We learned about Kmart Dental in Florida from reader Jason, who sent us a link and noted that it “has got to be the oddest thing inside of a Kmart anywhere.” We don’t know whether it holds any strangeness records, but a dentist’s office inside a discount store is pretty unusual. We wondered how they ended up there, and whether Kmart dental offices were a common thing that we had just never heard of, so we called them up and asked.
The office is quite large, now employing six dentists, and the practice actually predates the Kmart itself. The founder and owner, Dr. Steven Aaron, opened the practice inside a Jefferson Ward store in 1982. Jefferson Ward was a discount chain owned by Montgomery Ward and based in Miami, and its stores were all either closed or were purchased by Bradlees in 1985.
Jefferson Ward was gone, but the dental office stayed. Kmart took over the building, and the dental office stayed where it was. “They built the Kmart around us,” the practice’s longtime receptionist explained to Consumerist.
After Kmart opened, the practice rebranded as Kmart Dental. It has never been owned by Kmart, but has permission to use the brand name and logo. The two businesses operate in symbiosis, though. Early on, Kmart’s customers wandered in to the dental practice. Today, Kmart, um, isn’t as popular as it was in 1985, and new patients come from elsewhere.
“Now more patients come from friends and family of our existing patients,” Dr. Aaron explained to Consumerist. Yet the Kmart store serves as a giant built-in waiting room for the practice, and patients can be paged in the store when it’s their turn or when their child’s appointment is over.
Having a dental practice in a store is rather convenient, as it turns out, which is why it’s surprising that there aren’t more of them. (It also helps that Kmart Dental keeps later hours than most dentists, staying open until 7:30 PM and opening on weekends.) Today, consumers may connect the idea of a dental practice in a discount store with the dental chains that sometimes have questionable patient care practices and that do business in strip malls.
That isn’t the case, though: Kmart Dental is a standard dental and orthodontic practice, and families who might have first visited a generation ago for the first time because they were regular Kmart shoppers have stayed with them, referring new patients.
The first impression that some potential patients get is amusing, though. Last year, a Kmart shopper captured the entrance on Instagram, showing its location next to the toy department and tagging the photo, “#igiveup,” “#onlyinmiami,” and “#bluelightspecial.”
Indeed, it is only in Miami.
If you know of a medical or dental practice inside a store or a different retail oddity in your area, let us know! We’d love to hear about it. We’re sure there must be something out there stranger than a dentist in a Kmart.
Kmart Dental [Official Site]