This guy uploaded a collection of 1989 - 1993 Kmart background music

Mark Davis worked at a Kmart in Naperville, IL in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Each month, the corporate office mailed a cassette tape to all the stores, which contained easy-listening elevator music and in-house advertisements. Davis saved all 56 cassettes and uploaded them to Archive.org. As Gareth Branwyn says, "I MAY have just gouged my eardrums out."

Davis write about the collection at his Attention K-Mart Shoppers page on Archive.org.

OK, I have to admit this this is a strange collection. In the late 1980's and early 1990's, I worked for Kmart behind the service desk and the store played specific pre-recorded cassettes issued by corporate. This was background music, or perhaps you could call it elevator music. Anyways, I saved these tapes from the trash during this period and this video shows you my extensive, odd collection.

Until around 1992, the cassettes were rotated monthly. Then, they were replaced weekly. Finally sometime around 1993, satellite programming was introduced which eliminated the need for these tapes altogether.

The older tapes contain canned elevator music with instrumental renditions of songs. Then, the songs became completely mainstream around 1991. All of them have advertisements every few songs.

The monthly tapes are very, very, worn and rippled. That's because they ran for 14 hours a day, 7 days a week on auto-reverse. If you do the math assuming that each tape is 30 minutes per side, that's over 800 passes over a tape head each month.

Finally, one tape in the collection was from the Kmart 30th anniversary celebration on 3/1/92. This was a special day at the store where employees spent all night setting up for special promotions and extra excitement. It was a real fun day, the store was packed wall to wall, and I recall that the stores were asked to play the music at a much higher volume. The tape contains oldies and all sorts of fun facts from 1962. This may have been one of the last days where Kmart was in their heyday - really!

One last thing for you techies, the stores built in the early 1970's (such as Naperville, IL Ogden Mall Kmart #3066, Harwood Heights, IL #3503 and Bridgeview, IL #4381) originally had Altec-Lansing amplifiers with high quality speakers throughout the store. When you applied a higher quality sounding source, the audio was extremely good. Later stores had cheaper speakers and eventually the amps were switched out with different ones usually lacking bass and treble controls.

Notable Replies

  1. Why do I suddenly feel like buying a whole basket full of cheap crap?

  2. I worked at a Kmart from '83 to '85 and proud to say I announced several blue light specials in my day. No one else ever wanted to do them but I jumped at the chance. I worked the night shift for a year or so - locked in alone sometimes or usually with a couple floor cleaner guys. Sometimes I'd hang in the electronic's dept and play the casios over the intercom. Real spooky sounding.

  3. My God why is this man not in prison?

  4. It's Mark Davis here, the uploader of the 56 cassettes. A person who I have been corresponding with just sent me two reel to reels from Kmart. Holy grail? Not sure. One from 1988 (pictured) and one from the 1970's. Stay tuned, these will be digitized soon! Look for them at archive.org soon.

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