Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Farewell Tribute to Kmart #7695

I can still remember it now. The feeling I had woke up upon learning my local Kmart is closing back on June 22. The mixed feelings of disgust, anger, and ultimately plain disappointment. Eventually time would heal those emotions, but even then the feeling of sadness losing my favorite store continues to linger. Over the past few months, I have been stopping by on a week to week basis watching the store fade to oblivion. And I can now say, as of this post, my visits to my local Kmart are never going to happen again. 

I well realize that Kmart's parent company, Sears Holdings, is known for closing stores. But it doesn't hit you as bad until you lose YOUR store. I know myself and even a couple of close friends have told me they will miss shopping at store #7695. Fortunately for me, I have another location nearby in Wellsville, but those friends do not as they live in Olean itself.

The reason why I'm disappointed, but not surprised, by my store's closing is that is wasn't supposed to close at all. That's right it wasn't going to close. It was supposed to be cut in half and shrink similar to the Rehoboth Beach, DE Kmart location. Marshalls and other retail were supposed to join a shrunken Kmart here, but those plans were cancelled at the last minute because Seritage wasn't satisfied with just 50% of the Olean Kmart store.*

Oh, and we can't forget about the earlier inventory blowout sale. In late May and lasting through early June this location was one of 60 test stores to pilot a mock store closing sale as an effort to increase sales. I overheard many customers specifically asking employees if the store was closing. And at that time, it was not. Only to find out later that yes, yes we are closing.

Regardless, the pharmacy would close either way as there would be no plans for a new pharmacy in a shrunken Kmart, which is why we start off the pictures with a simple look at the closed pharmacy back in early June.

Here we can see the pharmacy signage had been removed well before the store announced its closure. This picture, as well as the few below, were taken on June 8, 2017.

Finally an announcement came of a store closure by little white papers hung on the entryway doors. The local newspaper picked up on this and was the first media outlet to report upon the closure plan.

Of course this means that special machines, like for the local lottery, were no longer needed.
Let the 'sale' begin....

Barely even a month in and there was already an empty wall.
The 'Inventory Blowout' signage used by Kmart's giant sale was still being used here.

Deal Flash was not being discounted during the first few weeks of the closing.
The sign just screamed irony for all the employees and people who enjoyed shopping here.
It amazes me at how fast some products went. Take the above for example, these same toilet paper products were already marked up from the original price during Kmart's normal operations. This is because once a liquidation sale begins at Kmart or Sears, the store is no longer ran by Kmart or Sears but rather the liquidation company. And the liquidators have a tendency to mark products up from the original price in the first few weeks of the liquidation sale. So you think you may be getting a deal, but the reality is you are not.

While all stores have moneyhub services, there is only a select few that actually got a proper moneyhub service desk. This location was one of the only ones I know of to have it.
I was at a loss of words seeing christmas and halloween related products in the middle of summer. My best guess is these were in the stockroom somewhere.

The garden shop would eventually become the home for fixtures.

For some odd reason, the store closing banner didn't show up until late July well over a month after the sale began.

Pegs started piling up in the baby department

So just when you the oddness of the multi-seasonal area couldn't get weirder, they add in sleds.... 

The Irony
Anyone want a checkout lane?
Or How about Some Pegs?

Finally, deal flash merchandise (which started to take over electronics) became a part of the sale. 

Eventually in early August, clothing started creeping ever so closer to the entrance. The space it vacated became home to more fixtures that would ultimately be 'caution taped' off by late August.

Footwear was also moved closer to the front of the store.

Sporting Goods was among the first departments to be gone. What remained of automotive and do it yourself was pushed into the old sporting goods space. This allowed the back of the store to be emptied out quickly.

Bike rack removed
More fixtures started to appear in the old auto department

Bed, Bath and Be Gone
One of the aisles for bed and bath had been moved into the part of the old mens area in mid August.

I love how the aisle scar left an arrow pointing to what's left here.

Floorcare decals peeling off.

At one time it was.
Toys creeping into parts of what was pantry.

Random stuff was moved into the old pantry area. This pretty much became a catch-all for almost all departments, save for clothing and stationery. 

Another shift in aisles

The sign has fallen over and can't get up....
And so has this Kmart cart that somehow managed to get a mile away from the store.

This is my favorite picture from my local store's closing for the irony of it.

And we now get to the last week of the store:

They really want these to be sold I guess, that's why they are blocked off right?

Oh, hey, look what isn't blocked off anymore!

One last look from the last day, followed by the blank storefront.

Walmart has been displaying this sign for months now....

Goodbye Kmart #7695. I will miss you and never forget shopping with you.

Kmart #7695, Olean, NY is survived by Kmart #7677 in Wellsville, NY.

*This Kmart location along with other Sears Holdings properties were spun off of Sears Holdings, who previously owned said stores, into a new company called Seritage which was formed to benefit off of Sears Holdings vast real estate in 2015. Eddie Lampert, the CEO of Sears Holdings, has benefitted greatly off of this arrangement because he is paying himself rent as he runs both Seritage and Sears Holdings. 

The Olean Kmart location had a type 2 agreement which meant that if another company expressed interest in opening a store here, then the Kmart would shrink in half to make room for that company. The store would of went from around 118,000 sq. ft. to around 59,000 sq. ft.
So far the only Kmart store to actually go through with this agreement is the store I mentioned in Rehoboth Beach, DE. There may also be a location in Puerto Rico that may actually go through with this as well assuming Hurricane Maria didn't change any plans. A Kmart location in Anderson, SC was also supposed to shrink, but just like Olean, closed at the last minute.