Throughout the 1980s and '90s, Kmart was a fixture of strip malls across America. Today you can drive from coast to coast without spotting that chunky red K on the horizon. As AP reports, there will be just three Kmart stores left in the continental U.S. once the Avenel, New Jersey, location shutters on April 16.
People who shopped before the internet era should remember Kmart's dominance in the retail sphere. At its peak, the big box chain boasted more than 2000 locations in the country. Movies and TV shows referenced the store, celebrities slapped their names on its products, and average consumers went there for everything from clothes to school supplies.
The brand's failure has been several decades in the making. In 2002, Kmart became the largest U.S. retailer to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The rise of online retailers like Amazon made it difficult for the company to mount a comeback. While competitors like Target and Walmart have been able to adapt to the shifting retail landscape, Kmart has steadily descended into obscurity. Following the closure of the Avenel location, the stores in Westwood, New Jersey; Bridgehampton, New York; and Miami, Florida, will be the only Kmarts operating within the 50 United States.
Kmart isn't the only former giant to fall from grace in the 21st century. Blockbuster, which operated 9000 U.S. stores in its heyday, has dwindled to a single location in Bend, Oregon. The last Blockbuster has become a tourist attraction for nostalgic fans of the analogue media era. It's unclear whether a similar cult following for Kmart can stop the last remaining locations from closing for good.