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Issue 09 – Lent 2022

The Jungle

Blue Light Special

On the last Kmart.


For several weeks, the “EVERYTHING MUST GO!” billboard screamed at travelers driving up I-69 in Michigan. It was the first in a group of signs—each blaring a similar all-caps message—starting five miles outside Marshall and leading passing cars off the highway in something like a haphazard funeral procession which ended at the city’s Kmart. There shoppers paid their respects to the gasping retail chain whose history in the state began sixty years ago, and, in November, ended there, too, when the last of my co-workers locked the front doors one final time. I had left by then and so had most everyone else, a strange crew of hangers-on, often working odd hours and performing unusual tasks. But that was our job: we made everything go.

Of course, it didn’t feel like Kmart was going anywhere when I pulled into the parking lot on my first day. The asphalt was freshly paved, as if the store had just opened. And some of the sale signs plastered on the storefront easily could have been repurposed for a grand opening. That illusion vanished as soon as I stepped inside. A closed in-store Little Caesars loomed over the checkout aisles. Whole sections in the back sat vacant as workers dismantled the shelves. The floor displays were a mess.

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About the author

Colman Rowan

Colman Rowan is the editor of American Colman, a humor website.