Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Tale of Two Krogers - Part 2

     Finally, the continuation you may or may not have been waiting for. Today AFB presents Part 2 (the final part) of our Tale of Two Krogers series. A Tale of Two Krogers - Part 1, featuring the former SupeRx Food and Drug and Florida Choice stores in Titusville, was featured on the blog back in January. Today we travel further south in Brevard County to the city of Rockledge for Part 2, which will feature the former SupeRx and Florida Choice stores there. As was the case with Titusville, Rockledge's former Kroger owned stores are still relatively well preserved after cycling through a few different uses since both of these stores closed in the late 80's. Since I covered the general background info on Kroger Florida in the Part 1 post, I won't go into much detail about it here. If you would like to know more about the history of Kroger in Florida, or if you would like a refresh, be sure to take a quick look at the Part 1 post.

     So let's get right into this and start from the beginning with Rockledge's former SupeRx Food and Drug store:

SupeRx Food and Drug #506
201 Bougainvillea Drive, Rockledge, FL

     This was one of the earlier SupeRx stores, having first opened in 1982. This store was supposed to be replaced by a new Florida Choice store two miles to the south of here in the later part of 1988, however due to Kroger announcing their departure of the Florida market in July 1988, those plans were never fully completed (more on that in the second half of this post). This was one of 6 Kroger owned stores that Gooding's purchased as a part of Kroger's departure from Florida. That deal also included an additional two Florida Choice stores that were under construction but nearly complete at the time of the sale, including the nearly complete replacement for this store two miles to the south. After the deal was finalized, Gooding's opted to open their Rockledge location in the nearly complete (and much larger and nicer) Florida Choice building, closing this one when the new store was ready to open. This building sat empty until 1991 when it found a new life as a 32 lane bowling alley called Space Bowl, a popular hangout in Rockledge during the 90's. Space Bowl eventually fell on hard times by the mid-2000's, and they ended up closing around that same time. Most recently, this building was home to a business file storage facility called Business Archives of Rockledge, which eventually moved out in the later part of 2015. According to some planning documents from the city of Rockledge, the federal government has recently shown interest in purchasing this building. What they plan to do with this place I don't know, but at least I got my pictures before Federal Agents could have a chance to chase me away!

     As we go through these pictures of the SupeRx, you'll notice they were taken at two different times. Some of these were taken in September 2015 when the Business Archive place was still open (like the one above), and some were taken in January 2016 after they moved out. I just wanted to point that out before you begin to wonder why the brown SUV parked in front of the building appears and disappears throughout these pictures.

     Of all of the former SupeRx Food and Drug stores I've found, this one is probably the most well preserved example left in the entire state, exterior-wise anyway. I don't know if the windows and doors are original to the building, but what you see here is (what I'm pretty sure is) the original design of the building at least.

     The liquor store is the building attached to the right side of the main store. We'll take a closer look at that shortly.

     During my September 2015 visit here, the old Space Bowl labelscar was still completely visible after a good 10 years or so of going out of business. By January 2016, the labelscar had been painted over.

     I'm not completely sure about this, but I believe that door was a side entrance that led into SupeRx's pharmacy department.

     So when nobody was around my second time here, and when the front walkway wasn't being used as an extension of the parking lot, I decided to get a closer look at this place. This is what it looks like under the front walkway.

     Like I said before, it's the exterior that makes this place the most well preserved former SupeRx in the state that I know of. Looking though the front door, it's easy to see this place was completely gutted out. I'm sure the bowling alley stripped out most traces of SupeRx, and in turn the archival place stripped out all the traces of the blowing alley.

     Another look down the front walkway, taken closer to the liquor store.

     Now for a quick look around the former liquor store...

     Sometime between September and January, some of that paneling on the corner of the awning fell off.

     The liquor store entrance.

     The liquor store has since been converted into somebody's office. While the main store has been stripped to the core, the ceiling in here looks to be original to SupeRx.

     The right side of the building.

     With this picture of the tiny, empty parking lot, that pretty much wraps up our look at the old SupeRx Food and Drug of Rockledge. Now let's begin our journey to the next stop, the former (technically never opened) Florida Choice of Rockledge:

      If we go South on Route 1 about 2 miles and then cross the railroad tracks, we'll find ourselves at the old Florida Choice. Let's take a look at it:

Florida Choice #638
224 Barton Boulevard, Rockledge, FL - Barton Commons

     Kroger was already prepared to make their big move from the tiny old SupeRx down the road to this much nicer and larger building. Kroger anticipated that move would occur sometime in late 1988. However, Kroger announced their Florida departure in July 1988, halting construction on this nearly completed building. As I mentioned earlier, this building and the old SupeRx were sold to Gooding's Supermarket, with Gooding's opting to use this building for their new store. While it was Gooding's who put the finishing touches on this building, this building still expresses the Florida Choice design. This store is an exact copy of the former Titusville Florida Choice store seen in Part 1 in just about every way, with the exception of the fancy curved detailing seen over the entryway here. This store lasted as Gooding's until 1997 when they pulled out of Brevard County. Since then, the leftmost third of this building has become a Bealls Outlet, the rightmost third has become a Brevard Health Alliance clinic, but the middle third has sat empty since Gooding's departure in 1997. And unlike the Titusville store, which was boarded up tight, we'll get a peek inside this building to have a small taste of what Florida Choice (well, Gooding's mostly) was like.

    Moving further to the left across the exterior. Behind those small rectangular windows were the old liquor store.

     The leftmost portion of the building, home to the piece of the old Florida Choice that Bealls Outlet took over.

     Like in Titusville, the exterior of the building is so massive, it's difficult to get all of it in one picture. I had to break everything into sections.

     The blue tile trim remains from this building's anticipated days as Florida Choice. Florida Choice's logo was blue, which is probably why they used that color.

     Looking into the entryway. The vestibule is set up exactly like what we saw in Titusville, minus the boards. The doors to the far left go into the old liquor store, while the remaining doors all led into the main store.

     And here begins our look inside to see what this place was all about. This is looking into the former liquor store. The liquor store went deeper into the building than this, however when Bealls Outlet carved out their portion of the building to move into, they took over the back portion of the liquor store too.

     Bealls Outlet's partition wall is in the background. Given the current state of the building and the configuration of this space, the old liquor store will probably be combined into the empty portion of the main store when or if something ever takes that over. 

     The first set of entrance and exit doors into the main store. The far right side of the vestibule would have been a mirror image of this, however the clinic now in that part of the building reconfigured the entryway for their purposes.

     Peeking inside the old left side vestibule. I see Gooding's left one of their signs behind over the door. The sign says "Gooding's - Carry out to your car is our service - No tipping please". Back in the day, Gooding's rivaled (and to some, exceeded) the quality and customer service that Publix offered and is known for today, and was a very nice place to shop. Today, the last remaining Gooding's just outside of Disney World in Orlando is a complete joke, but that's a post for another day.

     So what lies within the open door?...

     ...Our glimpse into what probably is the most well preserved interior remnant from Florida Choice out there. While I'm almost positive the ceiling and flooring are from Florida Choice, the pastel color scheme and decor remnants in the very back are more then likely a Gooding's artifact, as they were the ones to finish this building. I have no idea what kind of interior Kroger would have used in one of these stores, but more than likely it would have been something custom designed for this division and not the Kroger standard Bauhaus or Neon interiors that were used somewhere around the time these stores were built (as can be seen on The Mid-South Retail Blog in those links).

     Remember that squiggly tile pattern from here? The faint outline of that tile was about all we got to see inside the old Titusville Florida Choice. At least we get to see a bit more than that here. It looks to me like the portion of back wall that we can see in this picture was home to the meat department.

     You really can't get a more stereotypical 80's Florida supermarket color scheme than what you see here on the back wall.

     The wall you see to the right divides this unoccupied portion of the building from the clinic.

     Just a few more pictures from outside before moving on. You can see the entrance into the clinic in the background of this picture.

     When Kroger said they wanted to "go big" with Florida Choice, they really meant that both figuratively and literally.

     Almost done here...

     Going all the way to the back of the parking lot, I finally succeeded in getting the entire exterior in one picture. This was definitely one giant grocery store back when this place first opened. So with this I will wrap up our look at the former Rockledge Florida Choice store (that never actually opened). Now let's move on to some Bird's Eye aerial images of these two stores, starting with the old SupeRx Food and Drug:

Front - Due to the shape of the lot, this store got an oddly configured, and rather small parking lot.

Right Side


Left Side

     And now Florida Choice:

Front - The clinic in the rightmost portion of the building had yet to open when these images were taken.

Right Side


Left Side

     And now for some historic aerials courtesy of Google Earth, again, starting with SupeRx:

Former SupeRx Food and Drug - 2014

Former SupeRx Food and Drug - 2007

Former SupeRx Food and Drug - 1999 - This is the building in it's bowling alley days.

Former SupeRx Food and Drug - 1994

     Now it's Florida Choice's turn:

Former Florida Choice - 2014

Former Florida Choice - 2005 - Only the Bealls Outlet portion of the building is occupied at this point.

Former Florida Choice - 1999 - The building is completely empty.

Former Florida Choice - 1994 - And the building when Gooding's was still around.

     And finally, an overview of Barton Commons, the plaza in which the Florida Choice was to open in. The entire plaza opened in late 1988 with anchors Kmart, Bealls Department Store, and Gooding's (after Kroger bailed out before they could finish the Florida Choice). As we saw, the old Florida Choice was split up into three spaces after its life as a grocery store ended. As for the other anchors, the Bealls is still open, and the Kmart closed in the 2003 mass closure wave as they tried to emerge from bankruptcy. The Kmart is still empty 13 years later.

     And to conclude this post, and The Tale of Two Krogers series, here's a look down the front of Barton Commons from the old Kmart (Store #3666). This was one of the ugly late 80's Kmart stores, and was a pretty average store from that era. The parking lot of this building is roped off from the rest of the plaza, and it doesn't look like there are any plans in the works for this space at the moment. It looks like the landlord is just letting it sit. Anyway, I have many more pictures of this old Kmart to post to AFB on flickr at some point (don't ask me when).

     So that concludes our look at SupeRx Food and Drug and Florida Choice for the time being. There's a chance SupeRx or Florida Choice may pop up again on the blog, as there are some other interesting examples of both of those store's former locations out there. But that's the distant future. As for the near future, more Albertsons coming to the blog in two weeks, and in the even nearer future than that, Safeway Florida's official launch is in three days. I have a little something prepared for that event as well, although the official AFB Safeway Florida analysis won't be coming until July...

So until the next time,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger


  1. I wonder why no Florida Choice stores used a variant of the Greenhouse design. It was clear Kroger loved it, as it was used in some form or fashion for most of the 1980s, and it still largely remains a favorite for retail historians. Such a distinctive format would've been a plus in what was (then) a competitive market.

    1. Considering SupeRx Food and Drug was essentially a spinoff of the Kroger-Savon format (as mentioned by 11110 below), it makes sense that the SupeRx stores got the similar rounded design of the Kroger-Savon stores instead of the Greenhouse design. As for Florida Choice, Kroger was going for something different. They wanted Florida Choice to be a larger sized store in the league of Publix and pre-2000's Gooding's. The Florida Choice stores pushed 60,000 square feet and were supposed to feel upscale. I believe a typical Greenhouse store is about half that size. Not that Kroger couldn't have built a giant Greenhouse store, but I think they were trying to make Florida Choice feel less like a typical Kroger.

  2. I could be wrong, but I don't believe any of the Dillon banners (Fry's, Dillons, King Soopers, etc) had standard Kroger decor until the Millennium era (and even then, it was just the Dillons nameplate that had the Millennium decor, the other chains had custom decor)

    Again, I could be wrong.

    Also worth noting, the late 1980s marked the debut of two new prototypes: the Greenhouse/Wedge Hybrid (The same store prototype used by the Columbia,SC store that closed a few years back),and the Wedge entrance stores. As mentioned earlier, the SuperX stores were a variant of the Kroger Sav-On prototype that was also used quite a bit back then. I believe the late 1980s would be where Kroger started letting the KMAs design their own stores.

    1. Kroger had a few other Florida Choice design variants other than the one seen in Titusville and Rockledge. The design seen here was the one used right before Kroger pulled out of Florida in July 1988. However, none of the other Florida Choice designs share a resemblance to a typical Kroger design of the late 80's. The design of the SupeRx stores was definitely due to its close relation to Kroger-Savon. Considering Florida Choice was supposed to be a unique store unlike a typical Kroger (as I mentioned in my reply above to Pseudo3D), the design was probably developed for or by the Florida KMA solely for its use (considering Florida Choice was targeting a different format and audience than what a typical Kroger branded store in the late 80's was targeting).

    2. I think some Florida Choice stores were Family Marts as well. The Family Marts Kroger purchased in the Carolinas were branded as Kroger Sav On as well. There were also a few Welcome stores near Jacksonville as well.

      Speaking of Welcome, Kroger had a few concepts that didn't make it in the 80s:
      -Kroger Sav-On (which was assimilated into the regular Kroger banner
      -Florida Choice
      -Barney's Food Emporium
      -Barney's Cafe

      Greenhouses ranged between 20,000 ft² and 50,000 ft².The earlier stores were smaller, and some of the later stores built toward the end were larger. Sav-On stores that were in the rounded corner prototype also had slanted upper walls along the perineter departments. Kroger (inconsistently) started moving to lay-in fluorescent light fixtures around the late 80s as well.

    3. Kroger bought 17 Family Mart stores in Florida. I don't have an exact number for how many they bought in the other states, but they bought a good chunk of their stores as A&P began to wind down that concept. I know Kroger bought 2 of those Safeway Save and Pack stores I've mentioned before in the late 80's to turn them into Welcome stores. Those are the only two Welcome locations I've found, as there doesn't seem to be much information about the concept out there. I know it was a warehouse concept like Save and Pack.

  3. Thanks for the links! It'd be cool to see what Kroger's Florida division décor package(s) looked like, but alas it's not to be. Very cool that the door was open at the former Gooding's and you were able to get several glimpses inside there, though! I'm sure Kroger's décor had those pastel colors as well :P

    I also find it interesting that Bealls and Bealls Outlet are operating in the same center! As for the exterior design conversation: the curved walls of the SupeRx seem pretty similar to the Kroger in Greenville, MS, which I have photographed and will post to my flickr photostream either next week or the following one. Perhaps it was one of those Sav-On stores 11110 mentions above...

    Those Safeway conversions are just in time for Memorial Day weekend, haha! Looking forward to your future posts regarding them :)

    1. For all I know, that pastel remnant in the back of the store could have been from Florida Choice. Gooding's could have left Florida Choice's interior completely intact if they had already finished putting it in. But I guess the interior of Florida Choice shall remain a mystery. I must agree, if Florida Choice's interior wasn't some kind of pastel overload, it just wouldn't be right!

      It is strange to see Bealls and Bealls Outlet in the same plaza. It doesn't happen often, but it makes for an interesting shopping combination. I looked up the Greenville Kroger, and the design of the exterior does look like a Kroger-Savon prototype with the curved entryway. I bet if that store wasn't located in the middle of the shopping center, the front corners of the store would have been curved as well. Looking forward to those pictures!

      If all goes as planned, I have a series of small Safeway posts coming later in the week...

  4. My family and I used to frequent a Family mart that later became Florida's Choice, but I couln't tell you what the interior looked like. My memory might not be that reliable anyway. I remember Florida Choice's blue logo, but somehow all these years I had pictured orange Family Mart signs, when I saw in someone's Flickr feed that they were actually teal.

    The one thing I do remember is that my parents thought Kroger should have used their own name instead of Florida Choice, and they might have done better with all the people from the midwest that live here in Florida.

    In case you're wondering, that store became Kash N Karry, later Sweetbay, and currently Winn Dixie. There are several other stores here in the Tampa Bay area that followed the same pattern.

    1. You're memory wasn't deceiving you. Family Mart did use an orange logo on some stores, like this one. I don't know why Kroger was so hesitant on using their own name to expand into Florida, especially since their 80's Florida expansion was completely organic and didn't involve a buyout. From what I understand, Florida Choice wasn't necessarily doing bad (but wasn't doing too great either), and a corporate shakeup put an end to Florida Choice more than anything. Still, had Kroger used their own name, things would have probably played out differently than they did. One thing is for sure, most of those old Family Mart stores have been through a good four or five banner changes since they were built.

  5. Thanks for the clarification. I wasn't able to find a photo of a Family Mart with anything other than a tesl sign, but the one from the link you shared looks exactly like the one I remember. I'm glad to know I may not have been wrong after all.

  6. No post on the sun setting on the final day that the Albertsons name is in Florida after some 40 years? Bummer.

    1. I was saving that for the day of Safeway's debut. My mock obituary like I did for Sweetbay should now have uploaded.

  7. 2021 Update...
    The Rockledge SuperX has been heavily remodeled and is now an office building for Space Coast Health Foundation called "Center for Collaboration."

    Similarly, major changes are happening in the Barton Commons Shopping Center area, with Brevard Health Alliance occupying the part once planned as Florida's Choice. A large luxury apartment complex is also under construction, occupying the old Kmart area.