After several loving years together, I have decided that I must break up with Kmart. I am consciously uncoupling from the chain store because it has become a terrible place to shop.
We’ve had plenty of good moments. There was that time I bought the infamous Nadia Bartel white substance plate, so I could also live like a WAG during the pandemic. Plus, there was that gorgeous day when I found the perfect black basic T-shirts for $3 in the glorious white walls of Kmart, and I simply can’t forget when I discovered the store’s scented candles all cost less than $10. See, I’m aware there is plenty to love about Kmart. But, the bad has sadly started to outweigh the good.
Like most breakups, the reason for the demise of our relationship isn’t just one thing. A few issues have ultimately built up and created a growing and unhealthy resentment. Like Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber, we’ve had to move on.
There’s no doubt it is hard breaking up with Kmart. It’s accessible, affordable and has everything. But in the immortal words of Nicki Minaj: “Queen, know your worth. You were a Queen before him. You’ll be a Queen after him.” Replace “him” with Kmart, and you get the vibe.
Ultimately my experiences as a shopper at Kmart have left me feeling sour, and ethically it doesn’t meet my standards. Yes, I’m a disgruntled girlfriend. But, before you judge me, let me argue my case.
Firstly, I don’t like the self-serve checkouts. Half the time, they don’t scan things properly. So, you must call over for help, but because the chain stores have less staff because they’ve invested in self-serve checkouts, there is barely anyone around to help you.
You stand there wondering, at this point, would it just be easier to steal than try to get someone to help. Because, let’s face it, finding a Kmart staff member in the self-service checkout section is tough. They are as scarce as a taxi during a storm.
Secondly, your receipt is always or often checked on the way out. So, if you don’t trust us to begin with, why are you giving us self-serve checkouts? It’s the equivalent of telling your partner to enjoy his boys’ nights and then turning up at the pub in disguise and spying on him. If there’s no trust, this relationship simply cannot work.
Thirdly and most importantly, Kmart isn’t up to snuff. In July 2021, according to fashion watchdog Good On You, none of Kmart’s supply chain was certified by labour standards that ensure worker health and safety, and they were not being paid liveable wages.
That year, Kmart Group launched its Ethical Sourcing Transparency Policy setting out clear requirements under which suppliers, when requested, must disclose information about their supply chain. And it did achieve equal first with Target in the Fashion Transparency Index (FTI) 2022. However, the FTI doesn’t measure sustainability or ethics.
Basically, by supporting Kmart, I’m potentially supporting poor working conditions. Which I simply cannot condone. Don’t get me wrong, breaking up with Kmart is a privilege. I certainly couldn’t have broken up with Kmart during my university years, when I lived off Austudy and waitressing wages, and I might have to get back together with Kmart very soon if inflation keeps rising. (So, don’t judge me too harshly if you see me roaming around the $2 plate section.)
My boycott also isn’t a judgment call on people who are still in a relationship with Kmart. I get it. Kmart is a tantalising Casanova. It is the guy at the party who looks moody, smokes a cigarette, and says his very into reading, aka basically impossible to resist.
I’m also luckily at a point in my life where I can afford to buy my goods from retailers that are more ethical but, yes, more expensive.
I believe that where we spend our money makes a difference. So, until Kmart cleans up its act, I need to walk away, like Miley Cyrus from Liam Hemsworth and enter my hot girl ethical consumer era.
Mary Madigan is a freelance writer.