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36 Photos of the Charred, Soon-to-Be-Demolished Lake Street Kmart from Its ’80s Heyday

The infamously located Minneapolis store appeared hoppin' one day in 1987.

9:12 AM CDT on October 24, 2023

James Orndorf|

Inside what was once (allegedly) America’s Favorite Store.

Since it opened in 1978, the awkwardly placed Kmart at Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue has inspired grumbling and head-scratching from Minneapolitans. The vacant, graffitied, soon-to-be-razed building caught fire last week, hastening plans to demolish it and, eventually, reconnect Nicollet. For at least one autumn afternoon in 1987, however, the now-lifeless Kmart housed a bustling collection of shoppers eyeballing tube TVs, firearms, and cafeteria fare. Here's local photographer James Orndorf with that story.

I was a senior in high school at Hopkins High and taking photo classes at the U of M. I can’t recall what the assignment was, but at that time I was getting free film and darkroom access so I walked around Minneapolis all the time and took pictures of people.

I remember thinking that the Kmart had an insane number of fluorescent light fixtures. It was a well-lit store.

My brothers started letting me tag along, hitting the used record stores in the neighborhood when I was 10, and we went to punk-rock shows at Whittier Park; I loved that neighborhood. I started working at Sunday Night Dance party at First Ave that winter, then moved to Whittier after I graduated and lived a block and half from Kmart.

When I woke up last Friday and saw on the MPR Instagram that it was burning, it brought back a lot of memories about that neighborhood, so I dug out these photos to share.

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