Michigan Is Littered With Abandoned Kmarts, Which Is Actually Good For Retail

Image courtesy of Nicholas Eckhart

When a longtime retailer closes its doors, it can be a good thing for the area and for the local real estate market. Employees lose their jobs, and the remaining loyal shoppers lose their favorite store, but freeing up that real estate means that new and popular stores can renovate or tear down the buildings, replacing them with something that modern shoppers are interested in.

That’s not to say that modern shoppers don’t like Kmart, which recently announced a new store format meant to draw millennial customers that features personal shoppers and fresh groceries.

However, Kmart began in Detroit, and some prime retail sites where it has had stores since the ’60s and ’70s were…um…not prosperous when anchored by ancient Kmarts. After the stores closed, the Detroit Free Press reports, other tenants took over and brought new life to what seemed like abandoned shopping centers.

The assessment is harsh, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. The Free Press notes that some local governments and mall owners thought that Kmart as an anchor was hurting shopping centers by not doing the traditional job of an anchor and actually drawing shoppers.

“Kmart had some great locations, so they’re being repurposed to better tenants,” a local commercial real estate executive told the Free Press. Some former Kmarts in Michigan were demolished and replaced with full-service Meijer stores. Others have been subdivided, with one closed and renovated Kmart housing a Hobby Lobby and a Big Lots.

The ultimate abandoned Kmart is the company’s former headquarters in Troy, MI. There’s a fresh round of speculation that new owners might be doing something with the buildings that have been abandoned for the last ten years. Doing what? That isn’t clear, but the company does also own a prosperous neighboring mall.

With Kmart struggling, closed stores see new life [Detroit Free Press]