Why Kmart failed

When I was in high school in Boulder, Colorado I got a nights-and-weekend job at Kmart. They put me in the home improvement section, which was a lot bigger than you might think. It was almost like a Home Depot, with an attached warehouse that stocked building materials. I was 16 years old and my manager, Randy, who was about 35 told me I had a great future ahead of me at Kmart. He gave me a 5-minute lesson on how to use the propane-powered forklift and left me on my own. I almost tipped the forklift over by driving it too fast and bashed up hundreds of dollars worth of plywood and drywall because I had no idea what I was doing. People would ask me for obscure bits of hardware and I didn't know whether to send them to the garden supplies or lighting fixtures section.

I watched this documentary about the rapid rise and slow crash of Kmart with fond memories of my employment there. The main reasons Kmart died:

  • it never found a way to successfully compete against Wal-Mart (which undercut Kmart) and Target (which was hipper and more upscale).
  • its upper management was more concerned with corporate restructuring and siphoning cash to shareholders than making Kmart a place where people wanted to shop. Kmart stores have always been ugly looking with a chaotic floor plan, and for some reason, the corporation didn't seem to think that was a problem.

Today, almost all of the thousands of Kmarts have been abandoned, with only 43 stores remaining.

[Via Dooby Brain]