This Guy Saved Five Years Worth Of Kmart's In-Store Music, For Some Reason

Nearly five years worth of in-store cassettes are available for your amusement.

In a long list of strange collectibles, one former Kmart employee just added to the list with "cassettes of in-store background music." Yes, you read that right.

Mark Davis worked at Kmart in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and besides processing returns or ringing up customers, he also began amassing a trove of music used in the store. Kmart, like a lot of companies today, plays pre-approved in-store music to direct the mood and even the shopping habits of their customers. Kmart called their selections "Kmart Radio" or "KMRT." As NPR's Andrew Matson said, "A good retail playlist can bring home the culture of a business and psychologically affect a customer in a way that doesn't feel pushy."

Davis' collection began in the late '80s, when the term "elevator music" wouldn't have been out of place.

"This was background music, or perhaps you could call it elevator music," Davis wrote on a recently-uploaded archive of the cassette tapes titled "Attention Kmart Shoppers." According to Davis, the cassette tapes were rotated monthly and then weekly until they were finally replaced with satellite programming in 1993. "The older tapes contain canned elevator music with instrumental renditions of songs," Davis said. "Then, the songs became completely mainstream around 1991. All of them have advertisements every few songs." Advertisements included in-store lingerie sales and Kmart's photo center.

A quick listen features songs from artists like Bonnie Raitt and Smokey Robinson. Don't expect progressive, underground punk. But if you're looking for a dose of nostalgia or at least a quick glimpse into what your parents heard while shopping for your crib, give the archive a listen. And check out the video below where Davis gives more background on just why he kept these tapes for so long.