There will soon be only 3 Kmart stores left in the United States. What has become of the sites in the suburbs?
The impending closure of a Kmart store in Avenel, New Jersey – scheduled for Saturday – will reduce the number of Kmarts in the United States to just three, according to multiple reports.
Many former Kmart sites in the northern, western and northwestern suburbs have been redeveloped, but others await new uses.
At its peak, Kmart had over 2,300 stores across the country. It has been mentioned in films such as “Rain Man” and “Beetlejuice” and in songs by Eminem, the Beastie Boys and Hall and Oates.
“Kmart was part of America,” said Michael Lisicky, a Baltimore-based author who has written several books on the history of US retail. “You had toys. You had sporting goods. You had candy. You had stationery. It was something for everyone.”
Kmart’s decline was caused by changes in shopping habits and the successes of Walmart, Target and Amazon. He filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early 2002.
Hedge fund executive Edward Lampert combined Sears and Kmart and pledged to restore them to their former greatness, but it wasn’t to be. Sears filed for Chapter 11 in 2018 and is also disappearing.
In the suburbs, the Kmart at Stratford Crossing in Bloomingdale’s, which closed in 2016, is now a TJ Maxx & HomeGoods store.
In Naperville, Costco is now on Ogden Avenue, where a Big Kmart closed in 2013.
Palatine’s Kmart, on Hicks and Baldwin roads, became a Sears Essentials store, but was later condemned by the village and demolished. It is now the site of the village police station and Mariano’s store, both of which opened in 2012.
In Lombard, the store on the southeast corner of Roosevelt and Finley roads closed in 2013. The building was demolished in 2017 to make way for a Mariano’s.
The Kmart on Algonquin Road near Golf Road in Arlington Heights closed in 2002 and was redeveloped as a Lowe’s home improvement store which opened in 2006.
Mundelein had Kmart stores at the northeast and northwest corners of Routes 45 and 60, but never simultaneously. Both were later occupied by other merchants; the site at the east Route 45 site is vacant again, LA Fitness has a contract to lease the space and convert it into a gym, village administrator Eric Guenther said.
Other old Kmart sites are unused.
The Kmart at 1155 E. Oakton St. in Des Plaines was the last in operation in Illinois; it closed in 2020. In addition to being used twice as a COVID-19 vaccination site, it remained vacant.
The old Wheeling store on the northeast corner of Dundee and Elmhurst roads closed in 2002 and the building was razed in 2009. Although developers have shown interest, the site remains unused.
“We weren’t able to get (a deal) done,” village chairman Pat Horcher said.
Horcher said he would be “pleased” to see activity return to the site, which is near Wheeling’s downtown commercial and residential complex.
“It’s the center of our city,” he said.
The last three Kmart stores operating in the United States are in New Jersey, New York and Miami.
• Daily Herald editor Charles Keeshan and news agencies contributed to this report.