Albertsons #4350 / Food World / Vowell's Cash Saver
2020 E. South Boulevard, Montgomery, AL
For today's Albertsons tour, we'll be leaving Florida to visit our neighbor to the northwest: sweet home Alabama, where the skies were quite blue when our contributor YonWooRetail2 made the journey out this way last summer. As part of his Alabama excursion, YonWoo visited both former Montgomery area Albertsons stores. The location in eastern Montgomery (store #4336) was featured on the blog last fall. This time around, the former South Montgomery Albertsons store is making its way to AFB.
The South Montgomery Albertsons was the newer of the two Albertsons stores to once operate in town. After the opening of the East Montgomery Albertsons in 1979, South Montgomery got an Albertsons of its own three years later in 1982. Unfortunately, Albertsons came and went pretty fast in Alabama. Being a new entrant to the state with a relatively small store base, Albertsons was no match against the big names in Alabama grocery retail of the 1980's, names that included Bruno's, Delchamps, and Winn-Dixie. In 1985, Albertsons sold their 7 Alabama locations to Bruno's, who was the #1 grocery chain in Alabama at the time. That transaction included the relatively new South Montgomery store as well, which would convert to Bruno's Food World banner upon finalization of the sale. Food World was Bruno's discount grocery banner, and these discount stores made up a good chunk of Bruno's store base in the company's final years. Bruno's was a dominant force in Alabama's grocery scene up until the 1990s, the decade when the company began to enter its decline. A tragic plane crash in 1991 and subsequent sale of the company to private equity would send Bruno's on a turn for the worse. Going into the 2000's, Bruno's began closing stores, as well as changing ownership multiple times. As Bruno's bled, their South Montgomery Food World store got the ax in a 2009 closing sweep. Being in one of the poorer parts of town, the old Albertsons building sat vacant for a good number of years after Food World closed, the building becoming a hard sell to new investors or tenants. After an unsuccessful auction in early 2014 to sell off this building and other blighted properties in the area, the Vowell family decided to step forward and give this building a chance. The Vowells are a family who owns over 20 grocery stores in Alabama and Mississippi, both under the Vowell's Marketplace and Cash Saver names. For the new South Montgomery store, the Vowell family decided to use the discount-focused Cash Saver name. After $5 million in renovations, the Vowell Family was able to get this building back up and running as a grocery store once again, with Cash Saver's grand opening happening in March 2015.
Unlike Food World, which occupied the entirety of the former Albertsons store, Cash Saver only uses the left most three-quarters of the building. While the interior was subdivided, the exterior still looks very much like a mid-80's Trapezoid model Albertsons. The Vowell's appear to have fixed up this building quite nicely, while still retaining much of the building's original attributes.
Like similarly designed Albertsons stores, the entrances and exits are located on the portion of the building that angles outward. Cash Saver's left side entrance (picture above) is in the same place as Albertsons'. However, due to the building's subdivision in 2015, the right side entryway was shifted over a little from the original location, and is now placed facing the parking lot.
Like its predecessor Food World, Cash Saver is also a discount grocery chain. However, unlike the no-frills discount atmosphere of stores like Save-A-Lot and Aldi, this store does have some more "upgraded" features like a floral department, a pharmacy, hot foods, and service counters. Also unlike Save-A-Lot and Aldi, Cash Saver uses a "cost plus" pricing format. What that means is the shelf price of all products in the store is what Cash Saver paid for that product per unit from the wholesaler. Cash Saver makes its money by adding a 10% fee to every purchase, a process done to make up for the lack of product markups in the shelf price.
With all that explanation and admiration of the original river rock walls out of the way, it's time to head inside for a quick look around this long forgotten about Albertsons store:
Entering the store through the right side vestibule, we find ourselves in the produce department. The wall to YonWoo's left is the partition wall dividing Cash Saver from the portion of the building they did not occupy, a space that now houses a beauty supply store. As I mentioned before, the entry doors on the right side of the building were moved from the angle to a new spot slightly to the side, a change that can be seen above. The original Albertsons entry doors would have been located in the little floral department pocket straight ahead, with the new doors visible to the right of that.
Here's a better look toward the floral department and the old vestibule.
Produce lines the partition wall on the right side of the building. While this building had a bit of work done to it when Cash Saver moved in (especially on the interior), the inside still has a bit of an Albertsons-like feel to it. I think the rows of tube lighting overhead create that effect.
Beyond produce, the back right corner of the store is home to meats. It's quite easy to tell this photo was taken nearly a year ago, as an unattended pallet of toilet paper would not be that well stocked (or present at all) with the way things are now!
The back of the store is home to this wide aisle, home to a variety of deals and dump bins. The back wall of the store is home to more meats, and along that wall would have been Albertsons' original service butcher counter.
Here's a close-up of the meat coolers along the store's back wall.
Leaving the back wall, into the grocery aisles we go. Pictured here is one of the first few aisles, home to the "Value Zone". You can never go wrong with a good Value Zone.
A quick look back toward produce as we pass through a few more grocery aisles:
While this store runs on a discount format, the presentation of the place is more along the lines of a traditional grocer (products neatly placed on shelves, etc.) than your usual discount store.
The left side entryway is visible at the end of this aisle.
Dairy is located in the back left corner of the building, which is approximately the same location to where Albertsons would have kept their dairy products.
The very last aisle is home to frozen foods and chilled beer. Unlike the Florida Albertsons stores, the Alabama locations lacked the attached liquor stores, as the state of Alabama controls the sale of all hard liquor.
Spinning around from the previous photo, here's a look into the store's front left corner, home to the deli and bakery counters.
From what I've seen in these photos, Cash Saver had a decently sized bakery and deli department for a discount-oriented grocer. When Albertsons was originally here, the bakery and deli would have been located in the front right corner, in the portion of the building where the beauty store is now. Cash Saver's bakery and deli is located where Albertsons' pharmacy counter once was. Speaking of pharmacies, Cash Saver advertised a pharmacy in their outside signage, but I never saw a pharmacy in any of these photos. YonWoo will have to fill us in on where the pharmacy was exactly (and potentially give us more detail on the bakery selection as well, as YonWoo is our grocery store bakery taste tester 😀).
Some kind of hot foods bar is pictured here, with what appears to be a cafe behind that. Also in the background of this image, we have a better look at the left side entryway.
Here we're looking across the front end, as seen from the deli.
Customer service is located in front of the check lanes, in approximately the same area where Albertsons's service desk would have been located.
Back outside, here are a few more looks at this we'll preserved former Albertsons exterior. This place hasn't been an Albertsons for 35 years now, but it sure still looks like one!
Hair Plus Beauty takes up the remaining space in this former Albertsons building, occupying Albertsons' old deli, bakery, and produce departments. Had this been a Florida Albertsons store, the liquor store would have been located on this corner (as this is the corner that faces the intersection).
Here's one last exterior photo before we jump into satellite imagery, starting with some Bird's Eye aerial images courtesy of Bing Maps:
And now some historic aerial images, courtesy of Google Earth and historicaerials.com:
Former Albertsons #4350 - 2018
Former Albertsons #4350 - 2013 - A sad looking place back in 2013...
Former Albertsons #4350 - 2002 - When Food World was open.
Former Albertsons #4350 - 1998
Future Albertsons #4350 - 1981
To finish off this post, YonWoo was able to track down a photo of this Albertsons store from its grand opening in 1982. Not only that, be he tried to match the grand opening photo with a photo from modern times for this interesting comparison shot. Since these Alabama Albertsons stores came and went pretty fast, it's nice to see some photographic evidence of these such short-lived stores.
While the blog's time in Alabama is over for now, I have to give a big thanks to YonWoo for providing us with some pictures of these far flung former Albertsons locations. It will probably be a while before we see any more Alabama Albertsons coverage on the blog (as my retail travel plans are focused elsewhere right now), but if any of you happen to find yourself in the Heart of Dixie, feel free to send in some photos!
Next time, we return to the land of orange blossoms and Old Folks At Home (which is not just a description of most of Florida's residents, but the name of our state song), for a look at another one of Florida's many former Albertsons stores. But which one you ask? Tune in two weeks from now to find out!
So until the next post,
Alabama Florida Blogger