‘Attention Kmart shoppers’: Retail giant closing last WMass store

  • Patrons enter Kmart #3433 on Northampton Street (Route 5) in Holyoke on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Patrons enter Kmart #3433 on Northampton Street (Rt. 5) in Holyoke on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Patrons browse the seasonal display area at Kmart #3433 on Northampton Street (Rt. 5) in Holyoke on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 2/10/2020 10:58:08 PM

HOLYOKE — Kmart, the one-time leading U.S. discount retailer that pioneered a well-known “Blue Light Special” advertising campaign in its heyday, will close its last store in western Massachusetts this spring.

The Kmart on Northampton Street in Holyoke is expected to shutter for good in April, an employee at the store said Monday as shoppers perused the store’s inventory liquidation sale that’s currently in full swing.

“Store closing sale! Everything must go!” read two signs paired with one another in the store.

Another sign advertises that fixtures, furniture and equipment from the store can also be purchased.

Transform Holdco LLC, which owns Kmart, declined to comment for this story. However, an employee said that they had been informed by management that the store would close sometime in April.

Patricia Schmitter lives near the Northampton Street store, and was shopping there Monday morning. She said she’ll miss the convenience of it.

“When you need anything you go, ‘Oh, got to go over to Kmart,’” said Schmitter, who was shopping for sheets.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse said in a statement that the closing of Kmart is another example of the changing times big box retail stores face as they compete with online sales.

“Real estate developers and owners need to be more creative than ever to create not just one type of tenancy, but a healthy ecosystem of uses that helps support itself and local economies,” Morse said. “We stand ready to help them however possible to ease a transition of their portion of the plaza for active reuse.”

The Holyoke store is the last Kmart open western Massachusetts. A Kmart in Palmer closed last fall.

Everything in the store is 10 to 75% off. While there was still a good amount of merchandise visible in the store on Monday, bare shelf space could also be seen.

Leon Woods, of Chicopee, said he and his wife came to the store because they saw it was going out of business.

“My wife’s shopping for the grandkids,” he said.

He also said that he hadn’t found a particularly exciting deal yet.

“Pretty much picked through already, I think,” he said.

The Holyoke Kmart was formerly a Grants store that had a restaurant inside. When the store became a Kmart in the 1970s, the restaurant stayed, only closing in 2010. 

Laura Dugre, of Agawam, grew up in Holyoke and her mother retired from working in the store’s restaurant.

“I’m here today to say goodbye,” Dugre said, who noted that her mother has since died. “I had to come say goodbye to all the good memories.”

Dugre said that she grew up in Kmart.

“We’d run around here, me and my brother and sister,” she said. “Like a kid in a candy store, running all over, looking for the Blue Light Special. And everybody knew us.”

The Blue Light Special was first created by a store manager in 1965 to clear slow-moving merchandise.

Standing in Kmart Monday, Dugre said that the store will be missed “by a lot of people.

“It was a big staple in the community,” she said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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