Monday, December 24, 2018

Kmart #3381 - Fort Pierce, FL (Closure Process)

Kmart #3381
2111 S. Federal Highway (US 1), Fort Pierce, FL - Gateway Plaza (originally Kmart Plaza until a few years ago)

     This Kmart opened in 1976 in a building that was originally home to a Grant's City store. The Grant's originally opened in 1971. This Kmart will close forever in March 2017 after being included in the early 2017 Sears Holdings closure wave of 150 Sears and Kmart stores.

     So here we begin our return visit to the Fort Pierce Kmart. For the first portion of this post, we will be taking a look at photos of this store from approximately one month into its closing. The second part of this post contains photos taken approximately two months into the closure process, and is where I was able to get some interesting rare perspectives from this store. (That will give you something to look forward to). From the outside, even one month into the closure process, the store still looks fairly normal, that is until you notice the "Kmart Store Closing Sale" banner hidden under the front awning...

     Looking over toward the old Grant's restaurant (which in person does not have that wave in it - again, that was from my hand shaking). The main difference between this view from during the closing and my prior to closing photos from early 2016 is that the windows of the restaurant have been boarded over (see here for prior look). I don't think the boards were put up specifically for the closing of the store - I think Kmart was just too lazy to take them down after Hurricane Matthew came through the previous October. I guess it saved them from having to put them back up again after the store closed.

     At this point in the closing, the outdoor portion of the garden center had been closed off. What remained of the plants were placed on tables next to the front entrance.

     All of the store closing banners here were somewhat hidden under the covered walkway at this store, possibly due to local codes or something like that. Or maybe since Kmart and Sears closed so many stores earlier this year, they just ran out of large "Store Closing" banners to distribute to all of the closing stores!

     Heading into the store, and it's your usual Kmart closing scene - lots of empty space and gaudy yellow closing signs everywhere. There was still a good amount of merchandise in this place a month into the closing, as we will soon see as we continue around the store. At this point, very few areas were totally wiped out. Also, as YonWooRetail2 noted, "Whew! that ceiling by the round a/c vent! It looks like years of dust has accumulated around that thing!" Considering all the built up dust, I wouldn't doubt it if a Grant's employee was the last person to dust around that thing!

     Looking from clothing and baby supplies back toward the front end. If you were to ignore the closing signs, this part of the store still looked very much the same in this photo as it did back in the days of normal operation, and was still very full with merchandise.

     This store had a lot of clothes to sell off. The clothing section of this store remained very full until two weeks prior to the store closing completely, even as the rest of the store's merchandise grew thin. Typically there is a good amount of clothing that remains throughout the closing process, but the selection here seemed unusually large compared to other closings I've been to near the very end.

     Standing near the back of clothing, looking toward the layaway counter and restrooms. When I took these photos, it was during my first big retail photograph outing after I got my new phone. As you can tell by some of these photos, I was still not completely sure about the quirks this new phone had when taking photos. That's why many of these photos will look blurry or wavy. Unlike my old phone, this new one needs to be held dead still for a good few seconds for clear photos to happen. Otherwise, I get weird wavy blurry photos like this!

     A dead-on view of this store's layaway counter, which was built out into the clothing departments. That door behind the counter lead into a hallway that connected into the "layaway cafeteria", better explained as the old Grant's restaurant where Kmart had been storing people's layaways.

     Looking across the back of the store, with the layaway counter behind me. It's not a Kmart closing without a few completely trashed merchandise displays, like that one in the center of the aisle to the right edge of this photo.

     Looking into the lady's clothing department, where we can see quite clearly the old Grant's racetrack aisle as well.

     At this point in the closing, only these aisles in the very back of the store were beginning to look nearly empty. This is one of the thinned out aisles in the sporting goods department.

     The white lock-up case in the sporting goods department was completely emptied out, with all of that merchandise consolidated into the larger black lock-up case further down.

     The register that was once located on the sporting goods counter had been removed, and the sporting goods counter was now a junk covered mess. On the far right end of this counter was a key making machine, and they were still making keys here even this far into the closing (I know that because I had to swoop back here later in my visit, as there was a guy having a key made here the first time I came by this department). Now that I think about it, I can't think of any other Kmart stores that still have a full service key machine like this (however, like styertowne pointed out, the yellow self-service key kiosks are a bit more prevalent).

     While I was poking around the sporting goods counter, I noticed something I never noticed before: The part of the counter where the key making machine was set was actually a part of the old Kmart Kodak Photo Center counter! Here you can see part of the old photo counter, where part of an old photo center ad (presumably from the early 2000's) was partially uncovered.

     Returning to the main back aisle toward, now we're looking toward the left side of the store with electronics off in the distance. In this part of the aisle, random junk was being stored in the center of it.

     Whatever extra space opened up in the furniture department became home to extra packaged or boxed furniture that was sitting in the back, some of which can be seen here.

     Another view from the furniture department, this time looking back toward the main salesfloor.

     Looking down the back wall from furniture toward the sporting goods counter, which you can see part of off in the distance.

     Sometimes, you just never know what Kmart may dust off and place for sale during a closing. During one of my visits to the closing for the Palm Bay Kmart, I found a movie on VHS for sale. Here in Fort Pierce, I found this - some packaging featuring early 90's Pepsi cans! I couldn't figure out if this was a new item placed in old packaging, or if it was something that's been sitting around this store somewhere for 20 years (the latter option wouldn't surprise me though). I couldn't find any copyright dates on the box to know for sure, but it's still interesting throwback packaging either way. As RossyCo added, "If I had to guess, it is old stock from years ago, considering it has old Kmart logo price tag. Kmart does seem to have a lot of stock that wasn't sold when it was made and doesn't sell now because it is outdated, especially when it comes to VHS's. I also really like that old pepsi can design!" Ryan Brotherston also tried to figure out how long these had been sitting around here: "My attempt to date when this product was first on the shelf: The logo on the Kmart price sticker was used from late 1989/early 1990 to 2004. The logo on the Pepsi can was used from 1991 to 1997. The logo on the 7-UP can was used from 1979 to 1995. My best guess, factoring in the probable chance that they continued using an old image and forgot to update it, is that this had been sitting somewhere in the store since around 1991-1999."

     A quick peek down one of the shoe aisles, something I never usually get a photo of strangely enough. It looks like a small amount of ransacking went on in the shoe department since the closing began, but this is nothing compared to the Great Shoe-nami of 2016 I witnessed at this closing Sports Authority!

     A random aisle in the housewares department, still filled with a good amount of merchandise.

     Yay! These pillows are on sale...and so is everything else in the place...

     The rug aisle. Just over the shelves to my right was the electronics department.

     The Dollar Palooza display once again. This really didn't change a whole lot since my last visit, where I captured this display looking like this.

     Moving on to the former electronics department space. For the most part, this space was now home to overstock furniture. What little that was left of electronics was confined to a small rack of electronics accessories in the back corner of the department, a few random TVs, and that display with a few DVDs on it, which was now floating among the dining tables.

    And here's a much clearer overview of the former electronics department, showing its new arrangement as home to dining tables and vacuums. You can also see a few of the random TVs remaining in the background of this photo.

     Hidden in a corner of the electronics department I found this old poster advertising the Sony PSP handheld gaming console. I'm not sure when exactly this poster dates back to, but my guess is that it was from the 2009 release of the last PSP model. The PSP was replaced by the PlayStation Vita in 2012, and officially discontinued in 2014. Not only that, but Kmart got out of video game sales in early 2015, so this poster had been forgotten about for a while.

     A closeup of what remained of the televisions, as well as some of the old electronics wall signage.

     This photo of the TV wall makes it seem much more picked over, probably due to the many missing display TVs.

     Other than this rather empty aisle in the very back of the automotive department, most of the departments on the left side of the store were still full of merchandise.

     Another one of the aisles in the hardware/automotive department. I don't have any idea why there's yellow and black caution tape strips on the floor in this aisle. This is the only aisle that has them, and they've been there as long as I can remember. J Mc had some insight into why this caution tape may have been placed on the floor: "Caution Tape: My only guess would be it's part of a past attempt to decorate the tool section with some Tool Territory theme. IIRC Sears stores featured some safety stripes with their Tool Territory scheme as well."

     The main left side aisle, as seen from hardware looking toward the front of the store. What remained of the seasonal merchandise lied directly in front of me. As the closing progressed, all of that Valentine's Day merchandise you see over here turned into Easter merchandise as the store entered its final month in business.

     The garden center lies directly in front of us, so let's take a quick look around inside there...

     The interior portion of the garden center was rather picked over by this time. The outdoor portion of the garden center was already closed off, with all remaining plants moved to the store's front walkway (as we saw earlier in this post).

     One of the barren aisles in the garden center. With what little merchandise that was left in here, it probably wasn't long before the remaining merchandise in here was moved into the main portion of the store, and the garden center completely closed off.

     This emergency exit served as the old exterior entrance into the garden center. This was a popular side entrance for locals, and was used constantly until the store's closing began.

     The main garden center register counter. The computer was removed from here when the closing began, and the exterior entrance was closed off.

     Now that we've covered what was left of the garden center, we'll transition into the toy department...

     As I said in my previous post from this store, in addition to toys, this part of the store also served as a home to summer and pool toys and accessories, as well as books. And if the store closing shopping got too tiresome, there was also a chair left out in this aisle for tired shoppers to take a break from all the bargain hunting!

     Looking across the back of the toy department. Like most Kmart closings, there were plenty of toys strewn about on the floor, but this was nowhere near as bad as I've seen at some other Kmart closings.

     A bit more chaos the further you went in this aisle.

     The last aisle in the toy department. Behind the wall to my right is the former auto center.

     To wrap up our look at the toy department, here's a mash-up of some photos I took in here during this visit. Included here is a look at another one of the toy aisles, a decal on the floor leftover from Christmas 2016 (Scrappy probably wasn't too helpful at this point, two months after Christmas and a month into a closing - however, as SunshineRetail said, "Great name for that mascot, as it also describes the condition of the store itself. :)"), and a closeup of some tile patchwork Kmart did in an attempt to match the old fake brick style tile.

     As the seasonal department began to clear out, that space became home to overstock toys that wouldn't fit in the main toy department. You can see one of the overstock toy aisles in this photo. This was probably the first time in nearly 20 years that the toy department had found its way back to the main sales floor.

     Much like we saw in the furniture department, any overstock patio furniture, grills, and lawn mowers were brought out onto the main floor to fill up space out here and deplete the remaining stock in the back.

     A look down the main left side aisle from patio furniture, toward the back of the store.

    Slowly making our way back to the front of the store, where we can see the health and beauty department, with patio furniture in the background.

     Still a good amount of food here, although you can see where some empty pockets have begun to form in this aisle.

     The pet aisle was a bit sparse and tossed around at this point in the closing, a more typical sight for a store closing sale. In the background you can also see the electronics department.

     This was the center aisle that divided the grocery, pet, and cleaning departments from the home department, complete with a bunch of store closing signs hanging above it.

     Of all of the ripped apart aisles and displays in the store, the party supply aisle near the front registers was probably the worst example to be seen in the store.

     After trying not to step on anything while going down the party supply aisle, you emerge in front of the registers. Kmart just stuffed a bunch of random racks and carts of stuff up here for people to dig through, almost like something out of a thrift store.

     Nearing the registers from the front main aisle as we begin to wrap up this trip to the Fort Pierce Kmart.

     A rather horrible picture of the customer service counter (home to register 1, although there's another unnumbered register just out of frame to the left) and the "Thank You" sign.

     A look across the bustling front end. 5 out of 6 registers were open this day, as it has to take a closing to bring the masses into their local Kmart. The lines were somewhat long too, as I think I spent 20 minutes waiting in line to pay for the few things I bought this day.

     And one last look across the front of the store as we conclude this visit to the Fort Pierce Kmart. So that's what the store looked like one month into the closing. Let's turn the clock forward another month and jump right into some more pictures of the Fort Pierce Kmart as the end was fast approaching...

      Let's start off the next portion of this post with something really cool! At this point, two months into the closure process, much of the right side and back portions of the store had been cleared out and dismantled. In front of me was once the baby department, reduced to nothing more than a few shelf scars. However, the subject of our first destination within this store will be what you see in the background - the old Grant's/Kmart Restaurant! With all the aisles in this part of the store removed, I was finally able to take a good look at this place. For nearly 15 years, the old restaurant had been covered and blocked off, with just that gray painted wood peeking out into the sales floor. Kmart had been using this space for layaway storage until the closing began, but this space had now been cleared out as the layaways diminished. This photo brought back memories for styertowne, who said, "This transports me back to being a kid...the smell of french fries wafting out into the store as my aunt and mom pick up Prell and Anacin. And a coke in one of those curved glasses. As the Binghamton store was closing (former Grants), they had pulled out all the old glasses and dishes from the restaurant which had been buried for decades. They were selling them all as one lot, so I passed on them, but they had the curvy soda glasses and the sundae parfait glasses. Good memories." 

     And look, they left the door open...

     Of course, my new phone just had to blur this photo! It wasn't until after I took the photos this day that I learned how to prevent this from being an issue, but of course the one photo I was hoping turned out well didn't. However, I'm still including it since this is a pretty rare treat to be seeing here. Considering the door was open, I decided to take a step inside the old restaurant for a quick photo. As you can see, the restaurant was left completely intact all of these years. That open space in the middle of the blur was home to some more tables, which were dragged out into the fixture sales space for the closing. I almost bought a table and two chairs too (it was $14 for the three piece set), however all of the ones left for sale were in really bad shape (and looked pretty nasty as well), so I passed. Upon closer inspection, I began to notice fixture price tags on the booths and light fixtures in here, so I decided to venture further into the old restaurant as it looked like they were setting it up for people to look at fixtures in here...

     This is looking toward the back of the restaurant, from behind the ordering counter. The window on the left looks into the kitchen, and those things that look like windows on the back wall are actually mirrors. The old restaurant cash register is still sitting on the counter too, although that's probably a relic from the independent operator that was in here after Kmart closed the restaurant, but I could be wrong.

     Moving around to the other side of the counter, where you can see an old, handmade "Order Here Please" sign hanging from the ceiling.

     Looking toward the main store from inside the restaurant. I'm sure this was quite the popular place to eat back in the 70's and 80's, especially after an afternoon shopping trip at Kmart or Grant's.

     Since nobody was around, I decided to venture further and step into the kitchen. Even though there hasn't been a restaurant in here for a good 15 years, Kmart left all of the kitchen equipment in its place. It doesn't look like a whole lot has changed in this kitchen since 1971 either! As YonWooRetail2 said about this kitchen, "Neat view! This place definitely takes you on a trip back in time. Those metal 3-blade ceiling fans may not go back all the way to the 70's, but most certainly at least the 80's. I don't think they make those anymore."

     While in the kitchen, I spotted this KCafe sign above the sink about how to use the sink in a sanitary manner. The sign itself was dated as being from April 1998. I wanted this to come home with me, but whatever they used to stick this sign to the wall was good stuff - I couldn't free it from the wall for anything! As Retail Retell always says, "Aw man! Well, a picture is always the next best thing :)" However, an ax is probably the next best thing, but a photo isn't too far behind!

     Moving away from the old restaurant, we now find ourselves in the back of the store, in the area of the former menswear department. At this point in the closing, the entire back portion of the store was completely empty of merchandise. The back right was being used for the fixture sale, which you can see in this photo.

     This aisle was separating what remained of the clothing from the fixtures sale. This store had about ten random racks of sweatpants back here, a few of which you can see to my left. As for the fixtures, there was plenty of the usual: old clothing racks, shelving, desks, file cabinets, 20-something year old computer accessories, and maybe a surprise or two...

     Beyond the fixture sales space, the back left of the store was completely empty. The fixture sales ended right where electronics would have begun, with the old automotive and hardware departments off in the distance. This photo was taken from about this same spot back during normal operations as a comparison. And yes, the Garden Shop sign's triangle also went missing by this time. I guess somebody wanted that triangle really bad!

     Looking from the emptied out electronics department toward the front of the store. The empty aisles to the left were once the home department, and the aisles to the right were now home to what was left of automotive and hardware, as well as toys and seasonal.

     Here is a look at the empty wide expanse of salesfloor as seen from the back of the store, this photo in particular taken from the back left corner. I'm standing in the former hardware department, where this aisle once was.

     Only hours left to save! At a closing (especially Kmart closings), if you look where the shelving gondolas were removed, you can usually find some pretty cool relics from past eras of that store. Here we see a flyer that slipped underneath the shelving back in 2000, advertising a crazy "After-Christmas Sale Before Christmas" at your local Big Kmart and Super Kmart stores. Be sure to hurry into your local Kmart soon to stock up on these deals, before these deals (and your local Kmart itself) are gone!

     This advertisement was quite dirty and nasty after sitting under that shelf for 17 years, as well as stuck to the floor, so it didn't come home with me. However, I did find a few cool souvenirs that had yet to be swept up elsewhere in the store. You'll be seeing some of those shortly...

     By this time, the toy department had been cleaned out and closed off. All remaining toys had been consolidated into the main sales floor into what was originally the seasonal department.

     The front left corner of the store had just been dismantled in the 24 hours prior to when I took this photo. That area was once home to health and beauty, with that department consolidated into a few aisles just out of frame to my left. The open area immediately to my right would have been home to patio furniture displays at this time of year, but for the closing was home to overstock seasonal merchandise and some other random pallets of overstock.

     Now that Valentine's Day had passed (we saw that merchandise out in the first portion of this post), this store's supply of Easter merchandise was used to take the place of the Valentime's Day stuff. I'm surprised that even with the closing, they still put out the merchandise according to the proper season, rather than dumping it all out at once when the closing began.

     An emptied out food aisle. By this time, what was left of the food was consolidated to a single aisle.

     Another emptying center aisle. To my left was what remained from electronics, vacuums, and rugs, all of which were departments that were in the back of the store that had been taken down already.

     The last interior photo I have to feature from this store is this one, showing an overview of the empty back left corner. There's just something weird about seeing a store when it looks like this, all empty and sad...

     And the winner is...clearly not Kmart! I will use this photo to transition everyone into what will be the concluding of this post from the Fort Pierce Kmart - the memorabilia photos. This portion of the post will include some photos of the few Kmart trinkets I was able to acquire for myself from the closing, as well as a few more things that were stuck to other things that I couldn't pry off (like that KCafe poster). Some pretty cool stuff coming up to finish this post!

     As for the item in this photo, this little foam trophy was also an acquisition from the Fort Pierce Kmart, from long before the closing though. I picked up an item from a shelf and found this jammed behind it one day when I was here. I showed it to the cashier and neither of us knew what to make of it, so she just threw it in my bag and said I could have it. I think it's a cool little Kmart souvenir. Retail Retell eventually clarified the origins of this little foam trophy: "Based on photos Random Retail has posted before, I'd guess that was one of their freebies from their Saturday promotions. Cool find!" I guess someone didn't want their Saturday freebie, and shoved it on that shelf. I guess I really was the winner with that one!

     I guess you could say I was saving the best for last - the Kmart memorabilia! Plenty of interesting little finds to be had at the Fort Pierce Kmart, as you have seen (and will be seeing shortly). First up today, the oldest Kmart relic that I found here - an old Kmart Sporting Goods department merchandising guide. This guide explains how an employee would order more merchandise for the store, back in the days before the store's internal computer systems would auto-generate orders for merchandise based on sales. This guide was a sticker placed on a little tray that slid out from a desk that was in the back office, now out in the fixtures sales floor. According to the store stamp on this guide, this desk looks to have originated from the Neptune Beach Kmart, located near Jacksonville. That store closed in late 2016. I don't know when this desk found its way to Fort Pierce (it seems rather stupid to have shipped this desk here after Neptune Beach closed, just for this store to close in the next closing round, but who knows with Kmart), but it did end up here at some point. The Neptune Beach store opened in the late 70's, so that's probably how far back this guide dates. In later years, this buying guide has served as a doodle pad for bored employees.

     These were the "freebies" I was able to acquire from the closing of the Fort Pierce Kmart. Each item is numbered in the photo, and an explanation of what each thing is can be found below:

1. A "Low Prices, Everyday, Everyway" campaign shelf tag from 1997. This was an under-a-removed-shelf find.

2. Bluelight Always price tag from when Bluelight specials were revived around 2000/2001-ish. Under the shelf find.

3. Another Bluelight Always price tag, just not in as good of shape as item #2.

4. Top shelf assistance tag, dated from 2000.

5. An old "Advertised" shelf tag that was never used. I found this in a filing cabinet in the fixtures sales department.

6. A Randall's Supermarket "Remarkable" rewards card. Randall's is a grocery chain in Texas, and I found this randomly in a filing cabinet in the fixtures sales area. I really can't explain how it got there either.

7. The old pricetag from the poster display fixture.

8. Some old Kmart shelf labels. I think these are from the 90's. I do know Kmart hasn't used yellow colored tags in a very long time. These were also found in a filing cabinet.

9. Kmart fitting rooms sign from the 2000's. This was sitting on top of a box that was going to be taken out to the trash.

10. Sears Holdings planogram from the sporting goods department. The store was closing, so I didn't think they needed it anymore.

11. Kmart "wall of eyes" disc from Fall 2015. On this disc is the loop of advertisements that would play on the display TVs in the electronics department. This disc at some point fell behind the TV display, and remained there until the electronics department was broken down during the closing. That's where I stumbled upon it. Unfortunately, this is a BluRay disc, and I don't have a BluRay player to play this on. I wasn't expecting Kmart to be that technologically advanced!

12. A receipt from one of my last purchases here.

     This is just a closeup of the Bluelight Always pricetag from the memorabilia collage. I always liked this particular campaign that Kmart ran, and the little stick figure Bluelight character that accompanied it.

    A closeup of the top of the receipt.

     A My Florida Retail public service announcement: Support an icon - shop at Kmart!! Not like it would really do anything, as Eddie will still close a decently performing store if someone makes him an offer for it. But still, pop by the local Kmart every once and a while if you still have one and see how it's doing. This was a real (and rather desperate sounding) bumper sticker that Kmart issued right after the bankruptcy, from 2002-2003 or so. This would have accompanied the Savings are here to stay campaign Kmart was offering to show that they were going to come out of their bankruptcy as a strong new Kmart that future generations could enjoy. They accomplished the coming out of bankruptcy part, but not so much the rest of that statement. This sticker was stuck to the door of a large metal cabinet that was used in one of the offices. As usual, the best stuff is always stuck to something else!

     So the sun has now set on the Fort Pierce Kmart after 40 years in operation. As dingy, old, and dirty as it was, it's still sad to see the place go. What the future has in store for this place I don't know, but it will probably end with a wrecking ball when that day comes.

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


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