Goodbye, Blue Light. The Last Kmart in Montana is Closing
Growing up, Kmart was the spot to buy affordable stuff. Walmart didn't enter Big Sky Country until 1992. For decades, the original price-leader retailer was everywhere; most of the bigger towns in Montana had one. The Billings Gazette reported the closings of the Great Falls and Glendive locations that occurred in 2016, around the same time the Billings store closed. I assumed that all of the Kmarts in Montana were closed already, but it turns out there is one left... and it'll be closing in March.
The Hamilton, MT Kmart will shutter its doors in March.
KRTV reports that the lone, Montana Kmart will be closing this spring. Data site ScrapeHero.com notes that as of late December 2021 there were just 27 Kmarts left in the entire United States, most on the east coast. New York still has six. The only other store in the west is located in California. During the companies peak, there were over 2,100 stores in the US, according to Business Insider.
Kmart did too little, too late to survive.
Once a low-price king of retail, the mighty K started floundering in the early 2000s. The company declared bankruptcy in 2002 and business schools and economists have studied why the company failed. A rotating door of leadership tried to steer the company around, but even the hilarious "Ship My Pants" ad campaign (watch above, if you forgot this little marketing gem) did little to help the floundering company. I'm old enough to remember the Blue Light specials, being teased if you wore "Kmart jeans" to school, and the unforgettable, pleasant smell of the store. It always reminded me of fresh plastic.