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New Yorkers mourn the closing of the Astor Place Kmart

Attention Kmart shoppers: It's the end of an era

Written by
Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner

Manhattan's most beloved big box store has closed.

The Astor Place Kmart at 770 Broadway, closed its doors on Sunday, July 11, following a quick "Total Inventory Blowout" over the weekend, allowing shoppers to purchase everything in sight, from slightly damaged office supplies to the mannequins that welcomed East Village shoppers over the past 25 years.

According to the blog EV Grieve, the store's employees were not notified of the closing until Friday, and many locals were also in shock that such an iconic, and oddly adored institution, would suddenly close shop.

The Astor Place Kmart was a spot for NYU students to load up on essentials at the beginning of the semester, an affordable and certainly always surprising source for art supplies and theater costumes, and of course, a unique way to enter the 6 train at Astor Place. Many rainstorms, bad dates and awkward interactions were avoided thanks to the safe haven that is this all-American discount store. The furniture section offered ample space to nap between parties, and the dressing rooms an escape to change outfits between events. Luckily, the semi-public bathrooms were more easily accessible than the constantly busy Starbucks restroom across the street. 

While much of the East Village transformed over the past three decades, the Astor Place Kmart stayed steady, hosting concerts, celebrity meet-and-greets, and more unplanned celebrity run ins. Everyone needs toilet paper. In 2018, the store downsized from three levels to two, after the building's landlord, Vornado Realty Trust reportedly paid $46 million to Kmart as a lease buyout. Facebook, as well as AOL and more tech companies also hold offices at 770 Broadway, leading to questions about what the lower-level retail space will be --more tech offices? A Whole Foods with a self-serve beer bar? An Apple store? Whatever it is, it won't have the panache of the specifically quirky Astor Place Kmart. 

New Yorkers took to Twitter to share their memories of the Astor Place Kmart, RIP: 

The Penn Plaza Kmart closed earlier this year, leaving New York City with only two Kmart locations, both in The Bronx. 

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