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Kmart's Ten Deadly Sins: How Incompetence Tainted an American Icon

Kmart's Ten Deadly Sins: How Incompetence Tainted an American Icon

Marcia Layton Turner

ISBN: 978-0-471-48118-8

Jul 2003

256 pages


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An insightful look at how Kmart's management destroyed the company
Kmart's Ten Deadly Sins spins an intriguing tale of the missteps of a retail giant who once had the industry in the palm of its hand and foolishly let it all slip away. This engaging book weaves corporate history in with financial analysis and commentary that leaves the reader with a better sense of where Kmart has been and what its potential is for a turnaround. This first in-depth examination of Kmart clearly identifies and discusses the ten missteps and miscalculations Kmart's CEOs have repeatedly made, including resisting investments in technology, brand mismanagement, and haphazard expansion, to name a few. Author Marcia Layton Turner taps many of her vast contacts within the retail business community to get the inside scoop on what really brought this once mighty retail giant to its knees. Kmart's Ten Deadly Sins is written for readers who find themselves wondering how a company with such bright prospects could end up filing for bankruptcy.
Marcia Layton Turner (Rochester, NY) is the bestselling author of The Unofficial Guide to Starting a Small Business and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting Your Own Business. With an MBA in corporate strategy and marketing from the University of Michigan, she spent several years with Eastman Kodak in marketing and marketing communications. She is currently a freelance writer/author and ghostwriter for college-level business textbooks. Turner has also written for several top magazines and Web sites.


Discount Retail Timeline.


Chapter 1. Brand Mismanagement.

Chapter 2. Not Knowing Its Customers.

Chapter 3. Underestimating Wal-Mart.

Chapter 4. Lousy Locations.

Chapter 5. Ignoring Store Appearance.

Chapter 6. Technology Aversion.

Chapter 7. Supply Chain Disconnect.

Chapter 8. Loss of Focus.

Chapter 9. Strategy du jour.

Chapter 10. Repeating the Same Mistakes.




Kmart was Wal-Mart before there was a Wal-Mart.
Originally a chain of retail stores along the lines of F.W. Woolworth's "five and dime" outlets, the former Kresge's evolved into the larger Kmart in 1962, with 18 "super-stores." Wal-Mart began the same year with a single rural Arkansas location.
Kmart cruised along nicely for the first 25 years or so, but by the end of the 1970s profits began to dip, coincidental to Wal-Mart's ascendance.
Business journalist Marcia Layton Turner offers a remarkable, no-nonsense examination of Kmart's fall. Her carefully documented tale relies on reporting from the trade and general press, amplified by testimony and commentary from a number of expert witnesses. It's a grim story; reading it is somewhat akin to watching a train going off a mountain, but the tragedy of Kmart is a tale of human incompetence, ignorance, greed and hubris.
Here, according to Turner, are Kmart's 10 fatal mistakes: 1. Brand mismanagement; 2. Not knowing its customers; 3. Underestimating Wal-Mart; 4. Lousy locations; 5. Ignoring store appearance; 6. Technology aversion; 7. Supply chain disconnect; 8. Loss of focus; 9. Strategy du jour; 10. Repeating the same mistakes.
Squeezed by thrifty and technologically savvy Wal-Mart on one side, and trendy, more fashion forward Target on the other, one wonders if the once-mighty Kmart still has a prayer. Hard to say, but if the chain's immediate history of monumental mismanagement offers any clues, it's just a matter of time before Kmart flat-lines — barring a miracle. (The Miami Herald (circ: 327,000), Sept. 29, 2003)