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Vintage 1977 Kmart ad selling $50 shotguns amazes nostalgic Australians

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Nostalgic shoppers are impressed by the old 1977 Kmart catalog advertising camping purchases and GUNS – and you won’t believe the prices

  • A 1977 Kmart ad has caught the attention of hundreds of Australians
  • The ad was printed in the Herald Sun promoting an ‘outdoor discount’ sale
  • Among the deals were three shotguns priced between $29.48 and $52.84
  • There was also a $299 tent, which would equal $1800 in 2022 today
  • Comments expressed shock at how easy it was to buy guns 45 years ago
  • Others reminisced about the ‘good old days’ when Kmart wasn’t a budget store

Australian shoppers are taking a trip down memory lane after a 1977 vintage Kmart ad promoting the sale of camping gear and weapons resurfaced.

The full-page catalog printed in the Herald Sun 45 years ago was published on the Old Shops Australia Facebook group.

It dates from a time when Kmart was not considered a budget retailer despite “affordable” prices by 2022 standards.

Gun laws were also lax, allowing Australians to buy firearms as easily as a sleeping bag or fishing rod.

A 1977 vintage Kmart ad promoting a sale of camping gear and even shotguns has caught the attention of hundreds of nostalgic Australian shoppers

The ad showed off an ‘outdoor discount’ sale in the Merrylands Mall, Blacktown and Fairfield West, North Rocks stores, both in Sydney, promoting a discount on three guns with the slogan: ‘Hurry up for these savings!!’ .

The Stirling shotgun marked down to $52.84 or “about a week’s wages,” according to one commentator, is worth $322.51 in 2022 dollars.

$16 may seem like a bargain for a sleeping bag these days, but in 1977 that was equivalent to over $100 and similarly, the 5.5-foot tent at $299 is equivalent to the hefty $1,824.93 now.

The full-page ad shows off an 'outdoor discount' sale at two Sydney Kmart stores promoting discounts on three guns with the tagline: 'Hurry up for these savings!!'

The full-page ad shows off an ‘outdoor discount’ sale at two Sydney Kmart stores promoting discounts on three guns with the tagline: ‘Hurry up for these savings!!’

What would the 1977 Kmart items be worth in 2022 dollars?

5.5m-3.7m tent

Nylon tent for three people

Stirling 20’s car gun

Stirling 15s shotgun

Kmart camp mattress

Camo sleeping bag

Fishing rod and reel set

dartboard

Dan: $299

Dan: $29.94

Dan: 42.88

Dan: $52.84

Dan: $9.88

Dan: $16.48

Dan: $9.98

Dan: $3.46

Now: $1,824.93

Now: $182.13

Now: $261.72

Now: $322.51

Now: $60.30

Now: $100.58

Now: $60.91

Now: $21.12

The nostalgic post attracted hundreds of “likes” and dozens of comments from many members shocked by gun sales.

‘It was a different world. Can you imagine walking into a supermarket today and buying a small arsenal for less than two hundred dollars without needing an ID etc.?” one person asked.

“I can remember when they sold guns. Couldn’t believe it then and still can’t believe it now,” wrote another.

‘Guns! You are joking!’ a third exclaimed and another joked, “Kmart: Serial Killer Edition.”

“The weapons department in Merrylands was next to the pets department, yes, LIVE PETS,” one user recalls.

$16 may seem like a bargain for a sleeping bag these days, but in 1977 that was equivalent to over $100 and similarly, the 5.5-foot tent at $299 is now equivalent to $1,824.93

$16 may seem like a bargain for a sleeping bag these days, but in 1977 that was equivalent to over $100 and similarly, the 5.5-foot tent at $299 is now equivalent to $1,824.93

Others said the retro ad reminded them of ‘the good old days’ and brought back memories of what shopping in Australia was like 45 years ago.

‘I worked at Kmart in the mid-’80s, where weapons and ammunition were still being sold. I also remember full shelf car exhaust systems to assemble at home and some live fish for the home aquarium as well,” one man recalled.

“I remember Kmart selling house paint and cans of paint for cars. I bought an above-ground swimming pool from Kmart in 1986,” replied a second.

“Wow, the Kmart logo really hasn’t changed,” commented another.

“In 1986, my brother and I walked into Kmart with $85 and left with a 12-caliber shotgun. Not a word of a lie!’ said a fourth.

A Brief History of Kmart in Australia

Kmart was originally a joint venture between Coles and the SS Kresge Company, which operated Kmart in the US.

When the first Kmart store opened in Burwood, east of Melbourne, an estimated 40,000 people passed through the tills on its first day.

The first Kmart store was developed on the American model and sold the groceries in a section at the back of the store.

Over the years, food sales through the stores varied and the grocery departments were subordinate to the varied merchandise.

In 1977, a stock deal with Kresge saw Coles take control of Kmart in Australia.

Between 1982 and 1989, Coles opened a series of Super Kmarts, combining all the lines of a regular discount department store with a full-range supermarket.

The concept didn’t work and the stores were later split into two separate stores.

In the 80s and 90s there were in-store restaurants called Holly’s. These were gradually closed, with the last being the Horsham store, which closed in 2010.

While the chain has experienced problems in the United States, with multiple bankruptcies and hundreds of store closures, the Australian chain, owned by Wesfarmers, claims to be “one of the most profitable discount department stores in Australia.”

There are over 200 stores in Australia and New Zealand.

Source: AustralianFoodTimeline.com.au

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