Sunday, February 19, 2017

Former Albertsons #4425 - Callaway, FL


Albertsons #4425
315 N. Tyndall Parkway, Callaway, FL

***Photos for this post are courtesy of Ian W.***

     This former Albertsons store was one that always fascinated me. I found this store by accident while scanning over satellite imagery of the area a few years back, probably after looking up the history of an unrelated former store down the street in the old Callaway retail district. From above I thought this building looked a lot like a former Albertsons, although the location seemed a bit odd for one. When I clicked to view a streetview image of this building, this store's past couldn't have been any more obvious. This here is the very short lived Albertsons #4425 of Callaway, FL. Callaway is a suburb of Panama City, located to Panama City's southeast. Callaway was home to a decent sized retail district of its own up until the 90's, with stores such as Walmart, Kmart, Winn-Dixie, Food World, TG&Y, and other smaller stores in the retail cluster. The growth of this retail district was probably spurred due to the fact that Callaway is located just over the bridge from busy Tyndall Air Force Base. While the air force base is still in operation and is still a draw to the area, much of the retail scene in Callaway began to decline by the 2000's, with most of those stores I mentioned either closing or relocating elsewhere by that time. Albertsons opened their Callaway location in May 1996 as their second Bay County location (with the first being the original Panama City store, #4355), at a busy corner at the very northern edge of the Callaway retail district. For one reason or another this store was a lost cause from almost the beginning, and can be filed into the Albertsons Florida "crash and burn" folder. This store closed only three years after opening, with the official closing happening sometime around October 1999. While I've never found a clear reason as to why this store closed so fast, my guess is that this just wasn't the right area for Albertsons. This area began its retail decline right around the time Albertsons opened this store, and I think Albertsons was just too late to join in. After sitting empty for a while, this former Albertsons eventually became home to Callaway Self Storage in the late 2000's, which it remains today.


     This store was a typical mid-late 90's model Albertsons. For it's entire 3 year life as Albertsons this store would have had the Blue and Gray Market interior decor. Behind those two trash cans is the old cart storage area, which was was built into part of the front walkway at these mid-late 90's stores. Off in the distance you can see the former Albertsons Liquor store on the left side of the building.


     A close-up of the former cart storage area. The word "pharmacy" would have been in the place of that phone number back when Albertsons was still here.


     Strangely, there were two cars parked in the old cart storage area. Why these cars were parked here and not in the large empty parking lot is a good question, although Ian reports that one of the cars were running with someone sitting in it.


     Interestingly, the storage place left Albertsons' original entryway set up completely in-tact. Even better yet, the original "EXIT" decals from Albertsons remain!


     Since this is a storage place, you can't just walk right in unless you rent a unit here. Albertsons' old entrance and exit is still in use for renters of the units to use, however you need a key code to get the door to unlock and open for you now. Ian was able to get this one photo looking through one of the entrance doors. Along with that row of storage units, you can also see a part of the original Albertsons railing at the bottom of the photo. Considering the lights weren't on inside when this picture was taken (this photo was taken on Christmas when the building was closed), I can't tell if there is anything else original from Albertsons left in here. From what I've seen, many retail to storage complex conversions still feel a lot like the original tenants after the conversion, so it wouldn't surprise me if there were some original Albertsons features left in here beyond what we can see in this photo.


     Looking from the main entrance down the walkway toward the liquor store.


     And here you can see the exterior of the liquor store, located on the left side of the building.


     The storage center changed out the doors over at the liquor store, but otherwise the configuration is original. The liquor store is now the sales office for the storage complex, and where you can also go to by boxes and other packaging and moving items. It's not the greatest overview, but here's a picture of what the inside of the old liquor store looks like now.


     Moving around to the left side of the building now. Here we can also see the back of the liquor store.


      And around the corner from the previous photo we can see Albertsons' old receiving area.


     Facing Wewa Highway is the old road sign. This is the classic Albertsons road sign design used through the late 90's, and is a handy reference for identifying former Albertsons locations.


     As we begin to wrap up our look at this former Albertsons, I figured I'd also share this old Albertsons ad Ian found in the Panama City News Herald online archives, which dates back to 1998. This is one of the few ads where the short lived Callaway Albertsons was listed as a "convenient location", in addition to the original Panama City store. Also to note, one of the specials of the week in this ad were those famous chocolate chip cookies!

     Now to begin our satellite images, starting off with some Bird's Eye aerials courtesy of Bing Maps:


Front


Right Side


Back


Left Side

     And now for some historic aerials, courtesy of Google Earth and historicaerials.com:


Former Albertsons #4425 - 2012 - In the time after the Albertsons closed, a Walgreens and a Coastal Community Bank drive-thru ATM were built in the parking lot of the former grocery store. Essentially, the current configuration rendered the former Albertsons building useless for anything else other than a storage center, which isn't something that doesn't need a lot of parking.


Former Albertsons #4425 - 2007 - The Walgreens had just recently opened, and the bank ATM had yet to be built. I'm not sure if the storage center had moved into the former Albertsons by this time.


Former Albertsons #4425 - 2005 - Completely abandoned, with the original parking lot still in-tact.


Former Albertsons #4425 - 1999 - This image is a bit blurry, but shows the store abandoned. This satellite image is dated December 1999, which would have been only a month or so after this store closed for good.


Future Albertsons #4425 - 1994 - No Albertsons yet, but there were some smaller buildings on this corner prior to the Albertsons.


     Like Ian did for the original Panama City Albertsons, he also did a recreation of what this store would have looked like back when it was an Albertsons. He wasn't too far off...


     ...as you can see in this original image of the Callaway Albertsons that I dug up a while back. The above image was taken not long after this store opened in 1996, from a vantage point up in the air. I downloaded this picture a long time ago from the website of the contractor or some construction company Albertsons used to build this store. I downloaded this photo knowing it was a rare find, and I'm glad I did, as I couldn't find it again online when I was putting this post together! I was going to surprise our contributor Ian with this photo as he has expressed a good amount of interest in this store, however he managed to stumble across this photo on Facebook only a few days ago on his own! This is the only photo of this store I know to exist from its three short years in operation. Ian mentioned to me that he felt Callaway was a bit of an odd choice for Albertsons to put a second Bay County location. He feels Albertsons would have had much more success with a second Bay County location over in famous Panama City Beach rather than Callaway. Panama City Beach began a huge retail upswing in the 90's and to this day is home to much of Bay County's retail destinations (with the main attraction being the huge Pier Park "Lifestyle Center"). Publix hasn't even expressed interest in putting a store in Callaway yet. I really don't know what Albertsons was thinking when they built this store, but whatever hopes they had here came to a rather short and sudden end with their attempt at a second Bay County store.

    So that's all I have for now. Thanks again Ian for sharing these photos with us! 

Until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

6 comments:

  1. Hey, you still managed to surprise me with this posting! Even though I created a bit of a spoiler for myself midweek, I was impressed by the photo of the inside of the office! I regret not getting more photos for you of this old Albertsons.

    Back in 1996, my dad made a visit to this store during its grand opening week. He operated a carpet care business and a lot of his work was in either Callaway or Panama City Beach. He said he went inside and said it was a very nice fancy store (definitely the nicest grocer in eastern Bay County), but he felt disappointed because he felt they didn't have any seriously good deals or promotions for a grand opening store. So, he never went back. Ironically, he would still occasionally stop and buy things at #4355, so I think it was purely psychological for him. He was falsely under the impression that this store was more expensive than the Panama City one because it was newer and fancier. He was also under the impression that this store only lasted 6 months!! Haha! No, I don't think any grocer has ever been THAT short lived!

    I really think Albert sons would have done well on Thomas Drive in P.C.B. There's more money out that way along with tens of thousands of annual vacationers. The east end of Panama City, along with the communities of Cedar Grove, Springfield, Parker, and west half of Call away are very poor areas of Bay County with high crime rates and very economically depressing. That's why I was baffled that Albert sons bothered to build a store here. This location (like the Jupiter Albertsons) was a 'real estate mistake'. Great posting!!

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    1. These photos still did a good job conveying this store. Glad you liked that photo of the office (and the post)! The photo of the office really doesn't show much, but you can see they did a small amount of remodeling over in that portion of the building.

      That would have been interesting seeing this store in 1996 when it was brand new. Shame it was never able to catch on. Too bad you dad only ever went in here that one time, as this would have been an interesting store to experience back when it was open. I've heard of some stores closing after a year, and one time after 9 months, but 6 months is a bit crazy! Now that I think about it, the Hialeah Albertsons could have very well lasted only 6 months though, as that store opened and closed in an extremely short amount of time!

      Like you, I really don't understand the decision for Albertsons to put a store in Callaway instead of PCB. I wonder if the city of Callaway lured them in with some kind of deal? Otherwise, this was one big mistake for the real estate department. Who knows though?

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    2. I forgot to mention that right before taking that one photo inside the entrance, as I looked up above to storage units in front of me, I could see the ceiling tiles that were original to Albertsons. You just can't see them in that photo. Maybe the next time I'm in the Callaway area, I may just walk in and pretend I'm looking for a good storage unit and good prices, and see if they'd let me have a look around and just maybe I could spot some blue and gray market texturing on the walls.

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    3. The inside must be very original then! That would really be something if there were still Blue and Gray Market remnants on the walls.

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  2. Yup, this is another one of those questionable Albertsons locations. The Florida division seems to have had very few of these "bad stores", whereas the Houston division had them abundance.

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    1. For the most part, Albertsons was pretty good with their Florida sites. There were a few bad ones here and there (like this store), but not as bad as Houston. I think the issue with Houston's many "bad stores" was due to Albertsons trying to build an abundance of new stores in a short amount of time there, and they were grabbing anything they could to build up that division.

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