1874 North Township Boulevard, Pittston, PA – Pittston Commons
This Kmart opened in 1977 in a building that originally opened as a Grant’s City store in 1972. Until 2000 (give or take a year), this store served as an anchor to the Pittston Mall, at which time the mall was demolished and replaced by the strip center that stands here today. It was announced in January 2018 that this Kmart would be closing by April 2018 after 40 years in business at this location, leaving the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania (once a Kmart stronghold) with only two locations left in the area (located in Wilkes-Barre and Edwardsville).
Today I will introduce a new feature to everyone called "Beyond My Florida Retail". With this feature, you will get a see a glimpse of stores located outside of the Sunshine State. For our first Beyond My Florida Retail store, we'll be taking a look at the former Kmart located in Pittston, PA. This store was one of 103 Sears and Kmart stores announced for closure in January 2018 after yet another pitiful Christmas shopping season for the company. This list was particularly excruciating for me, as the closure list included this particular Kmart store. I’ve honestly been preparing myself for this announcement for years, but still took a while for the news to sink in on me. The Pittston Kmart was to be no more after April 2018. So I’m sure you all are wondering to yourselves, why does this crazy guy care so much about a Kmart in Pennsylvania? Well, this Kmart was my childhood Kmart, and long story short, was (along with the old mall once attached to it) the spark got me fascinated in this whole retail thing to begin with at a very young age, long before I even knew what an Albertsons was. But I’ll leave it at that for now, as the full story is rather lengthy. Anyway, I have lots of great memories from this place, and I wish I had been able to see it one more time before the end. However, I'll get to relive my memories of this place through the next 114 photos (yes, I know I can go overboard with photos!). I know both Random Retail and Catnapped1972 have already provided their own comprehensive tours of this store in the past, but I don’t think a third tour will hurt any!
Here we have a close-up of the front entrance. The exterior of this store is pretty well preserved from the Grant’s era, especially the square textured part above the front doors. This store retained the classic red and turquoise Kmart logo until its “Big Kmart” conversion in 1998, although the red and turquoise signage remained over the mall entrance until that was torn down around 2000.
Another look across Kmart’s exterior, with part of the next door shopping center poking out in the background. The shopping center next door is currently anchored by a Redner’s Warehouse Market (one of two locations they have in the Wyoming Valley currently). I’ll talk a little bit more about that plaza later in this post.
Look very, very closely at the white paneling along the roofline in this photo. In person, there is still a blatantly noticeable labelscar here from the sign that read “the saving place” (much like the one pictured here). If you click on the above photo and zoom in you can see the labelscar much better. It’s pretty crazy at how this labelscar managed to survive for 25+ years! (Although that’s also an indication of just how long it’s been since this building was last painted too!) Most of you guys on flickr agreed this was a really cool find!
This weird looking photo was my attempt to make “the saving place” labelscar more visible. I’m terrible at photo editing, so this was the best I was able to do by randomly clicking buttons in an online photo editor, hoping something happened to make the labelscar clearer! I think I managed to make it more visible. Like I said before, this labelscar is much more obvious when looking at it in person.
Another wide shot across the exterior, complete with a mountain in the background to remind us that we really have gone beyond My Florida Retail for this post! Retail Retell commented in response to this, "Wait - Florida doesn't have mountains?! :)" to which YonWooRetail2 added, "There's a slight mountain up in northern Walton County in the Panhandle. It's an amazing 345 ft!" Doesn't that mountain in Walton County really put the Rockies to shame? 😀
Before taking our first look at the interior, here’s a photo of the (very outdated and badly faded) store map printed around 1998. While this map is still 90% accurate, some things to note are that the outdoor garden center is no longer in the back left corner of the store (they moved that up front, in an interesting way we’ll see later), the “battery center” next to the seasonal department is no longer there, and the “deli” (essentially a substitute for a KCafe) in front of the registers has been gone for about as long as this map has been here. I know some Kmart stores had delis a really long time ago (where you could by the famous Kmart Subs), but this is the only Kmart I know of to have had a “deli” last through the 90’s. I honestly don’t remember the deli here, although I wish I did as it sounded rather unique! As styertowne commented, "...and I love that they call the home decor department "Home Fashion". This is old-skool 90's Kmart..."
This is the first thing you see walking through the front entrance of this store. While this is the first interior photo we’ll be seeing of this store, this was actually the very last photo I took of this Kmart (although I did come here a few more times after I took this photo, not realizing those would be my last few trips to this Kmart). As Retail Retell said, ":( Final photos are always sad..." They sure are, especially when you don't realize it will be the last...
Anyway, I took this photo during the summer blowout sale in July 2017, although the photos we’ll be seeing of this store were taken on random occasions throughout 2016 and 2017 (for the most part – there are a few older ones thrown in too). Unlike the summer blowout sale, in January 2018 a different kind of blowout sale began here. The summer blowout sale was just the practice run…
Turning around now for a look back toward the main entrance. To the left is part of the customer service desk, while the rest of the space in front of the main entrance was used for seasonal displays.
Here’s a look at the customer service desk itself, which is still the triangle style counter from the 90’s. The base of the old “Kmart TV” stand can be seen behind the ATM machine.
In this photo we're looking across the store’s front end, toward the right side of the building and the old mall entrance. We’ll look at the front end in a little more detail later in this post. Right now, we'll continue our tour further into the store…
Just beyond the front registers we find the women’s and juniors clothing departments. Like most Kmart stores, only a few of the clothing departments received modern signage of late, with all of the others retaining the older signs from the 90’s. Children’s clothing lines the right side wall, and can be seen off in the distance.
This is a look down the right side wall of the store, home to the children’s clothing departments. The store’s fitting rooms are also located over here as well.
Here's a close-up of the fitting rooms, and their rather faded signage.
Moving back out to the main aisle, this view is looking toward the front of the store once again. Children’s clothing is to my left, with women’s clothing to my right. As usual in these Grants-turned-Kmarts, the floor tile contains a variety of mismatched avocado green and white tiles throughout the store.
Still looking toward the front of the store, but this time from a vantage point a bit further back. This photo also manages to capture a glimpse of the fitting rooms once again.
This is a short aisle that separates the women’s clothing department from shoes. They used to place some tables and racks of clearance shoes and other softlines merchandise in the center of this wide aisle, but in recent years the aisle has been kept empty like this most of the time.
Looking into the store’s back right corner, we find the “infant & toddlers” department. Baby clothing was immediately to my right, while the rest of the baby supplies were located just beyond that.
In the baby department is this emergency exit, which I took a photo of since some of the signage stuck to the door looked pretty old.
Did you ever wonder what happens to random loose socks when they fall out of a package at the store? Well, if you have, what you see in this picture was Kmart’s answer to that problem. They sort the individual socks out in bins and charge 50 cents per sock. If you can find a matching pair, that’s only $1 for a pair of socks! However, if you’re wondering about what happens to the missing sock after you do laundry - that is a question I do not have an answer to. As Retail Retell commented, "Well, one out of two life mysteries solved in a single description isn't too shabby :P"
This photo looks across the store from the edge of the shoe department. Comparatively, this Kmart was in the smaller end of the spectrum at just under 90,000 square feet (88,891 sq. ft., to be exact, according to Random Retail).
Looking out from the shoe department toward the lingerie and accessories departments, with the front of the store visible beyond that.
From the perspective of one of the shoe aisles, here’s a look toward the store’s layaway counter. The layaway signage itself got pretty faded over the years.
Moving away from the right side of the store, we now find ourselves looking down the main back aisle. To my left are shoes, and to my right is men’s clothing.
Moving just a bit further down the main back aisle for this photo. Here you can see the old Grant’s racetrack tile pattern clearly, which Kmart’s back aisle lines up with rather well. As Retail Retell commented, "The racetrack looks so much better when Kmart actually uses it as such!" I agree. However, you just have to ignore the way the store is situated around the other three quarters of it!
The layaway counter is located behind the men’s clothing department in a little alcove. I think I was trying to capture the layaway signage and some of the men’s clothing signage in this photo.
To the left of the layaway counter was a door into the backroom, which someone left propped open during one of my visits here. Since the door was open, I figured I’d sneak a peek inside with this photo.
Now that I’ve mentioned the layaway counter a few times, I might as well share a photo of the layaway counter itself! This store had a pretty spacious layaway counter with two registers.
Some more examples of old signage found in this store, this time on a pole in the menswear department. The faded fire extinguisher sign probably dates back to the 90’s, although I’m not sure about the age of the blue “no smoking” sign. It’s probably from the 90’s as well if I had to take a guess. And as long as shoppers obey the “no smoking” sign, then the chances are less likely that someone will need to strain their eyes to read that information on the faded operation of a fire extinguisher sign!
This photo provides a look back at much of what we covered in the previous few photos – the shoe department, menswear, and layaway. The baby department in the back right corner can also be seen in the background as well.
Moving further along the back aisle of this store, some of the clothing departments begin to transition into hardlines, with luggage and sporting goods being the next departments we find to the right beyond menswear. To the left is one last little bit of clothing, containing a small corner of local team apparel.
Here we have a look into the team apparel department, which contains merchandise for all of the major sports teams from Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, as well as New York. NEPA is in the middle of all three of these sports markets, so you find fans for all three of these city’s teams in this area.
In addition to the team apparel, I also included some photos of other “local flare” clothing for sale at this Kmart (it seemed like a fitting place for it to go). I certainly don’t know where else one can buy an “I L♥ve Northeast Pennsylvania” T-shirt! (I never knew NEPA was such a popular place to warrant a shirt like that!).
This main aisle leads from the front doors to the back of the store, separating the hardlines and softlines sides of the store.
With all of those bins of pillows out of the way now, here we have a clear view down this aisle toward the store’s main entrance. Furniture and linens are the departments to my right, while hosiery, accessories and jewelry comprise the departments to my left.
A close-up of the jewelry counter, which is one of the first things you see upon entering this store. The cosmetics department is to the left of the jewelry counter from this viewpoint.
A reverse view of this aisle, this time looking from jewelry back toward the furniture and accessories department. A little bit of the sporting goods department can be seen in the background.
A random look down one of the many aisles in the housewares department.
An overview of some of the larger furniture displays (such as tables, recliners, and chairs). Behind me were a few more aisles of furniture, mostly smaller pieces (dressers, shelves, etc.) as well as beds.
Now we once again find ourselves at the back main aisle. Just beyond furniture and sporting goods are more housewares and the electronics department.
A double-wide aisle in the sporting goods department. Typically the empty area in the middle of this aisle is used for display or overstock merchandise (such as outdoor furniture, extra bicycles, and one time they even had a mini-campsite with a pitched tent here!). I took this photo when this aisle was in transition between two displays, which is why it was empty.
Here we are looking toward the main entrance once again, this time from the double-wide aisle in sporting goods. Here you can see this aisle when it had some extra merchandise in the center, which at the time this photo was taken was overstock patio furniture.
Looking across the back wall of the store from sporting goods, with electronics barely visible off in the distance.
Once again we find ourselves in the back main aisle, now approaching the electro-pliance department (this store didn’t sell mattresses, so I can’t call it an electro-pli-mattress department this time!). The newer style appliance sign is mostly blocked by the puddle jumpers sign, but it appears again in some later photos.
Electronics…so the big sign on the wall says. The actual selection of electronics is located further to my left now, although as usual in Kmart these days, was a much larger department until few years ago. While approximately half of the former electronics department was recycled for use as the appliance department, this store never carried a large selection of appliances. (Until this setup was created, the appliance department used to consist of about six displays placed in the middle of one of the main aisles). Once the move to the former electronics space occurred, the selection wasn’t expanded upon much, and most of the open floor space was used for storing backstock of appliances. The big cardboard boxes aren’t the prettiest thing to see on the salesfloor, but having them out here still looks much better than having a mostly empty appliance department. As YonWooRetail2 commented in relation to the electronics sign on the wall: "I've never seen a Kmart Electronics sign like that. It looks good in blue font though!"
There’s smart, and there’s Kmart smart. While theLakeland Kmart had some of this signage still floating around until its closure in October 2017, I took this photo at the Pittston Kmart a few years back when this signage was more common.
Talk about the worst sale ever! Clearance price $4 when it was originally free! The person who printed these labels surely wasn’t paying attention… As Retail Retell commented, "I do have a fair number of M&M spokescandy products... but zipper pulls, no thank you! I'm not sure I would've taken those even when they were free XD"
In the previous photos I showed of the electro-pliance department, this part of the store looked rather presentable in the summer of 2017 when I took those photos. However, it was a completely different story in the summer of 2016, as seen here! As you can see, the roof had sprung a leak, so somebody rigged up that tarp/hose/bucket contraption to catch the water coming in. A lot of the appliance displays were pushed out of the way because of the leak, leaving a big empty hole in the middle appliance department. This part of the store was like this for a while, but the leaky roof was eventually fixed (or covered with duct tape until that failed – you never know with Kmart!), with the tarp removed and ceiling tiles replaced. Also, as the keen-eyed vintagefans pointed out, "Plus Detergent, I heard Sears isn't going to sell that anymore. It's no longer made and apparently a desired rarity now." You can always count of Kmart to have some discontinued product still floating around the store! I didn't know Plus Detergent was discontinued, and I can imagine there are some longtime Plus users out there who want to stock up on the stuff. Sad to see another longtime Sears brand going away...
Another look at the appliance department from the leaky roof days. In this photo you can see the newer ‘appliances’ sign much better.
Even with the amount of space given to appliances, this store still retained a decent selection of electronics. This photo is looking down the wall of TVs, back toward the appliance section. To my right were a few aisles of electronics accessories and cables, printers, ink, and movies.
Here we’re looking directly at the wall of TVs, rather than down the aisle like we saw last time. The Music and Video signs on the wall used to contain both the ‘M’ and the ‘V’ parts of the sign, but at some point the signs were reduced to just one ‘M’ and one ‘V’ as you can see in these photos.
Looking into one of the electronics aisles here, with the large wall sign visible in the background.
Here is the usual selection of blank VHS and cassette tapes at Kmart these days, a staple of the Kmart electronics department. Even as one of the three people in the world who still records things on a VCR, I have to say $12.99 seems a bit pricey for two blank tapes! (I haven’t bought new tapes in a while though, as unused blank tapes are cheap and plentiful at thrift stores and yard sales).
Another one of the store’s electronics aisles, this one containing display cards for some tablets and laptops, as well as some other cords and accessories.
A wide view of Kmart’s music and movies section, which included a decent selection of discount movies. All of the wall signage can be seen in the background too.
We will now depart the electronics department with this photo from the main back aisle. All of the signage for electronics is visible here, as well as some of the signs for the housewares departments as well.
Automotive is the final department along the back wall, located next to electronics. This is the view along the back wall from automotive, with part of electronics visible in the distance.
This short hallway was located behind the automotive department, and led to some employee offices and probably the breakroom.
At the edge of the automotive department we see these red covered doors. These doors once lead into the original Grant’s garden center, which was tucked into the back left corner of the store a good distance away from where Kmart keeps the rest of their seasonal department. It was probably for that reason why Kmart would later close this garden center and relocate it to the front of the store (which we’ll take a look at later in this post). According to the Big Kmart era store map, this was used as the garden center into the late 90’s, although I have no recollection of ever being in here.
The old garden center has probably been used as storage space for the last 20 years. If you look closely at the doors, the padlock that usually secures them shut was unlocked this day… Tempting yes, but I really didn’t feel like explaining to the employee who was probably in there (who unlocked it in the first place) why I was taking a peek inside!
Another look down the main back aisle, this time from the area of the automotive department. We also see part of the toy department to the right side of this photo as well, which is the direction we'll be heading next for this tour. As YonWooRetail2 commented, "The presentation of this store is very impressive! I really think a lot of these Kmart stores could be salvaged (expecially if they trimmed the prices and put more items on sale). That's what I've been noticing with my last few visits to Kmart- not many things on sale, just regular prices. But overhauling Kmart would probably require too much exertion by those on the top 😔" vintagefans added upon these comments by saying, "I agree this store is nicely presented, I like the old green floor actually. And yeah, it would be cool if Kmart could be sold and turned around it would be quite an amazing comeback!"
Additionally, that red two-tier cart you see in this photo was another stray that wandered over from the Redner’s grocery store next door. This Kmart had two tier carts as well, but they were the usual gray metal ones.
Here’s a look across the store from one of the center cut through aisles. This photo was taken in the toy department, looking back toward housewares and food. This also appears to be my best photo of this store’s toy department that I got. I’m surprised at that, as this was the part of the store in which I would spend so much time way back when!
This is the same center cut through aisle, just photographed from further down near housewares and food.
This is a double-wide aisle that separated food from housewares and linens. At the time this photo was taken, the displays in the center of this aisle were dedicated so some promotional and sale merchandise.
In addition to the sale displays, this double-wide aisle also contained the laundry detergents and some cleaning chemicals, all of which were stored on warehouse style shelving (typical of many Kmart stores).
Jumping from 2016 to 2017, this double-wide aisle was converted from solely sale merchandise into Kmart’s new “Deal Flash” section. From what I understand, the “Deal Flash” products were limited quantity closeout buys that Kmart obtained to sell at a deep discount. However, as of 2019, I'm not sure if the "Deal Flash" promotion is still going on or not. I haven't seen any deal flash merchandise at my local-ish Kmart recently.
It’s the Deal Flash and the Bluelight Special all rolled up into one! The savings just never stop! Kmart actually had some good deals in this section of the store (such as those 25 cent boxes of straws next to the bluelight). Actually, I didn’t notice this then, but those boxes of straws look to have been A&P’s America’s Choice brand. As styertowne commented, "Those A&P straws debuted in Kmart at $1, then they went down to $0.50 and at Pittston, looks like they were $0.25. At my Kmart now they are $0.05 and there are hundreds of boxes of them... haha"
I threw together this photo collage of some of the products and signage that I found in the Deal Flash section. The photo on the left and on the bottom right show the typical Deal Flash signage, which almost always had the Kmart price in comparison to someone else’s price (Amazon and Walmart were the two big comparisons, although Walgreens was another one I saw). And since the Deal Flash section was comprised of mostly closeouts, some other random store brands found their way into Kmart. For example, the Family Dollar dog treats in the top right photo, as well as the America’s Choice straws in the previous photo. As mbz32190 commented, "Seems Kmart is trying to be more 'Big Lots' than even Big Lots even is lol. Closeouts are a good concept/effort anyhow, but it isn't going to help much at this point. My local Kmart had a few racks of T-shirts from the semi-defunct 'American Apparel' company for $2 each. Not a bad deal considering they went for about $7-$10 at the time." vintagefans also commented that "this is really interesting. I don't remember seeing this section at Kmart, but the comparisons to Amazon and Walmart are kind of neat. Kind of a Kmart in the 21st century moment."
The paper products aisle, as viewed looking toward the back of the store and the electronics department.
The paper products aisle again, this time looking in the opposite direction toward the front of the store. The two-toned tile seen in this aisle was due to the old Grant’s racetrack turning into the grocery section.
One of the grocery aisles, with this one featuring water and juices on the right side and coffee and breakfast items on the left side.
This store has the usual Kmart grocery coolers for milk and small selection of frozen foods and chilled drinks. The “Cold Milk” cooler was located at the end of one of the grocery aisles, facing the front of the store, while the other set of coolers pictured was around the corner in an aisle. As Kevin Weaver commented, "The COLD MILK sign makes it great!!! In case you couldn't figure out what those chilled gallon jugs of white liquid are..."
The chips, snacks, and soda aisle of the grocery section.
Food (Not So) Fresh. The Food Fresh claims that it can keep the food in your refrigerator tasting and smelling fresher for up to 90 days, although it looks like the Food Fresh itself has been sitting out on the shelf for much longer than that! The less-than-fresh looking packaging is probably more of a deterrent than anything at this point, especially for a product that’s supposed to keep food fresh! At $2.79, that doesn’t seem like a bad deal for this item, as someone is selling one of these for $23.80 on walmart.com! However, as mbz32190 commented, "[It's] probably just baking soda in a fancy looking package."
The store’s back left corner is home to the hardware department, which takes up a good 5 or 6 aisles if I remember correctly.
This is the backmost aisle of hardware. On the other side of that wall to the left is the long abandoned garden center.
The famous Kmart buckets on display for sale at the Pittston Kmart. Surprisingly, I do not own one of these (and I still don't as of early 2019). As Ryan Busman_49 said, "Don't feel bad. I passed up at least 3 chances to get one. I better stop doing that though..."
A look down the store’s left side wall. Moving up from hardware, the next department we come across is seasonal. Since these photos were taken in the summertime, the seasonal department was dedicated to planters, pools, outdoor furniture and other such items, which we will see more of in the coming photos.
Moving out to the main aisle that traverses the left side of the store. Here we can see much more of the seasonal department, including some of the patio furniture displays.
Lawn food, to keep your grass from starving. I just liked how Kmart phrased their sign for fertilizers. On those pallets behind the “Lawn Food” sign you can see some KGro branded merchandise, which is Kmart’s brand of lawn and garden products that’s been around since the 80’s at least. I have a photo of some 80’s era KGro fertilizer packaging I found in our shed that I’ll have to upload some day. However, I’m not sure if I would want to feed my lawn 30 year old fertilizer, as that might give my grass lawn food poisoning! As Retail Retell commented, "I love that sign and your description XD"
Behind the lawn and garden section is the garden center register and door to the outside. The door you see here was added after the old garden center in the back was decommissioned in the late 90’s, and plants and such were moved to the front of the building. However, the door to the outside where the plants are kept has been locked and unused for years at this store, ever since this store got rid of full time garden center attendants. So in order to go outside, we have to
kick down the door you see here walk back out the front door and go around the building…
So around the store we go to spend the next few photos in the outdoor portion of the garden center (it was a nice cool Pennsylvania summer afternoon when I took these photos, so we might as well spend a little bit of time outside in the nice weather!). When Kmart moved the plants up here from the old garden center, they didn’t build a new garden center structure, or even get any new garden center fixtures. This store’s garden center was just housed in an unused portion of the parking lot. The displays for the plants consisted of stacks of pallets and 2x6’s with cinder blocks holding them up. This store has been doing this every year for probably 20 years now, however they don’t have to worry about dragging the pallets and cinder blocks out for Summer 2018 though…
Looking from Kmart’s garden center toward their neighbor, Redner’s Warehouse Market. This grocery store is actually pretty interesting, especially once you step inside and see what it still looks like. I’ll spare you all the details on this place right now, as the Kmart is the subject of this post!
The garden center wraps around the front of the building, where one can find the bags of mulch, potting soil, and some garden pavers.
The crown jewel of this store’s garden center has to be this though – the original turquoise and red “Garden Shop” sign from when this store first opened! Even though this sign was installed with the intention to direct customers to the old garden center in the very back of the store, it was still very much accurate up to the very end! As Retail Retell added, "[It's still] in good condition, too!" Yep! It still looks good up there for being 40 years old! Too bad it was more than likely messed up come April 2018 when it got hauled off to the dump...
After that little bit of fresh air, back inside we go to continue our interior tour, picking right back up where we left off in the lawn and garden department. In 2016, the roof issues weren’t just in the electropliance department, but could also be found over here in the lawn and garden department as well. The same tarp and hose contraption we saw in electropliances was rigged up over here as well, and was eventually taken down by the end of the summer when the leak was fixed.
A double-wide lawn and garden aisle, created to house stacks of patio chairs and lawnmower displays.
One final overview of the lawn and garden department, as seen from the main aisle.
The last department along the left side wall is office supplies, which take up the store’s front left corner. Books are also located in this area as well.
Turning the corner we can see more of the selection of books, as well as the sign for the “home office” department. Greeting cards are to my right.
Here we have a look across the front of the store. Greeting cards and party supplies are housed in the department immediately to my left, with food beyond that. The main aisle we see here is lined primarily with merchandise that was on sale, in addition to some seasonal items.
Looking toward greeting cards, where we find some displays with signage that hasn’t been touched in over 15 years…
So what’s new at Kmart? Certainly not this sign! (The irony!) This sign dates back at least 15-20 years, back to when the matching department signage was installed throughout the rest of the store. I took a bunch of photos of this “New at Kmart” sign for whatever reason, but decided just to post two of my photos with the sign in it.
One of the aisles of cards and party supplies, complete with a selection of balloons too.
Beyond the cards this section of the store transitions into the toy department, with part of one of the food aisles (specifically the one containing candy) visible in the distance.
Another look across the front aisle, looking back toward office supplies.
Another view down this store’s front aisle here. The old Grant’s racetrack appears once again in this photo, where we can see it turn back toward the front end.
More front aisle action. The linen department is just ahead on the left, and the health and beauty department is ahead on the right.
Now we’ll turn the camera just a bit in order to capture some of the signage for health and beauty, visible to the right side of this photo. The registers and the front end are also visible in the background.
Health and beauty is located in a little alcove of sorts next to the front entrance. In case you were wondering, this store never had a pharmacy counter (and there really wasn’t much space over here for one).
The front end comes into sight once again as we near the end of out interior tour of this Kmart.
In this photo we’re standing in front of the main registers, looking back toward the customer service desk.
This is a little space between the customer service desk (and the rarely used register 1) and registers 2 through 6. This area is usually used for extra promotional and seasonal items. There was actually a reason this little space was created. Back in the late 90’s, this store actually had 10 cash registers up here. In 2001, Kmart made a deal with NCR to install self checkout machines at 1300 of their 2100 stores at the time, and this Kmart was one of the ones to get the self checkouts. This space was cleared out and 4 regular registers were eliminated in order to install the new self checkouts. I remember going through Kmart’s self checkouts after they were first installed here, as this was the first time anyone in my family had seen such a thing (in 2001, self checkouts were a new novelty considering how rare they still were then). Kmart’s venture into self checkouts was short lived though, as they were taken out from all stores in 2003. Kmart was leasing the self checkout machines from NCR, and amidst the bankruptcy at the time, they chose to get rid of the machines in order to reduce their costs from the lease agreement and theft at the machines. When the self checkouts were removed, the spaces where they once were housed typically became a spot for random merchandise, much like we see here. As Retail Retell commented, "Kmart was ahead of the times on a lot of things, it seems. That's the sad irony behind their current situation..."
The former self checkout area once again, this time with a more patriotic flair in preparation for the 4th of July.
A random close-up of one of the registers, this one being register 4.
To the right of the entrance and in front of the service desk is the cart storage area. Way back when though, this is the area where the mysterious Kmart deli was located. Like I said earlier in this post, the deli was this store’s version of the KCafe (and probably very similar to a KCafe by the late 90’s). I wish I could remember what the deli was like, as it sounds like something pretty unique to this store. Even though this store was a former Grant’s, it never had a full service Grant’s restaurant (that I’m aware of, anyway, unless Kmart ripped out all traces of it many years ago). There’s always the possibility that the deli counter could have been a holdover from Grants too, much like how Kmart ran the old Grant’s restaurants as their own for many years after in some instances.
Thank you for shopping Big Kmart. No Kmart, thank you for being here for the last 40 years, and I wish there could have been 40 more too…
As we prepare to leave the Pittston Kmart for the very last time, we’ll head through the side entrance that once led into the old Pittston Mall. While these doors now lead to the walkway that goes across the front of the Pittston Commons shopping center, 18 years ago we would have been staring into the mall corridor from this spot. For the last few photos of this post, I’ll talk a little bit more about the old Pittston Mall itself, and wrap up everything else about this Kmart.
Looking from the outside of the building toward the side entrance/former mall entrance here. The mall structure began where that blue pole is now, and extended to the right, leaving this as an open air gap between Kmart and the mall. One thing I remember from the mall is that Kmart’s sign inside the corridor was the turquoise and red logo all the way until the mall was town down in 2000, outlasting the old logo on the front of the Kmart building itself by a few years.
Turning to the right we can see more of the Pittston Commons shopping center. The mall’s central corridor lined up with Kmart’s side entrance, with the mall building sticking out further into the current parking lot. With the way the light is hitting the pavement, you can see the transition between the original pavement in front of Kmart, and the new pavement installed when the mall was torn down.
Moving away from Kmart for just a moment to get an overview of the shopping center next to it. Back in the day, the Pittston Mall contained stores such as McCrory’s, Radio Shack, Thrift Drug, Fashion Bug, an arcade, a bakery, a Hallmark store, Savo’s Pizza, and a little diner called Bernie’s (in addition to a few others, although the mall itself was pretty small). The Pittston Mall had been in decline for most of the 1990’s, and by the tail end of that decade would be left with three tenants (not counting Kmart): the Hallmark store (at the end of the mall near the grocery store), Savo’s Pizza (the first storefront to the right after walking in the mall entrance from Kmart), and Bernie’s diner and lottery stand (located in the corridor that connected center court to the mall’s front entrance). Hallmark and Savo’s Pizza would later reopen in the new strip center, and from what I can tell, Bernie’s closed with the mall. Hallmark lasted here until 2015 or so, and Savo’s is still going strong today. This is the only thing I’ve ever found online about the old mall, and that link goes into more detail about some of the former tenants. I’ve never found any pictures of the mall online, although I’d love to see some if anyone has any out there! To be honest, it seems like the Pittston Commons isn’t much of a hopping place anymore either…
1820 North Township Boulevard, Pittston, PA – Pittston Commons
This building was the longtime home to Giant Supermarket (no relation to Ahold’s Giant-Carlisle and Giant-Landover chains), which later in its tenure was a ShurSave affiliate (not sure if they were always affiliated with ShurSave though). Giant Supermarket was a small chain of grocery stores in the Wyoming Valley that lasted until 1997, and (while I don’t have any facts to prove this) I believe they were the reason Giant-Carlisle never entered the Wyoming Valley, as the two chains shared the same name (Giant-Carlisle does have two “outlier” stores in North Scranton, and a store in Hazleton, marking their only presence in the fairly populated Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties). This store remained a Giant Supermarket until the chain’s demise in 1997, and sat empty for a while until Dollar Tree opened in half of the building in the early 2000’s. The right half of the building sat empty even longer, until Planet Fitness took over that space in the late 2000’s.
If I remember right, most of the windows across the front of the building date back to the Giant days. Dollar Tree and Planet Fitness carved out their entrances along the row of windows, as Giant’s main entrance was on the left side of the building (now covered over). The mall entrance on this side of the building was off to the left side of the Giant building, near where their main entrance was (but set further back).
And that, everyone, is the story of the Pittston Kmart and the former Pittston Mall. We will conclude this post with an overview of the Kmart building and part the neighboring shopping center, with this photo taken from across the street (conveniently obstructed by that traffic light, of course!). I’ve had many great memories at this store and the old mall next to it, and it’s going to be strange seeing the Kmart building empty. While I’m sad that I wasn’t able to see this place one last time for a good-bye run before it closed in April 2018, at least I’ll have the memories (and all of these photos) to remember this place by. So good-bye Kmart #7142, you will be missed… As Retail Retell put it: "Rest in peace, Kmart #7142..."
But wait - this post isn't over just yet!
To bring some closure to my coverage of the Pittston Kmart, which we just saw, here is the store as of June 2018: empty. It’s really strange seeing this building closed up and lifeless, especially after shopping here for so many years. As YonWooRetail2 said, "It's disheartening seeing one of your favorite stores just sitting empty like that. Hopefully they'll put a neat new store in here before too long (without tearing it down)."
To complete my post-closure coverage of this store, here's a quick peek inside the place as seen from the old mall entrance doors. While the checkstands were left behind, nothing else remains in here. As of January 2019, the Kmart building is still for lease. I did send an email to a retailer who I thought would be a good fit for this building, but six months later, I didn't get a response. At the very least, a courtesy form letter response would have been nice! Anyhow, not that input from me would sway a large corporation into moving into this building, but it would be nice to see a retailer take over all or part of this building going forward. So we'll just have to wait and see what happens...
So that's all I have for now. Even though this blog will focus mostly on retail from around Florida, don't be surprised if something from beyond Florida may pop up on here every once and a while!
Until the next post,