Sunday, August 23, 2020

A Nifty Thrifty Old Winn-Dixie

Winn-Dixie #29
1961 A1A South, St. Augustine, FL - Anastasia Square

     If you didn't have enough fun looking at the retail relics in last week's post on My Florida Retail, then you're in luck, as today's post will have even more relics - today's being just as, if not even more groovy and bodacious than what we saw last week! We'll conclude our series of retail in St. "August"-ine with a look at this former Winn-Dixie store, located on the other side of the Route 312 causeway from the Albertsons/Zayre plaza we spent so much time at during the last two posts. The store we'll be seeing today was a last minute addition I spotted as I was putting together the itinerary for my St. Augustine trip - my curiosity from clicking on a map icon turning into the findings of a must-see destination, as I was absolutely stunned with what I found inside of this rather non-descript, long-closed, since subdivided former supermarket.

     The store we'll be touring today is located on Anastasia Island, the barrier island across the Intracoastal Waterway from St. Augustine. Along with Vilano Beach to the north, Anastasia Island comprises the remainder of St. Augustine's beachside, and is home to the city of St. Augustine Beach (whose boundary lies just to the south of this plaza - because of that, the plaza itself is officially a part of the city of St. Augustine, whose limits encompass the northern portion of Anastasia Island). The former Winn-Dixie we'll be touring is located at the major junction of SR 312 and SR A1A, SR 312 being the main road for tourists coming from I-95 to access Anastasia Island. Opening in 1980, Winn-Dixie built their store in the perfect location for tourists to make a quick pit stop on their way to the beach. While this location had a lot going for it, by the time the 1990's came around, Winn-Dixie had quickly outgrown this small building. In 1998, a new Winn-Dixie Marketplace built 2 1/2 miles to the south would replace this store, the old store being subdivided in the years to follow Winn-Dixie's departure. 

     Currently, the original Anastasia Island Winn-Dixie has been divided into space for four tenants: a thrift store, a gym, a pawn shop, and a billiards hall, with a Dollar General taking up a former in-line Eckerd next door. While that doesn't seem like the classiest line-up of tenants to have in a shopping center located at the gateway to St. Augustine's beachside, I promise you, Anastasia Island is actually a very nice place!

     Anyway, as you've probably seen from the last few exterior photos, the outside of the old Winn-Dixie was left very well in-tact, even given the amount of subdivision the place went through. The gym uses Winn-Dixie's original right side entryway, the doors for the pawn shop and billiards hall carved out of the wall next to that.

     While we're on this side of the building, here's a quick look at the Dollar General occupying the former Eckerd space. Eckerd eventually moved into a freestanding building across the street from here, where a CVS operates today.

     While that's the summary of the right half of the building, we're going to spend the rest of our time exploring the left side of the building, home to the thrift store. The thrift store, officially called the Betty Griffin Center Thrift Store, occupies about one third of the former Winn-Dixie, the side of the store that one housed Winn-Dixie's bakery, deli, and frozen food departments. As I mentioned at the very beginning of this post, my discovery of this former Winn-Dixie was by complete accident. While on the road, if I feel I'm going to have some extra time, I'll scout out some thrift stores in the area I'll be visiting. That's what I was doing in the days before my trip, when I happened to notice the Betty Griffin Center Thrift Store was in an old Winn-Dixie. That's fun and all, so I pulled up the interior images from Google Maps on a whim, hoping to find any vague traces of Winn-Dixie, and that's when I made sure to give this place high priority placement on my schedule!

     Stepping onto the front walkway, besides the accumulation of lots of stuff, not a single thing has been altered here since Winn-Dixie left the building in 1998. The brick is original, as are the doors in the distance. While I don't know exactly when the Betty Griffin Center opened their thrift store, it appears to have been shortly after Winn-Dixie vacated the premises in 1998.

     Look at that - old Albertsons carts - logos completely in-tact too! I hadn't even stepped inside the building yet and I was off to a good start! I'd have to guess these Albertsons carts have been with the Betty Griffin Center Thrift Store since the nearby Albertsons closed in 2005. I can't say that for sure, but that would appear to be the most likely case (as I doubt a locally-run non-profit thrift store is importing carts from far away places). The green plastic carts mixed in with the Albertsons ones are from Gander Mountain, again, those most likely coming from St. Augustine's Gander Mountain store that liquidated with the company in 2017 (although the St. Augustine Gander Mountain did reopen under Gander's new ownership the following year). And no, I did not come here to see the Albertsons carts - those were just a fun bonus I spotted upon my arrival to the thrift store. What I really came here to see was this:

     Yes, yes, yes - you are seeing that right - those are very obvious remains from Winn-Dixie's late 70's/early 80's decor on the walls! For a refresher on Winn-Dixie's decor from that era, the pre-Marketplace days, check out my post on the long-abandoned Winn-Dixie store in New Smyrna Beach (a great post, by the way, if you've never seen it before - it's one of my personal favorites). While the photos of the decor remnants at the old New Smyrna Winn-Dixie will give you an idea of what this store looked like back in the day, what we see in here in St. Augustine is a slightly different decor variant (as New Smyrna lacked the curved wooden trim we see here in its decor, but the colors, fonts, and wall graphics were very similar or the same between the variants). Here's a photo of what the decor remnants in this particular would have looked like when it first opened. Unfortunately, the thrift store ripped out the matching striped colored tiles when they moved in, opting for the exposed concrete instead, but considering what else was left behind, I wasn't too concerned about the floors being ripped out. Usually, like we saw at the St. Augustine Big Lots, the floor is sometimes all that remains from a prior tenant's decor, if any of that is lucky to remain after the fact. Rarely, if ever, is the wall decor the survivor instead!

     My excitement of this discovery out of the way, the photo above depicts the scene after exiting the vestibule and taking our first glimpse into the main sales floor. Housewares take up the right side of the thrift store, with clothes and furniture toward the left.

     Delving deeper into the thrift store, here's a look into the store's front left corner. Winn-Dixie's deli and bakery departments would have been located along the wall we see just beyond the thrift store's jewelry counter - the department names located within the larger rectangles formed by the wooden trim. And not only do we have the original trim surrounding the perimeter of these departments, if you look closely at the above photo, you'll see another surprise lurking in the distance behind all the piles of thrift and et cetera...

     Diving deeper into the old deli/bakery space, the lower ceiling above marks the original transition between the sales floor and the prep space for the deli and bakery counters. 

     And when it comes to a Winn-Dixie deli counter from the late 1970's or early 1980's, one of the most distinctive characteristics from that era was the department's funky red-orange wall tiles, pictured above. If the wall decor remnants weren't enough, the old deli/bakery wall tiles were a nice added bonus to the former Winn-Dixie experience. While the old deli/bakery prep area looks blocked off by a wall of junk - it's not. There's more thrift to be had back there, as Winn-Dixie's deli/bakery departments were turned into a book nook. You can see the bookshelves back there as you shop, however, it took me an embarrassingly long time to find the entrance into the book nook (which, as I found out, is located straight ahead of me, located somewhere within that mess!)

     Entering Betty's Book Bakery, we find the prep areas from the deli and bakery departments to be impeccably in-tact, although cook books have now replaced all the actual cooking Winn-Dixie used to do back here. Unlike the rest of the store, the original flooring from the prep areas survived back here, probably because these ceramic tiles are harder to scrape up than the old vinyl tiles that would have been found in the remainder of the sales floor. The deli/bakery alcove in this store would look nearly identical to the scene in this shot if you were to remove the maze of stuff piled up in here, complete with the little ramp to the raised floor too.

     Here's an actual close-up shot of the old tiles, which are real tiles, and not some kind of cheap linoleum or wall covering. I'd have to guess it'd be quite hard to find this tile color at my local tile shop these days, as I don't believe funky orange colors have been trendy in a number of years!

     Here's one last look across the deli/bakery book nook, looking into the front left corner of the building. Now that we have that funky orange color burned into our eyes, let's head back to the main sales floor and take in the more sedate wall decor relics a bit more:

     Departing the book nook, here's a look into the building's back left corner. Where I stood to take this picture would have most likely been home to the frozen foods department when Winn-Dixie was here, as 1980's built Winn-Dixie stores typically had frozen foods located in the last two or three aisles closest to the left wall.

     Here we have some lovely 70's/80's furniture to go along with the wall decor of the same vintage. A wicker chair, a floral print couch, and a ruffled rocking recliner - if only I could have transported this stuff over to the Big Lots for this picture, we could have had a really nice throwback scene!

     Anyway, the wall we see in the background of this photo is actually the partition wall that separates the thrift store from the gym. Interestingly, when the thrift store moved into this space, someone liked the design of Winn-Dixie's old decor on the other three walls well enough to replicate the pattern on to the partition too! That's pretty neat someone took the effort to make all four walls have matching decor, replicating what has been in here since 1980. You can tell the design on the partition was a later addition, as the pattern of the large, medium, and small rectangles isn't quite the same as the other walls, but it's still a really nice replication, and such a minor detail most people besides me would never catch.

     Turning the camera 90 degrees to my right, here's a look toward the front of the building, in the direction of the book nook (which is hidden behind all the furniture now). Lots more floral patterned furniture and wicker chairs to appreciate here, although being in Florida, there's always plenty of wicker furniture making its way into the local thrift store.

     Taking a closer look at the back wall of the store, Winn-Dixie's dairy and meat coolers would have once ran along this wall, under the lower ceiling. Dairy would have been in the very corner, with meat taking up the remainder of the back wall.

     While The Beef People's butcher counter would have been somewhere along this wall (with a matching sign in one of the large rectangles), The Thrift People use this corner for a variety of odds and ends - furniture, toys, sporting goods, hardware, and quite a bit more it seems.

     From the thrift store's housewares department, here's a look toward the vestibule. This is the best photo I have of the inner vestibule, as I was too eager to see the rest of the store, I forgot to get a vestibule photo as I was walking in! Oh well, I don't recall any super exciting Winn-Dixie elements up there, although very little of the vestibule was altered from the original design.

     As we prepare to leave, here's one last look at the old decor remnants that have been gracing these walls for 40 years now. It's always fun seeing such obvious relics from a former tenant last in some form, especially from a design that has been nearly extinct from active Winn-Dixie stores for years now.

     So there you guys have it - a nifty thrifty old Winn-Dixie! While this store will officially conclude our tour of St. "August"-ine retail for now, I do have some more photos from the area in my archives to share at a future date. But while we're here, we are really close to the beach, so why not pop over there for a moment to close out this series?

     For reference, the screenshot above shows the location of the old Winn-Dixie in relation to the beach - just a short drive down the road.

     A short stroll down the quiet shores of St. Augustine Beach is a nice way to finish out our little tour of the retail of St. Augustine, appreciating all the great things Florida has to offer - white sand beaches and funky old supermarkets.

     While that's all I have for today, be sure to come back in two weeks for a very special AFB post. My next post just so happens to fall on a very significant day for Floridian retail, with a tour of a very special store to mark the occasion. It's going to be a fun post, so be sure to come back in two weeks for that!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger


  1. Betty Griffin is probably a mystery to all of us, but given the decor of the Betty Griffin Thrift Shoppe, I think we can assume she is a big fan of the Bee Gees, Donna Summer, and KC and the Sunshine Band, lol. I'm not too familiar with vintage Winn-Dixie decor aside from photos on your blog and other photos of Winn-Dixie stores in modern times which still have/had dated decor, but a lot of retailers in the 1970s had similar decor and colors as what The Beef People and Betty Griffin have in the blog subject.

    It's great to see that this decor is still living on here in modern times. I wonder if that is the original paint (I assume it's paint and not some kind of wallpaper or wrap) that Winn-Dixie used or if they have re-painted those walls with the same colors Winn-Dixie used. Those orange earthtone tiles are almost certainly original though I would think. Maybe the Betty Griffin people found an old Color Tile store with excess stock from the 1970s, lol, but I kind of doubt that.

    I quite like the suit racks used by this thrift store. I wonder if they got those from a closing department store or something like that. I usually go to thrift stores to check out the electronics and music. I don't see any electronics here. Maybe they don't sell them or maybe the electronics department was small and not captured in the photos. Oh well. They probably do have music somewhere near the books. I wouldn't have been surprised if they had 8-track cartridges for sale given the decor, lol.

    That Dollar General sign is looking a bit sad. Then again, Dollar Generals look pretty sad in general.

    It's rather funny that a World Gym has opened up in the old home of The Beef People. I suppose they won't be as beefy after a good workout, lol. The World Gym in the photo is certainly quite quaint compared to the only other World Gym I'm familiar with which is at the infamous Mall of the Mainland in Texas City. After the mall closed, a developer purchased the old Macy's/Foley's on the cheap and turned most of it into a World Gym. The building is extremely ornate and supposedly the gym is very large and upscale. Maybe the St. Augustine World Gym is a lot nicer looking on the inside than the outside, who knows. Here are a couple of photos of the Mall of the Mainland World Gym. The first is the outside obviously. You can see the Palais Royal (Stage) that moved from their old location in the mall to the ex-Macy's building once the mall closed. The Palais Royal recycled Macy's decor and fixtures so it was the nicest Palais Royal in town. I assume it's closed/closing now like all Stage Stores. The second photo shows the lobby for the building. The gym is up the escalator. In some ways, it still looks like a Macy's. That Galaxy Nutrition storefront might look like a typical fake Mall of the Mainland storefront, but that actually is a real store. I think the store was in the process of opening when Je of the Louisiana & Texas Retail Blog took those photos.

    Ironically, although I'm not aware of any Winn-Dixies ever being in Houston, I have heard there was one in Texas City. I've never been able to confirm that though. Supposedly the building this Winn-Dixie was in became a Heilig-Meyers Furniture store in the late 1990s (I know the Heilig-Meyers was there). Again, this is odd because I don't remember Heilig-Meyers ever opening a store in Houston itself. I would have to assume Heilig-Meyers was more prominent in the southeast US than here and that may include Florida. Anyway, I'll attach a Google Street View look at this building. Do you see any design clues which may indicate that this was the former home of The Beef People?

    1. Betty Griffin sure does have some vintage taste! The wood trim on the perimeter walls is original, although the original color scheme would have used a wider palate than all blue (there would be some white, green, red and some other colors mixed in too). The all blue paint job was Betty Griffin's doing. The orange tiles are 100% original to W-D though, and probably would have been a hot seller at Color Tile!

      I wouldn't doubt it if the suit racks were acquired from a closing department store, as a lot of the fixtures in here appeared to be second hand, cobbled up from a variety of sources. There was an electronics section in here, along the back wall, as I remember looking through it. It's not really visible in my photos, but it was there (I was too busy capturing pictures of the walls than actual departments in here). There was a selection of music (records and CDs and such) by the books. I don't specifically remember seeing 8-track cartridges, but I do stumble across those from time to time still at these independent thrift stores.

      When I took these pictures, it had been a year and a half since the last hurricane passed through the area. Either a small windstorm managed to knock the covers out in the time before my visit, or DG was just being cheap and never fixed them from Irma. For some reason, I'm guessing the latter, as that sounds more like DG!

      Lol! Yeah, the World Gym in the old Macy's at Mall of the Mainland sure looks fancy, and that probably follows through on the interior too, going off what's present in the entryway. That's an interesting conversion, for sure!

      While I know Winn-Dixie was up around Dallas at one time, I've never heard of them being mentioned around Houston before. Doing a little digging, I can confirm the building you linked to in Texas City was never a Winn-Dixie, but instead began as a supermarket called Texas Super Foods before Heilig-Meyers arrived in 1997.

    2. Thanks for looking up that information about the building which ended up as Heilig-Meyers. I was aware that a supermarket called Texas Super Foods operated out of that building before Heilig-Meyers moved in, but I was not sure if there was a supermarket there prior to Texas Super Foods. I had heard conflicting information, but it seems you were able to clear that up.

      I really don't know anything about Texas Super Foods. There are a lot of independent grocers in the Houston area including some which operate just in the southeastern industrial/coastal suburbs of Houston.

      I do know that Piggly Wiggly operated in the Houston area in at least the 1960s because I actually have photographic proof of that. I can't say I'm surprised that they didn't last in a competitive grocery market like Houston.

    3. Here's just a quick update to my above reply about Texas Super Foods. According to the Houston Historic Retail blog, it seems they were associated with the Minimax chain of grocery stores which were prominent in the Houston area for a number of decades. For whatever reason, they didn't take the Minimax name though.

    4. No problem! Glad I was able to clear that up for you. Texas Super Foods had an interesting history, seemingly a semi-independent chain that couldn't make it.

  2. Oh well, you didn't talk about Publix #729 but that's OK. It also needed to be paired with #1239 which is its replacement store if it had a blog post.

    1. Like I said at the previous post, I don't have any coverage of either of those stores, but maybe someday.

  3. I remember this Winn Dixie quite well. My parents and I used to go there sometimes when we went to St. Augustine and camped at Anastasia Park. I remember when it closed.

    1. That's neat! This would certainly a convenient stop on the way there.

  4. Awesome find with this place! Very, very cool not only that they left the old Winn-Dixie wall décor intact, but also that they liked it so much they replicated it on the subdivision wall. Love the funky red-orange tile in "Betty's Book Bakery" as well. I can see why you were so excited to stumble upon this place! And it sounds like your next post will be a very special destination as well, so I'm already looking forward to that...

    1. Thanks, glad you liked it! It's pretty rare to find a decor package that old still floating around (even in remnant form), but the fact the thrift store even took the effort to replicate it on the partition was a nice touch as well! There was a lot of interesting stuff to see in here, that's for sure!

    2. Wow! What a throwback!I would have never guessed this old decor would've existed in Florida anywhere. What I'd give to go back to the period where Winn-Dixie stores looked like this!

      This was the days of the 'Astor' brand too.

    3. I always like finding a good surprise like this in my travels!

  5. Check out this commercial. You can s some little glimpses of that 80’s Winn Dixie decor here.

  6. Looks like they might have changed the ceiling because I didn’t see any round diffuser vents on the ceiling, which older Winn Dixies usually have. Also, the lights are different too.

    1. After a subdivision, it's a bit of a toss-up if things like the original lighting and vents will remain after the fact. I really didn't think much of the lighting or lack of round diffusers when I was here, but you're right, those were removed at some point.

    2. Yup. I did look at a few pics on Google if the Gold’s Gym portion of the building and it looks like they kept the original drop ceiling and lighting and I saw a diffuser vent in one of the pics, which tells me they kept them. They painted them black.

  7. Publix turns 90 years old on September 6th!

    1. I didn't forget about that - come back tomorrow and see what I have in store!