Albertsons #4486/Western Beef #304
4624 Hypoluxo Road, Lake Worth, FL - Hypoluxo Village
Today we journey down to South Florida to take a look at the 7th to last new Albertsons store to open in Florida, store #4486. This Albertsons opened in 2003 as a part of the final wave of new stores to open in Florida, and was the last Albertsons to be built with the Plaza/Early 2000's design. After this store, this look was modified to include a different interior layout and two entrances on opposite sides of the store, which I refer to as the "Early 2000's Modified" design. Anyway, this store would be one of three stores to operate in Lake Worth, coexisting for a time with store #4328 four miles to the north of here, and store #4384 six miles to the west (the last new Albertsons to open in Florida). However as Albertsons began to falter, Lake Worth slowly began to lose their three Albertsons stores. First to go was #4384, which closed in 2006 after barely two years in business. #4328 went next, closing in October 2009, leaving this store as the last Albertsons in Lake Worth. However, this store's triumph over its sister stores in Lake Worth wasn't much of a victory in the end. In February 2010, four months after #4328 closed, #4486 closed with 6 of the remaining 7 Albertsons stores in South Florida (with the lone exception in that closure wave being the Oakland Park store).
From February 2010 until 2012, this building sat vacant. In late 2012, Western Beef, a New York City based grocery chain, announced they would be opening a store in this former Albertsons. Western Beef's stores are primarily clustered in the 5 Boroughs of New York City, with a few outlier stores on Long Island, and in Westchester, NY and North Jersey. In 2009, Western Beef began a push into South Florida (skipping all the way down here from New York) to open a store in an old Publix in Boca Raton. Definitely a strange move for a somewhat small, family owned chain, but it sure isn't the first time a random, isolated Florida division of a northern chain has popped up here. Western Beef eventually opened a second Florida location in the former Pembroke Pines Albertsons (#4380) in 2011, followed by their third location, this one, which opened on December 15, 2012. So far, Western Beef has kept their Florida division at three stores, and I have yet to see any plans for more around here any time soon.
Overall, Western Beef didn't do a whole lot to the exterior of this building. Other than some new paint, this was exactly how the Albertsons looked. This store also had a very similar exterior to that of store #4466 in Port St. Lucie. Inside, Western Beef did a good amount of work to the interior, and not a whole lot from Albertsons remains inside. Western Beef takes up three quarters of the old Albertsons space, with a Dollar Tree taking up the remaining portion of the main store building.
Moving along to the front walkway...
The main entrance lies just ahead behind that pallet. For perspective, click here for a similar view of this area from 4466.
Let's go inside for a look around...
Going inside, here's a look at the cart storage area between the entrance and exit doors. Also up on the wall there is a sign introducing shoppers to Charlie the Cactus, Western Beef's mascot. Kind of like Disney's "Hidden Mickeys", Western Beef has "Hidden Charlies". So if you see cactuses in random places in the coming photos, this is why.
I still can't decide if I want to call Western Beef's interior "fun and whimsical" or "slightly creepy". Anyway, all of the smiling cupcakes, breads, fruits, etc. are a different element compared to what other stores use for decor. Also, I'm not entirely sure what interior this store had when it was Albertsons. My guess is Theme Park/Grocery Palace due to the design of the exterior and some decor remnants in the liquor store. However, I always thought Theme Park/Grocery Palace was dead by 2003 (when this store opened), replaced in favor of the Industrial Circus interior. Also by 2003, there would have been a chance that this store could have had the Santa Fe/Albertsons Marketplace interior, but that interior was very rare in Florida. However, I'm leaning toward Theme Park due to what I described above as this store's old interior. Interestingly, that awning you see running along the perimeter of the service departments looks like something out of Albertsons' Industrial Circus decor package, although I'm 99% store Western Beef was the one to install that.
Here's a closeup of that awning I just mentioned, along with more of our smiling pastry friends.
The next department beyond the bakery is the deli.
An overview of produce.
In the back left corner of the store is the meat department, also known as Charlie's Meat Market. One of the unique things about Western Beef is that all of their stores have a walk in meat department, which is essentially a giant cooler customers can walk into to select their meats.
Let's take a quick look inside here...
And yes, since the meat department is essentially placed in a giant cooler, it was very cold in here! When people say something is "as cold as a meat locker", they're not lying! (And they must have shopped at Western Beef before.) However, it's actually quite nice to walk around in here after spending time driving around in the humid Florida afternoon air.
Here's a few more photos from around the meat cooler:
I think that's enough from the meat cooler, so let's defrost and head back out onto the main sales floor...
One of the grocery aisles.
More of the action going on in the grocery aisles...
The seafood counter is located immediately next to the walk-in meat department.
Looking toward the back right portion of the store from the main back aisle.
Yet more grocery aisles...
Those fish on the wall look way to happy for being frozen in a block of ice!
The frozen foods aisles are located in the center of the store.
A small selection of bulk foods occupied the rest of the back wall between seafood and dairy.
And finally, a look at the last few grocery aisles.
Essential Everyday lives on at this former Albertsons, as Western Beef uses SuperValu as their supplier.
While milk was located in the back corner of the store along the back wall, the rest of dairy ran along the right side wall in the final aisle of this store.
Beer and Wine is located in its own little pocket in the front right corner of the store, next to the front registers. The beer and wine glasses in the wall graphics are looking a bit tipsy themselves.
Looking back across the front end, this time from the other side of the store.
In front of the registers was the customer service desk and a small jewelry counter.
Time to go back outside...
Looking from the former Albertsons toward the rest of the small strip center that comes off of the right side of the building. The rest of the center was designed to match the main Albertsons building.
Although their sign is blocked by that palm tree, the remaining small portion of the main Albertsons building has since become home to a Dollar Tree store. I didn't realize the Dollar Tree was in part of the former Albertsons building until I was about to drive out of here, so I didn't go inside. Considering most of the other Dollar Trees that I've been to that took over other retailers old stores, I don't think there was anything from Albertsons left inside, so I don't think we're missing much.
Looking back toward Western Beef.
The Albertsons decals still remain on the front doors.
Now time for some Bird's Eye Aerial Images, courtesy of Bing Maps:
And that's that for this former Albertsons. Thanks again Graham for sending in those pictures of this store!
Front - Albertsons was still open when these images were taken.
And now for some historic Aerial Images, courtesy of Google Earth:
Former Albertsons #4486 - 2016
Former Albertsons #4486 - 2011 - The building was sitting empty at this point.
Albertsons #4486 - 2006
Albertsons #4486 - 2004 - A fairly new store at this point.
Future Albertsons #4486 - 2002 - An interesting view showing this store while it was under construction.
Future Albertsons #4486 - 1999 - It looks like this store was built on top of some old farmland.
So until the next post,
The Albertsons Florida Blogger