Closure of a Super Kmart, Southgate, Michigan

July 2013 Google Street View image of the Super Kmart at 16705 Fort Street, Southgate, MI operating normally.

It's unbelievable, but yes, Super Kmart still exists, but only one-tenth of what it used to be. At it's peak just before Kmart went bankrupt in 2002, there were a total of 117 Super Kmarts, including 14 in Michigan. Since then, a large majority of Super Kmarts either closed or had their groceries removed. After four more Super Kmarts, including two in southeastern Michigan, shutter permanently in December 2014, there will be 11 remaining Super Kmart stores.

The site of this Super Kmart has a long retail history-in 1963, a new strip mall opened on Fort Street near Pennsylvania Road anchored by EJ Korvette, a regional Northeastern discount chain. Other stores included a Chatham supermarket, a Sentry Drugs and a McCrory dime store.

However, by the mid 1980's, that strip mall had deteriorated-Korvette closed in 1980, McCrory had become a second-hand toy store in the late 1970's before becoming the Crystal Gardens banquet hall by 1982. The Korvette store had a brief two-year run in the mid-1980's as a flea market. By 1991, only Crystal Gardens continued to operate.

The deteriorated and graffiti-ridden strip mall was finally demolished in late 1993, with Crystal Gardens completely reconstructing their building. The rest of the site continued to sit deserted, with the only new development on the property being the opening of a McDonald's in 1990. In early 1998, work began on a new Super Kmart store on the site.

This Kmart, however, wasn't the first within the city of Southgate-one of Kmart's original 1962 stores was located on Eureka Road just east of the Southgate Shopping Center. That store closed in 1994 to be replaced by a Super Kmart on Dix Highway south of I-75 in Lincoln Park (that Super Kmart closed in 2003 and is now a Meijer) and is now subdivided between a Kroger and a Dunham's Sports.

The Super Kmart (store #4995) opened on November 18, 1998 as the 98th Super Kmart and originally featured a K Cafe with Little Caesar's products and an Olan Mills portrait studio, among others. Since then, the K Cafe and the Olan Mills studio both had shut down and a Sears Hearing Aid Center and a salon had opened. The Super Kmart was also among the many Kmart stores that received shorter opening hours in 2012, in addition, it never reverted back to being open 24 hours after many of these same locations went back to being open 24 hours. The store had 155 employees, mostly part-time, at the time the closure was announced.

This store was a typical late 1990's Super Kmart from-scratch build, including Super Kmart logos that are, other than replacing "BIG" with "Super" identical to the then-newly-debuted Big Kmart logo and small, cursive mottoes along the top of the walls running around the store, similar to this de-Superized Kmart in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
This leaves the Super Kmart on Van Born Road in Taylor (which opened as a regular Kmart in 1965 and converted into a Super Kmart in 1999) as the last remaining Kmart in the Downriver suburbs of Detroit, down from the three Downriver Kmart stores that existed at the beginning of 2012-this Super Kmart, the aforementioned Taylor Super Kmart and a Big Kmart at West and Allen Roads in Woodhaven that opened in March 1971 and closed in January 2013.

The grocery entrance on the day liquidation began, July 27, 2014.

The big one began on July 27, 2014. Sears Holdings gave control of the Super Kmart over to the liquidator, "STORE CLOSING SALE", "NOTHING HELD BACK" and "EVERYTHING MUST GO" signs, as well as Shop Your Way Rewards-related signage, were put up all around the store, 10%-30% off sales were placed on everything in the store and finally, the store stopped honoring all currently-running Kmart promotions. One day later, the pharmacy closed, with all prescriptions being transferred to local Walgreens stores, including one just nearby at Fort and Pennsylvania and Riverview.
As the liquidation continued on, departments moved to areas closer to the checkout area. Then, on October 3, signs announcing that it's now the last 10 days the store will be open were installed, with "10" being replaced by a lower number with each day. The store's final day in business then arrived on October 12 and when it opened in the morning items were on sale at 50%-80% off, with the percentage rising during the day until ultimately reaching 99% off moments before closing.

The next day, October 13, the store was closed to the public and everything had been sold off. Inside, all remaining fixtures were removed, the store's electronics and information systems were disconnected and shopping carts were sent to other Kmart stores, while outside, the Super Kmart sign on the building was removed and the Super Kmart logo on the road signs were painted over in black. Eventually, after final preparations were completed, the doors were locked for the final time.

RIP Southgate Super Kmart

November 18, 1998-October 12, 2014

First day of liquidation, July 27, 2014

The corridor separating the grocery and general merchandise areas. The grocery aisle signs on the right were original to the store.

Looking towards the back-left corner. This store, like pretty much every Kmart at the time and in existence today, received new signage for their general merchandise departments in 2001, an example of that being the "home organization" sign to the left.
IBM Sure POS 700 Series cash register

August 15, 2014

At this point, outdoor furniture and appliances moved to where the produce displays used to be located.

The pharmacy's now closed!

Can't get magazines any more

September 25, 2014

Old books area

Very little left of the grocery area

Old jewelry area-electronics area was where the yellow wall is.

Slightly off-topic...Did you know that the area in the background on the left was where I started my Mixels collection? I purchased the Mixels character Flurr there in June 2014.

Where tobacco was sold...was where electronics had moved.

The bakery area closed off from the rest of the store

Fixtures sitting in former areas of the grocery area

Grocery aisle signs, "price scanner" signs and other signs sit in the former grocery area

Meat and dairy coolers and old pet food area

Dairy freezers

Last day of liquidation, October 12, 2014

 Produce is no more

Empty grocery area

Very old barcode stickers and sign discovered underneath shelves
Jewelry counter

Much much empty
 Looking towards the old garden center

Fitting rooms

General merchandise entrance

Only one vending machine left-and even that's out of order :(
Customer service desk

Old Olan Mills portrait studio
Old Sears Hearing Aid Center

Old salon

The store ten days after closing, October 22, 2014

View from Fort Street across from Southgate Ford
And here are the other two supercenters in Southgate that are possibly credited for the Super Kmart's demise.

The Meijer supercenter that literally sits right across the street from the Super Kmart. It opened in 1994, predating the Super Kmart by four years.

The Walmart supercenter (it is a supercenter, though the sign just says "Walmart") on Dix-Toledo Highway near Eureka Road, a mile northwest of the Super Kmart. It opened in 2011.

Finally, here are pictures of the original Kmart store in Southgate that closed four years before the Super Kmart on Fort opened.

Dunham's Sports' side of the building. This had previously been an Office Depot in the late 1990's, then sat vacant until opening as Dunham's in August 2004.

Kroger is located on the side of the building that originally housed Kmart Foods, then was later a Farmer Jack until it relocated to a new building in the Southgate Shopping Center in 1997. The store, which opened late in the year 2000, is much larger than it's previous supermarket tenants in the exact same space.

Possible former garden center-also notice the parking lot light on the left-that is actually a remnant from the Kmart era. Other than that, the building and property is no longer recognizeble as a Kmart.


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  3. As a former employee of this Southgate Kmart, I thank you for documenting its demise. It was very saddening for me, one I was losing my job, everyone was terminated without chance of transfer, unless you where a manager, and two it was a weird nostalgic type feel, when I was a child I remember going to there with my family in its hayday. Here's a piece of info you may want to know. In the backroom where only employees where allowed, at the ending days we started to get a bad water leak whenever it rained. Now that it has been a year since its closing, I have a feeling the backroom may become structurally unsound plus the terrible condition they did have it in when it was in operation. EX: we had buckets collecting water by the electronics and baby supplies and nothing was done about it. Anyways thanks again for documenting this, it really brings back my memories of when we started closing and great photography, all of my photos that I took got lost along with my kmart employee paperwork, I'll have to go digging around for it.

  4. Very interesting. The Kmart in my city used to be a super center as well. The grocery section closed and there's now a sears outlet in it's place. The store by me has the exact same building design as this one does too and it's number is 4996 just 1 above this one. It is still open and has a good amount of cars in the parking lot for a Kmart to have. It got the remodel in 2014 and has the red signs with the "K" in the background.


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