Sunday, March 27, 2016

Kmart Memphis (Bonus: Sears Poplar Avenue)

Today's post highlights Shelby County, TN, retail.

Happy Easter, everyone! As promised, here is my post on the Memphis Kmart. Formerly a Super Kmart Center, this store was downsized, and remains the lone Kmart store in the Memphis metro. This store was reported earlier this year by a couple of outlets - including the MSRB - to be closing. Well, after a suspicious silence from local media regarding the closure - not to mention the lack of store closing signs on my January 30th visit here! - I've finally been able to confirm that the store is, in fact, not closing; rather, that title belongs to the Sears on Poplar Avenue, which was reported to be closing shortly after this false announcement made its way onto the web. My guess is that the two announcements were meant to be one, and were simply mixed up.

Anyway, onto the store itself! Here's a panorama of the store's exterior. It is located at 3201 Austin Peay Highway in what is considered the Raleigh area of Memphis.

Close-ups of the storefront. Clear labelscars are visible for the former super center and fresh food signage. The logo, as one might expect, is still the '90s Kmart one.

Immediately inside the left side, general merchandise doors is the men's department. Above, the second shot takes a look back toward the entrance, and the third, over toward the former grocery area.

Along the front wall past the entrance is the seasonal department, which leads into the garden shop on the far left side of the store.

A closer look at the "thank you for shopping your [Super] Kmart [Center]" sign, as well as a quick view around the garden center.

Headed out of the garden center and over to electronics... what's that we see behind the newer signage? Yep, it's the older "ELECTRONICS" letters still stuck to the wall! Also present in the last photo above are the ubiquitous Kmart staple, blank VHS tapes. Expensive blank VHS tapes at that.

Kmart's electronics sections have been collectively dwindling around the county, and the Memphis store is no exception. What's left of the likely long-stagnant merchandise takes up the left half of the department, while appliances have invaded the right. At least Kmart has the intuition to recognize there's a problem and come up with a solution... but in typical Sears Holdings fashion, the execution is less than ideal.

Past electronics is home improvement (whose sign looks like it could use some improvement of its own!) and auto care in the back left corner. My apologies - several of the pictures I got here turned out shaky :/

A couple of shots taken from the sporting goods area looking back toward the front into the area from which we just came.

Now for some examples of ever-present Kmart oddities. Up first is one of several price scanners in the store still sporting the old Big K/Super K casing. Below it is a look into a former space for... something. I'm not sure what, but it was along the back wall behind sporting goods.

Taking a look down the back actionway toward the former grocery area, followed by a shot of the infants basics department and the center aisle in front of it. I had to stick mostly to the perimeter of the store for pictures while I was here, because softlines in the center was actually quite busy. I was hoping for photos of the fitting rooms at least, but came out empty on that front. Oh well... since they're not yet closing, I suppose there may well be a "next time"!

As we finish our tour of the back wall we come up on the infamous nylon curtain used to cordon off the former Super K grocery section, as flickr member Sportsman Marc calls it in his photo at that link (be sure to check out the rest of his Memphis Kmart pics while you're there, too!). Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get as many peeks through as he was - just the one of the service sign pictured above. It's not the curtain so much as the shelving placed along its width that does a good job blocking access!

What's left of a grocery selection at this former Super Kmart has been organized rather nicely, I have to say, into the pantry area. I don't believe the streamlined pallet presentation (or whatever you want to call it) as seen in the bottom photo above is indicative of the entire KFresh concept introduced to make up for ridding stores of fresh groceries, but I do think its rollout to Kmart stores was as far as the concept managed to gained ground.

The pharmacy is along the front wall past the right side, former grocery entrance, just to the left of cosmetics. Both departments appear to retain some original signage.

A look down from the pharmacy into the former KCafé before digressing into health and beauty. Note that behind the new-style layaway and books and magazines signs are older letters stuck on the wall like we saw in electronics. That means that the café had to have been scrapped pretty early for it to be repurposed like that...

Unfortunately, these were the best looks into the café area I was able to get: since my last visit many years ago, the café's books and magazines area has been condensed to a couple of shelves, and the front portion of the café closed off and used as storage. I was looking forward to getting views of the greenhouse windows and the food court logo on the mirrors; both are still accessible, but not intended to be by customers, and I didn't want to get in trouble with the layaway employees for venturing too far. My question is, what could Kmart possibly have to store that necessitates backroom space, former grocery section space, and café space?!

One last look across the front end before we head outside for a few more shots of the store's exterior.

Out in front of the store is a Kmart Express gas station, one of several to be built around the country before the concept, like so many others of Kmart, was tossed. While some do have convenience stores attached, this one does not.

Ultimately, I was a little disappointed on this visit, given that I couldn't get several of the pictures I wanted, and that the store wasn't closing (call me crazy, but I've always sorta wanted to experience a Kmart closing :P ). I suppose it's a vote of confidence that Kmart has chosen to keep this store open though, at least for the time being... Raleigh isn't the best place to be by any means, and in any case it's gotta be tough being the only store of its type in the immediate market.

If not a Kmart closing however, I was granted the opportunity to experience a Sears closing... as mentioned at the start of the post, the Sears near Oak Court Mall at 4570 Poplar Avenue really is closing, and will be gone for good by the end of next month (then really gone for good when the building is demolished in favor of a new Nordstrom Rack, among other retail). I visited on March 15th, and only got a few pictures. Take a look below...

The entrance facing Poplar Avenue. I love the building's architecture!

I only got these two shots of the men's department on the street level - I didn't look around much. Links to additional pictures are at the bottom of the post.

I thought this was a neat find upstairs - remains of a classic visual merchandising department! This was seen in one of the backroom spaces, to which a door was left open.

Headed back outside with a look at the landscaping

This covered walkway runs from Poplar Avenue to the store's entrance. You don't see developers building these nowadays!

Underneath the walkway

Another exterior shot

Looking down Perkins Ext.
The store's matching auto center had already closed up shop by the time of my visit.

Back of the auto center, as seen from inside the Sears parking lot.

Not that I needed it, lol, but past these exterior (and few interior) shots I was able to walk out with a Sears directory! Pictured below is it, the bag it came in, and a receipt (for another item, not the directory). It's pretty big - about the size of a wall poster, as you might expect since it used to hang on the wall.

If you're interested in more photos of this classic Sears location, please check out the following albums on flickr!

From kingskip1:
From l_dawg2000:
From Memphis Retail:

"Sears, where it begins"... although it seems like lately, it's the complete opposite.

At this point, I don't plan on having a blog post for April, but as usual that's subject to change; if it doesn't, I'll see you with a new post in mid-May. This is what's happening with Sears Holdings in Memphis... until next time, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell