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Miami Kmart One Of Only Three Left In US After New Jersey Location Closes Saturday

MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – A Kmart store in West Kendall will be one of only three left in the entire U.S. after a New Jersey location closes its doors for good on April 16.

At one time, Kmart employed more than 300,000 people and had 2,440 stores.

Transformco, the company that currently owns Kmart, did not say how long it expects to keep open the three remaining stores: in Westwood, New Jersey; Long Island, New York; and Miami. The Miami store is located at 14091 SW 88 Street.

Kmart used to be a retail powerhouse, but it's demise is attributed to the rise of Walmart, Target, and online behemoth Amazon.

In its heyday, Kmart sold product lines endorsed by celebrities Martha Stewart and Jaclyn Smith, sponsored NASCAR auto races and was mentioned in movies including "Rain Man" and "Beetlejuice."

The chain cemented a place in American culture with its Blue Light Specials, a flashing blue orb affixed to a pole that would beckon shoppers to a flash sale in progress. Part of its success was due to its early adoption of layaway programs, which allowed customers who lacked credit to reserve items and pay for them in installments.

For a time, Kmart had a little bit of everything: You could shop for your kids' back-to-school supplies, get your car tuned up and grab a meal without leaving the premises.

The Last Kmarts
Fixtures and furniture are displayed for sale at the Kmart in Avenel, N.J., Monday, April 4, 2022. When the store closes its doors on April 16, it will leave only three remaining U.S. locations for the former retail powerhouse. It's a far cry from the chain's heyday in the 1980s and '90s when it had more than 2,000 stores and sold product lines endorsed by Martha Stewart and former "Charlie's Angel" Jaclyn Smith (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Kmart's decline has been slow but steady and the retail chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early 2002, becoming the largest U.S. retailer to take that step.

A few years later, a hedge fund executive pledged to return Kmart to its former greatness, but the recession and the rising dominance of Amazon helped to derail those goals.

Mark Cohen, Director of Retail Studies at Columbia University Business School, says the retail chain has been mismanaged for decades. He predicts the remaining three stores will close within months.

(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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