"Kmart is spotty," said Marie Driscoll, an analyst with Argus Research. "Some stores are really wonderful. Some stores are deplorable," she said, noting that some have dirty floors and messy parking lots.
Kmart still has many loyal customers, including DeWayne Kinsfather, a 64-year-old gardener who has shopped at a Costa Mesa store since he moved to the city 29 years ago.
"I'd sure hate it if they closed this one," said Kinsfather, stooping down to look for lightbulbs on one of the lower shelves. "You get used to something."
It's not clear yet how much of a hole the closure of Kmart stores would leave on the retail landscape, or what effect it would have on the communities and shopping centers where the stores have done business for decades.
Kmart's history can be traced to 1897, when Sebastian Kresge and John McCrory opened five-and-dime stores in Memphis, Tenn., and Detroit. S.S. Kresge Co. incorporated in 1912 and became one of the nation's largest general merchandisers. The company entered discount retailing in 1958 and opened the first Kmart store in Detroit in 1962.