Kmart Employee Saved Monthly Elevator Music Tapes From Trash To Torture Us All 26 Years Later

Image courtesy of Nicholas Eckhart

It’s October 1989. Your family is spending a pleasant Saturday afternoon at Kmart, browsing for some late back-to-school clothes, or maybe some Halloween costumes. The shelves are full of clearance lunch boxes and plastic pumpkins, and you hear soft instrumental adult-contemporary music interspersed with Kmart promos over the store speakers. That music’s all piped in, though, isn’t it? No recordings of it could possibly exist.

They do. A former Kmart employee writes the music and ads came on a cassette tape from corporate weekly or monthly until around 1993. When new tapes arrived, he would save them from the trash and stash them at home for the day in the future when someone would need them.

It’s still not clear whether anyone needs them, but the tapes have been digitized, providing listeners with a better trip back to the late ’80s and early ’90s than that time capsule house in Buffalo. Thank you, Internet Archive, for dragging the sounds of my childhood back from my subconscious.

Confusingly, about fifteen minutes in, the October tape has “You Make Me Feel Like Christmas” by Neil Diamond, which I was always under the impression was supposed to be a Christmas song.

Zip about 28 minutes into the July 1990 to hear Jim Croce fading into an ad for film processing at Kmart, starring photo center mascot Dusty Lenscap.

It’s not really retail music purgatory until the Christmas music comes out, though.

If nothing else, these tapes will probably give you a new appreciation for or loathing of the music system in the next store that you visit.

Attention K-Mart Shoppers [Internet Archive] (via BoingBoing)

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