Jessica Bellamy

24-Hour Kmart

There’s a great suburb in the north of Melbourne called Reservoir.

Reservoir is like Prahran and Malvern in one particular way and absolutely no other ways: you have no idea how to pronounce it unless you’ve lived in Melbourne for over 5 years.

Why is Reservoir called Reservoir? Because a bunch of reservoirs were built there back in the day, and the place was named after those reservoirs, in a grateful homage to their sweet water-holding abilities. So, why do we then pronounce Reservoir as “Reservore”? I don’t know. Someone please tell me. Please.

In Reservoir, there is a magical place called 24-Hour Kmart, and it is magical because IT IS OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY, YES, EVEN AT 4am.


So, what’s so good about a discount megastore that’s open in the dead of night, I hear you ask?

The first thing is: the convenience. You need to buy a tent at 5am after a night of projectile vomiting? 24-Hour Kmart. You need a fan at midnight because the summer heat refuses to break and you swear to god you’re going to kill someone if this bullshit does not dissipate soon? 24-Hour Kmart. My mind is constantly boggled by the fact that this HUGE WAREHOUSE of goods made by morally indefensible labour and ecologically devastating processes is accessible WHENEVER I MIGHT HAVE THE SLIGHTEST URGE FOR A CHEAP FAUX-UGG BOOT OR MASS PACKET OF EAR BUDS.

The second great thing about 24-Hour Kmart is: the fact it is a microcosm. On one night in 24-Hour Kmart I observed a woman in traditional niqab inspecting discounted outdoor furniture alongside a woman in a bright red body-con mini-dress with stiletto heels  telling off her dropkick boyfriend for doing something shitty, alongside a pretty erratic and slightly abusive guy coming off some serious crystal meth yelling at the security guard.

Which brings me to the final great thing about 24-Hour Kmart: the staff. The most impressive staff members are the security guards. These dudes deal with the most fascinating and horrifying stuff, pretty much as soon as the sun goes down. You would start believing vampire werewolves existed after long enough in the job, because of the fact that your workplace is regularly frequented by human nightmares as soon as it becomes dark. For example, I saw one Security Guard ask to check a guy’s bags once. The guy yelled back at him “fuck you, go back where you came from” and walked off into the car park.

The 24-Hour Kmart staff have a tough job, and while they remain helpful and respectful, the strain of this job shows. Once I tried to return a faulty toaster a 11pm without a box or a receipt, and the woman there was so kind about the fact that there’s no way she was going to replace my toaster because only criminals try to replace stolen toasters without a box or receipt, “not that I’m saying you are, don’t get me wrong.” Her defense became a stunning and convoluted monologue rich in detail and reflexivity, and I enjoyed it, despite the fact that it didn’t get me the goddamn toaster I needed, which was the only thing I actually came to Kmart for, as opposed to the $47 worth of cushions and clever vases that I have just purchased.

Look. Life is a complex and beautiful thing. With joy comes sorrow, with summer comes winter. Similarly, with the joy of 24-Hour Kmart comes the horror of 24-Hour Kmart. If you want the convenience of late-night spatulas and early-morning sports bras, you have to put up with a few doses of world-weary staff, heinous customers, and unnecessary overspending.

If you ask me, it’s a small price to pay.

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