Sunday, September 27, 2020

A Sendoff for the Vero Beach Kmart

Kmart #7294
1501 US Highway 1, Vero Beach, FL - Indian River Plaza

     Nearly a year after its closure was announced, I'm finally getting around to posting the first of a few sets of photos I have documenting the closure of the Vero Beach Kmart store. While some current events I've been pretty good at staying on top of (like the closure of the West Melbourne Lucky's Market), some...not so much. Unfortunately, the closure of my last local-ish Kmart was coverage that got pushed to the back-burner, alongside the closure of the Vero Beach Sears store down the road at Indian River Mall. Slowly but surely I'll get through my five sets of photos I took as this store liquidated, today's post being one of those five. However, I'm not going to upload the remaining photos from here at any set schedule, just when I feel ready to pull another to write about, as I'd like to mix some other content in as well. Anyway, I'm sure you guys didn't come here to hear me ramble on about my never-ending backlog, so let's turn our attention back to the subject at hand: the Vero Beach Kmart.

     Before we go any further, let me give you a brief recap of this store's history: The Vero Beach Kmart opened for business in 1979, locating in a new strip plaza just south of Vero Beach's downtown and Miracle Mile retail district. An expansion of the sales floor into the store's former auto center occurred sometime during the early 1990's, an expansion which included a new garden center constructed on the right side of the building. After getting the usual "Big Kmart" treatment in the late 90's, not much else would happen to this store until its closure. A "remodel" in Summer 2017 gave this store as much of a refresh as you could for a Kmart in the modern era (some rearranged aisles), as well as a newly stuccoed facade. While that seemed nice and all, it's Kmart, and no matter what the company does or how invincible a store looks, there's nothing from stopping Sears Holding's /Transformco's Wheel of Closures from landing on a particular location. While escaping numerous closure rounds and becoming the very last Kmart holdout in all of East Central Florida (including the greater Orlando area), the Wheel of Closures eventually landed on the Vero Beach store in a liquidation wave released in August 2019. While Kmart is a dying breed and all, and in an especially depressing state in its current form today, it was sad losing my last local Kmart. I was one who grew up with Kmart, and stepping inside one of their stores was a nostalgia trip for me, bringing me back to my childhood. While it's probably a bad sign when a store can bring back memories from 20 years ago so easily as you step through the doors (undoubtedly helped by the fact most Kmarts looked the same in 2019 as they did in 1999), I still have to respect the company for their impact on retailing through the years.

     Even in Kmart's sad state as of mid-2020 (yes, they're still alive!), with only 30-something stores left in the chain (remember, the company boasted over 2,100 locations in the late 1990's), Florida manages to hold onto 4 of those few Kmart stores left in existence. A lone store in Miami, along with three high-performing locations in the Florida Keys are still barely clinging to life. For how much longer is anyone's guess, but Eddie Lampert somehow finds a way to keep his dying empire around year after year. For any Kmart store, it truly was a feat to make it into the late 2010's, so I have to appreciate the Vero Beach Kmart for lasting as long as it did. Before we get into the actual photosets documenting the closure process, today's post consists of a compilation of random photos I took at this store during normal operations. While we toured this store on my flickr photostream back in 2015 (with various small updates after that), we'll do one final once around the sales floor today before getting into the closure stuff. In we go, and who knows what we'll find...

     During a visit to this store in January 2019, I walked in to find a row of folding tables spanning a middle aisle filled with random stuff. Upon closer inspection, I discovered I had walked into "Kmart's Old Fashioned Garage Sale". I'm not sure if the old fashioned garage sale was a chain-wide thing or something this store came up with on its own, but the goal appeared to be to clearance out a bunch of random junk that had been lying around for ages. Regardless though, this was...interesting. 

     Looking down the center aisle, here's a zoomed out look at the entirety of the "old fashioned garage sale". I have to give this place some credit though, they were being creative with this promotion, and all the balloons and signs made the displays stand out. While a lot of the stuff for sale at the old fashioned garage sale didn't seem too old, well...

     ...I also can't remember the last time I saw a store that sold fuses for household fuse boxes. While some older homes still have actual fuse boxes that take these, they're exceedingly rare to find these days, as I don't believe these things will pass a home inspection when someone goes to buy a house. However, if you were one of those holdouts that still has a fuse box and wandered into this store, well, you'd be in luck! Hey, you never know what you'll find at the old fashioned garage sale!

     Here's one final look at the old fashioned garage sale, looking back toward the main entrance. Most of the stuff on the tables was marked down 80-90%, so they really wanted to get rid of these items.

     Leaving behind the old fashioned garage sale, we'll turn our attention to the store's main front aisle, looking toward housewares and health and beauty.

     Within the health and beauty department was the old pharmacy counter. This store's pharmacy closed sometime around 2017-ish if I remember right, and spent the remainder of its days blocked by shelving housing a variety of random merchandise.

     Like most Kmart stores, here in Vero Beach we had the usual mish-mash of stuck in the 90's with some half-hearted modernization attempts from the early/mid-2010's, such as the updated grocery department signage visible here.

     The selection of cereal was looking a bit light here, but otherwise there was still a decent amount of product on the shelf. As the 2010's came to a close, Kmart's house brand of food and household goods, Smart Sense, was gradually being phased out in favor of generic products distributed by SuperValu. I don't appear to have any photos of the SuperValu products in this post, but they were beginning to become more prevalent as this store entered its final months. From what I understand, because of the grocery distribution agreement with SuperValu, the food department is one of Kmart's best stocked departments at the handful of remaining stores. The rest of the store is an absolute supply chain mess from what I've heard. For a glimpse at what the Kmart of the 2020's is like, this video will give you a nice overview of what Kmart is like these days. Warning: it's very depressing.

     Speaking of depressing, this photo looking into the seasonal department of the Vero Beach Kmart isn't much better, with all those plastic patio chairs spaced out to make the department look full! However, this department was in transition at the time, as the stuff from Christmas 2018 was being phased out for Summer 2019 merchandise (and to clarify for those of you non-Floridians reading this, as soon as the Christmas clearance clears out in early January, stores here immediately put out summer stuff and patio furniture, rather than waiting until March/April to put all that out like what happens up north). 

     With plastic patio chairs taking up the majority of the seasonal department, the remaining Christmas stuff had been condensed into a few aisles in the corner of the department.

     More chairs...although I do have to say the neat arrangement of all these chairs comes off as very artistic.

     After the plastic chair seasonal department, the remainder of the right side of the store was home to toys, followed by hardware, automotive, and sporting goods. The space we're standing in now was originally home to the store's auto center, which Kmart closed and expanded the sales floor into in the 1990's. From the inside, it's hard to tell the rightmost side of the sales floor is actually an expansion.

     While I never visited the Vero Beach Kmart until I was much older, I have many fond memories from the Kmart toy department. Walking around this part of the store really brings me back in time, even though this wasn't my childhood store.

     As part of the store's 2017 rearrangement, the furniture department was expanded to take up a good chunk of the back right corner of the store.

     Leaving furniture, here's a look across the main back aisle. The back of the food department is located to my left, with electro-pli-mattresses straight ahead.

     Moving a few steps further ahead, here's a better look at all of the signage for the electro-pli-mattress department.

     The layaway counter was located behind the electronics department, down the little corridor that led to the restrooms and the stockroom. In this photo we can also see the Big Kmart era wall signage for these departments too.

     Even until the very end, the Vero Beach Kmart still had a register in the electronics department - a working one too. Even though this register was still active, very rarely did I ever see it used.

     As we continue our journey toward the left side of the store, here's a look down the aisle that divides the hardlines side of the store from the softlines side.

     There must have been a promotion of some kind on shoes the day I took these pictures, as some extra racks of them were wheeled into the main aisle.

     Men's clothing is located to my left in this image, with shoes to my right. Here we're looking across the store again, back toward hardlines.

     Here's an overview of the left side of the store. Girl's clothing is located in this area, with baby clothing and accessories located in the back left corner.

     Nearing the front of the store once again, the old KCafe comes into view...

     The old KCafe at this store was turned into an extension of the women's clothing department, specifically the juniors section, though still very obvious as to what once occupied this corner. The KCafe at this store has been closed for years, closing long before I began shopping here in the mid-2010's.

     Completing our loop of the store, here's a look across the front end.

     Thank u for shoppin' #4. Yeah, getting a good picture of the thank you sign at this store was always something that eluded me, however, in one of my upcoming photosets, I did eventually get a good shot of this sign. The thank you sign at this store was of the pre-Big Kmart variety, so I had to make sure I got at least one good photo of it before this place closed for good.

     This last exterior photo will conclude our quick recap of the Vero Beach Kmart. From this point on, my posts from here will focus on this store's liquidation in Fall 2019. As usual, there will be many of the sad scenes you've come to expect from a Kmart liquidation - gaudy yellow closing signs, emptiness, and maybe some strewn about merchandise here and there, with a surprise or two thrown in for good measure. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I don't have a timetable for when those photos will go up, as there's lots of other stores in my never-ending backlog I'd like to post about too. So eventually we'll see more from the Vero Beach Kmart, but for now, I need to think about what I want to blog about next!

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



  1. It'll be interesting to see this series of posts from the Albertsons Florida Kblogger! This style of Kmart design, which I call the mansard slice facade Kmart design, was similar to the design of my local Kmart which opened in 1978 and closed in 1997 when Kmart moved down the road a bit into a Venture store that was built in 1993. That store, along with all Houston area Kmarts, closed during Kmart's bankruptcy period of 2002-3.

    This store has a somewhat modified mansard slice facade. The modification probably happened during the Big Kmart era. The mansard slice Kmarts had at least a couple of different versions of auto centers. In the older ones, like my former Kmart, the store had about five auto service bays out on the side of the store. Part of the side had the garages and the other part was the garden center. At some point not long afterwards, Kmart started using a different design with a drive-in garage opening at the front of the store instead of the service bays being at the side. I wonder which design this store had.

    The older, side auto center would have looked more or less like this:

    The newer, front auto center on mansard slice Kmarts would have looked like this ex-Kmart which is in my area. That store was built in 1981. The bulk of the ex-Kmart is now a Hispanic meat market/grocery store in a shopping center that looks quite sad in modern times. The Family Thrift Center anchor on the other side of the shopping center was a Safeway. Link:

    It's interesting that this Kmart has a mix of the traditional, classic style Kmart big, round HVAC registers and also the smaller, more integrated looking round HVAC registers that were seen in places like early Greenhouse style Kroger stores. Perhaps some of those smaller registers were put in when the auto center was converted into regular store space? Maybe not though since those vents seem to also be elsewhere in the store?

    At my former local mansard slice Kmart, the 1978 one, the cafe was in the very back (the center-back) of the store near the sporting goods and the little niche in the electronics department where they demoed TVs in a dark environment. I wonder if the Kmart you photographed here had a cafe there in the back at one time before relocating it later on. My Kmart closed their cafe in around 1990 or so and it never got a Little Caesar's. While I have seen photos of those old, dark looking cafeterias, I don't think I've ever seen a photo of those old Kmart electronic department TV display niches even though there are thousands of Kmart photos online. I suppose Kmart must have been pretty diligent about walling those off at all their locations. If you know of any links to photos of those niches, I'd love to see it. Some other stores had similar niches for TVs at the time.

    I remember the Mall of the Mainland Sears, which closed in 2019, having a garage sale type thing not too long before they closed. They put a lot of merchandise out in the parking lot and made it like a big sidewalk sale. That sale drew an unusually large crowd. Those fuses are indeed quite odd. That wallpaper remover must be from the time when Kmart sold paint so it must be quite old. I remember buying some 5 1/4" floppy disks from my local Kmart in around 1996-7 which had a sticker on the box for a promotion which expired in 1994. Old stuff lurked around Kmart even then, but the malaise era of Kmart had already started by the early 1990s.

    As an aside, I remember that my first ever visit to an Albertsons was in 1988 in Orlando proper I'm quite sure. I remember it being in the same shopping center, or maybe closely neighboring a shopping center, which had a Kmart in it. The sight of seeing that Kmart at night while leaving the Albertsons quite quite impressive and I certainly remember it. Do you know where that Orlando Kmart/Albertsons might have been?

    1. It will be! I covered a lot of Kmart stores/liquidations early in my flickr career, actually. It's just that all the Kmart stores around me have closed since, so my Kmart content dried up pretty quick (which is why it's been so long since I've posted much from Kmart, at least an operating one, that is). Interestingly, both of my childhood Kmarts were ex-Grant City stores, so it wasn't until I was older that I got to really experience many of these stores actually built by Kmart.

      Yeah, the little rounded peak on the top of the mansard slice was a Big Kmart-era modification. This Kmart had the drive-in garage auto center design like the 1981 built store you linked to (yeah, that place does look really sad, and could use a good powerwashing). The scar from the entrance to the auto center is still visible here on the front of the building, as seen in this photo I posted to flickr:

      The smaller air diffusers all seem to be clustered in the portion of the building in which the auto center expansion happened, so I believe those are more modern than the larger ones. While not the same, the two designs do tie in well with each other.

      Most Kmart stores built through the early 1980's had the cafe/cafeteria in the back of the building like you describe. This store most likely had one too. In many cases those old cafes were only covered over by a wall, with many still surviving (albeit stripped out of fixtures) until the store closed. Some remnants like that have appeared online before. I never knew about those electronics department niches, however, but now that you describe it, I might have actually been to a Kmart that left one of those exposed (but converted it into an office supply alcove). I don't have those pictures posted, but once I do, you'll have to confirm or deny if that weird alcove may have been the electronics alcove for me!

      Maybe the "Old Fashioned Garage Sale" was an idea for a clearance sale pitched by corporate to the stores, that the stores could use if they wanted to as a way to clear out some old stuff? Interesting the hear the Mall of the Mainland Sears did something similar, but at least their sale seemed to clear out the old stuff for them.

      As for what Orlando Albertsons you went to, there are a few possibilities. Orlando proper never had a center with both an Albertsons/Kmart in it (although there were two in the northern suburbs - only one of which would have been around in 1988 - the Lake Mary one). However, my guess is you were in the South Semoran Albertsons, which was across the street from a large old Kmart. Here's to my coverage of those stores. Maybe these posts will jog your memory:

      Albertsons #4347:

    2. Thank you for the information about the Orlando Kmart/Albertsons locations. You just solved something I've been wondering about for around 30 years now! I really doubt I was in north Orlando. After looking at the South Semoran Kmart and Albertsons posts, as well as a map of the area, I can say with some level of certainty that it was indeed the Albertsons I shopped at and the Kmart I saw. The angle of the Kmart relative to the Albertsons shopping center seems accurate according to my admittedly vague memories of the place. I reckon I must have shopped at that Albertsons after arriving from the airport due to the close proximity to the airport. I can't remember where exactly my hotel was that I was staying in at the time (this was 32+ years ago after all!), but I do remember that it was a Quality Inn hotel that I stayed at. Of course, there were probably several Quality Inns in Orlando even in 1988 so that probably doesn't help narrow anything down.

      But, yeah, it's neat that the first Albertsons I ever went to is still (at least as of 2017) operating as a nice looking grocery store even if it isn't an Albertsons still. The first, and I believe the only, Publix I went to was also in the Orlando area, but that was some years later. I do have a pretty good idea where that was so I probably shouldn't have too hard of a time tracking that down if I ever feel like tracing my personal history with Publix, lol.

      The Bill Murray posters on that South Semoran Kmart are rather, eh, odd. I suppose I can't say that I'm surprised that the movie was a flop if their advertising strategy was to advertise the movie on abandoned Kmarts, lol.

      I do remember seeing some of your old Kmart images on Flickr. On the topic of ex-Grant City Kmarts in Florida, did you ever make it to the Fort Pierce Kmart? The Kmart World blog did a post about that one a number of years ago and I have to say it was one of the worst looking Kmarts I have ever seen in photos. That's really saying something as you can well imagine! In additional to having an off-center 1990 'Not-so-Big anymore Kmart' logo, the interior still had avocado green tiles, dirty and stained ceiling tiles, and just a general sense of despair.

      I'm looking forward to seeing that photo of the Kmart niche/alcove. It may well be where Kmart had their TVs.

      Since we've discussed a lot of dumpy retail in this post, I'm not sure if you had a chance to look at the Family Thrift Center/ex-Safeway side of that 1981 Houston Kmart shopping center I posted in the above reply. Near the thrift store is an outparcel that is/was a Black Cat Fireworks store. Google Streetview captured a very odd large hole in the back of that building where it looks like the back part of the store was blown away. I can only imagine what happened there given what the store was selling! The area is also littered with a considerable amount of illegal dumping. If you pan the view towards the shopping center itself from that shot, you'll see very dumpy looking empty former big box locations (I think one might have been a Handy Dan hardware store, but I'm not totally positive about that).

      After going through images on Google of the thrift store at that shopping center, I found this lovely photo of a sign reminding customers not to urinate in the dressing rooms. Oh boy, I'm sure they wouldn't have put that there if that problem didn't actually happen! Between that, the blown away fireworks store, and everything else, welcome to Houston retail I suppose, lol.

    3. You're welcome! Glad to have solved that mystery for you! That's interesting your first experience with Albertsons ended up being in Florida, of all places. If I ever feel like digging around, I can see if I pull up anything on locations of Quality Inns in Orlando in 1988. I know hotel chains like to change banners often, which can sometimes make things difficult, but something could pop up.

      While the Albertsons is still standing is mostly original form, the old South Semoran Kmart is currently getting ripped apart and subdivided for multiple tenants. It was interesting seeing that store in abandoned form, although I do agree, Bill Murray should have picked a better way to advertise his movie!

      Yes, I've been to the Fort Pierce Kmart many times! That was my local store for many years (until I moved a few counties north), and I got plenty of coverage of the place from before and after its closure. That store was the dingiest and dumpiest Kmart I've ever been too, and this is even going back into the early 2000's when Kmart was still in better shape. But it was our local store, and it was eerily similar to my childhood Kmart (which was kept up better though), so it still holds a special place for me. Here's the posts with my coverage of the Fort Pierce store, which were all transferred over from flickr:

      During Closing:

      In case you were curious, the building still sits vacant too.

      And yikes - the rest of that plaza isn't helping with the curb appeal of the place! It looks like people are 'living' on the sidewalk next to the thrift store too (which may explain that sign inside the thrift store - eww!), and I can only imagine what happened behind the fireworks store! As blighted as it is, that Safeway building does make for a very neat looking thrift store, as I quite like the pillar design.

    4. Yes, it is pretty strange that my first taste of Albertsons was in Florida of all places. Of course, Albertsons was still about seven years away from entering Houston in 1988. I think they might have been in Austin in 1988, but I'm not positive about that. I had a family member who briefly moved to Austin in the mid-1990s and lived next to an Albertsons that was certainly older than the Blue & Gray Market stores which were popping up in Houston at that time.

      I actually also visited Brevard and Volusha counties during that trip to Florida in 1988, but I really do not have any retail memories of those places unfortunately. I don't even remember what hotels I might have stayed at in those counties. It's possible I have some old photos from that trip which might have some clues (it could also help me determine which Quality Inn I might have stayed at in Orlando if I have any photos of it which I probably do). Actually, now that I think of it, I also have camcorder footage of that trip. I have it on VHS, but I also digitized it a few years back. I need to look at that footage because it almost certainly will give me clues about hotels. It's probably unlikely, but maybe I'll have some vintage Florida Albertsons footage on tape!

      It's nice to see the South Semoran Kmart being repurposed. While having a zombie Kmart is kind of neat in a way, ultimately those zombie buildings need to be repurposed for something for the benefit of the community. That said, perhaps Bill Murray should do a Ghostbusters movie about zombie Kmarts, lol.

      I didn't realize that the Fort Pierce Kmart was one of your local Kmarts at one time. I suppose you're more than familiar with the worst of the worst when it comes to Kmart! After reviewing your posts about the Fort Pierce Kmart, I do remember now that I have seen your coverage of the store. I certainly remember those vintage 1990s soda cans (around here at least, I remember 1990s Pepsi products with gold can lids being caffeine-free products, but maybe that wasn't the case where that can cooler packaging was made) and the oddity of you picking up a Randall's Remarkable card at the Fort Pierce Kmart. I suppose you never know where a little piece of Houston retail will show up! In case you're wondering, Randall's still uses those Remarkable cards. If you ever visit Houston and want to shop at Randall's for at least a little taste of Albertsons, bring that card with you so you can get discounts, lol.

      Yes, that shopping center is not exactly where the local Chamber of Commerce brings guests, lol. As for that design of Safeway, that was a design Safeway used frequently here around the 1970s. Several of those Safeway buildings still retain the look. Not surprisingly, Fiesta and Food Town have kept the Safeway look going. In the case of Food Town, the Spanish tiles are gone, but the interior still looks a lot like the Safeway did:

      Food Town:

      There is another former Safeway & Kmart shopping center in my area, but this shopping center is in better shape than the one with the blown out fireworks store. The Safeway is also a Family Thrift Center now, but the Kmart is a neat indoor go-kart track. The Family Dollar was an Eckerd and the church was a Radio Shack. I shopped at this shopping center quite often back in the day:

      Here's a Safeway in the Pearland suburb of Houston which was subdivded into an Office Depot and Big Lots, but still has the classic Safeway facade. I'm sure you'll like seeing that combination of stores together. The Dollar General next door is clearly an old Eckerd as well:

      If you look at the neighboring shopping center to that ex-Safeway shopping center in Pearland, you'll see an old Wal-Mart that was turned into a school.

    5. Just to add to the previous discussion about Texas Albertsons, I just read an article today in the local newspaper discussing how the Lake Jackson ex-Randall's was turned into a new corporate office. Well, that ex-Randall's isn't just an ex-Randall's, it was built as an Albertsons in the 1980s and was, AFAIK, Albertsons' first little nibble into the Houston market. I wouldn't say that Lake Jackson is in the Houston metro area, but I suppose it arguably is. IMO, it's just outside it, but people in Houston are certainly familiar with Lake Jackson.

      Here's the link to that article which has some photos of the place:

      I just did some research about the Lake Jackson Albertsons and found some great photos of it in 1987 from the same local newspaper. It seems that the manager of the Albertsons decided to hold a wedding at the Albertsons as a promotion. The Houston Chronicle sent a photographer and those photos were posted to the Chronicle website back in 2017. There's several great images showing the Albertsons decor as it was at the time including department signage for the cameras department and the smoke shop. Also visible are harvest gold coffin freezers (judging by the colors, I'm guessing the store is from the early 1980s) and several slogans Albertsons must have been using at the time like "Think Big Service," "Check our Big Quality, Selection, Savings," and "Right Place, Right Price." I'm guessing "Big" was a 'big' part of Albertsons' marketing at the time, lol.

      Here are is the link to the article which contains the photo slideshow. You'll want photos 16-22. Link:

      Here's what the ex-Albertsons/Randall's looked like before it was converted into offices:

      The first photo in that slideshow, the one of the Conoco gas station and Sears Catalog store, is actually taken from the parking lot of the former Spring Branch Kmart here in Houston. That was one of the first Kmarts ever and opened in 1962 on land which used to be the Hillendahl family farm. The Hillendahls sold the land for development, but they requested that the cemetery on the land be left undisturbed. Hence, the shopping center was built around the cemetery with the cemetery being kind of in the corner of the parking lot. It was a very strange situation! That was the Kmart my family shopped at until newer ones eventually opened. Here's a picture (not mine) of that Kmart in the 1970s:

      Well, anyway, hopefully you and your fellow Albertsons enthusiasts will enjoy those photos from the St. Albertsons wedding hall here in Texas, lol.

    6. That would be neat if you did have some old footage of the Orlando area from 1988! Florida (and Orlando specifically) has changed significantly since then, so that would be fun stuff if you found those tapes and digitized them.

      Yeah, the Fort Pierce Kmart wasn't the nicest Kmart store you could go to (even by Kmart standards), but it had its quirks that made it unique (like the toy department in the old auto center). The Randall's card was a random find, but hey, it's good to know that card is still useful if I ever find myself in Houston! :)

      I've haven't looked into older Safeway stores much, but they did have some uniquely designed stores back in the day. Considering how long it's been since Safeway operated (under their own name, anyway) in Houston, it's neat so many of those stores survived in such original condition. The Big Lots/Office Depot conversion Safeway is an interesting one for sure - that facade making the conversion that much more interesting!

      That album of photos from the Lake Jackson Albertsons is a great find (and that wedding really takes the meaning of "walking down the aisle" a little too literally!) It's rare to find interior pictures of an Albertsons from that era, but yes, that is the Colorful Transition Market decor in there. Those coolers are certainly a classic too. Photo 22 is a really nice sampling of an 80's Albertsons, with all the promo signage and decor visible at the front of the store. The conversion of that building came out pretty nice too, and the one photo even shows the spot where the angled entry doors would have originally been too.

      That's a weird situation seeing the cemetery in the parking lot of a store like that! I read of a similar situation with the IKEA at the Potomoc Mills Mall in Virginia, which also has a small cemetery tucked into a corner of the parking lot, a relic caused by the development an old family farm.

    7. I knew that you would like those Colorful Transition Market photos from the Lake Jackson Albertsons. It's really just good fortune that the Houston Chronicle posted those in 2017 and that I was able to find them after looking up the store when I read that article about it being turned into a corporate office. You're right about "walking down the aisle," lol. The Lake Jackson Albertsons must have been quite isolated from other Albertsons until the Houston stores came online many years later. I wonder if that gave the manager a little more leeway to pull publicity stunts like that. OTOH, perhaps it was that promotional-minded manager and the success of his store which made Albertsons think the Houston market was viable for them. Maybe it would have been more viable if Houston Albertsons experimented more with weddings instead of Lawn & Garden departments, lol.

      I found my VHS tape from my 1988 trip to Florida. I regret to say that there aren't any Albertsons on the tape, but hopefully those Lake Jackson photos will make up for that, lol. The South Semoran Albertsons probably would have looked pretty similar on the inside, right?

      The amount of retail on the tape is extremely limited. In fact, the only retail of note on it is footage of the outside of a very strange and interesting looking Pizza Hut in Orlando which was taken from the balcony of my hotel room (it seems that I had a stunning view of the Pizza Hut, lol). Anyway, it has the red roof that you'd expect from a sit-in 1980s Pizza Hut, but it's much larger than the typical 1980s Pizza Hut. In fact, the building is almost square instead of rectangular.

      I could also tell from my footage of the hotel that the Quality Inn in question was on a major highway with the Pizza Hut being behind the hotel. I knew that the chances that this sit-down Pizza Hut would still be open was very slim, but I looked up all the Orlando Pizza Huts on Google Maps to see if I could spot one on a major highway.

      Well, this was a complete success! The Pizza Hut is still there, but I'm not totally sure if it's the same building since the Pizza Hut has a completely modern look on the outside now. Anyway, the hotel in question is right off I-4 on 9000 International Drive. It's now the Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando and is right across the street from the WonderWorks Orlando (that strange upside-down building) and the Pointe Orlando mall. The Orange County Convention Center is nearby. Google Streetview confirms that the Rosen Inn was a Quality Inn up until about 10 years ago and the hotel looks just like it did in 1988. It looks like the Rosen organization has many properties in that area.

      I had no idea about that Potomoc Mills IKEA, but that very much seems like a similar situation. The Houston IKEA has an interesting retail zombie story. In the 1980s, there was a small chain in California named STØR who essentially stole IKEA's store plans and business plans in general. IKEA sued STØR and a settlement was reached that required STØR to redesign their stores. Not long after that, STØR franchised a location in Houston (the California STØRs were corporate owned). Unfortunately, the costs of remodeling their California stores was too much for STØR and so they sold their operations to IKEA. The Houston STØR became an IKEA, but it retained the franchise model which was an extremely rare situation for IKEA.

      Since the Houston STØR was not designed like an IKEA, IKEA completely re-did the interior of the store even though it was only a year or two old. Some years later, IKEA built a totally new store behind the STØR building and the STØR building was torn down to make it the parking lot. But, yeah, STØR was around for a very short time and had very few stores, but it's not too often that one retailer just flat out copies another one, lol. Aside from that, a store named STØR was weird (I did visit STØR during their brief time in Houston). It's one of the stranger Houston retail STØRies!

    8. The Lake Jackson Albertsons must have been grouped in with the San Antonio stores, although geographically, Lake Jackson was a strange place for Albertsons to be running a store in the 1980's. I'm sure being so isolated, any good publicity is something that store needed, so if that was the manager's goal with that wedding, I appreciate his out-of-the-box efforts to being attention to the place! And yes, the South Semoran Albertsons would have most likely opened with the same decor as the Lake Jackson store, so it would have been very similar inside in 1988.

      At least from that footage you were able to identify the hotel, all thanks to a Pizza Hut! Restaurants in the tourist district do really well, so it's not too surprising that Pizza Hut has stayed in business (and kept the dine-in portion) all these years. It was probably designed with a bigger format with the tourist draw in mind, expecting the restaurant to be busier than a normal location. It's been many years since Pizza Hut has built a dine-in location from scratch, so I wouldn't be surprised if that's the original building, just heavily remodeled.

      I've never heard of STØR before - a strange story, and a strange name for a STØR too! I don't know how STØR would have thought they'd be able to get away with something like that. That's neat you were able to visit before the company sold out to IKEA, and certainly a bizarre situation overall.

  2. That Kmart Old-Fashioned Garage Sale is certainly an interesting attempt to clear out all that old, non-selling merchandise. Normally stuff like that isn't dragged back out to the salesfloor from its hiding place until the liquidation, haha! I agree with your question, I wonder if that was a chainwide thing or just something this store decided to do individually. Either way, it's a neat enough idea, if one that still kinda reflects poorly on Kmart's current state. I will say, though, that I always thought this store's exterior looked particularly nice, especially after the renovation and replacement of the signframe. For some reason I just really love that old Kmart logo.

    1. I'm rather ambivalent about the 1990 Kmart logo. As much as I loved the classic red and turquoise logo Kmart had before that, it (and more importantly the stores they were attached to) were starting to feel a bit dated by 1990. The 1990 Kmart logo was certainly a fresh look and it would probably look fresh even today if it wasn't associated with the retroness and malaise that is Kmart.

      On the other hand, the red and turquoise classic Kmart logo represented Kmart's best years. Kmart wasn't far into their downward spiral when they switched to the 1990 logo, but their malaise had already started and they have yet to pull out of that malaise. Perhaps it was still unthinkable in 1990, but by about 1995-6 or so, it seemed quite clear that Kmart was heading for bankruptcy if they didn't turn things around. We're still waiting for that turnaround. Given that current Kmarts have a tiny store count and very little inventory in their stores, I doubt that turnaround is going to happen. At least Kmart Australia is still going on strong (in part because they have nothing to do with US Kmart these days), but they kept a logo which is quite similar to the classic Kmart logo!

      One of the problems with the 1990 Kmart logo was that it didn't fill up a vertical space like a mansard slice facade or the trapezoid facade. The Big Kmart logo helped a little bit, as did modified facades like the one at Vero Beach, but the old, classic Kmart logo filled the space better. The falling 'r' and perhaps excessive space between the 'K' and 'mart' aside, I think that this looked totally awesome:

      One Kmart logo oddity concerned their Indycar racing team in the 1990s which was very successful (though in typical Kmart luck, the one team that was more successful than them in the latter half of the decade was sponsored by Target!). The Kmart team was co-owned by actor Paul Newman and had legendary drivers such as Mario and Michael Andretti. I used to be a big auto racing fan, but racing has turned into rubbish and so I have not watched it in years. I was a big fan back then though.

      Perhaps because the 1990 logo didn't fit well in a vertical space as mentioned earlier, Kmart continued to use their classic logo on their race cars until at least 1998. Check out this Flickr photo of Michael Andretti's 1998 race car:

      You can see the 1990 logo in places where it worked like the front nose cone, the top of the side pods, and the mirrors. However, the more visible large vertical areas around the driver and on the rear wing have the classic logo. So, yeah, not all cases of Kmart keeping their old logo around past 1990 was just Kmart being cheap. In the case of their racing team, they purposely kept that logo around for years!

      Around 1999 or so, the old Kmart logo was replaced with a vertical Big Kmart logo. In around 2001, Kmart took an even different approach. They came up with a vertical logo which was kind of a mashup of the classic Kmart logo and the 1990 logo. It's actually quite similar to the logo Kmart would go to in 2004 (which is the current logo), but it's not quite the same. For example, like the classic logo, the 't' does not have a tail when the 2004 logo does have a tail. Also, the 'K' is styled a bit like it's eating the 'mart' like in the classic logo and unlike the modern 2004 logo. Here are a couple of links to it (check out the neat LED system in the wheels on the second link, there is a Kmart logo floating on the rear wheel):

    2. ^ Just to add to what I just posted, I just now remembered that Kmart's Nascar team they sponsored also used that odd mashup logo, but did so as early as 1996 or 1997. Here's a photo of that. The 'K' in the mashup logo looks a bit squished on the Nascar car, but it looks better on the 2001 Indycar. Other than that, it's pretty similar. Link:

      Prior to being co-sponsored by RC Cola, Kmart's Nascar team was co-sponsored by Little Caesars. That union made sense, of course, due to the Little Caesars Pizza Stations in Kmart stores at the time. I must admit though that the purple color of the car didn't make much sense for either Kmart or Little Caesars. Link:

    3. ^^ Oh, I meant to say that the 1990 Kmart logo does not fill up a horizontal space well, not vertical like I wrote earlier. Sorry. Hopefully this will be my last correction on this topic, lol.

    4. Retail Retell: Yeah, I'd like to know who came up with the idea for the old fashioned garage sale thing. With Kmart in as much of a shamble as they are, it wouldn't surprise me if it was a one off made up by a manager, as I'm sure upper management doesn't care too much about what each store does on their own anymore. However, as Anonymous mentioned above, a Sears in his area did something similar, so maybe it was an idea from corporate an individual store could choose to use if they wanted to.

      And yes, the renovation did a nice job of cleaning up the exterior. It's amazing how some stucco and a non-faded sign can dress the place up!

      Anonymous: I tend to associate the red logo with Kmart more, since that's the logo I remember most (even though my childhood Kmart kept the original turquoise logo until the Big Kmart conversion, and another turquoise one over a side entrance for a few years after that, which I can still picture). I think the red logo is just as classic as the turquoise one, although Kmart's glory years were in the turquoise logo days for sure. The modern 2004-onward logo was used so inconsistently (especially on the buildings themselves), some people may even think 1990 logo was never officially retired! That's also interesting to hear about the inconsistencies with the logo in racing, and some of the odd variants used for that. The inverted 1990 logo on the purple background is a bit odd to see.

    5. The funny thing about Kmart logos is that out of the three main logos Kmart has used during their history, the 1990 logo actually had the shortest official lifespan since the 2014 logo has recently surpassed it in number of years. That said, as you say, the 1990 logo was on so many Kmarts until their recent closures that many people probably think that the 1990 logo is still their official logo.

      The original Kmart logo served Kmart from 1962-1990. That's about 28 years. Interestingly enough, since the 1990 logo was on most Kmarts until they closed, we can say that it also served for 28 years between 1990 and the 2018 SHC bankruptcy when most remaining stores started to close. Of course, as you say, many Kmarts held on to their turquoise signage until around the Big Kmart era. Some still had the turquoise signage in the 2010s! My local Kmart, the aforementioned one that lasted from 1978-1997, actually ended up getting the 1990 logo pretty early on after Kmart adopted the 1990 logo. I would say it got the new sign in around 1991-2. That 1990 logo looked quite small compared to the monstrous turquoise logo which almost took up the whole facade.

      As you allude to, one's age when they were initially exposed to Kmart probably has a lot to do with which Kmart logo one prefers. Since we lost Kmarts here in Houston locally in 2002-3, perhaps I just didn't have the amount of personal exposure to the 1990 logo compared to the older one. When I think of Kmart, the first thing that pops to my mind is the turquoise and red logo, the orange stripes around the store, the huge HVAC vents (though that was a Kmart fixture for decades), the smell of ham sandwiches from the cafeteria/deli (at times in the early days, some Kmarts had a deli stand near the checkout for such snacks separate from the cafeteria), and announcements of Blue Light Specials with the sights of those odd carts they used for those in their original era. Those are unshakable memories of America's Saving Place. Unfortunately, the memories of the 1990s malaise that Kmart suffered through are also pretty unshakable in my mind even though Kmart mostly replaced their older locations in Houston with newer ones, but I try to focus on the positive as much as possible with Kmart even though those positive memories are about 30+ years old at this point!

      Here might be the ultimate image of Kmart logo inconsistency. It's an image of one of their Indycars from 1998 with the classic pre-1990 logo and an odd mash up logo right below it which has the 1990 logo with the 'mart' script in it. Thus, it says 'Kmart mart'. Yikes, yikes!