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Saturday, May 22, 2010


Iowa City, Iowa

The laundromat, part of what parent company Sears Holdings Corp. calls its "test-and-learn philosophy," will have 31 washers and 30 dryers, free high-speed wireless Internet access, a wash-and-fold drop-off service, and a rewards system for frequent users. The laundromat also has a full-service Kmart register.
(Photo from the SunTimes)

Kwash will have the largest loaders in the area, ranging in size from 18 pounds, to 30, 40, 60, and 80-pound washers, and prices will vary accordingly. For instance, the 30-pound washer will cost $2.97 a load, while the 60-pound washer will be $5.97. He said the rates are competitive, but no one will be able to match the convenience of shopping and getting the laundry done simultaneously. Time is money. (And service in-store)

See full article from WalletPop:

Interesting concept... small steps, but still not going to be a "big hit" companywide though.

Also, SHLD reports Q1 2010 results. Kmart gross margins 24.3% with SG&A 21.8% (Selling/General Admin Expenses) with 1,320 stores as of May 1 2010, down from 1,364 a year ago. (comparison, Sears US is 30.3% gross margin 27.1% SG&A and down to 907 from 926 stores)

Anyway, next time, we'll spotlight the top 10 smallest Kmarts, coincidentally many of which are in Iowa.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fremont, Ohio Super Kmart Center

Fremont Super Kmart Center

Store # 3784

1825 N STATE RTE 19
Fremont, OH - 43420

In a small "average middle-class American" Ohio city, this almost 17 year old Kmart Supercenter remains in business, one of the few dozen surviving Kmart Supercenters left in 2010 after hundreds (well, maybe there were once that many, but Kmart never did successfully exploit the hypermarket grocery superstore concept) have been closed this past decade. On a visit, this Super Kmart had several cashiers open and was doing brisk business for a Kmart - though significantly less than a Walmart. However, the volume of traffic is still much less than the peak of Kmart in the early 1990s - indeed, back then Kmart was a retail force as this Kmart opened 3 years after a Walmart opened in Fremont. Now the Walmart has become a supercenter and draws a lot more crowds.

The layout involves the electronics, garden center, sporting goods, and apparel on the right side of the store, with the pharmacy and health section in the front left, bakery/deli and groceries in the middle left, and meats/seafood/produce in the back left. The other departments fill the rest of the store. There are two main customer entrances, one on either side of the row of cashiers in the middle. In front of the cashiers include customer service, Olan Mills portrait studio, Coinstar and Lotto machines, Western Union money orders, video rentals, etc.

Note: store right/left side is defined here as seen when standing in the parking lot and looking at the store. All pictures in this post copyright owners of SuperKmart blog.

View from the air. Copyright owners of SuperKmart blog 2009.

Sign from the main highway (20/6/53 Grand Army of the Republic)

View of the back of the store from the highway exit onto Route 19 N Oak Harbor Rd

View from State Route 19, the only entrance into the Super K Center. Note the garden center overflow in the parking lot.

The sign says Open 24 Hours.

The main store front.

The right entrance leads to apparel/electronics.

View facing the middle of the store from the right entrance. 16 cashier lanes!

The right entrance.

Kmart's expanding apparel lineup.

Toys in the main back aisleway.

Looking toward the front of the store. Super Kmart Center salutes our Ohio vendors.

The left side of the store with the perishable foods in the corner.

The produce selection isn't the best, but not bad for a Kmart.

Refridgerated/freezer cases

One can order cakes online at

There were freshly baked products available.

Looking toward the front of the store from the left side.

Wow, more than 4 cashier lanes were open midday weekend!

The Shop Your Way program has promotional signage.

The Customer Service "Super Stars of Super K" at the front of the store.

From a 2010 visit

Here's an interesting archive article about the opening of this store.

Nowadays, the major direct competition nearby is a Walmart that became "supercenter-ized" in 2005 - quite surprising that the Kmart is still open 5 years later. There are, to the best of our knowledge, no Targets, Costcos, Sears, or BJ's nearby, so there's only the Walmart, some Krogers and a handful of small independent grocers, and the ubiquitous drugstores. Still surprising the Kmart is surviving the many rounds of cuts that have winnowed down the Super K ranks.

A quick Comparison:

Fremont Wal-Mart Supercenter

2052 state Route 53, Fremont, Ohio

Open: 1990 as 130,152 sq ft Store, Re-opened April 2005 as 211,350 Supercenter

Features include (as of 2005): Portrait studio, Garden Center, Auto Service, Hair salon, pizza store, vision center, drive thru pharmacy

Employment (as 2005): Around 320 Full time jobs and 80 part time jobs

Check-out lanes: 20 cashiers, 8 express lane cashiers, and 8 self-checkout lanes (36 total)

The 47th Walmart Supercenter in Ohio (not including 69 discount stores and 27 Sam’s Clubs in OH as of 2005)

Open 24 hrs

Fremont Super Kmart Center

Store # 3784

1825 N STATE RTE 19
Fremont, OH 43420

Open: Aug 1993 as 173,046 sq ft Kmart Supercenter (8th Super K in the USA)

Features include (as of 2010): Garden Shop, Pharmacy, Olan Mills Portrait Studio, Video Center, Lotto, Western Union Money, Deli/Bakery

Employment: estimated 100-190 (My guess is 184)

Check-out lanes: 16

Open 24 hrs

# of Kmart Supercenters in the USA: 47 in 2009, 32 in 2010 (estimate)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cool Walmart Growth Visualization

The success of a well-run (and by some measures, the world's largest) company.

Walmart facts as of Feb 2010

Retail Units Worldwide 8,423

US Retail Units 4,361:
Walmart U.S. stores 810
Supercenters 2,756
Sam’s Clubs 605
Neighborhood Market 184
Marketside 4
Supermercado 2

International Retail Units 4,062

Company History
First Walmart opened in 1962 (Rogers, AR)
First Sam’s Club opened in 1983 (Midwest City, OK)
First Supercenter opened in 1988 (Washington, MO)
First International unit opened in 1991 (Mexico City)
First Neighborhood Market opened in 1998 (Bentonville, AR)
First Marketside stores opened in 2008 (Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe, AZ)
First Supermercado store opened in 2009 (Houston, Texas)

and back to Kmart.
In other news... the first Sears Fashion Outlet has opened at the Discovery Mills Mall in Lawrenceville, GA. Discount/out of season/overstock brands include Sears Holdings exclusives Lands' End, Dockers, Apostrophe, Country Living and Cannon at bargain hunter prices.

An interesting diversion that could be successful, but probably not completely essential/relevant to the core business or need to improve Sears Holdings often mysterious or poorly planned/executed ideas...


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