A 1949 post-World War II postcard portrays the 1940 S.S. Kresge Co.’s modern colonial two-story “shopping center” at the strategic Center and Washington intersection in downtown Bay City.
Kresge’s first store was opened by Sebastian Spering Kresge in downtown Detroit in 1899. The Bay City Kresge’s opened in 1911 in the western half of the Shearer Block. The Kresge Co. purchased that building in 1914, razing and replacing it in 1940 (pictured). In 1940, this “5 cents to $1” store reportedly was one of 738 Kresge stores located in 27 states and Canada. By 1962, Kresge’s was opening Kmart stores; the Kresge Co. changed its name to Kmart in 1977. Bay City Kresge’s closed in 1983.
The Bay City Kresge building subsequently was renovated, renamed Landmark Plaza, and housed various small businesses in the revitalizing downtown yet remained on the market for over two decades. Finally, in January 2015, the local family-owned company Outdoor Adventures (est. 1995) purchased the reduced-price building to install corporate offices for its 20-30 employees and rent out other space.
Outdoor Adventures, previously located on Henry Street on Bay City’s West Side, currently operates seven member-based recreational vehicle resorts that serve about 3,000 members in the Great Lakes Bay Region.
Jason King, director of operations at Outdoor Adventures, explains that purchase of the former Kresge building enables their growing company to have greater visibility in the heart of downtown Bay City’s commerce and to participate in the downtown resurgence.