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Monday, April 27, 2015

FLASHBACK: Before There was Super Kmart, There was American Fare: The Original Hypermarket.


As the pool of interesting concepts developed by Kmart and Sears over the years has come to a slow wind to the end with the last few Super Kmart stores converting to traditional formats and only Sears stores and Kmart stores left for now at least, lets take some time to reflect on one of the most interesting concepts developed by Kmart that may have brought Wal-Mart to introduce Sam's Club.

The store was called American Fare, and the name was last seen as Kmart's house brand of food and generic products. now known as Smart Sense. Before there was Super Kmart, this concept was created in the late 1980's as there version of a hypermarket, originally started in France by Carrefour. This idea was also very similar to Wal-Mart's Hypermart USA and both started around the same times but in very different markets and Carrefour brought stores over here also, yet no concept lasted past the mid-90's.

The hypermart was meant to be a blend between what is now non-existent today, or at least very rare, and that's tradition, the concept was suppose to be part department store, grocery store, and general merchandise and housewares, then to be replaced with by the supercenter name and now its what sets traditional store formats in America (Wal-Mart).

American Fare merchandise was supplied by Kmart Stores and Bruno's Supermarket, as Kmart owned the chain and division, they held a 51% share and Bruno's 49%. The first location opened January 29, 1989 in Stone Mountain, Georgia, followed by the second and now the most famous location and one of the largest former Steve & Barry's stores in Charlotte, North Carolina on April 1, 1990. and the third in August of the same year in Jackson, Mississippi, until the chain was dissolved in 1994.

This store was the mother of shopping concepts as the location in Stone Mountain, Georgia opened at just over 244,000 square feet. There was everything that had to be down under one roof, food, cloths, cleaners, video store, bank, food court, salon, and 81 registers to handle it all!

The one in Charlotte, North Carolina opened April of 1990 and was around 100,000 square feet smaller than the one in Georgia and the sales tactics were changed dramatically to improve business and provided more merchandise.

The third opened August 1990 in Jackson, Mississippi at 147,000 square feet and there were plans for a fourth store in Birmingham, Alabama, but was dropped for the investment of time in the upcoming Super Kmart brand.

The first Super Kmart opened in July 1991, and in June 1992, Bruno's dropped its ownership in American Fare and left Kmart to take full responsibility. That would bring Kmart to end American Fare so short into its run as in November 1992, the stores in Jackson and Charlotte were converted to Super Kmart and in 1994.

The Stone Mountain store lost its grocery section and was subdivided and Cub Foods took the new opened section of the store and the remaining American Fare was converted to a regular Kmart store in May 1994.

Stone Mountain, Georgia
By May, as the rest of the first and last American Fare was gone completely upon completion of converting to a traditional Kmart format. This was not all of Kmart's fault, its the idea that was not back, the markets changes and the format of a hypermarket died and killed Hypermart USA by Wal-Mart, sent Carrefour back to France, and Kmart to close the American Fare.

Now the Charlotte store remains as the only original American Fare store, being a Super Kmart and then Steve & Barry's. The Georgia store was converted into a school and the Jackson store remained Kmart until 2003 when the bankruptcy hit, and the store was empty for 5 years until 2007 when Carmax bought the property the old store was torn down.


Please comment and post what you think and thank you for reading.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sportmart: The Original Chicago-land Sporting Goods Store

Just another interesting chain of stores I was fortunate enough to grow up with, before being bought by national retailer Sports Authority around 2006?, the year is unsure, although I know they had to be hear up until 2004 at least. This is much like what Dicks Sporting Goods did to Galyan's when they took over seven stores in March 2005 because they wanted to expand to the Chicago market. 

The first Sportmart opened in Niles, Illinois and grew to 60 stores in nine states.

Sports Authority is responsible to taking over many sporting goods chains over the years like Oshman's, Gart's Sports, Sportcastle, and Copeland's Sports.
Here are some commercials from the late 80's and early 90's, it's nice to see the store locations listed at the end, because now all those stores are converted to Sport's Authority or closed.

Downtown Chicago flagship located at 620 North LaSalle Drive 60654

Former Sportmart in Orland Park, Il and has since been converted to Sports Authority and HHGregg.

Promotional item

Downtown Chicago

Unknown location

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Thank you for reading.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Last York Steakhouse: Columbus, Ohio


I have a list that I have been meaning to post to the world, a rather categorized and orgainzed list of the vintage and last remainly locations of chains around the country, like last month, the Howard Johnson's in Lake Placid, NY closed for good. This is an example of what the list consists of, the last remaining location of something that still has a presence in modern retail society. I figure this is an interesting one, and quick to write about, the York Steakhouse in Columbus, Ohio.

4220 West Broad Street Columbus, Ohio 43228
York Steakhouse was once a national chain of eat in restaurants in the United States, and owned by General Mills, the cereal company, of all people. The chain was very popular in the 1970's and 1980's, but by the start of the 90's, most of the locations closed. The restaurants could be found mostly in shopping centers, and resembled the layout of a cafeteria.

There is a commercial for York from 1978, featured in the commercial break from Cleveland News WJKW (starts and 1:10)-

Once General Mills sold the chain, there were few York's that continued business for several years as independently owned locations, and as of today, there is only one locations that remains, on the west side of Columbus, Ohio, near Lincoln Village, off Interestate 270 and Broad Street. The restaurant in across the street from the struggling Westland Mall.

Scene from Westland Mall parking lot.

Vintage location in mall

Just like Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouse and buffet restaurants, they are hard to find, but very enjoyable to sit down and eat in, and take time to see not everything has to be fast paced, there is time for a quality sit down meal.

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Thank you for reading

FLASHBACK: 1980's Academic Consumerism Synopsis


I don't care how old you are, whether you suffered through what ever made this time in American history so bad, or you wish your life was like the plot to a John Hughes movie, the 1980's brought some of the greatest innovations and inventions to man kind, the greatest songs, styles we still find attractive today, and like anything good, the bad came too with inflation rates, Reaganomics, and the whole money stir leading to  the last Cold War, it was a time for social, economical, and general change to our way of living and wealth and production migrated to new ways of industrializing capitalism, and as National Geographic puts it, "Its the decade that made us." For everything that materialized from this short decade, ranging from 1980 to 1989, what is partially responsible for how the rest of the world carried out through the 90's, and can be questioned to how and why we have all that we have today is because of the most hated decade in American pop culture.

Sit back, relax, pull out your bankers lamp and legal pad, take note on the attributes of the wildest decade, but this is limited to and only to social change as a result of economics, that leads to shopping trends changing, how money is being spend, and why it is iconicized as the most glamorous decade.

Music just makes every situation better, the idea and feelings that come with the are better absorbed into our minds with sound, so here is a mash of the top 100 songs from 1980-1989, pal it don;t play it, just makes the pictures featured below cooler to look at with a voice cast in the background to make you think, "This was the coolest song when this was in style, now both are lost in the past."

This can be the best summarized placement of words to describe just what was going on in the economical world of the 1980s, as politics and trends play a big part in this, but this is Trip to the Mall, and the only thing important in this case is how malls and shopping were changed because of it, and the stores, and how money floated around and credit cards were being used at an all time high.

Everything was purely focused on luxury, everything had to be gold, shiny, new, crisp, or futuristic, and any other adjective to describe the wonder of owning new stuff old of spite drove people to become something they never though they could become until now.
Zimmer Limo

The lifestyles people chose to lead came as a result of living like there was no tomorrow, because Iraq invaded Iran in September 1980, the Cold war and inflation rates rising, so believed there wouldn't be a tomorrow. There a a television series that captured what Americans wanted to live like, designer clothing, riches, champagne and caviar, it ran from 1978-19991, and was based in Texas...any guesses, its DALLAS.

Here is really why this is the best decade, or as least what characterized the 80's specifically that can make it the best decade to remember, and wish if there was a chance to go back, why some of us would, because its cooler, anyone can express themselves, its really like Democrats and Republicans can unite in social harmony, the populous of the nation can express themselves and show there individualism, yet want to live like millionaire kings...or be treated as such.

Michael Douglas in the 1987 film Wall Street

The Decade Where Everything Made Cent$...

Money became no object, the new main objective was success...& excess, what had become to be known as the new American dream! 

It was a non-stop party.

Image was everything.

The last decade of glamour.

Consumption is conspicuous... living is large.

Its 1983, America is coming out of a recession and for the first time, people are starting to feel good about American and being American, and with that, come consumerism.

American's start to shop, to be American, it means to spend a lot of money.

Pretty much, here is the equation to follow:

                      Conspicuous Consumption= 80's Consumerism 

Its not about what you need, its about what you want.

Shopping for sport became a national trend.

It was the mother of all explosions of capitalistic spending in decades, the stock market soared.

Charlie Sheen in the 1987 film Wall Street

People began to spend more money than what they used to save.

Interest rates were low, the economy was booming and Wall Street was on a role.

There was an index that had been the same price for decades, and then it skyrocketed, and no one  could believe it.

How Malls play into all of this...

1980: Sherman Oaks Mega Mall opens, it was the start of galleria shopping

There were already malls built around the country for nearly 20 years before this decade that made them trend and resembles the memories of are parents as they spent most of there teens lives shopping in the mall with friends an family, dating and going to the movies.

Scene from John Hughes 1985 film Weird Science:

The mall had made shopping a form of total recreation and middle America seemed to love it.

There were products to buy... and fun to be had.

Scene from the 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High directed by Amy Heckerling.

In 1984, they coined a new word for this new addiction, that word...$hopaholic

"A time where people where throwing a way money, it was wonderful!"- Larry Hagman from TV show Dallas

In the San Fernando Valley lived a group of girls who turned hanging out at the mall into an art form.

The Valley

The dialect from this part of Southern California came to known as "Valley Speak", and resulted was the poster child, the beloved Valley Girl.

In 1982, the band Moon Zappa released the song Valley Girl and it became a cult-classic.

In the 1980's, there was a 42% increase in teen spending and an increase in focus on teen fashion, focus on shopping, which was fed by tremendous power in the advertising industry with such names like Calvin Klein and Madonna.

Brooke Shields


My beloved Woodfield Mall decked out in 80's attire:)

People got used to debt in the 1980's and consumer credit was up by 2.7 Billion dollars by May 1983.

MEN in the 80's: Birth of the Yuppy.


  • Big brick cellular phone
  • Slick hair back
  • Grey suit w/ Ray-ban sunglasses
  • Gold Cigarette lighter
Becomes a figure to admire

Scene from Harold Ramis 1980 film Caddyshack:

Had to be flashy... it was the only was t go, to be remembered

These were dollar signs represented by men.

Then: Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in the 1987 film Wall Street

Now: Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordon Belfort in the 2013 film Wolf of Wall Street

Yuppies are heterosexual gays.

The first portable cell phone call took place in Chicago, Illinois in 1983.(just have to through in that personal touch that makes this unique)

This is all I really have to say of what I think best symbolizes the 80's, the decade of new challenges and designs to over power the oppression that was tradition, and in the traditional sense, brought out the wealth in people.

Please feel free to post and comment below

Thank you for reading.