A former employee digitized the cheesy soundtracks for your listening pleasure.

Haunted house idea: Open up the doors to your local abandoned Kmart, hand out shopping carts, and play an old in-store soundtrack on repeat.

Such disturbing fantasies are now possible courtesy of former Kmart employee Mark Davis, who recently digitized his collection of in-store tapes and put them all on Archive.org.  

Davis worked at multiple Chicago-area Kmarts between 1989 and 1999. While working the service desk, Davis would put the tapes in his company apron whenever a new one came in.

Davis has 56 different Kmart cassettes. In a YouTube video, he explains that the store switched from monthly muzak tapes in the ‘80s to weekly tapes with mainstream hits during the ‘90s. One tape from July 1992 starts off with “Do It to Me” by Lionel Richie, followed by a no-smoking announcement, an ad for sporting goods, another one for shoes, and then the next track, “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley.

Kmart was founded on good deals and fire mixtapes.

“I figured someday it would be kind of interesting,” Davis says of his collection. He’s right. The tapes are a marvelous trip back into the world of Peak Kmart, when it was the second largest retailer in the U.S. (Heading into the 1990s, it trailed just behind Sears—and the companies merged in 2005, under an $11 billion deal.)

But the growth of Walmart and Target set Kmart in a downward spiral, which only worsened with the emergence of online shopping. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2002 and while many stores still exist, abandoned locations are easily found around the country.

For anyone who grew up shopping at Kmart during the period of Davis’s tapes, listening to them feels both comforting and dark. The mundane memories of staring at the Little Caesars counter while waiting for your mom to try on the latest Jaclyn Smith apparel are all too real once again. Very spooky.

H/t: Chart Attack

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Traffic-free Times Square in New York City
    Maps

    Mapping How Cities Are Reclaiming Street Space

    To help get essential workers around, cities are revising traffic patterns, suspending public transit fares, and making more room for bikes and pedestrians.

  2. photo: A lone tourist in Barcelona, one of several global cities that have seen a massive crash in Airbnb bookings.
    Coronavirus

    Can Airbnb Survive Coronavirus?

    The short-term rental market is reeling from the coronavirus-driven tourism collapse. Can the industry’s dominant player stage a comeback after lockdowns lift?

  3. Maps

    Readers: Share Your Hand-Made Maps of Life Under Quarantine

    As coronavirus transforms our private and public spaces, how would you map what your neighborhood and community look like now?

  4. A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask walks past a boarded up building in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Governors from coast to coast Friday told Americans not to leave home except for dire circumstances and ordered nonessential business to shut their doors.
    Equity

    The Geography of Coronavirus

    What do we know so far about the types of places that are more susceptible to the spread of Covid-19? In the U.S., density is just the beginning of the story.

  5. Equity

    The Problem With a Coronavirus Rent Strike

    Because of coronavirus, millions of tenants won’t be able to write rent checks. But calls for a rent holiday often ignore the longer-term economic effects.

×