Attention Kmart shoppers: Former employee digitizes Kmart elevator music from ’80s, ’90s

this man digitized kmart background music from 1989 to 1992
Ken Wolter/Shutterstock
Over 25 years later, the background music circa 1989 to 1994 from crumbling department chain Kmart has hit the Internet courtesy of one enthusiastic former employee.

“This was background music, or perhaps you could call it elevator music,” wrote Mark Davis regarding the vault of cheesy commercials and adult contemporary which he recently uploaded to Archive.org. Davis told VICE that he began his collection of the in-store tunes while perusing Kmart’s sound system on a whim during a Thanksgiving holiday shift.

“So I decided to go behind the service desk and look at the store’s sound system,” explained Davis to the publication. “I saw the October 1989 tape sitting next to the cassette deck [and] a reel-to-reel deck, which was decommissioned but still present. I thought to myself, ‘Why not take this tape as a keepsake for the first month at my first job?'”

He continued collecting the tapes month after month simply because he liked the songs he listened to during the beginning of his working career. “Whether you initially like a song, artist, or genre or not, it really grows on you after hearing it over and over,” continued Davis. “That’s what happened to me at the store, and I started liking the songs as they were predictable and helped the day along. […] I loved Kmart as a company and they were good to me and I met so many good friends.”

The tapes — which span more than 56 hours of audio — feature both cheesy instrumental tracks as well as pop hits of the day. Ads for Kmart’s goods are interspersed every few songs, and one particular ad gave us a particularly juicy bit of info: Martha Stewart was apparently Kmart’s “entertainment and lifestyle consultant.”

“High Tech doesn’t have to be expensive. Just ask MARTHA STEWART our entertainment and lifestyle consultant,” the announcer remarks. “She recommends trying our Gemini cable, vcr, and telephone accessories.”

She does have a collection for the store (and nearly bought the department store chain at one point), but did she have any say in curating these tapes as well? One can only wonder.

You can hear Davis’ story in his own words — along with some of these priceless Kmart treasures — in the video below.

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