More than one hundred years ago, Sebastian Spering Kresge opened a modest five-and-dime store in downtown Detroit…and changed the entire landscape of retailing. The store that Kresge built has evolved into an empire of more than 1,500 stores and an Internet presence that reaches millions of customers. The Kmart name has become a symbol of Americana, standing for quality products at low prices. When Kresge opened his first store in 1899, he sold everything for 5 and 10 cents. The low prices appealed to shoppers and allowed him to expand to 85 stores in 1912, with annual sales of more than $10 million. Kresge ultimately became the sole owner of this venture and by 1907 operated S.S. Kresge stores in eight cities between Chicago and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With Kresge as president (1907–25) and chairman of the board (1913–66), the company expanded steadily. Kresge’s at first restricted the price of its merchandise to not more than 10 cents, but inflation triggered by World War I drove the limit to 15 cents and higher. In 1962, under a program designed by company president Harry B. Cunningham, Kresge’s entered the large-scale discount retail market with construction of the first Kmart store outside Detroit. With its success, the company expanded aggressively, erecting an average of 85 discount stores per year over the next two decades throughout the United States and parts of Canada.

1918 - S.S. Kresge Co. becomes publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

1966 - Sales top $1 billion. S.S. Kresge runs 915 stores, including 162 Kmarts.

1972 - Company moves headquarters to Troy, Mich.

1977 - S.S. Kresge Co. changes its name to Kmart Corp (KM: Research, Estimates).

1984: Diversification into specialty retailing begins with purchase of Home Centers of America (renamed Builders Square) and Walden Book Company.

1985: First celebrity product line is introduced—the Jaclyn Smith line of clothes.

1987: Martha Stewart’s association with Kmart begins; most U.S. Kresge and Jupiter stores are sold to McCrory Corporation.

1989: PACE Membership Warehouse Inc. is acquired.

1990: Wal-Mart surpasses Kmart in sales.

1991: First Super Kmart opens in Medina, Ohio, featuring a full-service grocery store and general merchandise; 90 percent stake in OfficeMax is acquired.

1992: Borders book superstore chain is acquired.

1994-95:Numerous noncore assets are shed, including PACE, OfficeMax, Sports Authority, Borders Group, and 860 auto service centers.

1995: More than 200 U.S. stores are closed.

1997: The Big Kmart format debuts; the Martha Stewart Everyday line of bed and bath products is launched.

1998: Kmart sells its stores in Canada to Hudson’s Bay Company.

2001: Declining sales amid intense competition leads to liquidity crisis and halts in shipments from major vendors.

2002: Kmart files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, becoming the largest retailer ever to do so; company announces that it will close 284 stores.n.

Dec. 1, 2019 - Kmart closes in Vandergrift/Leechburg, PA