Kmart shoppers divided over detail in 45-year-old advertisement: 'You're kidding'

·3-min read

A fascinating 45-year-old Kmart advertisement has triggered a heated debate among Aussie shoppers.

A woman posted the full-page ad from a 1977 edition of the Sun Herald to the popular Facebook group Old Shops Australia.

It promoted key sales items for the week of September 12-17, delivering interesting insight into 1970s prices and shopping habits.

Outdoor discounts were a key focus of the advertisement, which presented big savings on tents, sleeping bags and fishing rods.

Kmart advertisement from 1977, which appeared in the Sun Herald
The eyebrow-raising Kmart advertisement from 1977 appeared in the Sun Herald. Source: Facebook/Janine Watts

Shock over gun sales

But it was the markdowns on the right hand column of the advertisement that sparked controversy over gun control laws in Australia.

Three guns, including an automatic rifle, a bolt action rifle and a single barrel shotgun, were pictured alongside the heading "Shoot for these savings!!".

The sale prices for the firearms ranged from $29.94 for the Boito shotgun, up to $42.88 for the automatic Stirling.

The key detail shocked younger fans of the discount mega-chain.

"Kmart sold guns?" one person questioned.

Another commented: "Rifles! You're kidding."

"Kmart: Serial Killer Edition," one person quipped.

One group member even made the observation that guns were cheaper than some tents in 1977.

Fond memories of gun ownership

However, those who remember shopping at Kmart in the 1970s and '80s were happily sent on a trip down memory lane.

"I remember rifles in Kmart when I was a kid," one man recalled.

"They were out on a counter and chained and you could pick them up. They were basic hunting rifles and no one batted an eyelid. Slug guns were in boxes and you could just pick one of those up and go through the registers."

Another recounted his 1986 purchase, writing, "my brother and I walked into Kmart with $85 and walked out of there with a 12-gauge shotgun. No word of a lie!" he commented.

One woman reminisced about how her husband bought his first gun from Kmart. "No waiting, pay your money and go," she wrote.

Others noted it wasn't a big deal to see guns for sale back then.

"I remember firearms being sold at Kmart, we thought nothing of it," one man commented on the post.

A section of a Kmart advertisement from 1977 promoting guns
Younger fans of Kmart were shocked to see guns for sale. Source: Facebook/Janine Watts

Shoppers split over gun reforms

Many commenters hailed Australia's 1996 gun law reforms, which were enacted in the aftermath of the country's deadliest mass shooting at Port Arthur in Tasmania.

The fierce gun control laws, which banned rapid-fire long guns, are among the toughest in the world.

"It's a good thing the regulations were tightened, although I still remember my Pop being pretty pissed off about the whole thing," one woman wrote.

"THANK GOD Australia brought in its gun laws," another declared.

But nearly three decades on, many argued that Australia's gun control laws go too far.

"In the bush it was normal for firearms to be ready to kill a snake or a severely injured animal," one person recalled. "The regulations only affected law abiding citizens whose details would now be held in a database that led some to feeling insecure about who had access to that information."

"Those who intended criminal behaviour just turned to purchasing on the black market without a licence," the Kmart fan added.

Female shopper in front of Kmart entrance
The post sparked intrigue and nostalgia about what shopping was like four decades ago. Source: AAP

Kmart nostalgia strong

Some group members responded that whatever the price, Kmart products were probably of "better quality" in the 1970s.

"That was the good old days when Kmart sold good things!!! Now it's just a crappy shop..." one man wrote.

Another person added: "I'm guessing that Anko doesn't make rifles, huh?"

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