Kmart Corporation (sometimes stylized as K mart or kmart) is a chain of big box department stores headquartered in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, United States. The chain purchased Sears for $11 billion in 2005, forming a new corporation under the name Sears Holdings Corporation. The company was founded in 1962. As of October 29, 2016, the company operated a total of 801 Kmart stores. This is a decline from the 941 Kmart stores it had operated in January 2016.
It operates stores in 49 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam (which houses the world's largest Kmart). It also used to operate stores in Canada, Mexico, and Eastern Europe.
Kmart became known for its "Blue Light Specials": they occurred at surprise moments when a store worker would light up a mobile police light and offer a discount in a specific department of the store, while announcing the discounted special over the store's public address system. At the height of Kmart's popularity, the phrase "Attention Kmart shoppers!" entered into the American pop psyche, appearing in films and other media such as Troop Beverly Hills, Six Days Seven Nights, Rain Man, Beetlejuice, Madea Goes to Jail, and Dawn of the Dead.
Kmart's world headquarters were located in Troy, Michigan, in Metro Detroit, but since the purchase of Sears, it has been relocated to Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Kmart also exists in Australia and New Zealand (see Kmart Australia), although it now has no relation to the American stores except in name, after U.S. equity in the Australian business was purchased in the late 1970s. S. S. Kresge, the founder of the company that would become Kmart, met variety store pioneer Frank Winfield Woolworth while working as a traveling salesman and selling to all nineteen of Woolworth's stores at the time. In 1897 Kresge invested $8,000 (equivalent to $230 thousand in 2017) saved from his job in joint ownership with his friend John McCrory of a five and dime store in Memphis, to which they added another in downtown Detroit the following year; these were the first S.S. Kresge stores. After two years of partnership, he paid McCrory $3,000 (equivalent to $86.4 thousand in 2017) and gave up his share in the Memphis store for full ownership of the Detroit store, and formed the Kresge & Wilson Company with his brother-in-law, Charles J. Wilson.In 1912, Kresge incorporated the S.S. Kresge Corporation with eighty-five stores. The company was first listed on the New York Stock Exchange on May 23, 1918. During World War I, Kresge experimented with raising the limit on prices in his stores to $1 (equivalent to $16.00 in 2017). By 1924, Kresge was worth approximately $375 million (equivalent to $5.24 billion in 2017) and owned real estate of the approximate value of $100 million (see Farid-Es-Sultaneh v. Commissioner, 160 F.2d 812 (2d Cir. 1947)). Early century growth remained brisk, with 257 stores in 1924 growing to 597 stores operating in 1929. Kresge retired as president in 1925. The Great Depression reduced profitability and resulted in store closings, with the number reduced to 682 in 1940. After the war shopping patterns changed and many customers moved out of the cities into the suburbs. The Kresge company followed them and closed and merged many urban stores so that by 1954 the total number of stores in the US had declined to 616. Under the leadership of executive Harry Cunningham, S.S. Kresge Corp. opened the first Kmart store on March 1, 1962, in Garden City, Michigan, just four months before the first Walmart opened. This store is still in operation as a Big Kmart store but will be closed in March 2017, the company announced in January. Eighteen Kmart stores opened that year. Kmart Foods, a now-defunct chain of Kmart supermarkets, opened in that decade. Company founder Kresge died on October 18, 1966.
Around the time of the opening of the first Kmart, some poorly performing S.S. Kresge stores were converted to a new "Jupiter Discount Stores" brand, which was conceived as a bare-bones, deep discount outfit. During the 1970s, Kmart put a number of competing retailers out of business. Kresge, Jupiter and Kmart stores had their main competition from other variety chains such as Zayre, Ames, Hills and those operated by MMG-McCrory Stores (McCrory, McLellan, H.L. Green, J.J. Newberry, S.H. Kress, TG&Y, Silver's and eventually G.C. Murphy Co.). In 1977, S.S. Kresge Corporation changed its name to Kmart Corporation. In 1990, in an effort to update its image, Kmart introduced a new logo. It dropped the old-style italic "K" with a turquoise "mart" in favor of a red block letter K with the word "mart" written in script and contained inside the K. Kmart then began remodeling stores shortly thereafter, but most were not remodeled until the mid-1990s, and some have not been completely renovated yet. This logo was replaced in 2004 with the current logo. In the very early 1990s,