Fans van Kmart worden losgelaten in de nieuwe centrale stadswinkel van Hamiltonseptember 16, 2019
Nikita Rookes is a Kmart fiend.
Before dawn the 19-year-old stood in the cold outside Hamilton City’s refurbished store to be the first person through its automatic doors on Thursday morning.
By 7.30am about 50 others had joined her quest, but her feet were the first to touch the polished floors, she said.
“It felt amazing,” Rookes said, when she walked into the city’s Kmart 7 months after it closed for renovations in January.
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There’s another Kmart in Hamilton at The Base in Te Rapa. The two are almost identical.
Regardless, Rookes battled through the hordes and walked out with a tote bag, an NBL drink bottle and a pair of avocado socks.
“It’s my go-to [and] if they don’t have it I just come here,” she said in The Warehouse next door. It has a better Father’s Day selection, she said, standing in front of a Lynx Africa gift pack.
In the first three minutes more than 300 people flooded the store after a speech from Mayor Andrew King and kapa haka from Bankwood Primary School.
Cars struggled in and out of the 175 free car parks and the check-out queue resembled a successful game of Nokia snake – a line of exponential growth.
Hundreds of people swarmed the aisles like sheep, being herded from from stationary, to homeware, past electronics and through clothing.
Ang Smyth was one of them. She shops at Kmart weekly.
“It’s hard to resist. When we came in we said we were just going to have a look, we didn’t pick up a trolley, but look at us now,” Smyth said, motioning towards her overflowing trolley-basket.
Inside were lollies, toys, clothes, accessories; She doesn’t shop for needs, she shops for wants.
She spent more than $250 once, “but don’t tell my husband that”.
Full time mother Casey Mathews, 36, was wandering through racks of clothing, overwhelmed.
“Kmart’s evil, I love it. You come in here and expect to spend no more than $20 and walk out having spent $200.”
She wanted to come back after 10pm because at 9am the “lines are out the gate”.
For months Peter Miers, 66, had been “waiting, waiting, waiting,” for the store to return and bring balance to the city.
The Warehouse had been “making a killing”, he said. It was time Hamilton central got a better range, especially in clothing sizes.
He goes to Kmart for its jeans in the winter, t-shrts in the summer.
“I’m a big fella – I’ve got to buy a jacket and they’ve [Kmart’s] got a 3XXXL. It’ll make them [the Warehouse] sit up and watch, they’re not going to hold the market anymore.”
By 10am Sam Taylor, 28, and Lily Fielding, 19, said there was a constant flow of people scouring the store for deals.
Taylor said the pair were sent to the city from Bethlehem’s Kmart in Tauranga to help wrangle the chaos.
“This is our first opening so we were just like, where did all these people come from? [But] It’s fun. I can’t get over how tidy it is.”
Although they were working in the store all day they were keeping their eyes peeled for when the shift ended.