Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Walmart-ification of Albertsons #4357 - Vero Beach, FL

Albertsons #4357 / Walmart Neighborhood Market #4546
1750 US 1, Vero Beach, FL

     Back in October 2015, I took everyone on a rather extensive tour of the then-abandoned Vero Beach Albertsons store (I'm not kidding when I say extensive either, I got over 100 photos of this store that day!). If you haven't seen that post, there are lots of great photos and Albertsons relics scattered throughout it, so be sure to check it out! It will also give you a great sense of what this store looked like before our old pal Walmart got their hands on this place. As you can probably tell, Walmart changed just about everything around at this former Albertsons store (as we've all come to expect with these Albertsons to Walmart conversions), but fortunately not all was lost during this conversion...

     Word of Walmart's interest in this site first came into the blog back in early 2016, not long after the original post on this store went live. Walmart's only presence in Vero Beach (up until this store opened) was on the opposite, west side of town near the mall, so it made sense they would want a Neighborhood Market at this site in East Vero. Just a bit of trivia while on the topic - Walmart wasn't always on the west side of town. The original Vero Beach Walmart (which dates back to the mid-80's) was actually along Route 1 at the intersection with Indian River Boulevard until the mid-90's (where Velde Ford is now), when the west side of town became the go-to for retail when plans for the new mall were announced. Anyway, in May 2016 Albertsons officially sold this site, thus allowing Walmart to begin construction. Construction on the new Walmart began shortly thereafter in the Summer of 2016. I was actually expecting the old Albertsons building to be torn down for the new Walmart Neighborhood Market, but surprisingly the shell of the building was kept, albeit heavily modified. Walmart was originally expecting to have this store open by February 2017, however the Florida Department of Transportation delayed that goal when they said Walmart had to reconfigure the design of the store's parking lot due to the placement of the entrances onto Route 1. That was eventually figured out, and Walmart opened their new Neighborhood Market here on April 12, 2017.

     Looking at the right side of the building, we can see the original outline of the old Albertsons much better here. The part of the building that sticks out to the side (where the "Pickup" sign is) was the old liquor store. Here's a similar view of this side of the building back when it still retained the original Albertsons look, however we'll take a closer look at this part of the building later in the post.

     While the sides and back of this building are still the original Albertsons configuration, the old front vestibule was ripped off and the front was completely reconstructed in order to better suit Walmart's needs. As we saw in the previous photo, Albertsons' old liquor store, which was somewhat hidden in the back right part of the building, was sealed off. Walmart decided to move the liquor store to a better and more prominent location on the front of the building next to the entrance (it's behind the windows in this photo).

     Two years ago, a photo from this same spot would have yielded a result that looked like this. Now we have a photo looking toward the entrance to Walmart's liquor store. This open walkway between the columns and the front wall is the approximate location of Albertsons' old vestibule. 

      This is somewhat of a reverse view of the last photo, but taken from a point closer to the liquor store. I'm standing right about where Albertsons' customer service desk would have been. Those doors we see on the right side of this image are where we enter, so let's head inside...

     Hello Vero Beach! I thought this was a neat piece of local flare that Walmart threw in, complete with a map of Florida pointing to where Vero Beach is located (signified by the Walmart spark on the map, which you can see if you zoom in). This store has the new for 2017 Walmart Neighborhood Market decor, which I actually like. This new decor is a creative and fun spin on Walmart's current Black 2.0 interior that the Supercenters are getting. While this decor isn't anything all too fancy, what it lacks in cost is made up for very much in its appearance (unlike some previous Walmart decors). If it wasn't for this new decor, I would have taken far less photos of this place as there really isn't anything from Albertsons left inside here.

     Upon entering, you immediately find yourself in the produce department. That "Hello Vero Beach" sign you just saw is actually located behind me above the special deals section, and you have to walk a little bit into the store and turn around to actually notice it. Here is our first look at some of the actual decor. While still maintaining the black and white theme, the signs include plenty of colorful pictures of items that relate to the department, as well as lots of sketchbook style fonts and drawings in between. It makes the store seem a bit cheerier (which is usually a feeling I never get inside a Walmart!).

     This front left corner of the store was originally home to Albertsons' pharmacy, which you can see here. Now it's a bright and shiny produce department. This photo also has a close-up of some of the new Produce department signage, where you can see some of the sketchbook style artwork closer.

     Beyond produce are the remainder of this store's fresh departments, including the bakery, deli, meats, and dairy, all located in this "grand aisle" of stores. Wine and floral are back here too. This part of the store would have been mostly Albertsons health and beauty department, with dairy along the back wall in essentially the same spot where it is now.

     Looking back toward the entrance from the small floral department. Here you can get a better perspective to how the entryway is set up.

     For a classier approach, a few of the aisles of wine included these wooden box displays, like what you can see on the left. That was one of a few a new-to-Walmart features that I noticed here.

     Moving away from produce and the front of the "grand aisle", the next department we come to is the deli. As with most new Walmart and Walmart Neighborhood Market stores, this store also has a pizza kitchen attached to the deli.

     Beyond the deli and pizza kitchen we find the bakery. In many of the late Project Impact era Walmart Neighborhood Market stores, the bakery was limited to only a few shelves of pre-packaged baked goods, with the deli fairly tiny in its own right. Thankfully the most recent Walmart Neighborhood Market stores have reversed that trend and brought back full service departments, especially as Walmart continues to open more of these Neighborhood Market stores across Florida to compete with Publix.

     Close-up of the bakery signage. As you can see in this photo, some of the graphics in this decor are carryovers from the Supercenter version. However, in this version of the decor, the photo of the cake doesn't quite have the same Pac-Man effect as in that linked sign from the Supercenter!

     Beyond the bakery we find the meat and dairy departments. In front of those departments were 2 or 3 aisles of open front coolers, which served as a home for the meats and dairy products that didn't fit along the wall, as well as some prepared deli foods (like sandwiches and salads).

     Entering meats, which lines the back part of the left side wall.

     The dairy department is the only one of Walmart's departments whose placement lines up with that of Albertsons'. You can see the signage for Albertsons' dairy department in this photo.

     One of the aisles of coolers in front of the dairy department.

     This final photo from the "grand aisle" shows the beer coolers, along with part of the wine department we looked at a bit earlier. Let's turn to the left and take a look at the rest of the store...

     The remainder of the store is home to dry grocery, frozen foods, the pharmacy, and the small selection of general merchandise. The registers and pick-up counter are to my right, but we'll take a closer look at the front end later in this post.

     A look across the store from the center aisle. Part of the pharmacy is visible in the distance.

     Now that we've looked across the front and the center of the store, the last scene to cover is the view across the back of the store, which can be seen above.

      Unlike the back wall at most grocery stores, where you usually find the coolers of meats or dairy products, soda takes up the back wall of this store. Most of the back wall space at this store was home to Albertsons' meat department, with the meat and seafood service counter located approximately where that stockroom door currently is.

      Here's a look down a few of the grocery aisles...

     Looking back toward meat and dairy from the right side of the store. Walmart also put a little sign back here to guide shoppers toward the pickup desk up front.

     It's not too often you see charcoal getting its own department sign.

     Before switching over to the pharmacy and general merchandise, the last two grocery aisles were home to frozen foods.

     And while perusing the grocery aisle, I was caught completely off guard by these Wal-Mart relics in the ice cream freezer! Yes, that's the old pre-Project Impact Great Value brand packaging you see in the freezer! It's been almost 10 years since Walmart last used this packaging, so this was a surprise to see! I really hope that Walmart only stumbled across some cases of old ice cream packaging at their plant, and that the ice cream itself wasn't sitting around somewhere for the last 10 years! If I didn't have a 45 minute drive back home in a hot car, one of these probably would have came home with me just for the nostalgia factor - as long as the expiration dates were still good that is!

     This aisle marks the transition between the grocery aisles and general merchandise section of the store. This is looking from the back of the store toward the front.

      As we saw earlier in this post, the original Albertsons liquor store was sealed off. What Walmart did was remove the wall separating the old liquor store from the main store, creating a little alcove in the back right corner. Here in the pet department, we're looking into what was originally the back corner of the liquor store.

     Turning the corner from the pet aisle, we can make out the alcove a bit better in this photo. That bright blue wall in front of me is the pharmacy box, which takes up the front portion of the old liquor store space.

     Turning out of the alcove, here we find ourselves in front of the pharmacy counter. Due to the shape of this building and the lot it was built on, Walmart was not able to squeeze in a pharmacy drive thru like we saw at the old St. Lucie West Albertsons (#4466).

     Health and beauty resides in front of the pharmacy counter, in the space that was once home to Albertsons' produce department.

     Looking from the general merchandise section of the store back toward the grocery aisles.

     Walmart's small baby and stationary section resides approximately where Albertsons' bakery and deli were located.

      Transition back to the front end now, as we make our way past the bustling Pickup and Customer Service Counter...

     Here's a better look at the modern style Walmart Pickup and Service desk. Even though this is a neighborhood market, you can still pickup anything bought on from this store, not just grocery related items.

     Thankfully, the new Neighborhood Market decor brought back the use of actual register lights, instead of the cheap-looking flipcards in the previous era stores. This store only had 4 manned registers, with another 6 or 8 self checkouts (I don't remember the exact count, but it was somewhere in that range) off to the right of these. It was the first time I saw a store with more self checkouts than actual register stations, but I guess it's Walmart's way of keeping labor costs down.

     The self checkouts are to my left, with the produce department visible off in the distance.

     Behind the registers was Walmart's drink station, another new feature I have never seen in a Walmart before. This area was comprised of a few soda fountains and ICEE machines. However, in order to get a cup for any of the beverage fountains, you have to grab one from a dispenser at one of the registers. Smart thinking on Walmart's part, as I've seen so many people help themselves to free drinks from the soda fountain at Publix (who leaves the cups next to the machines).

     Anyway, that pretty much sums up the interior of this place. Let's head back outside now to scrounge up what few Albertsons relics remain here...

      A look back at the exit as we wrap up this tour. While the front of this building was heavily modified...

     ...the sides, however, were hardly touched! The left and the right sides of the old Vero Beach Albertsons still retain the original river rock walls, albeit painted gray in the Walmart-ification process. Due to the layout of this lot, the loading docks for this store are on the left side of the building, as the back of the building comes very close to property line.

     Jumping back over to the right side of the building, where we see Albertsons' old liquor store once again. Other than sealing up the liquor store, this side of the building is pretty much original too.

     The wall where the Walmart sign is and the entire former liquor store still sport the river rock panels as well, but were also painted gray as we saw on the other side of the building.

     So that's what's going on at the old Vero Beach Albertsons. This was definitely one of the better Walmart stores I've been to, and the location was right for them.

     I went through all of the satellite imagery stuff in the original post on this store, so if you really want to see that you can jump over there. I included this satellite image as it shows the progress on the construction of the Walmart from early 2017.

     And for posterity, here's a photo of the former Albertsons when it was still in its original form. This place really hadn't been touched at all since it opened in 1984, so the old building was a bit of a throwback to a time of supermarkets past!

     Lastly, a little bit of digging and I was able to turn up this lone photo of Albertsons #4357 from when it was still open. This grainy image is from the Indian River County property appraiser, and probably dates back to the early 2000's if I had to take a guess. Later in this store's life, a new main sign was installed that said "Albertsons SavOn", as can be seen in this labelscar.

     Walmart's conversions conclude the story of the Vero Beach Albertsons store. While this place isn't anything too special anymore, there are at least a few traces of this store's past still lurking around here!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger


  1. I think this conversion turned out very well! Love the new Neighborhood Market décor, too; great photos! And thanks for the links, also :)

    As for the old ice cream packaging - cool stuff, right? I can confirm for you that it's not new old stock, though: Walmart has actually been using this design virtually unchanged ever since the Great Value redesign all those years ago. (They carry these at my local Walmart, so I'm very familiar with seeing them!) The major change is that they removed the old GV logo from the packaging, and never put the new one on there. So essentially it's an unbranded brick of ice cream. I liken it to their even cheaper value off-brands.

    1. Thanks! The new Walmart NM decor is quite photogenic! And you're welcome!

      Yes, very cool! I'm surprised Walmart never bothered to change the design of the ice cream packaging to something more modern or more in line with the current Great Value packaging (or one of their other value oriented brands). Thanks for the confirmation on that! I'll have to keep a lookout for this ice cream at one of my local Walmart stores.