Everything you need to know about Kmart

Known in the industry as being one of Australia’s greatest retail successes, Kmart has become the most popular department store in the country. As if to prove a point, 92 of Target’s failing stores will be rebranded and converted into Kmarts, riding on the coattails of Kmart’s rebranding success in recent years.

Their cheap products, that come in and out of stock quickly, have a huge fan base; ‘Kmart influencers’ who post hacks, interior and style tips on social media have elevated the once daggy store to cult status.

Here, we take a look at Kmart’s history, its rise to success, and unearth some of the best — and worst — Kmart hacks around...

Kmart store manager Errol Croan poses in a Penrith, NSW store in 1986. Photo: Getty Images.

When did the first Kmart open?

The first American store opened in 1962, but Kmart came to Australia in 1969, when it opened its first store in Burwood, Victoria. Today there are more than 200 stores across the country.

What does the K stand for in Kmart?

The K represents the surname of the company’s founder, Sebastian Spering Kresge.

Who owns Kmart now?

Kmart Australia is owned by Wesfarmers, who is Australia’s largest private employer and also owns Coles, Bunnings and Target. Kmart’s original parent company, S. S. Kresge Corporation, was founded in 1899 in the US. By the time Kmart opened in America, it was jointly owned by two companies – one of which was the Coles Group.

Kmart is on the rise and rise as Target appears to stumble. Photo: Getty Images.

In 2007, Wesfarmers took control of the Coles Group and announced it was considering selling Kmart, or converting the shops to the other brand they own – Target. But a year later, Wesfarmers had kept all the Kmart stores open and continued to invest $300m in them over the next five years.

Ironically today, it’s Target that’s in trouble. In May, Wesfarmers announced the current model was unsustainable and they would either be closing Target stores or converting them into Kmarts.

How did Kmart become cool?

Social media has played a big part in Kmart’s claim to coolest department store status. There are more than 5000 Facebook groups and Instagram pages dedicated to Kmart, where “Kmart Mums” share styling tips, cooking advice and hacks using Kmart products.

“We just let it happen,” chief operating officer John Gualtieri said of the social media wave that has given the store its cult appeal – and plenty of free marketing. The Kmart Mums Australia Facebook group is the original group in Australia and has over 373,000 members.

One clever mum shared her hack for turning Kmart tea towels into kids clothes. Photo: Instagram/kmartaus.

Kmart hacks

There are several Facebook pages dedicated to Kmart hacks, including Kmart Home Décor and Hacks Australia, and Kmart Hacks for Normal People. Ideas include using tea-towels for kids clothes, turning a pair of $15 nude heels into bridal shoes and creating elaborate cubby houses from a standard playhouse.

The Facebook page Kmart Unhacks and Roasts pokes fun at some of the less successful hacks people have attempted, including framing designer shopping bags and contacting a washing machine and tumble dryer in an acid wash print. Yes really.

Why does Kmart call everything Anko?

All Kmart designed and sourced products have the Anko label. The products in kids, clothing and home categories used to be branded Home&Co, Kids&Co and Clothing&Co, but in 2018 were all re-branded as Anko - a variation on ‘&co’. The ‘k’ in Anko pays homage to the ‘k’ in Kmart, and Anko also stands for ‘A New Kind Of’, representing the change Kmart has undergone in the past few years.

Do I need a receipt to return items at Kmart?

Yes, you need a receipt or other proof of purchase in order to return or exchange items at Kmart. Due to the current COVID-19 situation, you now have 60 days to return items that you have changed your mind about purchasing. Items must be in their original condition and in their packaging.

Kmart's home decor often sells out in minutes. Photo: Instagram/kmartaus.

The following items can only be returned if faulty:

Cosmetics and beauty products

Hosiery, underwear and swimwear

Pierced jewellery

Printer cartridges

Personalised printed material

Bedding

Food

How much is online delivery?

Before June 30, delivery is free for orders over $45, apart from some bulky items. Express shipping isn’t available at the moment, but metro orders are delivered within seven days.

Does Kmart do lay-bys?

In-store lay-bys are available, but not online.

The store is an organisation-lover's dream. Photo: Instagram/kmartaus.

Is there a Kmart rewards card?

You can collect Flybuys points (the rewards system that is also used at Coles and Liquorland) both in-store and online.

Which Kmart stores are open 24 hours a day?

Coronavirus means that none of the Kmart stores are currently open 24 hours a day. However, many stores are now extending their opening times again, with most open from 8 am to 9 pm, and 24-hour stores in Tasmania, Victoria and NSW open until midnight.

Usually, the 24-hour stores have a red ‘24 hours’ logo on them, and are based in NSW’s Sylvania, Penrith, Figtree, Casula, Waratah, Blacktown and Mt Druitt, Victoria’s Burwood, Campbellfield, Belmont, Narre Warren, Werribee, New Town and Launceston in Tasmania, Eaton in Western Australia and Belconnen in the ACT. Head to Kmart’s store locator to find out specific opening hours.

The much-loved Kmart air fryer. Photo: Instagram/kmartaus.

Which Kmart air fryer is best?

Kmart currently offers three models of air fryers: 1.5l at $49, a 3.2l at $69 and a 5.3l at $89 air fryer. Independent reviewers CanstarBlue rate the smallest two as better than those by Phillips, Breville and Kogan, scoring five stars across all categories including cooking performance, ease of use and value for money and overall satisfaction. The Kmart air fryers are some of the cheapest on the market.

Which Kmart vacuum cleaner is best?

According to Choice, none of them are great performers. Choice tested three Anko vacuum cleaners that received the lowest scores in their tests. However, the Kmart 2000W Bagless vacuum scored 67 per cent — just one per cent less than a $999 Dyson vacuum. Two years ago, the Kmart 1200w upright vacuum received great reviews and was recommended as a cheap alternative to a Dyson, but it is no longer available.

Kmart's 'magical' party themed products. Photo: Instagram/kmartaus.

Can Kmart print and scan photos and documents?

Most Kmarts have photo centres, which are open again after closing due to coronavirus.

You’re able to scan documents, print photos, personalise prints and gifts, and make photo books. You can also order photos and photo books from Snapfish which you can pick up from Kmart stores.

Does Kmart have regular sales?

They don’t do seasonal sales but they often have clearance items both in-store and online.

What are the best birthday party themes available at Kmart?

Kmart has a party range that includes magical, rainbow, and metallic themes.

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