Kmart Food stores that lingered beyond the mid-'70s

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Andrew T.
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Kmart Food stores that lingered beyond the mid-'70s

Post by Andrew T. » 02 Jun 2019 20:39

We all know that when Kmart Food stores popped up next to Kmarts in the late '60s and early '70s, they were operated and supplied by established grocery chains.

We also know that by 1975 or 1976, most of these adjacent stores had been rebranded outright with the operator's actual name (National, Wrigley, etc.)

But I'm intrigued by evidence that in a few isolated places, the "Kmart Food" name lasted years beyond 1975. While scouring suburban Detroit-area newspaper archives for information, I stumbled upon this interesting article about Allied's late-1970s bankruptcy and subsequent struggles in the new decade:
Northville Record, 4 Nov. 1981 wrote: Allied Supermarkets eye future after winning bankruptcy fight
[...]
In order to stay afloat, Allied has shrunk from its 1967 heyday of 450 stores to its present size of 78 stores - 30 Great Scott! stores in Michigan, 47 Humpty Dumpty and Ideal supermarkets in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas and one remaining Kmart Food Store in South Dakota.
Yes, there was still a Kmart Food store operating in 1981. Perhaps Allied retained the name because there was no established local banner in South Dakota to rebrand it under? Didn't stop them from rolling out Wrigley in North Carolina, though.

Kmart Food stores also existed in Canada...and their trajectory seems to have generally been the same there as it was in the US, with rebranding by 1975.

Yet, Charlottetown, PEI is a monkey wrench thrown into the machinery of consistency. According to directories, Kmart Food didn't even start to operate there until 1978, when the concept was already dead and gone in most of the continent! Even more unbelievably, "Kmart Food" continued to be listed in directories all the way through 1998...and as "K Food" in 2000, which is two years after Kmart itself had ceased to exist in Canada! Were the listings in error? Or was Prince Edward Island a final sanctuary for international retail concepts that had failed everywhere else? I wish I knew.

Were there any other places where Kmart Food lasted beyond the mid-'70s?
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

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Re: Kmart Food stores that lingered beyond the mid-'70s

Post by wnetmacman » 05 Jun 2019 20:53

Danville, IL, #4030, originally opened in 1963. The store was built in a very strange L formation. I'm assuming that it was operated by Kroger, because that's what it became. The store's sign was at the top of the hill on N. Vermilion St., and I remember vividly the Kmart Plaza sign, and the Kroger oval below it. Kroger left Danville around 1981-82, and Kmart expanded into the food store.

Baton Rouge, LA's store on Florida Blvd. I don't have an opening date, because this one was consolidated into the Super Kmart before 2002. The store next door became an A&P Futurestore, but was built for Kroger. I'm not sure if it was a superstore or a greenhouse, but I believe it was the former based on the Kmart's age.
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rich
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Re: Kmart Food stores that lingered beyond the mid-'70s

Post by rich » 06 Jun 2019 09:23

The ones in Cleveland kept the KMart name at least until 1979--significantly, they could be supplied from Detroit and Allied (the operator) had no other banners in Cleveland, unlike Detroit where they had Great Scott and previously had had Wrigley and Packer (KMart Foods w/o the KMart next door). They kept their KMart Foods stores in Toledo at least 1977. By 1981, those stores were owned by Seaway FoodTown under it's Kash & Karry warehouse banner.

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Re: Kmart Food stores that lingered beyond the mid-'70s

Post by Andrew T. » 06 Jun 2019 12:17

rich wrote:
06 Jun 2019 09:23
The ones in Cleveland kept the KMart name at least until 1979--significantly, they could be supplied from Detroit and Allied (the operator) had no other banners in Cleveland, unlike Detroit where they had Great Scott and previously had had Wrigley and Packer (KMart Foods w/o the KMart next door). They kept their KMart Foods stores in Toledo at least 1977. By 1981, those stores were owned by Seaway FoodTown under it's Kash & Karry warehouse banner.
Interesting!

Allied's "Wrigley rollout" in Charlotte, NC seems at odds with their other practices in this era. Then it occurred to me: It could be that Allied intended to rebrand *all* their Kmart Food stores as Wrigley or other Allied banners, but simply hadn't finished the process at the time of their 1978 bankruptcy.

While the company was in bankruptcy, they would have been focused on winding down peripheral operations and survival...not superfluous rebranding. So that might explain why Kmart Foods lasted to 1979 in Cleveland and 1981 (or later) in South Dakota...
wnetmacman wrote:
05 Jun 2019 20:53
Danville, IL, #4030, originally opened in 1963. The store was built in a very strange L formation. I'm assuming that it was operated by Kroger, because that's what it became. The store's sign was at the top of the hill on N. Vermilion St., and I remember vividly the Kmart Plaza sign, and the Kroger oval below it. Kroger left Danville around 1981-82, and Kmart expanded into the food store.

Baton Rouge, LA's store on Florida Blvd. I don't have an opening date, because this one was consolidated into the Super Kmart before 2002. The store next door became an A&P Futurestore, but was built for Kroger. I'm not sure if it was a superstore or a greenhouse, but I believe it was the former based on the Kmart's age.
Did both of these stores operate under the Kmart Food name into the late 1970s or 1980s?
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

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Re: Kmart Food stores that lingered beyond the mid-'70s

Post by rich » 09 Jun 2019 16:34

As of 1985, they still had that straggler in South Dakota and they had kept Humpty & Ideal until then https://oklahoman.com/article/2100124/a ... ery-stores

"Couldn't make a deal with the union" means that the employees knew the chain was dying but management wanted to blame the end on them. According to another article, they made no investment in the OK/KS stores between 1975 and 1982.

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Re: Kmart Food stores that lingered beyond the mid-'70s

Post by Andrew T. » 14 Jun 2019 17:35

Wow. I've been dying to know two things:

* Where was this South Dakota straggler of the Kmart Food chain located?
* How was the store supplied? (It would have been ridiculous for Allied/Great Scott to run delivery trucks a thousand miles out of their way from Detroit just to service one store.)

After a bit of searching, I've answered both questions. Here's a Kmart Food newspaper ad from April 1986...yes, nineteen eighty-six...from Rapid City, South Dakota. The Kmart Food store was located at Northgate Shopping Center on 1003 East North Street. (The adjacent Kmart itself just closed this year.) The Super Valu logo also appears in the ad...laying to rest the question of whether Allied by then was supplying the store with its own groceries.

I haven't found any references to Kmart Foods or South Dakota in any of the articles published in late 1986 or 1987 surrounding the Allied-Vons merger, so they must have closed this store (or at the very least sold it off) by then.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

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