Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Kmart – West Long Branch, New Jersey

News Break:

Location: 108 Monmouth Rd, West Long Branch, NJ

Check this out... a Kmart that isn't closing! I've driven by this place a million times but never stopped in to take a look. One evening this past summer, I was sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on Route 36 and decided to pull in the entrance and have a look Turned out to be one of the most bizarre shopping experiences I've ever had. The store was completely dead. I was just about the only person in the whole place. No shoppers and no employees. Judging from satellite images, the store still seems to attract a decent amount of customers. Perhaps they come on the weekends. 

Big Kmart sign looking pretty weathered these days. 

The store is big and bright. Surprisingly clean and well stocked from one end to the other. That's not to say it doesn't feel painfully outdated.

One of the things that drives me crazy about Kmart these days, is the complete lack of consistency with their store signage. Here we have a mix of the orange and brown signage with newer signage in the clothing departments with some completely random signs in other areas. 

Books! Tons of seasonal merchandise remaining on shelves in late August. For a company that isn't doing well, they are pouring money into inventory that is not moving off of shelves. 

The garden department straight ahead.

Looking along the back of the store. Gotta give this place crops for not having a single burned out light bulb!

Literally not one single shopper along the entire rear of the store. Can't remember the last thing I was in a store this huge without another human being in site. 

Always fun to check out Kmart's mishmash floors. So common in Kmarts for the original tile patterns  to no longer make any sense with their current layouts.

Hello? Anyone here?

Fitting Room signage remains from the early 90's remodel. 

Not all the signage got updated in clothing. 

Former spot of the kcafé. Not sure if the café was added in the early 90's or during the the Big Kmart conversion. 

Enticing mattress department.

Another odd-ball sign for Home Furnishings. Looks like the amount of registers were reduced to make space for this department. 

The front-end looks pretty good! And there's a shopper!! 

It appears there is a single line for the checkouts. The only explanation I could fine for the wall of snack cakes. I left without buying anything. Would have left a lot sooner if I wasn't taking pictures of the joint. 

The Big Kmart era Customer Service desk with the accompanying giant monitor long gone.

Like with any Kmart these days, you have to wonder.... how much longer before the "Store Closing" signs go up?

Massive parking lot. 

Found this area to be very curious. Clearly a former grocery store, looking like a smaller version of some Acmes we've seen paired up with Kmart. Did a little digging on flickr for more information and discovered this from catnapped retail central...
"...found that this originated as an A&P WEO location. Spent some time as a garden supply store then as a grocery chain called Rex-Gene from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s. The chain's locations were acquired by NY-based Western Beef but apparently this location was never reopened."

Auto Service long gone. 

Deluxe Garden Center to the rear with an unaltered 90's Kmart sign to boot! 


Former West Long Branch Acme just down Route 36. 

Photo courtesy of Patrick Richardson

Location: 100 Route 36, West Long Branch, NJ 

A decent crowd in this image. The lack of nearby competition from Target and Walmart may help this place to remain successful. 


Res-Gene drawing decent crowds back in 1995. 




  1. I don't think all the criticism heaped onto KM is valid! I am a loyal KM shopper! The stores near my home are very convenient and price competitive. Many people have their noses too high in the air to realize there are some good things at KM and you don't have to pay shipping or a high price just because you bought it off Amazon. Just my 2cents!

    1. Some things at Kmart are a good deal, but unfortunately, they have lost their pricing advantage when it comes to consumable items. A bottle of store brand mouth wash is double what it costs at Walmart (and many of the other items are CVS-level of pricing). Same goes for grocery, cleaning supplies, motor oil, etc.

      If you need some cheap home stuff or clothing items, Kmart is still okay, but that is about the extent of it.

    2. I frequent a Kmart that's close to my house. It's convenient and because there are no other shoppers, I never have to worry about finding a parking space close to the door or encountering a long checkout line. More often than not I find exactly what I'm looking for, and the stuff is fairly inexpensive.

      It's those reasons that leave me baffled as to how these stores survive. Very often the employees outnumber the customers and they treat Kmarts as "convenience stores" instead of ways to get everything they want (they're going to Target and Walmart for all that stuff). Never mind the fact that the stores are depressing- old, outdated, and generally sad because of the lack of activity. The local Target is lively; the local Kmart is like a morgue.

  2. Is there any chance the grocery store next door could have started out as a Kmart Foods? I know a number of their earlier stores were paired with the short-lived grocery concept.

    1. No. Already established that it was never a Kmart Foods (started as an A&P WEO)

    2. That was a rude way to put it, maybe he didn’t see that part.

  3. I am curious as memory serves, all A@Ps, were converted to WEOs in the 70s.I don't remember them opening any stores that looked like that. However A@P did experiment with a short lived limited assortment stores that looked like that one.I can't recall the name They were similar to SavALot when Jewel T owned them and Genuardis Mad Grocer format. They had units in Norristown and on Limestone Road in Pike Creek and in Claymont De. They lasted about two years and were liquidated.

    1. The stores were called PLUS. Priced Low U Save. There was also one in Fairless Hills, PA. I actually worked at the Mad Grocer in Feasterville PA for 6 years before it closed in 1996.

  4. The KM in Rehoboth Beach, De has sub divided the store but they are keeping half open. The Salisbury, Md store just closed the pharmacy. The Salisbury store looks like something from the 80's. Does KM ever open new stores?

    1. I don't think so, considering their corporate policy is to sell or vacate any store, regardless of profitability, if another retailer is interested.

    2. They haven't opened an entirely new store since 2002. However, there were a number of stores that were turned into Sears Essentials, and reopened as Kmart's in 2011. Kmart also reopened a store earlier this year that was closed last year due to flooding.

    3. The store in Linden NJ got reverted from Essentials to Kmart about a year (if that) before closing altogether. Which was unfortunate because, as a newly remodeled '90s-built store, it felt considerably less dated and dumpy than any other Kmarts around here.