Kmart To Resurrect "Blue Light Special"…Again

We don’t shop at Kmart much, so we didn’t notice that the “blue light special” was gone…until we just read that they’re going to resurrect it. Again. At least, that’s what the Chicago Tribune says:

Sears is aiming to be a one-stop shop for the home, while Kmart is turning its discount stores into a “marketplace of discoveries,” Lampert’s chief marketing officer, Maureen McGuire, said as Lampert looked on.

Sears unveiled a new TV advertising campaign called “Sears. Where it Begins.” that taps into the store’s legendary Big Book catalog heritage. In it, actors walk among the pages of Sears catalogs, looking at larger-than-life images of everything from diamond rings to dishwashers, set to sunny, upbeat music.

Kmart’s new ad campaign likewise delves into its past. The discount chain has resurrected its “blue light special,” turning the famous tagline into a talking blue light bulb called “Mr. Blue Light.” The bulb advises shoppers to “turn on” to something new.

Again with the blue light?

Kmart feels like a lost cause to us, but what do we know? People have been saying Kmart is done since we can remember, yet they’re still around. Kmarts are like dandelions. They will never ever, ever be eliminated. —MEGHANN MARCO

Sears chief no longer hedges on strategy [Chicago Tribune]
(Photo:Los Cardinalos)

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  1. dbeahn says:

    I’m right there with you on this one. I keep expecting every year to be the one where they close the last remaining K-marts, but they just keep keepin’ on….

  2. ShadeWalker says:

    there’s never going to be a red light special…

  3. mopar_man says:

    I dunno. I like my K-Mart. Besides that, there’s only a Wal-Mart and ShopKo to choose from and I refuse to go to Wal-Mart.

  4. Kavatar says:

    The only reason I’d ever go to the K-Mart near my house is because it has the only Little Caesar’s in town.

  5. urban_ninjya says:

    Ecck.. K-Mart. That name just makes me feel cheap saying it. I guess they’re ok for consumeables, but I wouldnt’ be caught dead buying durable goods there.

  6. spanky says:

    I’ve had better luck with K-Mart lately than I have with the new, WalMartified Target.

    Those blue light specials scare the hell out of me, though.

  7. gwong says:

    A talking “Mr. Blue Light” trying to turn me on to something new? How is that any better than an obnoxious sales associate doing the same thing?

  8. foghat81 says:

    There’s only one or two K-Marts left in my area and they’re not at all convenient for me to use. It’s too bad because I VERY MUCH prefer them to WalMart. Target is still my personal favorite, though.

    Keep fighting the good fight, Mr. Blue Light

  9. etinterrapax says:

    They seem so quaint somehow. The last K-Mart I used was somewhere in southern Massachusetts, near my grandmother’s house, and it actually had a lunchroom in it. A full-on dining area in the back, with tables. The idea of staying in a discount department store long enough to need a meal sends shivers down my spine, and I’m not entirely certain whether they’re the good or the bad kind.

    Still, you have to admire the brand influence of a chain that made Martha Stewart look low-rent even before the prison sentence.

  10. spacehaven says:

    Do stores really need a slogan? “Sears, Where it Begins.” It’s so generic and says nothing about what they do. Well, maybe that’s the point.

    Anyway, that slogan could apply to every product: “Subway: Where it [your lunch] Begins” “NBC: Where it [your evening entertainment] Begins” “Trojans, Where it Begins” (maybe it doesn’t that last one, which could be “Trogans: Where it Doesn’t Begin”).

  11. jhendrix84 says:

    My father’s been a pharmacist with K-Mart for 30 years, and I can tell you: the reason most K-Marts are still open is because of their pharmacy division. They often pull in well over half of the store’s income, and the busier ones fill anywhere from 200-400 prescriptions per day.

    Quite often if a pharmacy has to close due to the dearth of pharmacists in the marketplace (the degree program changed to the longer-to-obtain Pharm.D.), it’s the beginning of if not the absolute end of the store.

  12. mikyrok says:

    I don’t like K-Mart but it consistantly seems to be the place to go when you want to find something that no one else is carrying. I recently bought a golf bag travel bag there.. who would’ve thought that was an item K-Mart sold?

  13. catnapped says:

    Where the heck is that relic from the photo located? Even the crappiest locations around here got remodeled into Big Kmart’s years ago (the one we have in town is being remodeled into whatever their current prototype is with the appliances and such–color scheme on the walls reminds me of Toys R Us for some reason)

  14. mopar_man says:

    Soooo…all of you hate K-Mart but why? Just curious.

  15. Rick Rockwell says:

    There’s so much negative baggage to that name, I wonder if they ever thought of doing a complete re-branding.

  16. hop says:

    we only have one k-mart in the area…it’s a dirty,unkempt looking place….the salespeople look like they are serving time in hell….the last time i was in the place the prices didn’t look all that good either….

  17. TWinter says:

    K-Mart is good for some stuff – toiletries and cleaning supplies, some of the Martha steward stuff, and I’ve found lots of great deals in their garden section. They don’t have super fancy plants, but basic stuff they stock is good quality and much cheaper than the local greenhouses or Lowes.

  18. roamer1 says:

    Kmart? What’s that? ;) (They’re pretty much gone from Atlanta; Target ran them off and is now oversaturating the more affluent parts of town with stores — to the point of having three stores within a mile or so of each other in one part of town — while Wal*Mart is oversaturating the lower-income areas.)

    IMO, while Kmart has done well with Martha Stewart, their garden centers, and standard discount-store fare, they don’t have a clue when it comes to apparel; even Wal*Mart has gotten better in that regard (the Nazi-skull shirts notwithstanding) as of late. Heck, more or less the same can be said for Sears!

    @jhendrix84: That doesn’t surprise me. FWIW, my parents (not in Atlanta) get their prescriptions at Kmart — and land up buying other things there while they’re at it. (They loathe Wal*Mart as much as I do, and the closest Target is ~15 miles away; there are several Family Dollar and Dollar General stores nearby, though.)

  19. MatthewT says:

    I was in gotta-find-that-toy-for-my-kid mode last Christmas season and stopped, last, at K-Mart. It was weird. Wal-Mart lot: packed. Target lot: packed. Toys-R-Us: packed. K-Mart: maybe 12 cars in the lot. No surprise, based on inside. Old, dark, dingy, cluttered. I’m amazed it’s still open.

    And they didn’t have the toy, either.

  20. thewinchester says:

    @catnapped: The Kmart in question is actually an Australian location, and from the license plates I suspect it’s somewhere in Western Australia. The Kmart brand in Australia is used under license by the Coles Group, who also are licensed to use the name in New Zealand.

    I only picked this up because in the left of it there’s a third of a big red letter “S” which is from the logo for Coles (An Australian supermarket chain), also owned by Coles Group.

  21. peachkellipop says:

    All they need to bring back are the Icee machines, candy counters, and a mop! The two Kmart stores near me are FILTHY and dismal. Even the Martha Stewart merch displays can’t liven up the joint.

  22. jhendrix84 says:

    @roamer1:

    I’m located in the Atlanta area too, and I know just what you mean about the Target situation. While I appreciate the fact that the salaries the company has supplied have paid for my college education among other things, Target’s my store of choice. In fact, the only K-Mart location I know of within the perimeter (I-285, for non Atlantans) on Cleveland Ave. is so sketchy that I refuse to shop there. Another store without a pharmacy, it’s a miracle it’s still open.

    Targets all over the state are cleaner, have better floor help, and a wider selection of products.

  23. TSS says:

    The K-mart near me has made a miraculous transformation since Sears took over. Seriously. It’s clean, it’s well-stocked, well-organized, the employees are extremely friendly and (even better) they know the merchandise. I am a big ol’ convert to the ‘mart.

  24. Shadowed_Blade says:

    (1.) There are a few comments made here referencing Sears taking over Kmart. The exact opposite is the case; Kmart bought Sears in a multi-billion dollar deal. The only reason the parent company is called Sears Holdings Corporation is because they believe the Sears name was more of a household name and carried more reverence from the past.

    (2.) While Kmart has had its issues in the past, Kmart is still around. Yes, they filed bankruptcy, but they also came out of the bankruptcy one (1) year later, just as planned.

    (3.) Mr. BlueLight is not going to be the same as the old BlueLight Specials. Yes, I agree it will take some getting used to to not associate Mr. BlueLight with BlueLight sales. However, Mr. BlueLight is going to focus on QUALITY MERCHANDISE and UNEXPECTED DISCOVERIES. I can say for a fact that corporate does not want anyone, especially associates, relating Mr. BlueLight to sales, clearance prices, etc.

    (4.) Why is it so bad that Kmart is trying to change itself around? Wal-Mart has it’s smiley face spokes-character and Kmart is trying something new. Kudos for the effort. Who knows: perhaps this will be the start of a great turnaround.

    (5.) People forget that Kmart was the NUMBER ONE RETAILER at one point and are quick to blame Kmart alone. Sorry – customers played a role in it, too – expecting everything for nothing (i.e. no receipt refunds being allowed for EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING). However, it is ironic that it is okay when Target says “no return without a receipt” but another retailer doing the same thing is judged differently.

    We all need to take a step back and give it a chance. Saying you don’t like a store because of it’s appearance (i.e. dingy, dirty, etc.) is one thing; but, not critique without merit is just plain ridiculous.

    Oh well, sorry for the rant.

    P.S. To confirm comments as stated by others: the photograph is an Australian Kmart store. Kmart Australia is not controlled, owned, or operated by Kmart in the US. And, as part of the buyout that occurred a long time ago, Kmart Australia is allowed to use the old logo (as seen) for x number of years.

    P.S.S. Did you know that at one point, Kmart owned Walden Books, Office Max, and other large businesses? Take a look at the Corporate History via their website: http://www.kmartcorp.com/corp

    (( Yes, I am a current associate. ))

  25. SexCpotatoes says:

    Just watch out for Deadites!