Remember Two Guys? Anyone remember Bamberger’s? How about Korvette’s? Bradlee’s?

You’ll soon be asking if anyone remembers Kmart.

And it seems unthinkable doesn’t it? Kmart was once the T-Rex of retail. The Mike Tyson. A juggernaut. In the 80’s it was the largest discount retailer in the United States. Oh how the mighty have fallen. There are only two Kmarts left in the state of New Jersey.

With May 2nd’s permanent closure of the Kmart in Kearny, the only remaining Kmarts in the entire state are in Avenel and Westwood. The Westwood location is at 700 Broadway. The Avenel location is 1550 St. Georges Ave. in the Delco Plaza.

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And maybe that’s why I’m writing about this. I grew up in Rahway. So I’ve been to that Avenel Kmart many times. Even years ago I thought it looked so shabby it had to be on its last legs. It sits close to where 35 and 27 meet. Across St. Georges Ave. where the Home Depot is now is where Bradlees and Buxton’s used to be. Both places long gone. Diagonally across the street where the KFC is now used to be an animal shelter.

How much longer can Kmart hang on? Sears, which operates Kmart, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018. In 2019 45 Kmart locations disappeared. Then came the pandemic. Seems just a matter of time.

Kmart was the place where your parents went to buy you clothes if they needed to save money, and from where you never admitted your clothes came to your middle school friends.

Remember the blue light special? They did it for years. A siren and a spinning blue light would go off somewhere in the store near a steeply discounted item and the announcement, “Attention Kmart shoppers” alerted all they had only fifteen minutes to scoop up the bargain. They dropped it after many years, then still many more years later in 2015 with their brand struggling they brought it back. It didn’t work.

Remember the pop culture references to Kmart? The biggest one I can think of is the brand’s inclusion in the movie Rain Man, which wasn’t very flattering.

At its peak in 1994 Kmart had 2,323 locations across the United States. Now they have a small presence in only six states. Does it ultimately matter? No. When the last one closes it will be just another touchstone of our lives relegated to the dustbin of history.

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