The last Kmart store in Michigan – the birthplace of the once-ubiquitous discount brand – is closing.
The Kmart in Marshall, about a 20-minute drive east of Battle Creek in south-central Michigan, is preparing to shut its doors by Nov. 21 and is hiring temporary employees to help with the closing, according to job postings and a store associate who answered the phone Monday.
Store management referred all comment to Kmart's Illinois-based corporate owner, Transformco, also the owner of Sears, which did not return messages Monday.
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Kmart has been shuttering locations for decades and the Marshall store has been the last one in Michigan since 2020.
Marshall has a population of about 7,000 and its Kmart survived as long as it did because the store is the only national big-box retailer in the immediate area. Kmart also didn't own the building, which prevented the company from closing the store and selling the real estate for quick cash.
The 90,000-square-foot store is in a still-busy shopping center owned by a California businessman who purchased the property for $5.45 million in 2015. The store opened in the early 1990s as a "Big K," replacing an older and smaller Kmart.
"It’s an end to an era," said James Durian, CEO of the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance.
"The Kmart brand has been fading for years, it was only a matter of time before they closed it in Marshall," Durian said. "Another retailer like it would be pretty successful in Marshall given the need."
The Kmart brand was born in 1962 when Detroit-based retailer S.S. Kresge Co. opened the first Kmart big-box store in Garden City.
At Kmart's peak, before the retail chain's merger with Sears and its double bankruptcies, there were nearly 2,500 Kmart stores nationwide and 134 in Michigan. The original Garden City location closed in 2017, and Kmart abandoned its former corporate headquarters off Big Beaver Road in Troy in 2006, after Kmart merged with Sears and relocated offices to Hoffman Estates, Illinois, in suburban Chicago.
Westland was home to the last surviving Sears in Michigan until that store closed several weeks ago.
Marshall City Manager Tom Tarkiewicz said Monday that although the city hasn't been officially notified about the Kmart closing, reports have started circulating online.
The city's next big concern will be filling the large space in the shopping center that Kmart will vacate, he said.
"I don’t know what we may see come in there. We would like to get it filled," he said.
The total number of surviving Kmart stores was not available Monday.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Last Kmart store in Michigan preparing to close doors in November