“Kmart At A Discount” Store Doesn’t Quite Live Up To Its Name

This Kmart was supposed to close but has remained open as a "Kmart at a Discount" outlet. (Photo: JillCataldo.com)

This Kmart was supposed to close but has remained open as a “Kmart at a Discount” outlet. (Photo: JillCataldo.com)

If outlet stores for mid- to high-end retailers give shoppers a way to find decent bargains, you’d think that a Kmart outlet store would have some real bottom-dollar deals on items that couldn’t be cleared from inventory at regular Kmart stores. But shoppers who visit a “Kmart at a Discount” location should enter with the caveat that saving money is a hit-or-miss proposition.

Blogger and couponing expert Jill Cataldo recently wrote about a visit to one such “Kmart at a Discount” store in Belvidere, IL, outside of Rockford.

We told you the other day the Sears real estate site that lists virtually every Sears and Kmart in the country as being available to rent out. According to that data, this discount store is a “closed store” rental opportunity, but signs outside and in the store proudly state “We Are now Kmart At A Discount & We Are Here To Stay.”

The location apparently was supposed to close at the end of 2013 but has been able to remain open as a “Discount” outlet for the already-discount retailer.

In addition to all the signage inside bragging about alleged savings on items, Cataldo found smaller signs clearly stating that, “Your Kmart at a Discount will not be participating in the current K-Mart TV promotions, circulars, coupons or mailers.”

That sort of restriction is to be expected from a store full of clearance items, but what wasn’t expected were the not-clearance prices on a number of things in the store.

For example, while the Boys’ Apparel section listed everything as 40% off, Cataldo says she’s paid lower prices for these items at clearance sales inside regular ol’ Kmart stores.

She found a “Duck Dynasty” T-shirt that was still $17 even after the 40% discount, but only a few months earlier she’d found tees for the hit A&E reality show going for only $3 each at Meijer (which she managed to knock down to $1.20 each with her coupon dexterity).

Similarly, the Toy dept. had toys marked down to $27 that she’d found elsewhere for around $10.

There was an Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga set marked from $29.99 to $22.49, but Cataldo says that she’d seen the same game earlier that day on clearance at a nearby Toys R Us for $4.99.

“By now, I was starting to wonder who this store was supposed to appeal to,” she writes. “Simply slapping percent-off signs on overpriced merchandise does not create a ‘deal.’ Anyone familiar with regular and sale prices for these items would quickly realize that most of the products Kmart At A Discount is selling simply are not good buys.”

She did note that there were some bona fide deals to be found in the winter clothing area, where things were 70% off the sticker price. So if you’re looking to save money for next December, there’s apparently a store in Illinois waiting for you.