The last K Mart location left in Orange County in Costa Mesa at Harbor and Wilson is closing down and, is now holding a liquidation sale as the once mighty retailer leaves Orange County. The home of the blue light specials up until 1990 was the second largest retailer in the United States after Sears until Walmart past it in November of that year.
I remember going to the Costa Mesa and Fountain Valley locations in the mid eighties and, the stores were very busy but as eighties became the nineties the stores looked exactly the same, no money was spent on remodeling the stores which looked dated as well as starting to deteriorate. The company lost focus as it was more interested in opening Builders Square (Hardware Store) and Waldenbooks locations instead of keeping their core K Mart stores competitive.Yes Walmart overtook and, started beating them nationally but in Orange County it was Target and Home Depot that took market share from them as they opened more stores across the county followed later by the likes of Marshall’s and TJ Max the decline was well under way by the time Walmart had a real presence in Orange County.
In the early nineties things looked a little better for K Mart as changed its logo and brought in celebrity exclusive lines such as Martha Stewart, Kathy Ireland and former Charlies Angel Jaclyn Smith but 2002 K Mart started closing down stores until finally the once mighty retailer was in bankruptcy and then closed more stores. Hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert purchased a controlling share of the company and in 2004 put it together with Sears which he owned a big chunk of the now also struggling Sears under the name Sears Holding Company. The two stores continued to operate under their individual names but both continued to keep closing stores and selling off assets.
In the last year the K Mart in Costa Mesa was put up for sale on a real estate website so it was just a matter of time before the Harbor and Wilson location would close. I work close to the K Mart and have gone in the last year the appliance, garden, jewelry counters and electronics departments were closed a while ago. The merchandise in the store was stretched out to make the store look fuller the few remaining customers were helped by a skeleton crew.
Its sad to see a once mighty brand disappear from Orange County but this was many years coming and, in many ways the location stayed open much longer than expected so hopefully the employees being laid off have made other plans already.