Vintage Kmart advertisement from 1977 selling $50 shotguns wows nostalgic Australians

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Nostalgic shoppers are wowed by old Kmart catalogue from 1977 advertising camping buys and GUNS – and you won’t believe the prices

  • A Kmart ad from 1977 has attracted the attention of hundreds of Australians¬†
  • The ad was printed in the Herald Sun and promoted an ‘outdoor discount’ sale
  • Among the deals were three shotguns priced between $29.48 and $52.84
  • There was also a $299 tent which today would be equal to $1,800 in 2022
  • Commenters expressed their shock at how easy it was to buy guns 45 years ago
  • Other reminisced about the ‘good old days’ when Kmart wasn’t a budget store¬†

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Australian shoppers are taking a trip down memory lane after a vintage Kmart ad from 1977 featuring sales on camping gear and guns resurfaced.

The full-page catalogue, which was printed in the Herald Sun 45 years ago, was posted to the Old Shops Australia Facebook group.

It was from a time when Kmart was not considered a budget retailer. Gun control laws were also lax and allowed Australians to buy firearms as easily as they would a sleeping bag or fishing rod.

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

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

The ad boasted an ‘outdoor discount’ sale at stores in Sydney with markdowns on three guns with the tag line: ‘Shoot in for these savings!!’.¬†

The Stirling shotgun was reduced to $52.84 or ‘about a week’s wages’. One commenter said the amount was worth to $322.51 in 2022 dollars.¬†

$16 may seem like a steal for a sleeping bag these days but in 1977 that was equivalent to more than $100 and, similarly, the 5.5metre-long tent for $299 is equal to the hefty sum of $1,824.93 now.

The full-page advertisement is boasting an 'outdoor discount' sale at two Sydney Kmart stores promoting mark downs on three guns with the tag line: 'Shoot in for these savings!!'

The full-page advertisement is boasting an 'outdoor discount' sale at two Sydney Kmart stores promoting mark downs on three guns with the tag line: 'Shoot in for these savings!!'

The full-page advertisement is boasting an ‘outdoor discount’ sale at two Sydney Kmart stores promoting mark downs on three guns with the tag line: ‘Shoot in for these savings!!’

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

5.5m-3.7m tent

Three-man nylon tent 

Stirling 20’s auto rifle

Stirling 15s shotgun 

Kmart camp mattress

Camo sleeping bag 

Fishing rod and reel set

Dart Board 

Then: $299

Then: $29.94 

Then: 42.88 

Then: $52.84 

Then: $9.88 

Then: $16.48 

Then: $9.98 

Then: $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 the sale of guns.

‘It was different world. Could you imagine today walking into a supermarket and buying a small arsenal for under two hundred bucks with no ID etc required?’ one person asked.¬†

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

‘Rifles! You’re kidding!’ a third exclaimed and another joked: ‘Kmart: Serial Killer Edition’.

$16 may seem like a steal for a sleeping bag these days but in 1977 that was equivalent to more than $100 and, similarly, the 5.5metre-long tent for $299 is equal to $1,824.93 now

$16 may seem like a steal for a sleeping bag these days but in 1977 that was equivalent to more than $100 and, similarly, the 5.5metre-long tent for $299 is equal to $1,824.93 now

$16 may seem like a steal for a sleeping bag these days but in 1977 that was equivalent to more than $100 and, similarly, the 5.5metre-long tent for $299 is equal to $1,824.93 now

Others said the retro ad reminded them of ‘the good old days’ and reminisced about what shopping in Australia was like 45 years ago.¬†¬†

‘I worked at Kmart in the mid 80s where guns and ammo were still being sold. I also recall full car exhaust systems on the shelf for fitting at home and also some live fish for the home aquarium,’ one man remembered.¬†

‘I remember when Kmart sold house paint and also cans of paint for cars. I bought an above ground pool from Kmart in 1986,’ a second responded.¬†¬†

‘Wow the Kmart logo really hasn’t changed,’ another pointed out.¬†

‘In 1986, my brother and I walked into Kmart with $85 and walked out of there with a 12 gauge shotgun. No word of a lie!’ said a fourth.¬†

A brief history of Kmart in Australia

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

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

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

Over the years, food sales through the stores varied and the grocery sections were secondary to the variety merchandise. 

In 1977 a share 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.¬†

During the 1980s and ’90s, there were in-store restaurants called Holly’s. These were gradually closed down, with the last one, in the Horsham store, closing in 2010.¬†

Although the chain has encountered 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 more than 200 stores throughout Australia and New Zealand. 

Source: AustralianFoodTimeline.com.au