In 2004, Kmart considered moving its headquarters from Michigan to metro Atlanta, with plans for about 1,000 jobs, according to news reports at the time. That was shortly after the chain had emerged from another stint in bankruptcy court following bruising discount competition with Walmart and Target.
The move didn’t happen. Soon a deal was announced to combine Sears and Kmart, a chain once famous for its “bluelight specials,” sudden discounts announced in the store with flashing lights.
The pairing of Kmart and Sears didn’t keep them out of financial trouble. Both have undergone waves of store cuts. The parent company, with hundreds of remaining U.S. stores, is pushing to avoid a full shutdown.
Kmart’s roots go back to 1899 when the first S.S. Kresge Company five-and-dime store opened.
1899 — Sebastian S. Kresge opens a five-and-dime store in Detroit.
1912 — Kresge chain grows to 85 stores.
1920s — S.S. Kresge Company opens new line of stores that only sell items for $1 or less.
1962 — First Kmart discount department store opens in a Detroit suburb. Sam Walton opens the first Walmart the same year.
1977 — S.S. Kresge Company changes name to Kmart Corporation.
1987 — Martha Stewart becomes a Kmart spokesperson. The relationship will continue for more than 20 years and include Martha Stewart-branded goods. Stewart later said she regretted not buying the company.
2002 — Struggling against competition from Walmart and Target, Kmart files for bankruptcy court protection. The chain, based in Troy, Mich., was down to about 2,114 stores.
2003 — Kmart emerges from bankruptcy protection.
2004 — Kmart and Sears, Roebuck & Co. announce they will combine.
Oct. 15, 2018 — Sears Holdings files for bankruptcy court protection. After years of cost cutting and store closings, the combined Sears and Kmart chains are down to hundreds of stores, with plans to soon close 142 more.
Sources: Sears Holdings and news reports