Saturday, May 3, 2008

You're Safe When You Save at Kmart

A stylishly dressed mother, with stylishly dressed daughter in tow, shops the Kmart intimates department. A family stuffs a mother lode of purchases, including a color TV, into their car, and a young girl gazes adoringly at Kmart’s return policy, (maybe thinking “gee, Mom really is safe when she shops at Kmart!”, the company’s slogan that was introduced in ‘68), these scenes are circa 1968/70.

By the close of the sixties, the success of Kmart was truly astounding by nearly all measures. A typical variety chain at the start of the decade, the S.S. Kresge Company had roared away from the pack, with no slowdown in sight. From a single Kmart in March, 1962, the chain had grown to 365 units, with 60 to 75 more planned for 1970. In 1960 Kresge’s annual sales were $ 483 million, and by 1970 they were $2.5 billion and growing by 25 percent a year, a trajectory that would be the envy of any company.


  1. It's funny...when you look at these images, even if it's not the Kmart you grew up with, they're highly evocative. Unlike a lot of stores, just about everyone's Kmart looked the same, no matter where you lived.

    Seeing that gold "Satisfaction Always" sign and the old SSK logo in the Service Desk photo instantly takes me back to shopping at Kmart as a kid. I was decidedly a bigger fan of Woolco than Kmart, but it was still a fun place.

  2. The way the little girl is dressed in the first couple of photos is so cute. I wish I had clothes like that now much less as a kid.

  3. Wonder why they still had an S Kresge along with the K-mart one?

  4. Steven - They sure are evocative for me as well - many, many childhood memories of the stores as they appeared in these photos. I agree that the same "feel" of the stores was there long afterward. The gold signs were around for quite a while. I've always liked the SSK logo, which began disappearing from the stores in 1976, when the company's name was formally changed to Kmart Corporation.

    Didi - I'm about the same age as the girl in the first two photos would have been, and I vaguely remember girls my age dressing that way, although certainly more so for special occasions (birthday parties and the like, when kids actually dressed up - it was my chance to wear one of my clip-on ties) than a trip to Kmart!

    Mike - Kmart's parent was still called S.S. Kresge Company until 1976, and in fact Kresge stores were around into the '80s, though in sharply dwindling numbers.