OSCODA – For 35 years the Oscoda Kmart store has been a source of everything from toilet paper, children’s toys, sporting goods and lawn tractors for Iosco County residents. But by December, the store will leave the community forcing shoppers elsewhere.
In fact, there will only be three Kmart stores in Michigan, with the announcement by Sears Holdings that nine Kmart stores in Michigan — including Oscoda’s store — will be closed. The announcement came earlier this month. The first Kmart store opening, which was built in Garden City, was in 1962.
After the closings there will only be three stores left in Michigan, according to the Detroit Free Press. Those stores include stores in Warren, Waterford and the Marshall Kmart outside Battle Creek.
The closings come out a deal that occurred in February to keep Kmart and Sears stores open after a bankruptcy. Shareholders attempted to keep more than 400 stores open under the reorganized company Transformco.
Larry Costello, director of public relations for Sears Holdings, had little to say about the closing in a statement, one that has been given to many media outlets across the country, including the Oscoda Press.
“After careful review, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to close the Kmart stores in Belleville, Hastings, Menominee, Midland, Clio, Grayling, Oscoda and Marine City,” the statement said.
Costello said liquidation sales are expected to begin in the middle of the month and stores are expected to be closed by the middle of December.
Although Costello declined comment on how many unemployed workers the Oscoda closing would result in, or the future of the Kmart facility, he urged customers to continue shopping at Kmart through their website.
Staff at the Oscoda Kmart also declined comment on the aforementioned questions, directing the newspaper to Costello.
Future updates on the store closing will be included in this publication as they are made public.
Oscoda’s store opened its doors on Sept. 8, 1984, with much fanfare and sales, and even expanded into a “Big Kmart” branch — which included an expanded selection of items, including perishable food items and alcohol — in the 1990s.
According to the Oscoda Press archives, the community clamored to get jobs at the store ahead of its opening during an open interview two-day event held in August of 1984.
The newspaper reported that more than 2,000 individuals applied for the approximately 100 jobs that were being filled at the store.
On the first day of the hiring event more than 400 individuals lined up in front of the store before it opened, waiting to turn in job applications. Originally 65 workers were hired, with seasonal works to be hired during the holidays and busy shopping seasons, stated the article.
The store when it was originally built, before an expansion, was 52,320 square feet and was the 134th store built in Michigan. The opening of the Oscoda store brought more than 2,100 stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico online, according to the story.
On the opening day, a brief ribbon cutting ceremony took place, with the Oscoda High School Marching Band playing to commemorate the event.
In a story that appeared ahead of the grand opening, the new design of the Oscoda Kmart was touted.
“The Kmart discount department store will incorporate Kmart’s new interior design for the 1980s,” as described in the story. “The Oscoda store will have more hanging displays than Kmarts opened in the two previous decades. These fixtures will show off the fronts of garments rather than the shoulders.”
Oscoda’s original store featured small appliances, building tools, floor coverings, draperies clothing for the entire family, bedding, jewelry, art supplies, books and records, pet supplies, toys, health and beauty aids, and also featured a department new for such stores: an automotive audio section that sold tape decks for vehicles, as well as cassette tapes.
“A staff made up entirely of local people will assure that Kmart is alert to the needs of its new customers,” the story stated.