Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Tale of Two Krogers - Part 1

     They Came...They Saw...They Failed Miserably.   

     Well, that saying would apply to most of the list of supermarket chains that have ever tried operating a Florida division, some to a bigger extent than others. The feature of today's post certainly was no exception to that statement, especially with their very short lived rebranding campaign. Today, the Albertsons Florida Blog is going Krogering, bringing to you Part 1 of a special two part Bonus Buy Store series. In this series, we'll be taking a close look at some former Kroger Florida locations and their evolution from SupeRx Food and Drug into Florida Choice and finally into the history books. These old Kroger Florida stores have some unique traits to them, and we'll take a look at two of the best preserved transformations of Kroger Florida stores, with today's post featuring the former SupeRx Food and Drug and Florida Choice stores located in Titusville, FL. I'll be going into the histories of both of these former Kroger banners in more detail as we look at each store. Kroger's short lived Florida division back in the 80's is quite fascinating, and their buildings were rather unique as well, as they were unlike most of Kroger's typical store designs of that era. So, let's jump into this, starting from the beginning with the Titusville SupeRx Food and Drug: 

SupeRx Food and Drug #5XX
3636 S. Washington Ave. (US 1), Titusville, FL

     SupeRx first opened this store in 1983, about three years after Kroger first debuted the SupeRx Food and Drug name in Florida at a store identical to this one about 45 minutes south of here in Indian Harbour Beach. These SupeRx Food and Drug stores are easily recognizable with their rounded canopies and rounded columns that line the front of the building. Even the corners of the building are rounded off. These stores were being built during the period where Kroger was building their famous "Greenhouse" model stores throughout the rest of the country. 

     However, as the 80's rolled along, Kroger saw these small SupeRx stores weren't performing so well. In an effort to increase sales and better compete with more upscale stores like Publix and Goodings, Kroger decided to rebrand and reimage their Florida SupeRx Food and Drug stores with a new name, Florida Choice, in 1986. As a part of the rebranding and reimaging of SupeRx, most of these small SupeRx stores, although fairly new at the time, were replaced with new Florida Choice buildings nearby. Most of these Florida Choice relocations were done though Kroger's buyout of A&P's Florida Family Mart stores in 1987, however a few lucky stores stores not already near a Family Mart got brand new Kroger built Florida Choice structures built for them. There weren't many ground up Florida Choice stores built. I can only think of seven completed and two partially built ones to have ever existed, but I may be missing a few from my count. This store relocated in 1988 to one of those ground up built Florida Choice buildings, and the store to be featured in part two of this series also relocated to a Kroger built Florida Choice building. But more on Florida Choice in a moment. It's time to get back to SupeRx Food and Drug:        

     As you probably could tell, the old Titusville SupeRx has since become an Ace Hardware. Ace Hardware moved into this building sometime around 2005. Between SupeRx leaving and Ace moving in, this building housed offices for Aerospace Interconnect Systems. I'm not really sure what that was (probably some kin of technology company that worked with nearby NASA), but they moved into this building in 1986 and went out of business in the early 2000's.

     Also, I'm not exactly sure how SupeRx's original entryway was set up, but I believe there was only one set of doors that served as both the entrance and exit, with that door being the one further to the right, which is currently Ace's exit. Other than possibly adding in an extra door, Ace did practically nothing to the exterior of this building.

     A closer look at some of the rounded detailing along the front of the building. 

     Heading inside and turning to the left. The building still has a little bit of a supermarket feel to it on the inside. There really aren't too many really obvious features from this building's short 5 years as a supermarket left unfortunately, and in the transition of this building into offices and then into Ace Hardware, I'm sure a bit of work was done to the place.  

     Ace added on a garden center to the left side of the building. 

     Going back inside for a few more views of the interior. This is an aisle over on the left side of the store. 

     And a few more interior shots from the other side of the building. No clues of this building's past life over here either. 

     Another quick look at the exterior before we head to our next stop. Another thing I would like to point out though is that all of these SupeRx stores also had an attached liquor store. The liquor store was that small storefront off the the right side of the building here. 

     The former SupeRx Food and Drug liquor store, now repurposed as some kind of watersports/bait shop. 

     A quick look at the loading dock. 

    Now it's time to leave SupeRx behind and head a little further west into town to see the second store to be featured in this post, the former Titusville Florida Choice store:

Florida Choice #620
1450 Harrison St., Titusville, FL

     This store replaced the SupeRx Food and Drug we just took a look at in early 1988. This store only lasted a few months as Florida Choice, since Kroger announced they would pull the plug on Florida Choice and leave Florida in July 1988. This store was one of 9 Florida Choice locations Kroger sold to Gooding's in September 1988. Gooding's opened here later that year, and they remained in this location until 1997, when they pulled out of Brevard County as a part of the scaling back in the late 90's. This place has been vacant ever since. 

     If you look really close at this photo, and the next three, you can see all the labelscars from Gooding's signage. 

     The Gooding's signage on the front of the building would have looked something like this. The labelscars are extremely clear if you come here in person. 

     As for what Florida Choice's logo would have looked like on the building, picture the logo on the bag below up there (although on the building, I think it was all written out on one line, with the palm tree to the very left - but that's just a guess based on what the facade looks like)

Old Florida Choice Bag (Late 1980's)

     As for the bag itself, it's a part of my personal collection, and one of the rarest retail pieces that I own, considering how short lived Florida Choice was and how long ago all of their stores closed.

     These Florida Choice stores are absolutely massive. I had a vary hard time trying to get the entire exterior of this place in one photo. This store is 58,325 square feet - a monster sized store for 1988, even bigger than what Albertsons was building at the time! Only one of these Florida Choice buildings continues to live on as a supermarket, though - a Publix on N. Military Trail in West Palm Beach (that building was a slightly different style than this one). 

     Everything you see on this building is original to when it was first built by Kroger in 1988. The blue tile trim, the design of the entryway, and possibly even the paint (which was very old and dirty)! 

     Looking down the left side of the building. The attached liquor store's entrance is behind those boards you see in this photo.

     Those boarded up windows you see looked into the liquor store. 

     Looking under the front canopy to where the entryway into the store is located. 

     Even the entryway is huge! On the far left (where the white paint blotches are on the plywood) was the entrance into the liquor store. To the very right of that were a set of doors leading into the store (behind the big piece of plywood), and next to that was a set of exit doors (those doors you see that are partially exposed). Further down was another set of entry and exit doors into the store. 

     Closeup of the left side entrance and exit doors into the main store. 

     Plywood everywhere. I think vandals smashed in many of the windows, as there was broken glass on the concrete, and I was able to get a peek behind one of the boards to see the glass was missing behind it. 

     One of the right side doors peeking out from behind the boards...

     The far right side of the front of the building. 

     Looking back down the front of the building from the right side. The other entry doors are located behind that white painted plywood. 

     Looking toward the liquor store.

     Here's that broken window that I mentioned I saw earlier. I guess they ran out of plywood to cover this hole with. It's way up high anyway, and I don't think anyone could fit though it, but... hand sure could fit though it! Not the most spectacular interior shot in the world, but you can see the distinctive squiggly tile pattern on the ground from Florida Choice. People were definitely getting in here at one point, as you can probably tell by that barely visible pallet jack the floor with graffiti on it. I wonder just how trashed the interior has gotten after sitting empty since 1997. It doesn't look too bad from this viewpoint, but that insulation on the ground in the background doesn't look like a good sign. And if people were getting in here, I'm sure a lot of the copper wiring and pipes have been stolen. In Part 2 of A Tale of Two Krogers, I have some much nicer interior pictures of a former Florida Choice store to bring to you than this. 

     A few final closeups of the former liquor store before we leave the old Florida Choice. 

     Looking out into the big empty parking lot. A heavy afternoon sun shower passed through while I was taking pictures here, so I had a little bit of time to kill. This store wasn't really placed in the best location. While Harrison St. is a decently busy road, this store was plopped right in the middle of a residential neighborhood, off the beaten path for retail in the area, which is mostly located along US 1 (to the east), Route 50 (to the south), and Route 406 (to the north). There's a Winn-Dixie across the street from here that seems to OK business, but this still isn't the busiest area, especially for a retail company looking for a building of this size. The Titusville SupeRx had a much better location, in my opinion. Also, according a property listing I found online, the owner of this property has restricted the possible future tenants of this building to the following tenants: Family Dollar, Bill's Dollar Store, Fred's, Dollar Tree, 99 Cents Only, Deals, Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Big Lots, and Walmart Supercenter. First of all, many of those stores don't operate in Florida at all, or in this part of the state. Dollar General built a new store next door to this old Florida Choice in 2010, and Walgreens built a new store across the street in the mid 2000's. This location is too off the beaten path for Big Lots, who likes to have their stores in busy retail strips, and this lot is nowhere near big enough for a Walmart Supercenter. A Neighborhood Market, maybe, but not a Supercenter. What I'm trying to say is that this building is more than likely going to be sitting empty here for quite a long time more, unless the owner has decided to lift that restriction. 

     Anyway, now it's time for some satellite images. Let's start with some Bird's Eye aerials of these two stores, courtesy of Bing Maps:  

     SupeRx Food and Drug first:


Right Side


Left Side

     And now for Florida Choice:


Right Side


Left Side

     And now for some historic aerial images, courtesy of Google Earth. Again, first up is SupeRx Food and Drug:

Former SupeRx Food and Drug - 2014

Former SupeRx Food and Drug - 2005 - Ace has yet to move in yet.

Former SupeRx Food and Drug - 1999 - This image and the next one were taken when this building was occupied by Aerospace Interconnect Systems

     And now it's Florida Choice's turn:

Former Florida Choice - 2014

Former Florida Choice - 2005

Former Florida Choice - 1999

Former Florida Choice - 1994 - Back when Gooding's was still open.

     And to conclude this post, here's a map showing the locations of the two stores. They are located two miles apart, with the SupeRx Food and Drug store located right on US 1 across from the river and next to Searstown Mall (which still goes by that name, and still has the Sears open) in the bottom right of the map. The Florida Choice store is up in the top left of the map, located back in the residential neighborhood. While the old SupeRx Food and Drug building was able to to find new life while still keeping much of its original character, the much larger and (back in the day) nicer Florida Choice building continues to rot away. And whatever eventually may decide to move into that building has a large project in store for them. 

     Anyway, look out for Part 2 of A Tale of Two Krogers to be coming at a later date. I don't know when that post will be coming to the blog at the moment, but in the meantime, there are plenty more Albertsons stores to see, along with some other bonus stores that may pop up as well. Also, if for some reason you happen to have some old photos of a SupeRx Food and Drug or Florida Choice from when either of those stores were still in business, feel free to send them in to the blog, as I'd really like to see what one of these stores looked like back in their glory days.  

So until the next time, 

The Albertsons Florida Blogger


  1. Sounds like Kroger didn't make the smartest decisions during their time in Florida! And I wonder if that commercial you linked to is from around the Memphis area... the text at the bottom says something about a store opening in Whitehaven. I'll have to check that out...

    That property owner for the Florida Choice has waaaay too lofty dreams for that space if he ever hopes to sell it. Also, I'm glad you didn't drop your camera when you held it through that hole in the plywood!! :P

    1. Kroger came to Florida doing one thing, saw it didn't work, tried fixing it, then gave up on it, all in a span of 8 years. The 80's were a bad time for grocery chains to be entering Florida, as there were so many of them here at the time (times sure have changed). Kroger may have been much more successful using their own name and stores rather than making up a Florida specific chain (which tends to never work).

      I didn't even notice that mention of Whitehaven when I originally linked to that commercial. The only other Whitehaven I found is a small town in Northeastern Pennsylvania, so I'd have to say it's the Whitehaven, TN Kroger they're referencing. I wonder if those same sales were valid at SupeRx too...

      I will never understand the owners of commercial real estate. The place has been sitting empty for almost 20 years, and just about all of those places will have absolutely no interest in that building. The owner should just take a fair offer from anyone and let someone else do something with it. There isn't anything special about the location. The building will probably still be sitting here empty another 20 years from now at this rate.

      I'm really glad I didn't drop the camera (which was actually my phone) in that hole! I don't know what I'd have done if it fell in, or how I would explain that one!

    2. And who knows, maybe they will try that one day...!

      Maybe so! I looked it up and saw on one of l_dawg2000's photos that the Whitehaven, TN, store was built in 1984, so I agree that the promo probably was out of the Delta Division. Small world!

      Heck, he'd probably get more out of it if he let it be completely demolished and replaced with homes if it's in such a residential area. Then again though, I suppose there'd be a lot of rezoning hoops to go through with that... but the building is probably in enough of a bad condition as-is to drive out potential buyers (assuming those buyers would be allowed to buy the property in the first place!)...

      I figured it was probably your phone, but I wasn't sure - I take all my pictures with my phone too. With my luck it'd have gone in! Then the owner wouldn't have gotten it out unless it was an iPhone :P

    3. I hope so. I think it's worth another try for them, especially now.

      Funny how things like that work out. Maybe you'll accidentally link to something from my area someday (although there isn't much from my area to accidentally link to).

      Honestly, it would be hard to attract retail to that building again, even if the building was demolished (Although I wouldn't rule out Walmart Neighborhood Market being attracted to it for some weird reason, but I don't know how close that concept is to Walmart Supercenter for the owner to be interested in selling it to them for that). I think this is one of the times where the city should try to buy the building and redevelop it (whether they tore it down or substantially remodeled it). Honestly, this spot would be really good for one of those community centers with event space, meeting rooms, indoor tennis courts, etc.

      I actually have three real cameras and a mini camera in addition to my phone (some of which I take with me to go get pictures, but end up not using), as I use my phone for 99% of my pictures. It's just easier for me, and using a real camera in the store would just feel weird to me (even though I have no problems using the regular phone camera in the store). I'm sure that iPhone clause is somewhere in the (probably very long) deed!

    4. A community center sounds like a great idea for that space! I don't think about those too often because we don't have (m)any around here, but I agree, that's probably the best use.

      Yep, I feel the same way about using real cameras in stores. I felt bad enough when my old phone made the shutter noise whenever I took a picture! Luckily I can turn that feature off on this phone, and that was just about the first thing I did when I got it :P

    5. Apparently, the owner of the old Florida Choice building wisened up, and came up with a new conceptual plan for the property, which you can see here. I'm not sure if it's a definite plan, or just a concept drawn up to entice potential buyers. Honestly, what they have in that plan makes better sense for this corner than a 58,000 square foot grocery store.

      And in case you were curious, the asking price for the old Florida Choice was/is $1.1 million dollars. That would be a fair price if the building was in salvageable shape. At this point, anyone buying the place would be doing so for only the land (or that conceptual plan). Maybe my theory of 20 more years of rot won't happen after all...

    6. Apparently, the owner of the old Florida Choice building wisened up, and came up with a new conceptual plan for the property, which you can see here. I'm not sure if it's a definite plan, or just a concept drawn up to entice potential buyers. Honestly, what they have in that plan makes better sense for this corner than a 58,000 square foot grocery store.

      And in case you were curious, the asking price for the old Florida Choice was/is $1.1 million dollars. That would be a fair price if the building was in salvageable shape. At this point, anyone buying the place would be doing so for only the land (or that conceptual plan). Maybe my theory of 20 more years of rot won't happen after all...

    7. Cool, thanks for that link! Any arrangement beyond using the original building is sure to be more feasible than fixing this place up, or at least opens the door to a lot more potential clients for this property.

  2. The SuperX prototype with the rounded corners is similar to the Kroger Sav-On (No relation to Albertsons Sav-On) models used roughly during the same time period in the now defunct Carolinas KMA. There's a Harris Teeter in Wilmington, NC that used to be a Kroger Sav-On. It had those corners until it got remodeled a few years back.

    During the '80s,'90s, and even the early '00s Kroger had plenty of prototype stores that mostly varied by division.There's also a rare decor package that I was going to mention (not photographs but descriptions) on Retail Retell's blog but I ended up getting tired and my comments kept getting cleared out before I could hit publish.

    Anyway, Kroger still uses the Florida choice logo font on stores in the Atlanta division (Particularly the Food & Pharmacy sign on the Marquee)

    Also, Official Kroger documents specify that new stores average around 70,000-80,000 ft².

    1. Here's what the Kroger Sav-On prototype looks like for comparison:

    2. Sorry that my blog drove you away, lol! Stupid Blogger glitches...

    3. I'll still mention it. You're probably going to love and hate it at the same time

    4. It sounds really neat, actually! I responded to your comment over there :)

    5. There are a lot of similarities between The SupeRx and the Kroger Sav-On buildings. It's basically the same building but without the awnings, and it looks much bigger (the SupeRx stores were rather small for Kroger, even back then). Florida Choice was a huge and dramatic jump for Kroger in format, building size, and image. It seems like they had big plans for the concept, but decided to abandon them early. I guess Florida Choice still has a small legacy even all of these years later. And that square footage sounds about right for Kroger. They like having stores with a large footprint.


  4. Replies
    1. Sure. I'm fine with that. Send the pictures to albertsonsfloridablog[at]gmail[dot]com (just replace the words in brackets with their respective symbols - this format is done for security reasons)

    2. Check your email, just sent an update on the stores.

  5. Kroger pulled the plug on Florida Choice due to Haft and KKR attempting to take Kroger private. Florida Choice was a casualty of Kroger fending off a hostile takeover.

    1. You are correct. It's also why the Carolinas KMA was also dissolved that year as well.

    2. So maybe the Florida Choice stores were doing better than expected. If only Kroger was able to keep the chain a little longer, maybe they could have had a lasting presence.

  6. Now this isn't in Florida, but towards the end of this photo album on Flickr, you would see a Millennium built Kroger store that's in a similar state of disrepair as the Florida Choice store above. Sad really, because Kroger only lasted two years here with no replacement.

    1. Wow, and that building is probably around 15 years newer than that Florida Choice. Sad to see such a new building in that kind of state. Thanks for the link to those pictures.

    2. Yep, this building opened in 2002 and closed sometime in 2004.

      Kroger actually owns this building and has not been successful in finding someone to lease/sale the building to.

      Unfortunately, I think this building (and the adjacent mall/outparcels) is going to sit and rot for a few more years until they end up demolished.

  7. Do you know if they ever found a buyer for that Florida Choice store in Titusville?

    1. Not that I know of, however the owner of the property has since had redevelopment plans for the property drawn up as an incentive for a potential buyer. The plans aren't anything official, but they include tearing down the old Florida Choice building and building a few smaller retail and restaurant buildings on the property. I haven't been up to Titusville since January so I don't know what has happened to the building since.

  8. Do you happen to have a floor plan of any of the former Albertsons, Kroger or Florida Choice locations? Just curious how they used to be laid out.

    1. Sorry about the delayed reply, but the only floor plan I have is of an early 2000's Albertsons store, which can be seen here:

      As for Florida Choice, I have no idea how one was laid out. I was never in one and they only lasted two years, and very little is known about those stores.