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37-year-old Chris Fitzwater from Warren, Ohio, keeps “just wonderful memories” of visiting a local Kmart with his great-grandmother and grandmother. They ate lunch at K Cafe. He bought Nintendo 64 games along with football jerseys and sports cards.
One day a few years ago Fitzwater decided to shoot a video about how the shop windows and interiors of Kmart are still open. He sat in his car and drove for hours to find them. He posted the video on YouTube. “It was so much fun. When I started filming, there were Kmarts everywhere, ”Fitzwater said. Unfortunately, Fitzwater’s childhood Kmart in Warren closed by the time he started creating his own Kmart video archive.
Kmart fans also connect on the Sears Holding Kmart and Sears Fan Group Facebook page. On February 11, 50-year-old Scotty Baker from Tacoma posted Kmart sales flyers for Thanksgiving 2012, which advertised a 42-inch RCA plasma TV for $ 199 and a “buy one, get one for free” deal for board games. Among his regular posts last week was a video with “raw footage” from late January of the last Kmart in Montana, which is scheduled to close.
23-year-old Ben Schultz was too young to feel Kmart’s strong power in American retail. He also said, “my family was more of a Target family.” As a teenager, Schultz worked at McDonald’s in the parking lot in front of Kmart. “During the lunch break I wandered there,” he said. “There weren’t many people there.”
Now a graduate student of public history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Schultz has become an expert on Kmarts and company, compiling a spreadsheet and map of each Kmart – when it opened and when it closed, with address and other information.
“Kmart has absolutely dominated the retail discount market,” he said. “Their focus was on being an American discounter. They essentially wanted to have a monopoly on the industry, and it seemed like it was within their borders. ”