Kmart: The #FlashbackFriday Place

Well, we survived Thanksgiving, and now, it is time to survive the After Thanksgiving tradition known as deep discounts!

In the days before it was called “Black Friday,” and the phrase was incorporated into lexicon and marketing for deeply-discounted sales and doorbusters, the day was simply called “The Day After Thanksgiving,” and sales were always called such.  Rare was the day a store was open on the holiday (Zayre being an exeception, of course), and stores didn’t open at 4 am, or 2 am, or midnight.

Kmart was one of those stores that obviously closed on the holiday, and didn’t open until 7 am on the day after.  And in 1987, they wanted to make sure you knew you had to be there at 7 am…

…by all means necessary.

In this quadrant of commercials from Thanksgiving Day 1987, Kmart wanted to be your “Savings Place,” and the one you would turn to for all your Christmas shopping.  They’re offering great sales, and you need to be there for them!

Seeing is truly believing!

Michigan-established Kmart (now headquartered in Hoffman Estates, Illinois) has been around since 1899, but 120 years later, is facing a very uncertain future.  That decline can be traced back to its merger with Sears in 2004, which didn’t bode well for either retail chain.  Its current owner Transform Holdco, announced in August 2019 that 77 stores would close, and that is expected to be done before the end of the holiday shopping season, with 115 locations remaining open by December 15th.  This number will decrease by the following month.

We had two Kmart locations in my area, neither of which I’ve ever been to – one on the Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township/Pleasantville, NJ in a downtrodden shopping center, the other in a much nicer shopping center on Bethel Road in Somers Point, NJ (this one actually looked decent from the outside, it’s still open).  I used to shop at the Manahawkin, NJ location (this one is closed), and the Toms River, NJ location, which is still open.

Toms River, NJ Kmart, located on Route 37 East. Image: Jersey Shore Online

I should note that the one in Somers Point is the last Kmart built from the ground up, post bankruptcy, in October 2002 (source: Dead and Dying Retail – The last Kmart ever built…. Somers Point, NJ)

The real shame is how far and fast the company has dropped in the last year.  I remember the writing being on the wall with the Sears/Kmart merger in the mid-2000s, and the general quality of the stores taking a sharp downturn even before that, but like Sears, I never expected a staple of discount retail to ever go anywhere.  But, like Bradlees, Zayre, and Ames, its time seems to be drawing near.

I love commercials like today’s set, as they definitely remind us of a time when these types of stores reigned supreme, a time when Wal-Mart was not dominating discount/big box shopping.  They also remind me that it wasn’t always “Black Friday,” but “The Day After Thanksgiving,” and you could get the good sales without camping in a tent all night in front of the store.

I would have been all over these TV and VCR sales.


And VHS tapes for that VCR.


Have a fantastic Flashback Friday After Thanksgiving, and a great weekend!

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