Kmart Corp., the dscount chain that gave America the BlueLight Special and introduced Martha Stewart home fashions at cut-rate prices, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Tuesday.
K-Mart becomes the biggest retailer in history to seek court protection from creditors.
There are six K-Marts on the coast and we stopped by the two in Gulfport. It seemed to be business as usual. Some customers hadn't heard the news that K-Mart filed bankruptcy. "I'm kinda concerned cause they have good deals," says one shopper. Another says, "It's a shame, all these little stores help out in their way, so and I'll miss it, I will do that. If it closes? If it closes."
So far there's no word from K-Mart's top brass that any stores will close. In fact, the company says it plans to reorganize its finances and come out of bankruptcy next year. Some shoppers blame the money troubles on poor management. "Well, you could see it coming. The service went downhill, been goin downhill for a year. It's gotten to where you can't find anybody to wait on ya and have 50 people lined up with one cashier." "I think it's terrible. I just didn't think a big company like K-Mart would ever fold under like that. I think it's mismanagement, I guess it is from the top." And yet another customer agreed, saying "It doesn't surprise me simply because of the way they run their stores. They never have product on hand, they're always outta stock ya know and they're just poorly managed at the store level so that's probably the biggest problem they have."
K-mart's CEO says despite the current tight finances, the company has improved its operations since the mid-1990's, when employees lost their jobs, and stores closed after the company lost millions of dollars.
The manager of the Cowan Road store referred all media questions to K-Mart's corporate headquarters in Troy, Michigan. We called the headquarters and got only a recorded message.