metal unit under the menu boards is a commercial cooking unit (thanks MJHale for clearing that up in this comment: "I think the metal unit under the menu boards is more likely the old grill or fryer units. The still extant metal unit looks more like the hood over a cooking area especially since it goes up into the ceiling. That is likely where the exhaust ducting is routed."). vintagefans also expanded on some of the equipment seen back here: "I agree, the metal counter is indeed where the fryers and grill would sit, which appear to have been removed. Those two things sticking out on the sides held a shelf across the front for prepping eggs, etc. That gray strip across the top is where they would put the order slips while they cooked them. Weird that the couple decided to go back there. I haven't paid attention to this area in stores with closed cafes. I always wondered what became of these. I guess it makes sense that they wouldn't go to the trouble to remove the exhaust hood and menu boards."

     Here we can see the very busy front end of this store. This photo is a little bit blurry for my normal standards, but it was difficult getting decent pictures with the swarm of people up here. Maybe the blur can instead be interpreted as a symbol of Kmart's future or something, rather than me pulling my phone away too fast!

     A clearer picture of the front end, but with this picture directed toward the customer service desk. Another thing to mention is that this store didn't have any 'Thank you for shopping (Big) Kmart' signage. They instead hung random pictures of the beach along the front of the store from the entrance to the end of the registers. As Random Retail commented, "That's not a bad touch." All of these pictures were taken locally too, which is a nicer touch than just using stock pictures of random beach scenes.

     #LifeIsRidiculouslyAwesome when Kmart isn't closing stores! I think I'll save my happy dance for when or if this company ever gets its act together.

     I took this photo while I was waiting in line. I stood in line for 20 minutes since all of the registers they were using kept crashing, and had to be reset. All of the cashiers kept having to switch registers while the manager would play around with one of the temperamental ones, just to end up having the process continue. By the end, I had been waiting in three different lines. Even the computer system wanted to give up at this point. Baltimore Will also has similar problems at Kmart around the time I visited this store: "I found that the Kmart near me was having computer issues about the same time you were here. One thing that may be causing issues is that Kmart is now replacing all of the credit card terminals to ones that have the chip card readers." Also, andsome96 commented about the registers themselves, "Were the computers here last updated in 1985? LOL"

     The top of the receipt. Oddly enough, this receipt didn't have any messages about 'We regret having to close this Kmart location blah, blah, blah, All Sales Final', or just mentioning that all sales were final. I still don't know why Kmart was trying to keep this closing so low profile! l_dawg2000 presented this theory as to why this store was being so low profile about this closing: I know Memphis/Shelby County has a law concerning a time limit on how long a store can "go out of business", but I believe it's a fairly generous amount of time (much longer than the typical Sears or Kmart takes to close these days)! Could be some places have more stringent laws, so they circumvent the law by not mentioning the store is closing."

      So I will conclude our tour of the Daytona Beach Kmart with a final look at the exterior of the store, from over by the former garden center. And supposedly Kmart wanted to speed up closures in 2016, because closing more stores is really going to help things. (It didn't as we know now). However, I think I'll just stop there though so I don't end up typing three paragraphs on the topic.

Until the next post,


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