Monday, May 7, 2012

Kmart Lake Charles LA

I am still putting together the massive Cortana Mall article. In the meantime enjoy the Lake Charles Kmart. Don't forget to vote on the poll that closes in a few short weeks.

Here is the Kmart store in Lake Charles Louisiana at the corner of Ryan and Sale Streets. This store most likely had an attached Kmart foods section to the right that has recently been reopened as a gym.




This location was probably built in the 1970's that was updated in the 1990's as a Big Kmart. 
The Big Kmart remodels added this small grocery section to the stores. 

The Garden Center was a little crowded so it was hard to get photos.
Christmas items were being packed up on our visit. 

Sears has left their mark in this section of the store with the Craftsman signs. This store also had Sears appliances towards the back corner for a short time after the companies merged. 
Layaway is located at the back corner of the store, and would probably be more successful closer to the front of the store. 

The electronics department. In 1998 I purchased a Nintendo NES Game Genie brand new in a Louisiana Kmart electronics department 3 years after the NES system and Game Genie was discontinued. Kmart over the years failed to change with the times, and my story is just one example. 


Bikes, shoes, and sporting goods. 
Men's clothing.
A closeup of the oversized air vents that are all over traditional Kmart stores. 
More clothing departments looking towards the front of the store. 
Pharmacy
A view of the checkout area.
Looking across the store from the clothing departments. 
Two more shots of the front checkout area.
Thank you for shopping Big Kmart (what happened to the word at?)

21 comments:

  1. Great post! I'm a sucker for old Kmart stuff. Please don't ask me why - I hated the store as a kid and I don't/won't shop there as an adult. Not that it matters since most of them are now closed.

    I think it's because it makes me feel like I'm in a late '80s/early '90s time warp when I step in there...which is always fun :) This store looks very similar to the Kmart that closed a few weeks ago by my house -- messy garden center and all!

    Also wanted to let you know that I added your site to my blogroll :)

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    1. Thanks for the add to your blogroll. Kmart has been getting a lot of love these days from us bloggers. They usually have a few things on sale that I pick up each time I go visit one. It has been almost ten years since they pulled out of my citu and I am hopeful that one day Sears can get things back in order and bring Kmart back to southeast Texas.

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  2. This is a very nice post, but I am certain this is not a 1990s built Kmart store. The stores looks like it was very dead as evident from the first photo.This and a lot of other Kmart stores need to replace the BIG Kmart signage with some modern Kmart signage.

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  3. Oops I need to proofread these articles a little better :) thanks for the feedback. You are correct that this store is older, it was more than likely built in the 1970's and was updated to the 1990's Big Kmart style. So far all of the Kmart stores in Louisiana that I recently visited still have the Big K sign, Metairie Veterans, Metairie Clearview, Belle Chase Hwy, Mandeville, Bossier City, New Iberia, Lake Charles, and Gonzales.

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  4. I also forgot to mention this great article from a different Kmart store in Georgia that was closing. Check it out, this is the most detailed article online about what all happens when a Kmart store closes down. http://www.kmartworld.com/2012/05/special-report-closing-of-kmart-buford.html?m=1

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  5. great post, looks like a very typical (and aging) Big-K store

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  6. There actually was a food center on the end of the store by the new gym (which used to be a craft store called the Old America Store). I beloved the end of the store where the "thank you for shopping....." signage is used to be a little ceasars.

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  7. The K-mart actually did have a food section at one time where the "thank you for shopping"(I believe it was little ceasars) was and the new gym next door used to be an old arts and crafts store called the Old America Store that had been out of business for years, it was used as a temporary state farm insurance agency at one time before the building just sat vacant, then p fitness finally opened.

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  8. The gym actually used to be an old crafts store called the Old America Store, and the food section in k-mart used to be to the right of the check out area when entering the store. I believe that's where the baby clothes are now (I don't go in Kmart on a regular basis so I'm not completely sure). The food section, I believe used to be a little ceasars. The garden section was never all that great.

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  9. Believe it or not, I actually like those oversized air vent. I always was interested in the design of them.

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  10. So much has changed by now . . .

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  11. Well, KMart is still THERE . . . but talking about layout and stores next to it, etc.

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  12. This Kmart (back in the 80s) used to have a strange (and always empty, but open) food court in the back right of the store.

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    1. Kmart tried a lot of innovations in their stores. I would have loved to see this back in the day. I always wondered why that back area of the store stuck out when the sporting goods aisles went farther back. I wonder if any of the stuff is still there behind those walls.

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    2. Most of the Kmarts used to have cafeterias in them that sold things like soups, sandwiches, hamburgers, and stuff like that. My local store, the FM 1960 and Jones Rd. location in Houston, had one of these against the back wall between the sporting goods and electronics. The food they sold there was actually quite good. The decor was very 1970s looking with dark earthtones and poor lighting. I also remember them being pretty desolate most of the time. Most of these were converted into Little Caesar's Pizza Stations in the early 1990s, but the FM 1960 & Jones Rd. location didn't get a Little Caesar's (perhaps because one of their normal locations was and still is just down the road a bit). The old cafeteria was semi-walled off. Some Kmarts also had a deli counter up at the front in addition to the cafeterias.

      Oddly enough, I never remember anyone (other than employees) eating at the Target cafeterias in the 1980s/1990s. It seems like they've only become somewhat populated in the last 10 years or so. Some Targets have Starbucks and Pizza Hut Express items in their cafes. Maybe that makes the difference. For whatever reason, I seem to remember eating at the Wal-Mart cafe in the 1980s more than the Kmart and Target ones. Over time, Wal-Mart replaced their cafes with well-known fast food chains (mostly McDonald's in Houston), but the FM 1960 & N. Eldridge Wal-Mart actually opened with an in-house restaurant called the Radio Grill (with a retro 1950s theme) when the store opened around 2001-2. I don't think that was successful and was replaced with a more successful McDonald's like most of their other locations had at the time.

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    3. Yeah I remember a few of those. The old Humble location before it moved down the street to become a Super K Mart had one. I think it was at the front right side of the store. I remember a few of those in the back of other stores as well.

      I believe most of the Walmart cafes were also called Radio Grill. I don't remember them having a grill though. I was always looking for odd ICEE flavors when I was younger and every now and then I would find something besides cherry and coke in the machine.

      Some of the Walmarts are getting rid of McDonalds and putting different kinds of restaurants in their stores. One Walmart McDonalds near me was replaced with a Famous Wok. It would make sense if they had more than just one place to eat, but I am not sure if that has been tried out with success.

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  13. Putting a Famous Wok in a Wal-Mart does not make sense to me. I think something like a McDonald’s, Subway, or even the old Radio Grill would have wider appeal. I’m sure kids drive a lot of the cafeteria sales at retail stores and I’m not sure if kids will be begging their parents to take them to the Famous Wok. Then again, I could be wrong. It seems that Panda Express likes to put their stores as close to Wal-Marts as possible.

    I can’t remember if Wal-Mart called their cafes Radio Grills in the 1980s/early 1990s. They may have, I don’t know. I certainly remember the Icees at the 1980s Wal-Marts, but I can only remember them having cherry and Coca-Cola. Often, one of the two was out of order so you didn’t really have much of a choice. I was surprised to see the Radio Grill in the FM 1960/N. Eldridge Wal-Mart when it opened because it seemed like all the other Wal-Marts in the area had busy McDonald’s in them. Perhaps McDonald’s and Wal-Mart have had difficulty coming to terms over the years. I wonder if Wal-Mart owns the McDonald’s franchises in their stores, if they are McDonald’s corporately owned stores, or if they have 3rd party franchise owners.

    The West Beltway Auchan had multiple fast food vendors during the entire life of the store. The McDonald’s was up near the front doors and there was a Taco Bell and another one or two vendors by the checkouts on the McDonald’s side of the store. Some of the early Kroger Signature stores in Houston, like the one on Jones Rd. and West Rd., briefly had food courts with multiple brands from within the Yum/PepsiCo family (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC). Those did not last long though and were quickly replaced with the typical Kroger deli (I can’t remember if the Kroger deli also existed when the Yum brands were there). Of course, the old Garden Ridges located in old Buyer’s Market Malls had multiple in-house food vendors for a while, but they eventually just kept one food stall open if I remember correctly.

    It has been said that the Baybrook Mall Sears had a McDonald’s in it briefly around 1989, but I don’t remember seeing that so I can’t really confirm that. I rarely went to the SE side of town during those days.

    It should be noted that Kmart once tried a freestanding fast food restaurant operation called Kmart Chef, but it sounds like it didn’t turn out too well. They had a location in Houston, but I’m not sure where exactly.

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    1. Yeah, I was very surprised to see the McDonalds closed. Then I could not believe what they were putting in its place. I am not really a fan of McDonalds but they seem to be a good fit for Walmart.

      I can't remember what the Walmart cafes were called either in the 80's and 90's. Walmart was out of the way and a special trip for us back in those days. Kmart was the discounter of choice back in those days so we spent a lot more time at those stores.

      I remember the Atascocita Kroger when it moved into its current spot had a food court as well. It did not last very long at all, they probably did not have enough traffic to support those restaurants. They can also make more money from running their own food counters without the franchising fees that they probably had before.

      I wonder where the McDonalds was located in the Sears. The food court at Baybrook was probably full at the time and they tried some kind of mini outlet for McDonalds. Imagine how slow a restaurant inside of Sears would be these days.

      Kmart Chef, sounds like a rip off of Burger Chef. Man I would have loved to have seen one of those.

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    2. The McDonald's in Wal-Marts that I've been to are rarely cleaned as well as normal McDonald's. It also seems to take longer for them to prepare food, but they probably do have a smaller kitchen. I agree that McDonald's is a good fit for a store like Wal-Mart.

      I remember the first time I saw a McDonald's at a Wal-Mart. It was quite a revelation even though I had been to the Auchan with the McDonald's in it (Auchan was a much bigger store than Wal-Marts back then). The first Wal-Mart that had a McDonald's that I went to was the old Copperfield store that subsequently moved when Wal-Mart wanted a Supercenter in that area. The store opened with one of their own cafeterias in ~1987, but the McDonald's opened up in the early 1990s. Oddly enough, the McDonald's was near the pharmacy and not near the front entrance of the store. I can't remember where the old cafeteria was, but I think it was near the front doors.

      Wal-Mart was the furthest out of the big 3 discounters for me too until the very early 2000s, but it was a trip worth making fairly frequently even though Kmart remained the #1 stop until the FM 1960 & Jones Rd. store closed in 1997. It was becoming obvious by the early-to-mid 1990s that the fortunes of Kmart and Wal-Mart were going in different directions quickly. I was a loyal Kmart shopper until the end when they left Houston, but there was certainly a lot more excitement at the Wal-Marts.

      I have a hard time imagining where the Baybrook Mall McDonald's would have been, but perhaps business was too slow at Sears in the 1990s to maintain business. I can't even imagine how badly a modern Sears McDonald's would do. It probably would be about as sad as the Hello Josephine deli at the Mall of the Mainland during it's last few months!

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    3. So glad this thread exists. Maybe I'm just getting older, but I'm such an enthusiast for old retail/extinct (or nearly) relics of a bygone era... especially one I grew up in. I hadn't thought about WalMart Radio Grill's in forever!

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    4. There are a few older Walmart Supercenters that have their restaurants in the back of the store near the milk aisle. I guess back then they thought impulse buys would be made by people just going to eat there.

      Back then, Sears had a lot more money to try things out with. Now that they are in trouble financially there is not much they can do to experiment.

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