- There is a popular retail chain in Australia called Kmart, and it’s unrelated to the American company of the same name.
- Despite having the same name and similar branding, the two stores have nothing to do with each other.
- I’m an American living in Sydney, Australia, and I recently visited an Australian Kmart to see what it was like inside.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In the United States, Kmart is on its last legs.
However, 10,000 miles away, in Australia, another store called Kmart is thriving.
The only problem? The two department stores have nothing to do with each other.
Few Americans are likely aware that Kmart has a doppelganger in the land Down Under. As it turns out, an Australian chain called Kmart sports the same name and practically the same “red K” branding as the once beloved American retailer, yet the two companies are completely unrelated.
This Australian Kmart, owned by the conglomerate Wesfarmers Limited, operates 231 department stores across the continent. The chain once had a licensing agreement with the Sears Holdings Corporation allowing it to use the store’s name, but in 2017, the Australian company acquired the brand name in the region for $US100 million, according to its annual report.
Interestingly, Wesfarmers is the same company behind Target – the Australian retailer that, just like Kmart, has nothing to do with the American store bearing the same name and nearly identical branding.
As an American college student studying abroad in Sydney, Australia, I wanted to see what this Australian Kmart had to offer.
Here’s what it was like inside Australia’s version of a Kmart.
The Kmart I visited in Sydney was located on the first floor of the Broadway Shopping Centre — or what Americans would call the second floor.
As you can see, Kmart’s branding is quite similar to that of Kmart in the United States. I stepped inside to see what the store had to offer.
Although it was only the third week of September, this giant orange-and-black Halloween display was basically the first thing I saw.
After spending a little too long searching for this year’s Halloween costume, I continued my journey. I was blown away at both the size of the store and its organisation.
The prices of goods were also surprisingly reasonable, especially for this student’s small budget. Since I’m an avid coffee drinker, it was comforting to know I could buy myself a quality mug for less than an Australian dollar.
The large size of the store also meant it could accommodate big crowds and that I was able to walk through rows without feeling overwhelmed.
The variety of goods stocked in this store was also intriguing. From what I remember, the Kmarts I’ve visited in the US didn’t have nearly the same inventory as their Australian counterpart. Many of the higher-quality goods, like vacuums, were also on sale for very reasonable prices.
Looking upon the rows of towels, I wondered if I had somehow travelled to a Bed Bath & Beyond store back in the US.
Just when I thought I had reached the end of home supplies, I was met with yet another swarm of goods: comforters, pillows, and sheets. All that was missing were the beds themselves.
The home goods section might have taken interior decorating a step too far with these large wooden beams, which I found both interesting and precarious. While the store had other rows with ample space for shoppers, this section was very cramped, with plenty of breakable objects to avoid.
But I forgot all of my glass-breaking worries when I found this display of candles. I’ll admit I’m the type of person who will smell the candles at any given store for at least 20 minutes. These were priced at just $US5.50 AUD, or $US3.71 in US dollars, making it especially tough to leave the display behind.
This decadent display of flowers immediately caught my eye as well.
The gardening and outdoor equipment area housed basic gardening supplies along with pet food, toys, and even pet Halloween costumes.
I was over the moon to find a variety of journals, pens, and planners to suit my love of organisation and colour coordination.
The books section was fully stocked for readers of all ages, and included some crossword puzzle collections and mind-relaxing colouring books.
I was also pretty surprised to find the newest release of my favourite author, John Grisham, in stock at this Kmart, considering I couldn’t find this book at any other place I’d visited in Sydney.
Not far from there, I found this little section of several rows filled with art supplies.
I appreciated the instructions on this price scanner — In the US, shoppers typically have to figure out how to use the machines themselves.
The customer service area looked organised and clean, and employees there were more than eager to assist customers with printing, returns, or any other inquiry.
At this station, you could print pictures of any size from your phone onto paper, a mug, or other materials.
Flying around the world can be difficult, and if your bag is overweight, it could ruin your entire experience. So I appreciated this Kmart putting suitcases and their scales in the same aisle.
But if you don’t want to travel around the world, you can still invest in a bike to ride around Sydney for just $US100 AUD, or $US67.48 in the US.
In this part of the world, winter holidays are celebrated in the blazing heat. I was caught off guard when I spotted swimming pools and swimsuits at this time of year rather than space heaters and sweaters.
This brightly coloured kids’ section reminded me of my times in Toys R Us.
Meanwhile, the ‘party’ section was reminiscent of a Party City-type store, with party supplies for sale like candy and decorations.
I even came across a Hallmark card shelf within the party section.
Over in the women’s clothing section, shelves were loaded with sandals and other footwear.
The baby section was full of irresistible tiny shoes and onesies.
The clothing for sale reminded me of what you might find in an Old Navy back in the US. The bright colours and designs signalled that warm weather was upon us in the land Down Under.
This size comparison chart broke down sizes for anyone unfamiliar with the Australian sizing system.
Before heading to the checkout line, I remembered why I came to the store in the first place: to buy shampoo. The beauty section had me fully covered.
I made my way down the curved checkout line, where I was met with yet another love of mine: socks. I had to keep my student budget in mind and continue through the line to the self-checkout station.
I completed my purchase with ease at the self-checkout station. That little green notice explained how Australian retailers are now charging for plastic bags as part of an environmental initiative.
This Kmart took the initiative one step further by asking customers to recycle their plastic hangers if they won’t be used after leaving the store. This is not an approach I have seen in any retail stores in the US, but I hope Americans can implement this idea.
It took a lot of restraint to walk out with only one item. But now that I know about this Australian Kmart, I figure I’ll return soon.
Although this Kmart has nothing to do with the identically named chain in the US, with many Kmarts in America closing down, I was excited to see the name thriving in the land Down Under.
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