Tuesday, April 21, 2015

And Then There Were Three - The Original Clearwater Albertsons to Close May 28th

Photo courtesy of Bing Maps
     As stated in yesterday's brief Breaking News post, Florida is losing one of its four remaining Albertsons stores. The Clearwater Albertsons, Store #4301, located at 2170 Gulf To Bay Boulevard, will close its doors forever on May 28, 2015, almost three years since the last Florida Albertsons closings happened on June 9, 2012. While it's sad to see another Albertsons Florida store close, honestly, I'm surprised any of those four stores lasted this long, and that a closing didn't come sooner. What really surprised me more than anything was that Albertsons has chosen to close only one Florida store (for now anyway). I always felt that when the time came for Albertsons to close more Florida stores, those last four would all go at once. Now, as of the end of May anyway, Albertsons will operated three Florida stores isolated a few hundred miles from the rest of the chain, which makes even less sense than operating four isolated stores. For now, the remaining Albertsons stores in Altamonte Springs, Oakland Park, and Largo (located only 7 miles south of the closing Clearwater store) are safe, and will leave Albertsons with one store left in each of the major population areas of Orlando, South Florida, and Tampa Bay. 

     The closing of the Clearwater store is pretty significant in a way. The Clearwater Albertsons was the first Albertsons to open in Florida, under the name Skaggs-Albertsons at the time, on October 9, 1974. To read about the joyous occasion, check out this article from the now defunct St. Petersburg Evening Independent newspaper previewing the store in an article published the day before it opened. What was a big deal in 1974 will be nothing more than a memory in a month. The opening of the Clearwater Albertsons was the beginning of a 40 year journey with many high points and low points over the years (mostly low points looking back in the most recent years). This store has seen it all. The Skaggs era, 70's Stripes, Blue and Gray Marketplace, Cerberus, Albertsons Market, New Albertsons Inc - it's seen its share of change. 

Photo courtesy of Google Maps
     And one change that probably wan't so welcomed was the opening of that Walmart Neighborhood Market directly across the street in early 2014, built on the site of a former trailer park. For this Albertsons' entire life it had to compete with that Publlix diagonally across Gulf to Bay. That Publix originally started out as an old Wing Store dating back to the late 50's or early 60's, which was later demolished in 2007 for the newer and larger modern store. I think that new Walmart, though, was a large contributing factor to this store's impending closure. That tiny little Walmart Neighborhood Market has a full parking lot there in the aerial above. Publix has a decent crowd as well. Albertsons's crowd is better than some I've seen, but it looks a little thin compared to the others on the same corner. This store has probably been suffering since that Walmart opened. The other three remaining Albertsons Florida stores haven't had any new supermarket competitors open near them recently. Also, I'm surprised about that old Kmart/Sears Essentials, which closed in 2008, hasn't been redeveloped yet. A large lot like that in built-out Pinellas County seems like it would get a lot of interest from developers. When Albertsons closes, this corner is going to be even more valuable. Large lots like this don't come up for sale too often in Pinellas County anymore. 

     As far as new details about the closing go, not much new information has come out since yesterday. However, Supermarket News published an article today recognizing the closing of the original store, which you can read here. I highly recommend that link in the article to the "'independently published history' of the chain's local stores". With the Clearwater store's closing, 86 people will be out of a job, and Albertsons minuscule presence in Florida will get even smaller. Is the end of Albertsons Florida getting nearer? I'll be keeping an eye on this and I'll update this post if any new information comes out. And any photos of this store before it closes would also be greatly appreciated if anybody is in the area!

Anyway, until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger      


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