A Kmart store just opened inside a Sears in Brooklyn, but there's a major downside to shopping there

Business Insider/Jessica TylerSears had display cases advertising products sold at the new Kmart.

  • Sears is struggling. Sears Holdings reported that same-store sales fell by 13.4% at Sears stores and by 9.5% at Kmart in the first quarter of 2018. In early June, it announced it would be closing 68 more stores.
  • In an effort to turn its business around, Sears is experimenting with a number of new concept stores, CNBC reported.
  • One of those concepts is a new Kmart-Sears hybrid store in Brooklyn, New York.
  • The idea is to make Sears a one-stop shop by bringing in a Kmart store that sells everyday items like groceries and cosmetics.

Sears is struggling to stay afloat.

In the first quarter of 2018, same-store sales fell by 13.4% at Sears stores and by 9.5% at Kmart. Earlier in June, Sears Holdings announced it would be closing 68 more stores by September.

But Sears is still trying to turn things around. According to CNBC, Sears is trying out a variety of new concepts to see what works, including a small store focused on appliances and mattresses and a new Kmart-within-a-Sears format.

A new Kmart opened inside a Sears store in Brooklyn, New York, last week. The merger allows the two stores to benefit from each other’s strengths.

“There are common things that everyday customers came into the Sears store looking for and unfortunately we had to turn them away,” Pearl Thompson, manager of the new Kmart store in Brooklyn, told CNBC.

Kmart has more to offer in terms of basic health and beauty products, household cleaning supplies, and groceries, whereas Sears focuses on products like major appliances and electronics, clothing, and bedding. The idea behind opening a Kmart within a Sears was to turn it into a one-stop shop and add convenience and – hopefully – profitability.

One aspect that detracts from the convenience factor is that the Sears and Kmart stores have separate check-outs. And from what we saw when we visited the Kmart-Sears store, the Kmart section seemed to be in much better shape than Sears.

Here’s what it was like:


A 10,000-square-foot Kmart just opened up inside of an existing Sears store in Brooklyn, New York.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

It’s located on the lower level of the massive three-floor department store.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Immediately upon walking in, I noticed little displays in Sears that advertised the new Kmart store.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

All of the sample products were kept behind small glass display cases, next to signs advertising special deals for Shop Your Way members at the brand-new Kmart. Somewhat confusingly, however, some of the samples were for items that were actually for sale on a different level.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The Sears store itself was pretty messy. Clothes, shoes, and jewellery were tossed all over the place, and it was poorly lit with just a faint echo of the radio playing.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The layout of the store was confusing and awkward. Furniture was placed everywhere, and clothes for men, women, and children were completely scattered across two floors.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

After making my way through two of the three floors of the Sears store, I headed downstairs to see what the new Kmart was like.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

At the bottom of the escalator were appliances, electronics, and home and garden products. So far, no Kmart in sight.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Like the floors upstairs, it was disorganized and generally underwhelming.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Most of the Sears part of the store seemed completely neglected.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

I finally found the Kmart, which was tucked into the back corner of the lower level.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

It had a totally different atmosphere from the Sears part of the store. It was much more upbeat, and it was relatively busy, especially compared to the rest of the store.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Almost everything was fully stocked and organised. It sold health and beauty products, household cleaning supplies …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… snacks and groceries …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… clothes, toys, pet food, and other everyday products.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Because it was all branded as Kmart, it felt like I was in a different store entirely, not just in a remodeled Sears.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The biggest downside to the new Kmart was that you couldn’t pay for Kmart and Sears purchases together. Each had to be paid for at their respective registers, which seemed to defeat the purpose of the one-stop shop. You still had to wait in line twice and make two separate transactions.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Even though it was annoying to have to do your shopping at Kmart and Sears separately, the Kmart definitely added a lot of convenience by offering everyday products like groceries, beauty products, and cleaning supplies to the existing Sears, which was a pretty depressing place to shop.

However, it’s still unclear if it will actually make a difference in helping the struggling chain.

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