Last Kmart in Michigan to close, ending a 59-year history in the state

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Kmart is closing its store in Marshall, the retailer’s last location in Michigan.

As first reported by freep.com, the Kmart on West Michigan Avenue will close its doors in November. Job postings Monday show seasonal positions available for the closing of the store, which is about 20 minutes east of Battle Creek.

Transformco, Kmart's parent company, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The discount department store chain, which opened its first store in Garden City in 1962 and was once headquartered in Troy, has had a steady decline in recent decades. Its roots in Michigan date to S.S. Kresge's five-and-dime in downtown Detroit in 1899.

In the mid-1990s, Kmart had 2,323 outlets in the U.S. and another 163 elsewhere. But the 1990s and early 2000s brought a succession of management teams and failed strategies.

In 2019, the retailer announced it was closing the last two Kmarts in Metro Detroit, in Waterford and Warren.

“Kmart basically died about 10 years ago,” said Ken Dalto, a retail and management consultant in Bingham Farms. “It was a situation where almost everything went wrong in management in terms of their policy and the implantation of those policies.”

Dalto said that Kmart also struggled with its identity and poor presentation as retail rivals Walmart, Costco and Target gained prominence.

“(Kmart) was beaten 20 years ago,” he said. “Not even by the Internet, Amazon. I’m surprised they’re still alive anywhere. If you go into a Kmart store, you would see poor merchandise, lack of demographic focus. Is it for young 20s, baby boomers? Is it for the millennials?”

Kmart acquired Sears in 2005, a tie-up that failed to arrest the decline of either retailer. Kmart's departure from Michigan follows that of Sears, also a Transformco company. The last Sears store in the state, at Westland Shopping Center, shuttered its doors this summer.

As recently as March 2019, when a federal bankruptcy judge approved the sale of Sears Holdings Corp. to Transformco for $5.2 billion, there were 202 Kmart stores and 223 Sears stores, including 13 Kmarts, eight Sears stores and six Sears automotive centers in Michigan.

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN