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The Last Kmart In California

The outside of a vintage Kmart has cars parked in the lot and a red and blue sign on the facade.
FILE: A vintage Kmart
(Joe+Jeanette Archie
/
Flickr)
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The once-mighty Kmart is but a shadow of its former self.

Until recently, the retailer operated six stores in California. But the company’s South Lake Tahoe outpost is set to close in August, as is the shop in Watsonville, a city in Santa Cruz County.

That will leave Grass Valley, a city in Nevada County, with the only remaining Kmart in the state.

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The chain started in the late 1800s as a Five and Dime in Tennessee. Its first branded store opened in 1962 in San Fernando. A brief item in the L.A. Times at the time described the store as a "discount house." It opened in a shopping center at the corner of Rinaldi St. and Laurel Canyon Drive and joined a Thrifti-mart, a Thrifty Drug Store and a Karl's shoe store.

Kmart later merged with Sears, and at one point operated 3,500 stores in the U.S. In recent years, Kmart has been plagued with financial problems. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2002.

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