Did you know that Kmart once opened up a small chain of fast food restaurants, called Kmart Chef, at some of its store locations in the late '60s? The first one opened in 1967 at its Pontiac, Michigan store. They were free-standing restaurants that served burgers and the usual sides but closed in 1974 after operating at only 11 locations.
Through the years Kmart has experimented with introducing similar perks at its stores -- the closest thing to Kmart Chef today is K-Cafe, which serves a full breakfast menu in addition to other food options, but several of these have also been removed from remaining stores. Kmart also has a few odd features that never progressed past one operating prototype, such as Kwash (a laundromat in Iowa City) and Kmart Dental, an in-store dentist office in Miami.
Despite trying to revitalize their branding after 2000 and bringing onboard Martha Stewart's merchandise and other notable brands, it seems they just couldn't compete with the likes of Target and Walmart. It's a sad legacy for S. S. Kresge, the man that founded the company in the late 19th century (the first Kmart opened in 1962.)
So, let's take a look back at some vintage Kmart imagery from back in the day.
I love that there's a cop in this artist's rendering of the store's grand opening. Someone's gotta keep those unruly shoppers in line!
The very first Kmart to open, located in Garden City, Michigan.
The TV department in the early '60s.
The Kmart camera shop, in the pre-digital days when film needed to be developed.
A Kmart Chef restaurant...and double cheeseburgers for 44 cents!
The shoe department...so well stocked and neatly displayed!
Telescopes for less than $10....a bargain.
"And when we're done, you can ride in the trunk with the parcels."
Way neater and cleaner looking than the last Kmart I was ever in.
Rapid growth in the '60s.
A Kmart Grill restaurant.
|Photo credit: John Strickler|
And that's one sign we'll probably never see the likes of again. RIP Kmart.