Tuesday, July 25, 2006
The Last Super Kmart in Georgia
Kmart these days has a lot in common with a former discounter that is slowly being forgotten: Zayre. Like Zayre, Kmart was once a leading retailer covering large areas of the country (actually all for Kmart) that fell under poor management and began to decline. Like Zayre, it earned a reputation for being poorly stocked and having a poor selection. Like Zayre, it has earned a reputation as low-class or basically a ghetto store. What is left to be answered is will it disappear in 2008 like Zayre did 20 years earlier in 1988? While Zayre lived on awhile as Ames, it was the big lead weight that eventually sunk everything it landed on...in its case the entire Ames chain. Kmart and Zayre indeed have a lot in common, and time will tell if Kmart sinks Sears the way that Zayre sunk Ames.
What Zayre did not have was supercenters. They did not exist when Zayre was around, but Kmart still has a few. In fact, there is only one left in the entire state of Georgia: Rome. I still have a receipt from the Gainesville location during its going out of business sale back in 2003, so it is a treat to see that one remains. Indeed, the Super Kmart in Rome exists as an anomoly and possibly a prototype in a town where it must compete with two Wal-Mart supercenters. The only ace it does have...Target so far has not shown any interest in this small city in Northwest Georgia. The nearest bullseye is in Cartersville over 20 miles away.
While the Super Kmart in Rome is quite nice, it definitely tends to serve a more diverse clientele than many Romans would prefer to mingle with. It was not always that way, but it did not help when Supercenter #2 opened down on U.S. 411. While the Super Kmart is still in the commerce center of the city, it has a tough time competing. For me, I'm just glad it's there to offer an alternative. It is actually a very clean and nice store inside with quite attractive decor and a decent selection for Kmart. In fact, it is not unlikely this will end up being one of the first Sears Grand stores in Georgia. The Super Kmart also has a service station called K Express in front of the store, and I have fueled up there many times trying to take the edge off of the soaring gas prices.
Just as additional information, the Super Kmart is oddly located right across from what was once Rome's major mall: Riverbend Mall on the site of East Rome High School, which was demolished in the early 1990's for the store.
Photos featured here include Super Kmart in 2006 with its new orange and green theme, photo in 2005 with more Wal-Mart like colors, fading sign on Turner McCall Blvd. (U.S. 27) with a Kroger sign beneath. The Kroger has since moved across the street into the redeveloped Riverbend Mall, now a strip center. The last photo is of the K Express service station in front of the store.