Before It Became Kmart, a Michigan Kresge Store Was Fun: 1900-1960
As a kid, I don’t think it mattered which 5&10-cent store your mom dragged you into...both Woolworth and Kresge were fun for kids: refreshments, comic books, toys, candy…a kid’s dream world.
The old debate “which came first: Woolworth’s or Kresge’s?” is answered here. Woolworth opened its first 5&10 shop in 1879. Then 20 years later in 1899 S.S. Kresge opened his first five & dime. In fact, Mr. Kresge got the idea when he was a traveling salesman, selling his goods to close-by Woolworth stores.
The first Kresge shop opened in Memphis, Tennessee but it was the second one – in Detroit – that got the Kresge ball rolling throughout Michigan. In 1912 his company had expanded to 85 stores with headquarters based in Delaware. By 1916, Kresge decided to open new headquarters in Michigan.
1924: 257 stores
1925: Kresge retires as president of the company
1929: 597 stores
1940: 682 stores
1962: The first Kmart opens in Garden City, Michigan
1962: Some lesser Kresge 5&10s are turned into ‘Jupiter Discount’ stores
1962: Sixteen more Kmarts open
1966: S.S. Kresge dies at age 99
1977: The S.S. Kresge Company officially changes its name to K Mart Corporation
Some of the old Kresge shops were huge and resembled a Knapp’s department store…others looked just like a Woolworths…others were squeezed in between other stores along a downtown street. But no matter how big or how small the local Kresge was…it evoked a fun feel as soon as you walked thru that front door. Parents dug it, too.
Take a look at the photo gallery below featuring some old Kresge shops, some going back over 100 years…
Vintage Michigan Kresge Stores