Kmart is using a strange trick to hide its empty shelves

Sheets acting as walls in a Kmart store in Hillsboro, Ohio. Mark Schmidt

Kmart is trying to make its stores more profitable amid declining sales. 

In some stores, that means hanging up white sheets where well-stocked departments once resided.

One store in Hillsboro, Ohio has white sheets hanging where the now-shuttered grocery department once was. 

The store built shelving in front of the floor-to-ceiling sheets, but it still looks pretty haphazard, according to shopper Mark Schmidt, who provided Business Insider with
 video footage of the store.

The sheets are open in some areas, exposing the empty area of shelving behind them, Schmidt said. An old “Fresh Dairy” sign is visible on the far wall of the closed area.

Schmidt visited the Kmart last weekend and said there were barely any customers there.

“The place is dead,” he said. 

The sheets block off an area equal to about 20% of the store, according to shopper Mark Schmidt. Mark Schmidt

The main part of the store also features rows of empty shelving.

A sign attached to the shelving reads, “We are in the process of transitioning the sales floor to a new look.” 

Empty shelving in the main part of the store. Mark Schmidt

The Hillsboro store isn’t the only Kmart with sheets for walls.

The company sometimes uses the sheets in stores that are converting from a larger “Super K” format to a regular Kmart, according to Howard Riefs, a spokesman for Kmart parent company Sears Holdings.

“In the store conversion process, we sometimes use a white, floor-to-ceiling curtain to block off the unused space that previously occupied the grocery section,” Riefs said. “These stores remain open to serve our customers and members each day.”

The Hillsboro Kmart was converted from a Super K to a standard Kmart in 2010, he said. 

A similar tactic was used in a Kmart store in Chillicothe, Ohio, when it converted from a Super K to a standard Kmart last year. 

The store now has shelving blocking shoppers’ views of the unused portion of the store.

Here are some doors leading to the shuttered part of the store:


Kmart’s same-store sales dropped 3.3% in the most recent quarter.

At its peak in 2000, Kmart raked in $37 billion in sales and had 2,156 stores.

Since then, Kmart’s annual sales have dropped 72% to about $10 billion, and the company now has roughly 900 stores.

Watch Schmidt’s video of the Hillsboro Kmart.


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