Fast fashion faux pas or a much needed retail reinvigoration? In defence of Geraldton’s new Kmart frenzy

Lisa FavazzoGeraldton Guardian
Shoppers pile into Kmart Geraldton.
Camera IconShoppers pile into Kmart Geraldton. Credit: City of Greater Geraldton

Within half an hour of finishing work on Friday’s paper my colleague and I headed to Kmart, buying into the hype — embarrassing, I know.

We’ve both lived in cities with mega-malls and consider ourselves good at steering away from fast-fashion and novelty purchases, preferring the idea of owning less to choking up landfills.

But, I was there when the ribbon was cut. I heard the fervour in Cr Steve Douglas’ voice when he proclaimed “we deserve a Kmart”.

Just moments later, a man in a flannel shirt and thongs stretched out his measuring tape before leading a frenzied pack through the blue, red and white ballooned umbrella arch and into a crowd of proud staff.

Eager shoppers await the opening.
Camera IconEager shoppers await the opening. Credit: City of Greater Geraldton

A blissful moment — whether a result of valiant personal triumph or really good marketing — is easy to get sucked into.

And who am I to turn my nose up at bliss?

I know, it’s dreadful most things in Kmart are made in China.

But, newsflash, so is your thousand-dollar phone.

I won’t pretend to know the answer to global wealth inequality, ecological destruction or our rolling PM’s on-again-off-again relationships with Xi Jinping.

But, I promise the answer is not shaming middle and working-class people for getting excited about faux fur throw blankets and Scandi-style bedside tables.

Busy shoppers line up in Kmart.
Camera IconBusy shoppers line up in Kmart. Credit: Liam Beatty/Geraldton Guardian

Neither is calling all cheap goods “China crap”.

In most cases, that’s just thinly veiled xenophobia. Especially when the edge lord commenter is typing in all-caps and their Facebook profile picture is a blurry shot of a Nissan Skyline.

So, while far from an ethically perfect move, we went on Thursday night and spent a chunk of change on a few bits and bobs.

To start, we did a puppy-like power lap, leaping for everything shiny.

Then, we took a deep breath and thought about what we needed, landing on a cheap pair of jeans. This endeavour was surprisingly successful.

To paint a picture for you, my colleague is 5ft 10 with legs that get her places quickly. I frequent La Italiano and dabble in floor-squats.

Miraculously, we fit into the same style and size of jeans.

Between us, we also picked up scarves, a hat, a pair of boots, two gimmicky onion speed choppers and some treats for our dogs.

AJ Van Aswegen, 3, Chantel Van Aswegen and Ayden Van Aswegen, 2.
Camera IconAJ Van Aswegen, 3, Chantel Van Aswegen and Ayden Van Aswegen, 2. Credit: Lisa Favazzo

Although the line wrapped well around the checkout, it moved quickly and didn’t cause us any grief. Was it worth the hype? My new work shoes, although arguably unnecessary, are cute.

But, you don’t have to have your head screwed on very tightly to realise the hype was never about $20 ankle boots.

To some people, the opening may have looked like cheesy capitalist fanfare. But, to the people who break their backs trying to bring jobs, business and opportunities to this city, it likely represents a whole lot more than that.

A retail giant has invested in Geraldton, bringing us a metro-style experience and hiring loads of local people. Plus, it gave us all something to yarn about.

I remember when chain grocery stores in Perth weren’t open after dark. Now, people in little old Geraldton can buy an air-fryer at 8.45pm on a weeknight.

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