I always had a fondness for Kmart growing up. Part of that was its Michigan roots (the first store with the Kmart name was in Garden City, Michigan) but a lot of it was the random memories I accumulated at the one within walking distance of where I grew up – buying shoes there (probably almost every pair I had until I graduated high school), my mom getting me pizza for lunch at the in-store Little Caesars, gazing longingly at the Simpsons and Nightmare Before Christmas action figures, the thrill of finding a Game Genie for my NES on the clearance rack…
That store is gone now, like most Kmarts. The chain is all but dead now, down to three stores in the continental US, but one thing that survived? Kmart’s in-store soundtracks. A man who worked at Kmart in the early nineties began saving the tapes his store used when he learned they would otherwise be thrown out. He digitized his collection (about 50 tapes) and put them on archive.org. That collection drew a surprising amount of attention for something so niche, generating articles like this one and appearing on sites like NPR and Buzzfeed. It turned out he wasn’t the only one saving those tapes, and archive.org now has over 200 items in the “Attention Kmart Shoppers” collection, ranging from reel-to-reels to records to cassette tapes spanning decades.
It turns out WordPress actually does (at least in the editor preview) embed archive.org, so tonight’s soundtrack? The December 1974 reel-to-reel that was played in Kmart stores across the nation, complete with faux security announcements to deter shoplifting. If nothing else, listen to the absurdly catchy jingle at the start.
Have fun posting, and keep an eye out for blue light specials!