I remember when she came to town, it was a big deal. We all went out to welcome her. It was always exciting with the fellow on the intercom letting you know where the next flashing blue beacon of bargains was going to be placed.
Honestly, I remember folks running to the blue light fearing they would not get in on the deal.
This was the late 70’s and early 80’s; Kmart was in its prime. It was a fun place to go. As teenagers, we would go to Kmart to get submarine sandwiches from the deli island in the middle of the store. This was before the various chains of sub sandwich shops sprung up around the country. The sandwiches were actually very good and the lady behind the counter was nice.
As the years passed, our Kmart back home in Alabama went downhill; it has been kind of sad to watch. Stuck in interstate traffic recently on the Virginia peninsula, I decided to just get off the road at the closest exit, let the traffic get better and see what I could find.
Well, there she was, behind a row of fast food restaurants, taking up the main slot in a strip mallish looking place with dollar stores, craft stores and a few empty stores.
Maybe this Kmart in Virginia would bring back my good memories of the Kmart back home in Alabama. She was still pretty, with a good looking sign out front.
Walking in, I thought first of my uncle who declared back in the early 80’s that Kmart would win the “Mart Wars.” My uncle bought stock in Kmart religiously. As we all know, the other “mart” won that war and Kmart was bought by Sears. My uncle passed away about the time Kmart was hooking up with Martha Stewart to sell her stuff in their stores (and before she served time in prison).
My uncle was a nice man. Hopefully someone sold his stock before all of the bad things started happening.
Anyway, after getting inside, I noticed that the shelves were looking a little bare and spread out to take up more space. It bothered me, but I decided I needed to give the store a chance. As I walked around more, it was apparent that areas of the store were blocked off to use less of the floor space.
No problem, they were still selling things and the three or four folks working that I saw seemed very nice. I looked around for a blue light – they don’t do that anymore. I looked around for a submarine sandwich; I knew better. They did have a deli counter with tables, but it looked like it had been closed off for quite a while.
This was not going to beat me or beat my good memories of Kmart. I owed it to her; I had to give her a chance. There was an aisle of candy, potato chips, canned food and even a small cooler with milk and soft drinks.
I needed something close to a submarine sandwich. They had bags of sandwich bread. I studied the bread for a while. There were loaves that were about three dollars and one that cost about a dollar. I opted for the dollar loaf of bread; it was baked in Georgia and had a little girl on the bag. Not the normal little girl you see on loaves of bread, a different one; the expiration date on the bread was good, so I bought it.
Now I needed something to put in my bread, or between two slices of the bread. I thought about peanut butter, but that just didn’t seem like the right thing to do.
A blue single serving tear-open aluminum shiny envelope caught my eye. I started reading the label.
Ingredients: Pork, water, modified stuff, some preservative stuff, sugar, etc. Perfect!
Single Serving Spam – this was the answer; a blue envelope with a single slice of Spam inside. Reading more of the label, I found out that a single serving is only 250 calories of which only 200 of those are fat calories. That is good isn’t it?
Paying the nice young man for my bread and blue envelope, I walked to the parking lot. Once in my car, I could not wait. I tore open the blue envelope, “unwired” the bread and pulled two flimsy pieces of cheap Georgia white bread out of the bag. Squeezing the blue envelope, the single serving slice of Spam slid onto the white bread. I topped it off with the other slice of bread and ate it slowly.
Eating the Spam sandwich, I sat looking at the Kmart sign and the store seemed to wink at me. This rendezvous away from the interstate traffic was the right thing do; the smell of her perfume still lingers in my car.
Actually, that’s the leftover shiny blue envelope that the single serving of Spam was in.