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From 5&10 To Nationwide Chain

Kmart began as the S.S. Kresge Co. five-and-dime store in downtown Detroit, where every item sold for either five or ten cents. It had 18 employees. It grew to a chain of 2,100 stores, an Internet shopping site, and 275,000 employees.

In the 1920s, Kresge opened stores that sold items for $1 or less, often next door to the tradition Kresge 5&10s. The company calls those $1-or-less stores the precursors to modern discount stores.

  • 1899: S.S. Kresge Co. founded by Sebastian Spering Kresge.
  • 1912: S.S. Kresge Co. incorporated in Delaware with 85 stores and sales of $10,325,000.
  • 1916: S.S. Kresge Co. reincorporated in Michigan.
  • 1918: S.S. Kresge Co. became a publicly traded company and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • 1929: Canadian subsidiary S.S. Kresge Co., Ltd. was founded. By year end, 19 stores were operating in Canada.
  • 1952: S.S. Kresge Co. was one of the first retailers to convert stores to checkout operations and to open stores in shopping centers.
  • 1962: With Harry B. Cunningham as president, the company opened the first Kmart discount department store in a suburb of Detroit. Seventeen other Kmart stores opened the same year.
  • 1966: Founder Sebastian S. Kresge died at age 99.
  • 1966: Sales topped the $1 billion mark for the first time. Number of stores climbed to 915, including 162 Kmart stores.
  • 1972: S.S. Kresge Co. moved from Detroit to its new headquarters in Troy, Mich.
  • 1972: Harry B. Cunningham relinquished his post as chairman of the board and chief executive officer to Robert E. Dewar, former Kresge president.
  • 1976: S.S. Kresge opened a record 271 Kmart stores, the first time a retailer launched 17 million square feet of retail space in a single year. Total stores reached 1,647; of those, 1,206 were Kmart stores.
  • 1977: Name changed from S.S. Kresge Co. to Kmart Corp. to reflect that in 1976, sales at Kmart stores accounted for 94.5 percent of the company's domestic consolidated sales.
  • 1981: The 2,000th Kmart store opened. At year end, there were 2,055 Kmart stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.
  • 1984: Kmart acquired Walden Book Co. and Home Centers of America, which was subsequently renamed Builders Square.
  • 1985: Kmart launched the Jaclyn Smith signature collection of sportswear.
  • 1987: Bernard M. Fauber relinquished his post as chairman and chief executive officer and Joseph E. Antonini was elected chairman, president and chief executive officer.
  • 1987: Kmart introduced Martha Stewart, entertainment and lifestyle spokeswoman and consultant.
  • 1990: Kmart purchased The Sports Authority, a 10-store chain of sporting goods super stores.
  • 1990: Kmart announced a new updated identity, changing the red "K" and turquoise "mart" logo to a large red "K" with a white "mart."
  • 1991: Kmart raised $1 billion in equity through a convertible preferred stock offering. (All such stock was convertd into common stock in 1994.)
  • 1992: Kmart acquired Borders, Inc., a chain of 22 book superstores in the Midwest and Northeast.
  • 1994: Kmart launched the Kathy Ireland Exclusive swimwear and bodywear collections.
  • 1994: Kmart announced its intent to make Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) of its interests in The Sports Authority, OfficeMax and Borders Group, Inc. IPOs for 70 percent of The Sports Authority and 75 percent of OfficeMax were successfully completed.
  • 1995: Joseph E. Antonini relinquished his post as chairman, president and chief executive officer, and later that year, Floyd Hall was named Kmart chairman, president and chief executive officer.
  • 1995: IPO for Borders Group, Inc. was successfully completed and Kmart sold its remaining interests in The Sports Authority and OfficeMax.
  • 1996: Kmart completed $4.7 billion in new financing through a three-year, $3.7 billion credit facility and a $1 billion public offering of 7.75 percent convertible preferred securities.
  • 1997: Kmart introduced its new Big Kmart store format and logo.
  • 1997: Kmart launched a new Martha Stewart Everyday line of bed and bath fashions, and complementary 256-color paint line.
  • 1997: Kmart sold the operations of Builders Square and Kmart Canada.
  • 1998: By year end Kmart had opened or converted 1,245 Big Kmart stores representing 62 percent of the chain's stores.
  • 1999: Kmart signed agreements with SUPERVALU and Fleming to distribute grocery items to its stores.
  • 1999: Kmart launched BlueLight.com, a stand-alone e-commerce company, in conjunction with SOFTBANK Venture Capital and Yahoo!.
  • 2000: Floyd Hall retired as chairman, president and CEO and Charles C. Conaway was elected chairman and CEO.
  • 2000: Kmart announced a $1.7 billion investment in its technology and supply chain infrastructure.
  • 2001: Kmart signed a $4.5 billion arrangement with Fleming, making them the sole food and consumables distributor for Kmart and Kmart SuperCenter stores.
  • 2001: Kmart announced it would develop, produce and sell a new exclusive line of Disney children's clothing under a direct-to-retail licensing agreement.
  • 2001: Kmart reintroduced the legendary Blue Light Special after a 10-year absence.
  • 2001: Kmart announced the acquisition of BlueLight.com, the company's e-commerce subsidiary.
  • January 2002: Kmart names a new chairman, James B. Adamson, who replaces Charles Conaway. Conaway remains as chief executive. The company's president, Mark S. Schwartz, also leaves the company.
  • Jan. 22, 2002: Kmart files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

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