Food Lion #1329
3826 S. Clyde Morris Boulevard, Port Orange, FL - Food Lion Plaza
So what happens when Publix goes on safari? They come back with a Food Lion trophy to hang over their mantle (haha, haha). While Food Lion hunting drove the species to extinction in Florida (along with some other, larger issues), Food Lions are not quite an endangered species yet in some other states. That's good news in case you really want to make the journey to observe a Food Lion in its natural habitat. The continued expansion (or "introduction of invasive species", if we want to keep the ecological theme going!) of Publix and Wegmans into the Carolinas and Virginia may very well put the Food Lion on the endangered supermarkets list if they don't try to better compete with these new invaders, but that's a discussion for another time. Anyway, if you look around Florida close enough, you may still find the decaying skeleton of the once magnificent beast known as the Food Lion lurking around the state, like I happened to find this particular day in Port Orange...
For a Florida Food Lion store, the Port Orange location was one of the later ones to be built. This Food Lion opened in 1996, just as Food Lion's massive expansion across Florida began to die off. In the decade prior to this store's opening, Food Lion was trying to build stores just about everywhere and anywhere they could find open land in Florida, especially in areas around Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers, and Tallahassee. By the mid-1990s, Food Lion had begun to slow their Florida expansion plans. The Florida Food Lion stores weren't performing up to expectation, and were constantly getting crushed in price and quality from the other long established supermarket chains in Florida. The pressures of the supermarket landscape in Florida in the mid-1990's mixed in with Food Lion's media and financial troubles from the same time period didn't help the situation much. Food Lion attempted to continue expanding into new Florida markets in the mid-1990's, including doomed expansions into South Florida and the Panhandle west of Tallahassee. In 1996, Food Lion's parent company Delhaize purchased Tampa-based Kash n' Karry, a somewhat troubled but well established supermarket chain in Florida (especially in western parts of the state). With Food Lion failing in Florida, Delhaize was hoping to use the Kash n' Karry purchase to boost their struggling Florida presence. Kash n' Karry became the new focus for Delhaize in Florida after the purchase, with the opening of new Florida Food Lions coming to a near halt after the purchase. Of the few new Food Lion stores Delhaize planned to open in the late 1990's throughout Florida, those new stores were instead built as Kash n' Karry locations. In 1999, hoping to salvage most of their Food Lion stores in Florida, Delhaize rebranded the majority of these locations to the Kash n' Karry brand. The exception to that rebranding was a cluster of Food Lion stores in Northeastern and North Central Florida (including the Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, and Gainesville areas), the only pocket of Food Lion stores doing semi-well in Florida due to the lighter competition in these areas.
Residing just south of Daytona Beach and within the confines of Volusia County, the Port Orange Food Lion managed to escape the Kash n' Karry rebranding of 1999, continuing on into the new millennium as a Food Lion. After the rebranding, this store would become the southernmost location in the Food Lion chain, a title this store would hold for 13 years.
While the Port Orange Food Lion opened in 1996, Food Lion had wanted to open a store in this town since the late 1980's. Food Lion entered Volusia County in the late 1980's after purchasing 5 SupeRx Food and Drug locations in the county from Kroger, including the SupeRx stores located in Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Ormond Beach, Holly Hill, and Orange City (Food Lion Store #s 651-655). There was also a SupeRx Food and Drug store located in Port Orange about three miles away from here (which I briefly mentioned in the previous post). However, Food Lion chose not to purchase that SupeRx location, deciding instead to develop a store on their own in Port Orange immediately after the SupeRx purchase went through. The original plans for the Port Orange Food Lion, designated as store #658, mentioned building a new store on the plot of land directly across the street from where their store would eventually be constructed (the land where the Walmart Neighborhood Market is now). Store #658 has a targeted opening date in 1990, but those plans fell through, also for reasons unknown. Food Lion had a large number of stores they planned to build throughout Florida, but never came to fruition. To see some of these planned locations (as well as a list of all the Food Lions stores that did operate in Florida at one time), you can check out the list I compiled on the AFB Retail Database by clicking here. I realize I haven't added any new lists to that site since it launched in September 2017, but I do have a few more lists in the works to post once I find the time to finish those up (amongst all the other projects I keep coming up with!).
The Port Orange Food Lion remained at this location until Food Lion officially pulled out of Florida in 2012. By that time, Food Lion only had three locations left in all of Volusia County, down 6 stores from its peak of 9 in the late 1990's. Food Lion was slowly closing stores in Florida during the early and late 2000's as Publix continued to grow, and Delhaize did hardly anything to make Food Lion more competitive in Florida. This Food Lion did receive a remodel in the mid-2000's as we'll see in just a moment, but the renovations were just cosmetic and didn't appear to add any new features or services. I don't know just how widespread Food Lion remodels were in Florida in the 2000's, but I do know that Food Lion had a bit of a remodeling spree in other parts of the Southeast during this time.
Fighting the sun glare, the above photo shows the far left side of the former Food Lion building. To the left of the Food Lion were two small storefronts, both of which were empty during my visit this store (although the Health Food tenant left their signage up after closing). To the right of the Food Lion building were more small storefronts, which still had a few tenants in them. However, with the small amount of traffic those few tenants brought in, the entire complex still managed to feel pretty dead to me.
This building's exterior was an exact copy of every Food Lion store built from the mid-1980's until the early 2000's, with the rectangular facade and the double sided vestibule. There are a lot of these buildings still floating around Florida in various shapes of abandonment and repurposement, and it's quite obvious when you see one to know what it was prior.
Looking through the left side doors, we get this view into the empty vestibule. The carpet you see here was added during the mid-2000's remodel. Speaking of that mid-2000's remodel, we can see part of its signage peeking out into the vestibule in the background of this photo. The front right corner of this building was home to the combined deli/bakery department, and part of the deli sign is peeking out. It turns out this was my best photo of the deli/bakery space, considering its location in the corner behind that dividing wall. However, even though I didn't get a good look at the deli/bakery, I got much better interior shots of the rest of the store.
Now that we've seen the vestibule, let's jump right in to some photos of the salesfloor. Peeking through the front windows now, I was able to get some nice shots of the abandoned interior of this place. The fact that all of the interior lights were still on helped quite a bit with getting good interior photos. The decor you see here debuted in 2005, and was used in a large number of remodels through the early 2010's. I've seen this interior referred as the "Rutherfordton interior" elsewhere on the internet, a the name being derived from the city in which the first store with this interior opened in. From what I've seen, this interior is fairly appealing in its complete form, as can bee seen in this photo album from a Food Lion store in Virginia. While the department signs themselves were left up on the wall, the complimentary decorative pieces that matched the department signs (such as that linked example) were all removed. In the above photo, we're looking into the left side of the building. The blue walls to the left side of the building designate the old Frozen Foods department, with the beginning of the meat department visible along the back wall. In the foreground we can see scars from where a counter was removed, revealing some of the tile pattern from the decor package that this store opened with (which I believe was this).
Another view of the left side of the building, this time with scars from the checkstands now visible.
The meat department lined the store's back wall, with a full service counter located under the "Fresh Seafood" sign visible in the back right portion of the above image.
The customer service desk is what left behind the rectangular shaped tile scar in the above photo.
My attempt at a zoomed-in panorama of the store's back wall. At the far right of this image, we can now see the produce department.
This was the best view I could get into the right side of the store, where the produce department was located. In this particular decor package, the overhead lighting in the produce department was removed and replaced with a large wooden grate with spotlights on it, making that department darker than the rest of the store. If you zoom in on the above photo, you can see the hanging grate is still there, but none of the spotlights are on, making the back right corner of the store appear darker than the rest of the building.
Now that we made our way to the right side of the building, here's a look through the right side entry doors into the vestibule. From this angle we can see into the front left corner of the store, where the beer and wine was located.
Opposite the right side entrance was this small cubbyhole for shopping cart storage, something that was not present on the other side of the vestibule. The remainder of this small shopping center is also visible in the background, with that portion of the plaza occupied by a hair salon, a nail salon, two small restaurants, and a book store.
For these views angled to the left side of the building, the evening sun was not the most cooperative with me! At least the glare wasn't too bad that it messed up the entire photo, and we can at least make out much of the old Food Lion building in its entirety.
This exterior overview of the former Port Orange Food Lion wraps up our tour of this abandoned supermarket, as viewed from its empty parking lot. To finish off this post we have the usual satellite imagery, begining as usual with some Bird's Eye aerial views, courtesy of Bing Maps:
And now some historic aerial imagery, courtesy of Google Earth:
Former Food Lion #1329 - 2017 - The empty Food Lion is to the left side of the image, with the new Walmart Neighborhood Market across the street on the original site that Food Lion wanted to build their store.
Former Food Lion #1329 - 2014
Food Lion #1329 - 2010
Food Lion #1329 - 2006
Food Lion #1329 - 1999
Future Food Lion #1329 - 1995
To conclude this post, I found a photo of the Food Lion back when it was still in business. I don't know exactly when the above photo was taken, but it probably dates back to the early 2000's prior to the interior remodel. During that remodel, this Food Lion received the brown paint scheme we saw in the prior photos as well as updated exterior signage, while the above image shows the store in its original form with original red signage. I pulled this photo from this website, which has a couple of other photos of this store from the early 2000's as well. As of May 2018, this Food Lion building is still sitting empty, a fate many of these former Food Lion stores suffer from. Unlike some locations Food Lion picked, this store was actually built in a semi-busy area on a major roadway, so this building has a better chance of finding a new tenant than some other former Food Lion stores out there.
So while the Floridian sub-species of the Food Lion has been hunted to extinction, AFB will serve as the museum to preserve the photos of fossils that will remind us the Food Lion was once able to roam freely around the cities of Florida. However, Publix is the real king of the jungle in Florida, and proved to be too ferocious a hunter for the weak and feeble Food Lion, who became another one of the many dodo birds of Florida's once robust supermarket scene.
Anyway, that's enough dumb metaphors for today. Until the next post,
The Albertsons Florida Blogger