1501 US Highway 1, Vero Beach, FL - Indian River Plaza
The time has come once again to post another installment in my Vero Beach Kmart closing, or should I say, "klosing", series. Today's post marks the second of my five installments in this series, the pervious post being a brief recap of this store prior to the actual liquidation beginning. While last time we visited Kmart's "old fashioned garage sale", today we jump into the beginning of another one of Kmart's old fashioned closing sales...
Oddly enough (and completely coincidental), I found the motivation to write this second installment in my Vero Beach Kmart closing series just as news broke about the closure of the Sears store in Merritt Island - the second to last holdout of Sears Holdings-owned stores in Central Florida. The most recent Sears/Kmart closure wave in February 2021 brings the presence of full-line Sears stores to 4 in Florida (Florida Mall in Orlando, Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens, and freestanding stores in Fort Lauderdale and Coral Gables) and 28 Sears stores total in the entire country. On the Kmart side it's just as depressing - Florida manages to retain an impressive 4 Kmarts as of early 2021 (Miami, Key Largo, Marathon, and Key West), with 25 total Kmart stores left in the entire country. Oh how the mighty have fallen, and I don't even know how operating so few stores randomly scattered around the country is even sustainable anymore, but's that's the mysterious saga of Sears and Kmart for you. That aside, let's take this time to head back to September 2019 to visit East Central Florida's last Kmart store, as its liquidation began:
My usual circuit around the Vero Beach Kmart involved stepping through the front doors and turning right, which would have given us this view of the front aisle. In addition to the usual scenery, those attention-grabbing percent-off signs have now multiplied throughout the store. With the yellow and red signs up, we just need to throw some shoes on the floor and we can officially say the liquidation party has started...
These photos were taken on September 19, 2019, only a week or so into the actual liquidation. Since it was so early in the process, the store still appeared fully stocked and normal, as long as you paid no mind to the percent-off signs plastered all over the place.
A small amount of merchandise had cleared out here in the automotive/cleaning supplies aisle, although at only 10% off, the rush to clear the shelves had not gone into full swing yet.
One of the grocery aisles.
Well...I guess there was a change in plans. Over the next few weeks the grocery, pet, and household departments were going to take on an entirely new look, but probably not in the way this sign intended that to be...
Being September, Halloween merchandise was stocked in part of the seasonal department. It looked like most of the Halloween stuff had just been put out, as it was still neatly organized within the aisles.
While part of the seasonal department had already transitioned to Halloween, the large seasonal pad in the front right corner of the store was fully stocked with patio furniture. Once Halloween passed, the patio furniture would get consolidated to the shelves along the wall, with the pad becoming Kmart's Christmas Wonderland. As you can guess - that wasn't happening again once the patio furniture sold out this time.
As usual with a liquidation, pallets of overstock were being brought out of the backroom and placed on the salesfloor, just like those grills we see in the middle of the aisle.
At 25% off, the discount on toys was one of the better deals in the store this early in the liquidation.
From the back right corner, here's a look down the right side of the building. Seasonal resides at the end of the aisle in front of me, with toys and then sporting goods comprising the departments to my left.
As the closing continued, merchandise in the back right corner (where I'm standing now) would begin to consolidate closer to the front, with the back of the store clearing out for fixture sales.
Continuing along with our loop around the store, here's a look across the back aisle, nearing the electro-pli-mattress department.
While Kmart's electronics department shriveled into practically nothing going into the late 2010's, the Vero Beach store maintained this half-aisle of phone cases, cables, and some other gadgets until the end (including at least one TV). However, whether that TV was new stock or had been sitting around since the days Kmart widely sold TVs, that's still up for debate.
In addition to the accessories, the electronics department also contained a half-aisle of random DVDs, rounding out the electronics merchandise. Unlike the closure of the Palm Bay Kmart, I never spotted any VHS tapes sneaking their way onto these shelves as the backrooms were cleared out in Vero Beach.
Even though the electronics department had shrunk its way into one aisle total of merchandise (compared to this scene back in 2015), this store never bothered to remove its old electronics register. Now randomly placed in the middle of the men's clothing department, this register was still active into the early days of the closing - apparently used to take layaway payments according to a sign I saw (even though there was a separate layaway register down a hallway behind me).
Speaking of Layaway, this photo captures a side view of the signage and hallway leading to that department. The layaway hallway used to be in the back of the electronics department, although men's clothing gradually expanded into the electronics space as that department gradually shrunk.
Here's a more pulled back view of the layaway hallway and signage, as seen from the edge of the main aisle.
If you look closely at the floor under the clothing racks, you can see the faint scars left behind by the removal of the electronics aisles.
The center aisle seen here was looking more like a stereotypical closing scene, with emptying shelves and extra yellow and red signs hanging above the aisle.
Continuing our way into the left side of the building, we find ourselves immersed in the clothing departments. Men's clothing is located to my right on the back wall, followed by boy's clothing as you head closer into the corner. Team spirit shirts are located to my left, with women's clothing occupying the center portion of the clothing department beyond that, behind the shoes.
I see some conflicting messages here - everything is 10%-30% off according to the yellow sign, yet those signs on the racks below say 60% off. I guess the bargains were getting off to a stranger start than expected!
Getting closer to the front of the store, the bargains continue to follow us as we near the doors. However, we're not quite done with our walk around the store just yet, so we'll cut back through the middle of the clothing department:
There was certainly no shortage of clothing to be found here, as this aisle was stocked full of it (at 60% off again too - Kmart must have really wanted to get rid of all the excess clothes quickly). Buried somewhere behind all those racks of clothes was the women's clothing department, with shoes to my right.
Here's one last look across the back of the store, with electro-pli-mattresses in the distance.
Turning the corner, here's a look down the left side of the store. To my right was infant clothing, followed by girl's clothing.
Jumping to the front of the store, here's a reverse view of the previous photo.
As we've seen before, the long-closed KCafe at the Vero Beach Kmart was turned into the junior's clothing department. Here's a peek inside the old cafe space, which was kept mostly original even as the chairs and tables made way for racks of clothes.
As we finish our stroll through the store, here's a look across the front end, the exit slightly obstructed by all the displays at the top right corner of the photo.
Between the customer service desk and the front check lanes was a small area, usually used to display seasonal merchandise or other products on promotion. Like most of the remaining Kmarts in the late 2010's, this store got a Kmart pop-up canopy that matched the era's "Love Where You Live" marketing campaign (with that slogan printed on top of the canopy). While this store's fixture sales crew ended up being sticklers on the "we don't sell anything with a logo on it" rule - someone did manage to by this canopy, and that happened pretty early on in the liquidation too (by the time of my next visit, if I recall correctly). I don't know what kind of persuasive tactics that person used to snag this canopy, but I wish I knew their trick! It would have came in handy when I asked about buying one of these:
This store had quite the eclectic assortment of handbaskets - from new ones to old ones to plain ones. I did ask if the baskets were for sale during one of my visits, which is when the manager gave me the usual speech about how they couldn't sell anything with the logo on it. (Although per Cape Kennedy Retail, the manager he spoke with during one of his visits seemed to hint that a deal for a handbasket could have been made on the store's last day, but unfortunately, neither of us made it down here to cover the store's last day to see if that could have been true).
That's all I have to share with you guys as we wrap up my second installment in the Vero Beach Kmart closing series. In my next installment of this series things will begin to look more like a closing sale - more emptiness, more discounts, and possibly a few more shoes on the floor. At some point we'll get to that, but for now, I hope everyone enjoyed this post, with plenty more to come on My Florida Retail soon!
So until the next post,