Sunday, October 8, 2017

Former Albertsons #4438 - Orlando, FL (Union Park) - Part 2

Albertsons #4438 / Metro 25/7 Gym / Lucky's Market #25
11750 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL - Alafaya Village

     Welcome back to former Albertsons #4438! As you can see above, quite a bit has changed here since I took the photos I featured in Part 1 of this posting series. As you can see, this building's new occupant, Lucky's Market, has since opened here. In addition to Lucky's opening, the rest of the former Albertsons building has been slightly modified and repainted. Lucky's only takes up the left half of the old Albertsons building, with the right half of the building and the former liquor store still empty as of this publishing of this post. The above photo was taken by the Orange County Property Appraiser's office, the day after I took my photos of this place as a Lucky's strangely enough.

     The reason I started out with that property appraiser's photo was because I visited this store one evening after the sun had set. My old phone wasn't a fan of taking night photos, so my exterior photos of this store came out looking glared and fuzzy. My new phone isn't a fan of night photos either, but I would say it's still a bit better than my old phone was. Just a quick side story while on the topic - it was actually this retail trip where I decided that I was finally going to get a new phone after three years. The entire day I was out my old phone would keep crashing and restarting as I was taking my photos, and by the end of the day it was really beginning to bug me. With the large number of retail photos I take when out on the road, I couldn't have technical difficulties like that dragging me down any longer!

     Anyway, my problems which I'm sure none of you care about aside, the exterior of this building still has an Albertsons-like feel even after Lucky's modifications. As you can see here, Albertsons' original entryway, which was kept completely original all the way through this building's life as a gym, was partially covered over and replaced with a single set of manual doors. Here's a photo of what the entryway looked like prior to Lucky's taking over the left half of this building.

     The front doors to the old liquor store were also replaced during the renovation, however the interior of the liquor store was not touched during the recent remodel. The liquor store still retains clear remnants of Albertsons' Blue and Gray Market interior. You can see the remnants through the door here, or you can click that last link for a more detailed view of the liquor store's interior.

     Approaching the area where Albertsons' front entrance once was, we now find a bunch of picnic tables. Much of this store's front walkway is home to outdoor seating for Lucky's cafe. Straight ahead of me would have been Albertsons' cart storage area. While Lucky's now uses that area for their own carts, the reconfiguration of the building required the walls from Albertsons's old cart storage area to be ripped out. The door into the empty half of the building was papered over preventing any (easily obtainable) photos, but as we saw last time, nothing from Albertsons would have remained in there.

     Somewhere behind all of that glare I mentioned earlier we can see the signage for Lucky's Market. I think Lucky's did a really nice job fixing this place up. When Lucky's is looking for a new store site in a particular area, their first place to look is at empty retail spaces around town. Lucky's has built some stores from the ground up, but they prefer to clean up a long empty retail shell if they can. It's all a part of Lucky's community involvement initiative, which is one of their core operating values.

    Closeup of the main Lucky's Market sign. I think this photo turned out the best of all of my exterior shots from this place.

     These three sets of doors comprise Lucky's main entrance. Lucky's stores follow the "farmer's market" approach with their produce departments, with the produce displays spilling out from the main building onto the front walkway through large garage doors that always stay open during business hours. Some other organic-focused stores use this same approach, and even Winn-Dixie tried it a few times during their Transformational remodel days.

     Walking inside, we find plenty of "food glorious food"! This was my very first Lucky's Market experience. My first impression of Lucky's was that this store felt more like an ordinary supermarket when I first walked in, rather than a pretentious specialty store. I actually liked that feeling. Lucky's tries to position themselves as an organic grocer that will appeal to the masses rather than leaning toward the higher income spectrum. I think this helps to get more people who may be hesitant about organic groceries into their stores.

     As the "farmer's market" setup suggests, the first department you find yourself in upon entering is produce. While much of Lucky's produce selection is organic, they also have a decent selection of non-organic produce. Mixing a larger variety of non-organic products with their large organic selection is another way Lucky's tries to go after the broader shopper appeal (although if you counted every product in the store, organics would still greatly outnumber non-organics). This is seen in most of the departments, such as how you can also buy cases of Coca-Cola and Pepsi alongside a variety of specialty sodas. You'd be hard pressed to find a 12-pack of Pepsi at Whole Foods!

     Next to the produce department is the juice bar, where you can buy fresh squeezed juices and fruit infused waters.

     Beyond produce, we can see Frozen Foods off in the distance. The layout you see in this Lucky's (or its mirror) is essentially the same layout for every Lucky's Market in Florida (save for a few minor tweaks here and there). This store was actually on the larger side for Lucky's, and therefore it felt quite spacious with its wider aisles and more open space.

    The frozen foods aisle, looking into the back left corner. Albertsons' seafood department would have been located in that corner way back when.

    Turning the corner, we find the dairy department, with beer just beyond that. To my right are a few aisles of groceries.

     Looking back from beer toward dairy. In addition to the cooler space (which was mostly home to the big name beers), there was also an aisle of beer to my left reserved primarily for the large selection of microbrews.

     In addition to all of the fresh departments, which take up three quarters of this store, Lucky's still managed to find room for 7 (if I remember correctly) aisles of dry groceries and paper/cleaning products. Here is an example of one of those aisles. 

     And another grocery aisle.

     Moving away from the grocery aisles, the center of the store transitions into the wine department.

     Beyond the wine aisles is this cooler for the meat department...

     ...whose service counter sits directly behind it.

     Moving up from the meat and seafood counter is the bulk food section, which is quite large. This was one of about 4 aisles that were set up in a similar fashion, with a few other tables of bulk products around the edges.

     Here are some of those extra tables I just mentioned, with these filled with different bulk candies and trail mixes.

     As we make our way into the rightmost portion of the store, we find the salad bar and the cheese shop. These islands sit outside of the bakery and deli, which is just out of frame to my right. This part of the store would have been home to the Frozen Foods and Dairy aisles when Albertsons was still here.

     Along the right side wall is the bakery, followed by "The Kitchen", which serves as the prepared foods section and the deli.

     The two main offerings from "The Kitchen" are Lucky's deli subs and their pizza, in addition to the typical deli meats and salads. They also offer a few other prepared meals to go, but the subs and pizza are the big draws here (and I will say, Lucky's does have very good pizza - I highly recommend it).

     As we leave "The Kitchen" and the bakery, we find ourselves close to finishing our tour of this Lucky's Market. The last department we haven't seen yet is the apothecary, which is lucked into an alcove between the bakery and the cafe.

     "Apothecary" is just a fancy name for "pharmacy", and Lucky's uses that name for their health and beauty section. The Apothecary consisted of three or four short aisles like this for vitamins, supplements, beauty aids, etc., as well as an aromatherapy counter.

      And lastly, we find the Lucky's Market cafe, located in the front right corner of the store. The cafe sells small pastries and coffee, as well as draught beer for grinders. This is also where people go to buy beer and wine for Lucky's very popular "Sip and Stroll" program, where you can buy a drink to carry around while you shop. I guess that's one idea to make shopping fun again!

     The Lucky's cafe was quite the popular hangout spot this particular Saturday night. At the Lucky's by me, they sometimes have live music in the cafe on weekend nights too.

     I personally thought this was a really neat idea. Instead of using a boring plastic cube or something similar, Lucky's uses soda bottles of different colors for their check lane lights. I thought it was creative. 

     And so there you have it, the Lucky's Market of East Orlando. As I mentioned in my Summer News Updates post back in August, Lucky's will be adding 8 more stores around the Orlando area by the end of 2018 as part of their rapid expansion across Florida. Coincidentally enough, my next post will be featuring a store that will soon be home to one of those new Orlando area Lucky's Markets. However, my focus in that post will not be on that aspect of that particular store, but its interesting history that I was fortunate enough to see before Lucky's wiped away all traces of it (usually my luck never turns out like that!). Be sure to check back in two weeks for a very interesting look at that former store! That tour will probably answer some of the many lingering questions about a dead Florida supermarket chain that fascinates both myself and many of the readers of this blog.

     I know I ended the Part 1 post with this same Orange County Property Appraiser photo, but who can go wrong with seeing the dead Super Saver one more time? This officially ends our two part tour of former Albertsons #4438, from abandonment to its new life as Lucky's Market. If you weren't familiar with Lucky's, hopefully this gave you an idea of what one of their stores is like. If you want to see more photos of Lucky's, I have another set of photos from the West Melbourne Lucky's Market store that you can view on my flickr photostream by clicking here and scrolling to the right. It seems like Lucky's wants to get themselves into just about every part of the state, so if you don't have a Lucky's in your part of Florida yet, I wouldn't be surprised if you find an announcement for one in your area soon.

Anyway, that's all I have for this post. Until next time,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

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