Ode to my Kmart


Okay, I feel like I need to preface this post. I hate Kmart. I really do. Some people hate Walmart with a passion, my passionate hatred goes directly to Kmart. I can’t explain it, well other than my local Kmart was always kinda dirty and their idea of remodeling has been to put fresh paint over the older interior. It makes for an interesting ambiance.

So, yeah do you blame me for going to Walmart when it opened here locally?

But, last month it was announced that our Kmart was closing. The property owner is revitalizing the 30 acres they own there. Rumor has it they are working on bringing a Harmon’s Grocery Store to the area. It’s not the Walmart I prayed for decades ago, but I love Harmon’s. And, I am sure there will be a couple restaurants opening up there as well. The whole project is slated to be completed by fall 2016.

Let’s just hope and pray it doesn’t take as long as the Five Points/Renaissance redevelopment.

While I am excited about the news and progress in my hometown, I’ve somewhat ecstatic that Kmart will be leaving. It’s been LONG overdue, because that area is such a prime location for something bigger. I will admit that I have taken advantage of their liquidation sales. I bought a really cool sock monkey and Finding Nemo winter hat along with some shirts and much needed Crocs.

Hey if they’re more than half off, why not buy them, right?

But, during the past month as the Kmart doomsday clock has been ticking, I’ve actually gotten quite nostalgic. As much as I detest Kmart, I’ve actually had quite a few memories from that old retail store. Much of my childhood was spent being dragged there by my Mom. While she shopped my sisters and I would play in the clothes racks and beg for ICEEs. But, there are many more memories. Some funny, some sad, but most sentimental.

Here are a few of my select memories from that old rickety retail store over on 2600 South …

My Mom the Kidnapper

Sometimes people don’t believe me that when I say that I was a horrible child. Folks, I was a horrible. All, I have to say is that I am eternally indebted to my mother for not killing me.

On a cold autumn night my Mom, who was suffering from laryngitis, dragged my sister and I to Kmart so she could pick up a prescription from the pharmacy. Nothing about this trip was out of the usual except that my mother couldn’t yell and she was really, really sick.

While waiting for her prescription she did some light shopping while my sister ran around the store and got restless. It didn’t take long for us to get restless. All you had to do was make us wait longer than two minutes and we were ready for something else.

By the point of when my mother’s prescription was ready my sister and I had bolted for outside to play on the mechanical merry-go-round. Since we didn’t have any money we waited until our mom came outside and then started begging her. By this point she was just sick and ready to get home. She didn’t want to fight.

Well, we fought.

As she walked to the car she expected us to follow, but we didn’t. We just carried on our conversation by just getting louder the further away she got. But, here’s the thing … people with laryngitis generally can’t yell. At all.

We couldn’t hear her.

By this point we could barely hear her and we made out something about “leaving us” … which was actually, “I am not leaving you.” But, we started to freak out. I tried to get into the car and couldn’t get in because my Mom was trying to unlock at the same time. My eight year old logic thought … SHE’S LOCKING DOOR BECAUSE SHE’S LEAVING US HERE!

So, I jumped on the hood of the car, while my younger sister screamed a scream only a six year old girl could scream.

The incident was over in less than a minute, but it had caught the attention of an older lady who ended up calling the police about a woman kidnapping two children. The more I think about it now, I wonder if she ever had kids? Because, kids do this all the time, right? (I’m trying to justify my actions as a kid)

Well, we got home. We were put right to bed by our Dad. I knew I was in trouble. You just don’t mess with Mom, let alone when she is sick. I just sat in bed thinking about my punishment.

Once my Mom took her medication she went right to bed. But, no later than five minutes later the doorbell rang. It was the police.

They asked my Mom and Dad about the incident and asked to them to verify their children. .Sure they were doing their job and it shouldn’t have been that big of a deal under normal circumstances. But, the fact my Mom was VERY sick just made this worst.

When I knew the police were there I was still awake and just laid low PRAYING I didn’t have to go talk to him. Because I thought I was going to go to jail. Luckily, I didn’t have to talk to him.

But, as I laid there in my bed thinking of what happened I knew without a doubt … I was going to hell.

She had to get me the RED one

As a sick I got strep throat quite a bit. This was great for me, because I got out of school, but horrible for my mother, because it meant ANOTHER doctor appointment. But, I guess that’s life with kids?

 In fact, I eventually got my tonsils taken out when I was 13. But, that’s a story for another day.

During one of my “strep throat” days my had to run some errands before taking me to the doctor’s office. One of the places was Kmart for something or other. Because I wasn’t feeling well my Mom got me a red ICEE to help sooth my throat.

Plus, I love ICEEs. So, I drank the ICEE with no problem and it helped sooth my throat. It was quite nice.

Then we got to the doctor’s office.

The best, and pretty much only, way to test for strep throat is a throat swab. Sounds easy enough, unless you have a very high gag reflex … like me.

Well, needless to say, the poor nurse swabbed my throat … I gagged … and then proceeded to throw up red ICEE all over her white lab coat.

My poor mother stood in shock while the nurse couldn’t do anything but laugh. The clean up was messy and was still being cleaned up when the doctor saw us.

After that my mother only bought me ICEEs … AFTER … the doctor’s appointment.

The Birds, Bees & Pizza

Well, I don’t think I need to go into much detail here (because hopefully you’ve had “THE TALK” by now), but I love telling it nonetheless.

I got “THE TALK” at my Kmart. My Dad and I ordered a Little Caesars Pizza at the Kmart Cafe (it was replaced since then) and had the talk. Sadly, I won’t be able to have that experience with my kids in the future. But, if they build a Harmon’s there, maybe I can take them to the Harmon’s salad bar?

Just a thought.

The Birds & Joshua

Back in the day, Kmart used to have a pet store believe it or not. Not like a Walmart pet store with just fish, but they had fish, rodents and birds. On my second birthday my Grandparents got me two parakeets. I sort of remember going to the store with them to pick out a blue and green parakeet and a round cage with a yellow lid.

This gift started my obsession with the birds. Since then I’ve had over 20 other parakeets. More than my mother ever cared to have around the house.

I still love parakeets, but I don’t think I will ever another one, because they are TREMENDOUSLY messy birds. Like, half of the birdseed you give them … half of that ends up on the floor. And, they poop everywhere. I had one bird that would projectile his poop onto the wall. Which really should be more frustrating then anything, but consider me impressed.

My mother told me that I would just sit in front of the cage and stare at my parakeets, which I named Jackie and Elizabeth. Which coincidentally was also the names of my two babysitters. But, because of that gift and that trip I will always associate parakeets with my grandparents and that’s a memory people can’t take away from me.


Fear of Furries

As it is well documented, I have an irrational fear of deer. But, one of my earliest fears was actually more ridiculous than deer. I mean, really ridiculous.

I was (and still sorta am) petrified of furries — or mascots, or whatever you want to call them. As a kid I hated Disneyland because I hated being forced to meet the characters. The same went for Lagoon, the zoo and anywhere that thought it was a good idea to scare little kids with giant “things.”

But, this fear started at Kmart when I was a kid … and I remember it quite well. I am not sure exactly how old I was, but I remember I was in a stroller … so I couldn’t have been much older than 2 or 3? I was sitting in the stroller and it must of been a busy Saturday because Kmart was giving out ICEEs along with having the polar bear and penguin mascot there greeting scaring the kids.

The polar bear came right up my stroller and bent down and put his face RIGHT IN MY FACE. So what did I do? Cried hysterically like any reasonable toddler.

After that I wouldn’t go near any furry mascot and for weeks (if not months) I wouldn’t go into the store unless my Mom assured me that the polar bear and penguin wouldn’t be there.

Even now today, I avoid furry mascots. I obviously know they aren’t real, but there is an element of creepiness, especially with the non-Disney characters. Mainly, because they smell like B.O. and cheese. But, that’s a story for another day.

So, will I miss the ‘ol Kmart? Um, nope. Really, good riddance. But, it will always hold a strange little place in my heart. I will always remember “THE TALK” over pizza, the time I got my straight ticket to hell, the memory of my Grandparent’s love and the delicious red ICEE that I shared with my nurse.

It served a purpose in the community for a number of years, but it really has become obsolete over the years. Plus, this area of the community needs redevelopment. It’s time.

But, before she closes her doors maybe I’ll have to buy myself an ICEE and say one more goodbye.

Plus, I want another pair of Crocs and I bet they’re at least 80% off by now.

Bye Kmart.


Leave a Reply