I worked at KMart when I was in high school, long long long ago. Back when you had to manually punch the prices into the cash register and make change in your head. Back when UPC codes had not been invented yet and everything in KMart had to have a price sticker on it (remember those gummy little labels anyone?) and if it didn't have a price sticker on it everyone in line behind you at the checkout would roll their eyes and sigh loudly while the cashier had to call for a price check. Back when KMart was the only game in town, Walmart existed only in the South and Target was still thirty years away. We did have a Woolworths in town but KMart was where you went for cheap clothes, tires, and sandwiches and popcorn from the deli shop in the front of the store if you were in a hurry or a sit down lunch in the cafeteria in the back if you were in a leisurely mood.
But then competition came to town and KMart started the long slow decline that eventually led to stores closing and chapter elevens and merging with Sears.
This past weekend I decided to make the trip across town to the only surviving KMart to do a little shopping for some summer t shirts. I have only been to KMart a few times since we've lived here because why go to KMart when we have Target and Walmart two blocks away. For some reason I thought KMart might have something different or cheaper or I don't know exactly but I go in Target and Walmart all the time and just wanted to see what shopping somewhere else was like I guess.
So early on Sunday morning while everyone else is still sleeping or at Church, I drive over to KMart, looking it up on the computer first because I couldn't remember exactly where it was, and pull into their huge parking lot. Where there are maybe 10 cars parked and I'm wondering if maybe they aren't open yet. But they are and I walk into Junk Store City. Way worse than the worst day ever in Walmart, way junkier than the worst of the worst thrift stores. The place is crammed full of racks of clearance clothing and the clothing that isn't on clearance looks like it should be and no wonder nobody buys it until it's on clearance because if you think Walmarts clothes look cheap, check out your local KMart. Let's just say they had a lot of ugly clothes at KMart. But I'm already here so maybe I can find something so my trip is not a total loss. I find a pair of pants and a basic t shirt to try on and look around for the dressing room which most normal stores put near the clothes, right? No, after asking the cashier where the dressing room is, it's way over on the other side of the store. The pants are a no but the t shirt is okay and only $6.98 so I get a couple more shirts in other colors and go to check out and get the heck out of there.
Before I can pay for my t shirts I am first asked if I have a rewards card and then after my 'no' am asked if I'd like to open a Sears charge card, and then after my 'no' am asked if I want to enter my phone number into the computer so that I can get $1.00 off of my next purchase of $100.00 or more and by now I'm just like let me pay for my crappy t shirts already and 'NO' I'm not planning on ever coming to this store again so you can't have my freaking phone number!
I decided to stop at Walmart on my way home which is where I should have gone in the first place because they had almost identical basic t shirts for only $4.98 and more colors to choose from.
I could have gone to a nicer store for my summer shirts, but after a summer's worth of sweating up here where it gets HOT my shirts are ready for the trash can so why spend a lot of money on them? I could go to the thrift store and buy used but I really don't want used t shirts with pre-stained underarms from someone else's sweat.