Exploring a "Kmart At A Discount" store

Over the weekend, we drove through Belvidere, Illinois and spotted some interesting sale signs outside the Kmart store at 500 West Chrysler Drive. As I'm always in the mood to bargain-hunt, we headed to the store to check it out.

Apparently, the Belvidere store is now a "Kmart At A Discount." I hadn't heard of this before, but it appears to be a clearance-only or clearinghouse type of Kmart.

Signs around the store announced that this Kmart At A Discount does not participate in any current Kmart promotions, circulars, coupons or mailers.

Nothing in the store is full price -- there are signs everywhere telling you the percentage off the marked prices. As I love picking up clearance clothing for my kids, I browsed the racks for deals.

The majority of clothing tags showed evidence of previously having had clearance tag stickers applied to them -- but the clearance tags have been removed!

After looking at the "new" markdown prices in relation to the 40% off pricing sign, I realized that there weren't many deals to be found. I've picked up clearance clothes for my boys at "regular" Kmarts for lower prices than these.

If you needed winter gear though, the prices were better. These $49.99 boys' winter coats were $14.99 after the 70% off discount.

Toddler winter boots were marked down to $7.49, and boys' & girls' winter boots were $8.99. I bought a pair of winter boots for my son.

Over in the men's department, we found more price tags with clearance-tag-sticker residue. My husband picked up a pair of Joe Boxer swim trunks for $5.99.

A rack of Duck Dynasty clothing was marked 40% off...

... but seriously, $29.99 for a T-shirt? (Again, with the clearance sticker peeled off?) Even at $17.99, this is no deal! I spotted Duck Dynasty t-shirts on clearance at the Algonquin, Illinois Meijer for $3 each ($1.20 after coupons too!) back in February of this year!

We headed over to the toy department to look for bargains. Come on -- these Dream Lites and Glow Pets are "marked down" to $26.99 each? I've seen them at CVS/pharmacy for $9.99 recently, and they were on clearance for $10 more than four months ago at Meijer.

If you're familiar with toy prices at all, you would realize there were no bargains to be had in the toy department. Many toys, even old ones, were priced far higher than they should have been. Back in January, I picked up this same Skylanders Mega Bloks set for $8.98 at Target when it was marked 70% off.

Here? It's priced at $29.99 with 25% off -- that's $22.49. Much too high for a toy that left stores back in January..!

This Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga set is also marked $29.99 with 25% off -- again, $22.49. However, earlier in the day we'd visited the Rockford Toys R Us store (we took the boys for their "Build a Transformer" day) and we saw the same game on clearance at Toys R Us for $4.99!

Many of the toys were older items that I've seen clearanced out at other stores quite some time ago. These Doctor Dreadful candy-making kits are still marked $22.99 at this Kmart At A Discount. My Huntley Walmart store clearanced them out in 2013 for $3.99. I know this, because I bought one for my boys..! Worse, they made the candy this spring, and I noticed that the candy-making supplies inside the box had an early 2014 expiration date. We don't have it anymore, but I remember thinking it was good we made the candy when we did. There's a good chance the candy ingredients inside this item are expired.

We found a rack of Dale Earnhardt (Sr.) flags marked $29.99. These also had evidence of clearance stickers that had been peeled off. These looked like they had been sitting around for quite some time. (One could argue that they've reached "collectors' item" status though, perhaps...)

By now, I was starting to wonder who this store was supposed to appeal to. Simply slapping percent-off signs on overpriced merchandise does not create a "deal." Anyone familiar with regular and sale prices for these items would quickly realize that most of the products Kmart At A Discount is selling simply are not good buys.

Here's a Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Maker marked $24.99 with 10% off. I bought this at Target for my husband last year when it was on sale for $14.99.

Over in the camping aisle, I found more non-bargains. Camping gear was 30% off, and these aluminum pie irons were marked $12.00. I just saw aluminum pie irons at Menards for $8.39 (and of course, there was that deal on the cast iron varieties for $2.99 at Menards last month...)

These Coleman tablecloths are overpriced at $6.99 (or $4.89 with the 30% off.) They're $2.51 this week at Menards.

Twin-packs of Coleman propane fuel are marked $6.99. These are $4.89 with the discount, or about $2.44 per can. That's a good price -- but they're $2.50 right now at Menards too.

This Intex inflatable couch is marked $79.99! I know this is not a deal, because my husband spotted this at Menards last week for $59.99 and laughingly remarked that we should get it for our next camping trip. That's not a sale price at Menards either -- it's their everyday price. With 30% off, it's $55.99, so slightly cheaper than Menards' price -- but certainly not a deeply discounted item.

These emergency plastic ponchos are .97 every day at Walmart. Here, they're "discounted" to $1.11.

As we left the Kmart At A Discount in Belvidere, my kids noted that even the toys in the skill crane were old. Nobody has been able to win Mitt Romney or Barack Obama for years.

After returning home, I did a little research. According to this news article, the Belvidere Kmart was supposed to close in December 2013. Then, the store announced it would be staying open and at some point switched over to a Kmart At A Discount.

And, I saw an article on Consumerist about Sears Holdings Corporation advertising that most Sears and Kmart stores are open to rent to the highest bidder. Interestingly, Sears Holdings Corporation has this Belvidere Kmart At A Discount store noted as a "Closed Store Opportunity."



Consumerist.com has the story