Albertsons #4323/Walmart Neighborhood Market #3162
2801 S. Orange Ave., Orlando, FL - The Market At Southside
(Walmart's address is now 2715 S. Orange Ave., for the record)
Over the last few years, Walmart has really been trying to grow their presence in Florida. Not so much with more supercenters, although they're still built here and there, but with their Neighborhood Markets. Walmart Neighborhood Markets have been popping up all over the place of late. Back in the early days of the concept in the early 2000's, Walmart Neighborhood Markets had a limited presence in the state, confined to mostly select larger population areas. Now, Walmart is trying to get these stores into just about every decent sized town in Florida, especially now that the Florida grocery wars have reduced the playing field to Publix and Walmart as the only dominant players in the game, although #1 Publix still has nearly double the market share that #2 Walmart has in the state. Walmart has also taken advantage of the fall of Albertsons Florida, turning three former Albertsons stores into Neighborhood Markets (including the one we'll be looking at today, and stores #4463 and #4482), with plans to turn stores #4466 and #4357 into Neighborhood Markets as well. However, in the case of this store, I should rephrase something. Walmart didn't just turn this former Albertsons into a Neighborhood Market - they completely flattened it and rebuilt it from scratch.
Albertsons originally opened on this site in 1978, as a stand alone store built in front of an older shopping center called the Southside Shopping Center, which dates back to 1958, and included a Publix (Store #6) as one of its anchors. Actually, the right side of the old Publix building was located only 100 feet away from the back of the Albertsons building. As the years went on and the population in this area, which is located right on the southern edge of downtown Orlando, grew, the old citrus grove that stood for many years to the south of the Albertsons was torn out in order to expand the plaza. A strip of stores was added onto the right side of the Albertsons building, and a zig-zagging shopping center began to grow further south from the Albertsons building as the 90's began. One of these expansions also included a new Publix to replace the old store that dated back to the 50's. Eventually, the entire complex, including the original 1958 plaza, the Albertsons, and the late 80's/early 90's additions all became a part of united complex called The Market at Southside. The Albertsons here was able to last until Febraury 2009, when it was closed with three other underperforming stores across the state. Despite being located in a very busy area, the store would sit empty until 2012, when Walmart announced they wanted to demolish the old Albertsons in order to build one of their Neighborhood Market stores on the site. Construction on the new Neighborhood Market began in late 2012, and the new Walmart Neighborhood Market opened on June 26, 2013.
While there isn't anything left to see from this building's days as an Albertsons, I figured I should still get out and get a few pictures.
Let's go inside the Walmart and take a quick look around:
For those of you who keep track of Walmart interior variants, this store has "Project Impact v. 3.0", (or more commonly referred to under it's more fitting name - "Cheap Impact"), Neighborhood Market Edition. The department signs are brown instead of the usual light blue and orange, as seen in typical supercenters (except over in the pharmacy here, which uses the blue supercenter signs). This interior has since been retired in favor of a new interior, a Neighborhood Market variant of Walmart's somewhat classy new "Black Interior 2.0" decor, which looks something like this (and scroll to the left if you click that link for a few more pictures of it).
Anyway, produce is located in the front right corner of the store, which is located right in front of you as you walk into the store.
Leaving produce and heading down the main aisle that runs along the right side of the building. This aisle contains the lunch meats, butter, yogurt, and similar items.
The world's smallest deli/bakery department. The deli counter is only that tiny case under the Prima Della sign, and the bakery was about two tables of bread, cakes, and some other pre-packaged baked goods in the middle of the aisle.
One of the grocery aisles. It might be a little hard to see, but in typical "Cheap Impact" fashion, one of the numbers on the aisle sign has fallen out (it originally said 7|8, now it's just 7|blank).
Dairy and the dairy cases in the back of the store.
Looking down the back wall toward the left side of the store, where the small selection of general merchandise is kept.
Frozen Foods aisle. Both of the numbers on the sign are still hanging in there...
And over in the front left corner of the store is the (very busy) pharmacy. Here's is that only example of the Supercenter style blue signage in the store.
General merchandise aisles run parallel to the front of the store beyond the pharmacy department, and included cosmetics, health and beauty, cleaning supplies, paper products, pet supplies, and a small selection of hardware and seasonal items. I believe there were ten grocery aisles total in this store, plus this section of the store.
Looking down the left side wall of the store toward the tiny hardware department. The one thing I have to give Walmart credit for was putting in lots of windows along the front and left sides of this store, letting in all the natural light, which I like.
Looking down the back wall of the store from general merchandise, toward the tiny deli/bakery.
The very busy front end. While the pictures may not look it since I like to get as few people as possible in my pictures, this place was extremely crowded while I was here. It's like there aren't any other grocery options in this neighborhood...
...Well, there aren't any other grocery stores around for another good 500 feet. The above image is an overview of the entire Market at Southside complex. The original portion of the complex is the strip of stores behind the old Albertsons facing Michigan St. All the buildings to the south of the Albertsons were added on in the late 80's and into the early 90's, including that Publix at the very bottom, which replaced that very old store behind the Albertsons in 1993. While we're here, we might as well walk over to the Publix and take a quick look at that as well...
2873 S. Orange Ave., Orlando, FL
Opened 1993, replacing store #6 in the original portion of the Market at Southside complex.
This Publix was also one of the first prototypes of their late 90's design to be used. This store has the open ceiling and entryway setup of late 90's store, but has a rather odd layout that neither the early 90's or late 90's stores use. This model was sparingly used while more of the common early 90's stores continued to be built for the next few years.
Let's go inside...
The entire front end of this store has a very unique feel to it due to the raised ceiling that you see here, and with the large glass tower entryway, which we'll see in a moment.
The Meat department is located in this strange rounded area in the back right corner of the store. Behind me is the bakery and deli, which I didn't get any pictures of due to the large crowds that were in here too.
The bustling back aisle, which is home to dairy. Behind me was the seafood counter and an overflow from the meat corner.
The pharmacy in the front left corner.
And produce is in the back left corner, similar to the setup of an early 90's store. In the late 90's Publix stores, produce got flipped over to the back right corner (where this store's meat department is), and stayed there until the most recent store design, which moved produce into the center right portion of the store.
And a look into the big glass entryway from the giant window inside the store as we leave this store.
And before jumping off into aerial images, here's the road sign at Albertsons' old main entrance. Walmart replaced this as well, effectively eliminating every trace of there ever being an Albertsons here.
And now for some Bird's Eye aerial images, courtesy of Bing Maps:
Front - It's the old Albertsons! At least we'll get to see the original structure in the aerial imagery. It looks like this was a fairly original Skaggs model store all the way to the end, and probably got remodeled to Blue and Gray Market in the late 80's, but that was about it.
Right side - The place in the bottom left corner with the blue canopy was a Blockbuster, which is now an Applebee's.
And a quick aerial of the Publix.
Now for some historic aerial images courtesy of Google Earth and historicaerials.com:
Former Albertsons #4323 - 2015
Former Albertsons #4323 - 2013 - Walmart under construction at this time.
Former Albertsons #4323 - 2012 - The original Albertsons building is still standing here, but it wouldn't be for much longer.
Albertsons #4323 - 2006
Albertsons #4323 - 1999
Albertsons #4323 - 1994
Albertsons #4323 - 1980 - The strip of stores to the south of the Albertsons building have yet to be built.
Future Albertsons #4323 - 1969 - Still just a citrus grove at this point.
To conclude this post, I'll repost these classic screenshots of this Albertsons, which was featured in the top story on WFTV Channel 9 news on May 29, 1981 about some kind of extortion plot involving some of the Albertsons stores in Orlando:
And this picture is the only image I currently have of Albertsons' 70's interior, which I refer to as "70's Stripes". If you want to watch the entire clip that this store was featured in, you can see that here.
Other than the aerials and the video from 1981, the only other picture I could find of this store is the one featured in this article about Walmart being interested in this site, but it was taken at a weird angle. And while this article doesn't have any pictures of the original Albertsons building, it does have some interesting pictures of the Walmart Neighborhood Market being built.
While this may not have been the most exciting former Albertsons in the world since Walmart went to the extent of removing every trace of Albertsons they possibly could, they still can't take away the fact that an Albertsons used to be here, and that it served this area for 31 years before finally giving in to that Publix 500 feet away.
So that's all for now. Until the next time,
The Albertsons Florida Blogger