Sunday, March 18, 2012

Kmart's receipts still say "North Kent Mall"

Also, Kmart still exists. Well, sort of. Barely, I guess.

I don't know if Kmart was the huge presence in Grand Rapids in the 70s as it was where I grew up in Spokane, Washington.  When I was a kid, a trip to Kmart was a BIG DEAL.  

To this day, I occasionally have dreams that take place in the Kmart of my childhood. With everything looking all 70s and freakishly big. The toy aisle is still full of GI Joe, Micronauts, Six Million Dollar Man, Space: 1999 toys...

So... where was I going with this? I don't know. Basically, it's kind of sad and nostalgic for me to visit Kmart, see what it is now and think of how cool it used to be. I suppose Wal-Mart and Target pretty much filled their niche.

Wish they wouldn't have messed around with their logo.
As a teen in the late 80s, I lived ... well, around. But for a while I was staying in a neighborhood just North of the North Kent Mall. I used to hang out at that mall quite a bit and actually enjoyed eating at the Kmart cafeteria. I dunno, something about a cup of finger-jello wrapped in cellophane seemed appealing at the time.

Out of morbid nostalgia, I visited the last existing GR Kmart a couple days ago. It felt like visiting an old friend who'd fallen on hard times. Kind of depressing actually.

For some reason, this weird apparatus above the door really took up too much of my attention...

Security laser? What is that??
What was this once used for? It's like a blue flashy light connected to a spotlight. I know Kmart used to make a big deal out of "Blue Light Specials" Was this somehow part of that? I'm way too intrigued by it.

So basically, shopping at Kmart felt like... wishing I was at Meijer. They just had less selection and no groceries. Prices were low, and that's cool, but I couldn't find most things I'd be looking for. It's maybe just a little better than shopping at a Walgreens.

It wasn't really worth taking a picture but I found the corner that was once the cafeteria. It now looks like it's the private employee break area/offices. Nearby is a wall that was once the entryway to North Kent Mall.

Pretty much, in 2012 I would shop at Kmart if I had no other choice. Like if I lived in the area without a car and had to walk there to get stuff. Or just didn't feel like going a little farther down Plainfield to Meijer.

So sad. I miss the days when Kmart was awesome. Pretty sure those days are gone for good.

Without fail, around Christmas time, I can hear the "Kmart is your saving store" Christmas commercials...

Anybody have any fond memories of Kmart to share? ....


  1. For the last 32 years (I'm 32), at the holidays my dad reminds us that kmart used to have a wine called Kmarto. He's filled with useless knowledge so we never challenged him on the preposterousness of that claim.

    Looks like he's correct:

    1. Whoa, I never knew. I want to try some Kmarto! I bet it sucks!

  2. you say this is the last remaining Kmart in GR, when the the one on 68th street close? I moved away two years ago so I'm not up on what's going on :-)

    1. No it's still open, but with the way Sears has been running themselves, were not sure how long.

    2. No it's still open, but with the way Sears has been running themselves, were not sure how long.

  3. That ceiling contraption is most definitely from the Blue Light Special era. I remember being in that store when blue light specials were going off. I can still remember the exact location of the toy aisle. Grand Rapids has such interesting history. I left (fully) in 2004, a time when it was really on decline as a city and I think got worse a few years later, many of the places I knew died out and many of my friends left, but visiting GR today it's wild to see how it is thriving with new bars and restaurants and unique business ventures... and still some of the originals hanging tough!

  4. Sadly this Kmart closes in mid December rip Kmart Plainfield ave. 1974-2016.

  5. I thought you all might be interested in a collection of old Kmart PA system recordings: