November 23, 2022
  • November 23, 2022

Former K-Mart property in Lawnside sold for $6.6 million

By on May 15, 2022 0

Unused for nearly 10 years, the former K-Mart property in Lawnside NJ sold last month for $6.6 million.

News of the sale came from a press release from Equity Retail Brokers, which represented the seller. The purchaser is MCG Lawnside Owner LLC.

The press release doesn’t give many details beyond that the property has been sold. It does not even indicate the selling price.

The press release also doesn’t say what the plans are for the property, but we can tell you what the buyer is most associated with.

42Freeway puts on his detective hat

It’s been about 5 weeks since the sale closed, so the records have been filed with the county, where we’ve determined the sale price.

$6.6 million. Easy enough.

By comparing the ownership information on the sales document to the county tax maps, we learn that the leftmost attached stores are NOT part of the sale. (Oriental Restaurant and Re-Store).

Although the buildings are attached, they are separate properties.

The former K-mart building and property in Lawnside NJ has been sold for $6.6 million

The large parking lot in front of the old K-Mart is also included in the tax lot, but the Church’s Fried Chicken property is not.

Buyer is listed as MCG Lawnside Owner LLC.

A common practice in these types of transactions is for the parent company to form a local LLC in the state where it is purchasing the property. It becomes a separate entity but still controlled by the larger company.

In this case, this LLC is the registered agent for Charlotte, North Carolina.

The address is the same as Madison Capital Group…and explains the “MCG” in the New Jersey-based LLC >

Madison Capital Group maintains a nice corporate website.

They have a division that develops multi-family properties, but a K-mart building isn’t really suited for that.

And then we see that they are also in the self-storage business.

The “self-service storage” link on the Madison Capital Group website takes us to GOStoreIt.com

Go Store It’s a big chain of warehouses… 86 to be exact, and they have a variety of sizes and styles.

To be very clear, Lawnside’s press release does not state that the expectation for the former K-Mart is storage.

And I say very openly that I am suspicious of rumours.

But clearly the company that just paid $6.6 million for the Lawnside K-Mart has a very big self-storage business. Literally the only commercial products listed on their website are storage related.

It wouldn’t be a crazy idea because in the canton of Mantua their old K-Mart has been converted into a warehouse!

Former K-Mart in Mantua, New Jersey is now a storage facility (shown for comparison)

I know locals were looking for an exciting outcome for their old K-Mart, especially after seeing what Brixmor did with the Glassboro K-Mart, adding a LIDL, Big Lots, and Ross!

But the storage industry seems to be going crazy in recent years with explosive growth. Everyone asks “Who are all these people who have so many things?”

I may be doing a special feature on storage facilities soon!

Incidentally, there is officially a BIG storage facility planned nearby…recently approved in Somerdale.

In late 2021, a 112,000 square foot, 3-story facility was approved in the Cooper Towne Center (Walmart) development.

Specifically, the Somerdale storage facility will be located on Evesham Road in the small corner lot at the entrance to Cooper Towne Shopping Center (intersection with traffic lights)

Measured in a straight line, the two locations are only 1.5 miles apart.

We’ll report more as we learn more.

A large storage facility has been approved 1.5 miles away in Somerdale NJ

The K-Mart store identified as Sears

Absolutely the best way to describe the property was like a K-Mart.

But somehow…this building just couldn’t make up its mind what it wanted to be!

It absolutely closed as K-mart. 9 or 10 years ago. But that was only for a few years…the SECOND TIME it was a K-mart!

Well, let’s go back a few years.

I don’t know the exact date, but in the late 90s K-Mart took over ownership and it operated as K-Mart for maybe 20 years.

By 2005, the Sears and K-Mart brands were both feeling pressure from Walmart sales, and fledgling Internet retailers such as Amazon… merged to form a single company. The hope was that the two weakened contestants would be stronger than one.

As the merged companies tried to find the right recipe to maintain sales, the Lawnside K-Mart was converted into a Sears Essentials store a few years later.

This was seen as a good sign for the store, as Sears had a higher perceived value in retail chains…and Sears also had signature brands such as Craftsman and selling major appliances.

The idea was simply that by converting the K-Mart into a Sears Essentials store, they would increase sales and profits.

Lawnside’s “K-Mart” was a Sears Essentials store for a short time, before reverting to K-Mart
(Image used with permission. Copyright Flickr Photographer John)

Well, that only lasted a few years, because in 2011 the parent company decided to reverse that decision and convert the Lawnside store back into K-Mart!

Remember it was only 6 years before the two companies merged, so in that short time they formulated the Sears Essentials store concept, chose Lawnside to convert it and implemented it , ran it for a few years as a Sears Essentials store. then put everything back in place.

In just six years. For a company that wasn’t making money, that seems a bit reckless. But I digress.

Rickel Visitor Centers

“Rickel Helps…you do it better…Do it better with Rickels!”

Yes, I’m old enough to remember Rickels.

And Channel, and Mr Good Buys, and Hechinger.

But Rickel was the largest and oldest national hardware store.

And they were the first tenant of the Lawnside K-Mart property.

From memory, I don’t think Rickel owned the whole K-Mart building, and if you look at the building on Google’s satellite view, you’ll see the gross was split 1/3 left, 2/3 right.

Rickel was a department store, but definitely a “warehouse” store like Home Depot or Lowe’s.

But it was a large one-stop hardware store that drew many disapproving looks from local mom and pop hardware stores.

For over 3 decades, Rickel has been our region’s leading hardware, plumbing, heating and electrical retailer. Everyone shopped there and was then invincible.

Still image from a 1980 Rickel TV commercial, featuring their famous catchphrase. Youtube

And in 1992, everything changed.

The Home Depot has opened its first South Jersey store in Lawnside. The next set of buildings in the connected parking complex.

A November 1992 Courier Post article chronicled the impending turf war. 90s kids will get the Courier’s reference “It’s hammer time for The Home Depot in Lawnside”

Today, Home Depot has more than 2,300 stores.

Lawnside NJ was number 194.

It was truly ground zero in the home improvement wars, and Home Depot brought the heavy artillery.

Rickel was 60,000 square feet. Home Depot nearly 120,000. More products, more variety.

Rickel retaliated with a store renovation. Brighter lighting, wider aisles and more products.

It was 1992. Five years later, the entire Rickel chain was gone.

Home Depot crushed them and everyone else.

By the way…after witnessing firsthand how Home Depot crushed the leading home center store for 3 decades, ask me how many Home Depot shares I bought in that run of crazy growth… ZERO!

But I digress.

And before that… Hollywood!

And to close this last step in the past, before Rickel, there was…

an empty field.

Well, there were a few houses along White Horse Pike, and it looked like there was a checkerboard road pattern on the property…but that “K-Mart” part we’re talking about was just that. ‘a field.

But next door, where Home Depot stands today, was originally a drive-in movie theater, which operated for much of the 1960s.

The screen was in the far right corner of the property along Atlantic Avenue with the cars arranged in rows in a semi-circle…resembling a baseball field.

A famous remnant of this drive-in cinema remained in place until 2014.

An iconic sign featuring the silhouette of the giant white horse sat atop a multi-story tall tower, originally installed in the early 1960s as a promotion to lure people to the drive-in cinema.

The famous White Horse sign that once stood on the sprawling Lawnside Mall.
(Image used with permission. Copyright Flickr photographer John)

The base of the tower is still there in the parking lot of the mall, located behind Wendy’s…well behind the Wendy’s dumpster.

Today, the two sections of the Lawnside Malls have different owners, but looking at historical aerial images, it appears that both segments were developed around the same time.

Looking at historical footage, in 1965 the drive-in theater and rows of parking lots can be seen in today’s Home Depot section, and 5 years later all of the mall buildings were in place.

Bonus question you can comment on Facebook.. what was the FIRST store that occupied the Home Depot building?!