Sunday, June 10, 2018

Summer Break

     As the summer season begins to pick up steam (and humidity, lots of humidity), that means its time for the usual AFB summer break. The blog will be on break from now through early August, with posting to resume on August 12, 2018. During my break, please don't be offended if it takes me an unusually long period of time to reply to any comments or e-mails I may receive until my return to blogging. I'm thinking I might tweak the regular posting schedule to close out 2018, but I'll provide more details on that upon my return to blogging in August. Anyway, thanks in advance to everyone for your patience and I'll see you in a few weeks! Have a great summer, and be sure to check out the short memorabilia post below!


Janet Lee Vinegar

     Here's a little bit of memorabilia for everybody today - specifically an old bottle of Albertsons' Janet Lee brand White Distilled Vinegar I spotted at an estate sale. Janet Lee was one of Albertsons' private label brands from 1959 through the 1990's, gaining its name from the daughter of Albertsons executive Wally Jordan. It was Wally Jordan who helped Joe Albertson launch the Janet Lee brand, which was the very first private label that Albertsons introduced. The Janet Lee logo you see on this bottle was the design used from the 1980's until the brand began to slowly fade away by the end of the 1990's. If I had to guess, the vinegar bottle you see in this photo probably dates back to the mid to late 1990's.

     The pantry I found this bottle in looked like it was frozen in 1995, with many of the products in here featuring older graphic styles that I hadn't seen in years (for example, there's an old Giant-MD brand vinegar bottle peeking out in the background). It's amazing at just how long people hold onto some things for. I know vinegar is a product that can have a long shelf life if stored properly, but I'm not sure if I would want to cook with 25-ish year old vinegar myself, stored properly or not! Actually, there isn't even vinegar in this bottle anymore, as someone scratched out "White Distilled Vinegar" and wrote "Pickle Liquor" on it. I'm assuming "Pickle Liquor" refers to the brine mixture used when pickling vegetables (as referenced here, where water, salt, and other spices are added to the white vinegar base), and hopefully not this stuffEither way, whatever kind of pickle liquor you come across in your travels, I can tell you this: neither makes for a good ingredient to put in a cocktail!

     If you'd like to read more about the Janet Lee brand itself, this forum does a good job explaining the brand if you read through some of the posts. This infographic from Albertsons also explains the origins of the Janet Lee brand, and is an interesting read overall.

So that's all I have for now. Until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Former Albertsons #4343 - Tallahassee, FL (Governor's Square)

***All Albertsons related photos in this post are courtesy of YonWooRetail2's flickr***
Albertsons #4343 / Kohl's Department Store #1226
2010 Apalachee Parkway, Tallahassee, FL

     Thanks to AFB contributor Ian W. (on flickr as YonWooRetail2), another long lost Albertsons has been brought back to life in one of his many Albertsons store recreations! So far my searches for pictures of this store have turned up nothing, which is to be expected considering this store was demolished over ten years ago. With that being the case, Ian's recreation is the next best thing for all of us! Albertsons #4343 was a typical Skaggs model Albertsons store, and it received minimal updating to the exterior during its life as an Albertsons (from what I can tell in the historical satellite imagery). The minimal exterior updating leads me to believe this store finished out its life with the Blue and Gray Market interior, as most of the remodels after that decor came with some kind of facade upgrade this store did not appear to have. Since this Albertsons store has long been obliterated, there really isn't much else to see here. However, Ian did find some old newspaper ads and articles about this store, which will help as I tell everyone the story of Albertsons #4343:

Albertsons #4343 - Tallahassee, FL

     Albertsons #4343 opened on Wednesday, January 21, 1981 immediately to the east of the new Governor's Square Mall. This store was the second of four Albertsons stores to open in Florida's capital city as the years went on (with the other three being stores #4315, #4428, and #4497). Governor's Square Mall was a big deal when it first opened in 1979. Featuring anchors JCPenney, Sears, and Maas Brothers, the two level mall was spectacle to behold with its vast variety of stores contained within. As with the construction of any super-regional mall, other retail will soon follow on the land surrounding it. New stores and shopping centers popped up all around Governor's Square Mall in the years following its opening, including this Albertsons store. Above is an ad Ian found in the Tallahassee Democrat archives, announcing the grand opening of the Governor's Square Albertsons store. By clicking on the above photo, you can view the ad on Ian's flickr photostream (which makes it a little bit easier to read).

Fire at Albertsons #4343- Tallahassee, FL

     As the years went on, Governor's Square Mall continued to expand and attract new retail to the area. The Albertsons continued to serve its shoppers with a small remodel or two since its 1981 opening, but for the most part retained many of its original characteristics. In May 2005, an arsonist set fire to the paper goods aisle of this Albertsons (as can be seen in the above article). No one was injured in the fire, which did minimal damage to the store itself. In addition to the fire, 2005 was also the year that Albertsons #4343's lease on this building was to expire. According to Ian's research, Albertsons was trying to market this building to any interested parties in late 2005, in preparation for the lease's expiration at the end of the year. That action seems to suggest this store was probably slipping in sales, considering Albertsons was more interested in disposing of this store than trying to renew the lease agreement as 2005 went on. In October 2005, Albertsons made the official announcement that they would be closing their Governor's Square store, with the official last day in business falling in November 2005.

    The old Albertsons building sat empty until 2007, when Kohl's took over the site to build a new store of their own. The Albertsons building was demolished and the two-story Kohl's building you see above was constructed. This store is somewhat interesting in the fact that it's a freestanding suburban two-level Kohl's store, but as far as traces of Albertsons are concerned, there's nothing left to see here.

     Thanks again Ian for the photos and information that you provided on this particular Albertsons store! Let's move on to some historic satellite imagery to see what this site has looked like through the years. The following imagery is courtesy of Google Earth and

Former Albertsons #4343 - 2018

Former Albertsons #4343 - 2009

Former Albertsons #4343 - 2007 - The Kohl's building is still under construction here. Kohl's built their store on the same footprint as the Albertsons building, even keeping Albertsons original large parking lot (which was slightly reconfigured during the construction of the Kohl's building).

Former Albertsons #4343 - 2006

Former Albertsons #4343 - 2006 - Here's a nice clear view of what the original Albertsons building looked like, zoomed in a bit on the previous image. The liquor store was on the left side of the building.

Albertsons #4343 - 2002

Albertsons #4343 - 1994

Future Albertsons #4343 - 1967

     Diagonally across the street from this Albertsons store was a shopping center that contained a Publix and Kmart. That shopping center was constructed in 1972, long before the mall and the Albertsons opened. Albertsons competed with this Publix for its entire existence. A year after the Albertsons closed, Publix decided to relocate from this longtime location to a new store just up the road. Since this post was somewhat short, let's jump across the street for a moment to take a closer look at this Publix...

Publix on Apalachee Parkway
***Classic Publix photos are courtesy of shawnson on flickr***
Publix #113
1719 Apalachee Parkway, Tallahassee, FL - Shoppes on the Parkway (formerly Kmart Plaza)

     Thanks to flickr user shawnson, we're going to get a tour of this classic Talahassee Publix as it looked back in 2006, just prior to its relocation! I've linked to the flickr album from this Publix before, but these photos were too good not to share yet again with everyone! This Publix remained absolutely untouched from the 1980's until its closure in 2006, and I'm sure it was one of the last Publix stores of this vintage (interior decor and signage wise).


     Before heading inside the Publix, here's a quick peek at this store's tile mural. This mural takes the common wine and cornucopia design and transposes it onto a scene from a farm, with farmlands and a farmhouse in the background. Like many older Publix murals, this mural has a more muted color scheme compared to the brighter colors seen in the newer murals from the later part of the 1970s and the early 1980s.

Publix on Apalachee Parkway

     Heading inside, what do we find but Publix's 80's decor! This decor was one of the predecessors to the 90's Wavy Pastel decor. Wavy Pastel shared some similarities to this older look, mostly in the color scheme, but also with the design of the register lights and some of the department logos. I'm actually surprised a store that looked this old lasted as long as 2006, as this was a pretty dated look by that time (this store feels like something out of 1989 in these photos). Publix did a good job at getting most of their older stores updated in some way by the late 1990's, putting a lot of money into updating many older stores to a modern decor and format for the time. I guess since this store had plans to relocate eventually, Publix didn't bother to change anything here.

     The above photo looks across the front end toward the customer service desk, which like most older Publix stores, was located in the front right corner of the store. These photos were taken in the days before this store relocated to its new home up the street, which is why some parts of the store look pretty bare in the photos. 

Bakery at the Publix on Apalachee Parkway

     The bakery department in the front left corner. I like how pictures of baked goods were incorporated into the panels that covered the lights!

Dairy Isle for the Publix on Apalachee Parkway

     Dairy, located along the right side wall.

Deli in the Publix on Apalachee Parkway

     Deli counter.

Directory for the Publix on Apalachee Parkway

     Another classic Publix trait was this aisle directory, placed along the store's back wall. This directory was large, designed to allow customers in the aisles to glance over and find the location of a particular item if they didn't know where it was.

Directory in the Publix on Apalachee Parkway

     A close-up of the aisle directory, with the seafood counter visible underneath. Due to the placement of the aisle directory, the signage for the meat and seafood department had to be placed on the back wall underneath the directory, making it somewhat hard to see.

Produce section in the Publix on Apalachee Parkway

     Produce was located in the back left corner of the store in a small alcove. This alcove appears to have been added on at some point (probably during the 1980's when the store remodeled to the look you see here). The lower ceiling and tiled floors are what suggest to me this space was carved out of a portion of the back room.

Produce in the Publix on Apalachee Parkway

     Salads. However, something a bit more interesting than the leafy greens can be seen above the coolers. Prior to Publix's first store outside of Florida in 1991, a lot of their signage and advertisement used to include pictures of the state of Florida and other Floridian themes, to promote themselves as "Florida's Supermarket" in a way. An example of the Florida-centric design can be seen in the decor piece above the coolers, with the Publix logo placed next to the state of Florida, with sun rays around it (we are the "Sunshine State", after all). After Publix began their expansions outside of Florida, all of that stuff went away.

Great Frozen Foods at Publix on Apalachee Parkway

     Frozen foods are located along the store's left side wall. All of the signage visible in this aisle certainly has a strong 1980's feel to it (especially those etched wood grain category markers)!

Awesome Clock at Publix on Apalachee Parkway

    Located near the frozen foods department was this really cool Publix clock! I wish I could have gotten my hands on one of these! This clock is another great example of Publix's "Florida store" theme.

Publix on Apalachee Parkway

      Lastly from inside of this Publix, a view of the (very old) front checklanes. I'm glad that these photos were published to flickr, as they give a very nice overview of what Publix used to look like back in the 1980's. This store was certainly the last of its kind, and I'm very glad shawnson though to get some pictures of this place way back when. Shawnson's album has some extra photos of this store that I didn't include in this post, as well as some of this store in the weeks after its closure. Here's the link again to that album. It's definitely worth a scroll through!

     After closing this location, Publix moved a mile north along Blair Stone Road to Governor Square's north side. The new Publix, store #1051, opened on May 4, 2006, the day after store #113 closed. The new store is your typical 2000's Publix, and certainly not the spectacle the previous location was! After sitting empty for 3 years, Publix #113 was gutted to the bare walls to make room for a new hhgregg store. The former Publix space is completely unrecognizable now. The exterior was completely modified, and the tile mural was shattered and destroyed. You'd never know anymore that space once house a Publix store. With hhgregg's bankruptcy and liquidation in 2017, the old Publix space is sitting empty yet again.

Albertsons Cart in Front of Old Eckerds/Gateway Store

     To conclude this post we have this photo, also from shawnson's photostream. After one of his visits to Publix #113, he wandered down to the then-empty former Eckerd space in the plaza, where a few shopping certs found themselves abandoned. Of the three stray shopping carts that found their way over here, one of them happened to be from Albertsons #4343 across the street! This photo was actually taken about a year after the Albertsons across the street had closed, so it's interesting one of their carts happened to linger around this long afterwords (and for all we know, could still be floating around Tallahassee somewhere, 12 years later). 

     While there wasn't much to see at the site of former Albersons #4343 anymore, at least we had those photos of the classic Publix across the street to make up for it! Thanks again to YonWooRetail2 and shawnson for providing us with all of these photos!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Lion Sleeps Tonight...

Food Lion #1329
3826 S. Clyde Morris Boulevard, Port Orange, FL - Food Lion Plaza

     So what happens when Publix goes on safari? They come back with a Food Lion trophy to hang over their mantle (haha, haha). While Food Lion hunting drove the species to extinction in Florida (along with some other, larger issues), Food Lions are not quite an endangered species yet in some other states. That's good news in case you really want to make the journey to observe a Food Lion in its natural habitat. The continued expansion (or "introduction of invasive species", if we want to keep the ecological theme going!) of Publix and Wegmans into the Carolinas and Virginia may very well put the Food Lion on the endangered supermarkets list if they don't try to better compete with these new invaders, but that's a discussion for another time. Anyway, if you look around Florida close enough, you may still find the decaying skeleton of the once magnificent beast known as the Food Lion lurking around the state, like I happened to find this particular day in Port Orange...

     For a Florida Food Lion store, the Port Orange location was one of the later ones to be built. This Food Lion opened in 1996, just as Food Lion's massive expansion across Florida began to die off. In the decade prior to this store's opening, Food Lion was trying to build stores just about everywhere and anywhere they could find open land in Florida, especially in areas around Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers, and Tallahassee. By the mid-1990s, Food Lion had begun to slow their Florida expansion plans. The Florida Food Lion stores weren't performing up to expectation, and were constantly getting crushed in price and quality from the other long established supermarket chains in Florida. The pressures of the supermarket landscape in Florida in the mid-1990's mixed in with Food Lion's media and financial troubles from the same time period didn't help the situation much. Food Lion attempted to continue expanding into new Florida markets in the mid-1990's, including doomed expansions into South Florida and the Panhandle west of Tallahassee. In 1996, Food Lion's parent company Delhaize purchased Tampa-based Kash n' Karry, a somewhat troubled but well established supermarket chain in Florida (especially in western parts of the state). With Food Lion failing in Florida, Delhaize was hoping to use the Kash n' Karry purchase to boost their struggling Florida presence. Kash n' Karry became the new focus for Delhaize in Florida after the purchase, with the opening of new Florida Food Lions coming to a near halt after the purchase. Of the few new Food Lion stores Delhaize planned to open in the late 1990's throughout Florida, those new stores were instead built as Kash n' Karry locations. In 1999, hoping to salvage most of their Food Lion stores in Florida, Delhaize rebranded the majority of these locations to the Kash n' Karry brand. The exception to that rebranding was a cluster of Food Lion stores in Northeastern and North Central Florida (including the Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, and Gainesville areas), the only pocket of Food Lion stores doing semi-well in Florida due to the lighter competition in these areas.

     Residing just south of Daytona Beach and within the confines of Volusia County, the Port Orange Food Lion managed to escape the Kash n' Karry rebranding of 1999, continuing on into the new millennium as a Food Lion. After the rebranding, this store would become the southernmost location in the Food Lion chain, a title this store would hold for 13 years.

     While the Port Orange Food Lion opened in 1996, Food Lion had wanted to open a store in this town since the late 1980's. Food Lion entered Volusia County in the late 1980's after purchasing 5 SupeRx Food and Drug locations in the county from Kroger, including the SupeRx stores located in Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Ormond Beach, Holly Hill, and Orange City (Food Lion Store #s 651-655). There was also a SupeRx Food and Drug store located in Port Orange about three miles away from here (which I briefly mentioned in the previous post). However, Food Lion chose not to purchase that SupeRx location, deciding instead to develop a store on their own in Port Orange immediately after the SupeRx purchase went through. The original plans for the Port Orange Food Lion, designated as store #658, mentioned building a new store on the plot of land directly across the street from where their store would eventually be constructed (the land where the Walmart Neighborhood Market is now). Store #658 has a targeted opening date in 1990, but those plans fell through, also for reasons unknown. Food Lion had a large number of stores they planned to build throughout Florida, but never came to fruition. To see some of these planned locations (as well as a list of all the Food Lions stores that did operate in Florida at one time), you can check out the list I compiled on the AFB Retail Database by clicking here. I realize I haven't added any new lists to that site since it launched in September 2017, but I do have a few more lists in the works to post once I find the time to finish those up (amongst all the other projects I keep coming up with!).

     The Port Orange Food Lion remained at this location until Food Lion officially pulled out of Florida in 2012. By that time, Food Lion only had three locations left in all of Volusia County, down 6 stores from its peak of 9 in the late 1990's. Food Lion was slowly closing stores in Florida during the early and late 2000's as Publix continued to grow, and Delhaize did hardly anything to make Food Lion more competitive in Florida. This Food Lion did receive a remodel in the mid-2000's as we'll see in just a moment, but the renovations were just cosmetic and didn't appear to add any new features or services. I don't know just how widespread Food Lion remodels were in Florida in the 2000's, but I do know that Food Lion had a bit of a remodeling spree in other parts of the Southeast during this time.

     Fighting the sun glare, the above photo shows the far left side of the former Food Lion building. To the left of the Food Lion were two small storefronts, both of which were empty during my visit this store (although the Health Food tenant left their signage up after closing). To the right of the Food Lion building were more small storefronts, which still had a few tenants in them. However, with the small amount of traffic those few tenants brought in, the entire complex still managed to feel pretty dead to me.

     This building's exterior was an exact copy of every Food Lion store built from the mid-1980's until the early 2000's, with the rectangular facade and the double sided vestibule. There are a lot of these buildings still floating around Florida in various shapes of abandonment and repurposement, and it's quite obvious when you see one to know what it was prior.

     Looking through the left side doors, we get this view into the empty vestibule. The carpet you see here was added during the mid-2000's remodel. Speaking of that mid-2000's remodel, we can see part of its signage peeking out into the vestibule in the background of this photo. The front right corner of this building was home to the combined deli/bakery department, and part of the deli sign is peeking out. It turns out this was my best photo of the deli/bakery space, considering its location in the corner behind that dividing wall. However, even though I didn't get a good look at the deli/bakery, I got much better interior shots of the rest of the store.

     Now that we've seen the vestibule, let's jump right in to some photos of the salesfloor. Peeking through the front windows now, I was able to get some nice shots of the abandoned interior of this place. The fact that all of the interior lights were still on helped quite a bit with getting good interior photos. The decor you see here debuted in 2005, and was used in a large number of remodels through the early 2010's. I've seen this interior referred as the "Rutherfordton interior" elsewhere on the internet, a the name being derived from the city in which the first store with this interior opened in. From what I've seen, this interior is fairly appealing in its complete form, as can bee seen in this photo album from a Food Lion store in Virginia. While the department signs themselves were left up on the wall, the complimentary decorative pieces that matched the department signs (such as that linked example) were all removed. In the above photo, we're looking into the left side of the building. The blue walls to the left side of the building designate the old Frozen Foods department, with the beginning of the meat department visible along the back wall. In the foreground we can see scars from where a counter was removed, revealing some of the tile pattern from the decor package that this store opened with (which I believe was this).

     Another view of the left side of the building, this time with scars from the checkstands now visible.

     The meat department lined the store's back wall, with a full service counter located under the "Fresh Seafood" sign visible in the back right portion of the above image.

    The customer service desk is what left behind the rectangular shaped tile scar in the above photo.

     My attempt at a zoomed-in panorama of the store's back wall. At the far right of this image, we can now see the produce department.

     This was the best view I could get into the right side of the store, where the produce department was located. In this particular decor package, the overhead lighting in the produce department was removed and replaced with a large wooden grate with spotlights on it, making that department darker than the rest of the store. If you zoom in on the above photo, you can see the hanging grate is still there, but none of the spotlights are on, making the back right corner of the store appear darker than the rest of the building.

     Now that we made our way to the right side of the building, here's a look through the right side entry doors into the vestibule. From this angle we can see into the front left corner of the store, where the beer and wine was located.

     Opposite the right side entrance was this small cubbyhole for shopping cart storage, something that was not present on the other side of the vestibule. The remainder of this small shopping center is also visible in the background, with that portion of the plaza occupied by a hair salon, a nail salon, two small restaurants, and a book store.

     For these views angled to the left side of the building, the evening sun was not the most cooperative with me! At least the glare wasn't too bad that it messed up the entire photo, and we can at least make out much of the old Food Lion building in its entirety.

     This exterior overview of the former Port Orange Food Lion wraps up our tour of this abandoned supermarket, as viewed from its empty parking lot. To finish off this post we have the usual satellite imagery, begining as usual with some Bird's Eye aerial views, courtesy of Bing Maps:


Right Side


Left Side

     And now some historic aerial imagery, courtesy of Google Earth:

Former Food Lion #1329 - 2017 - The empty Food Lion is to the left side of the image, with the new Walmart Neighborhood Market across the street on the original site that Food Lion wanted to build their store.

Former Food Lion #1329 - 2014

Food Lion #1329 - 2010

Food Lion #1329 - 2006

Food Lion #1329 - 1999

Future Food Lion #1329 - 1995

     To conclude this post, I found a photo of the Food Lion back when it was still in business. I don't know exactly when the above photo was taken, but it probably dates back to the early 2000's prior to the interior remodel. During that remodel, this Food Lion received the brown paint scheme we saw in the prior photos as well as updated exterior signage, while the above image shows the store in its original form with original red signage. I pulled this photo from this website, which has a couple of other photos of this store from the early 2000's as well. As of May 2018, this Food Lion building is still sitting empty, a fate many of these former Food Lion stores suffer from. Unlike some locations Food Lion picked, this store was actually built in a semi-busy area on a major roadway, so this building has a better chance of finding a new tenant than some other former Food Lion stores out there.

     So while the Floridian sub-species of the Food Lion has been hunted to extinction, AFB will serve as the museum to preserve the photos of fossils that will remind us the Food Lion was once able to roam freely around the cities of Florida. However, Publix is the real king of the jungle in Florida, and proved to be too ferocious a hunter for the weak and feeble Food Lion, who became another one of the many dodo birds of Florida's once robust supermarket scene.

Anyway, that's enough dumb metaphors for today. Until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger