Sunday, October 4, 2020

Former Albertsons #4445 - Tampa, FL (N. Florida Ave.)

Albertsons #4445 / Super Saver #1535
14939 North Florida Avenue, Tampa, FL - Florida Crossing Shopping Center

     With Publix's 90th birthday and the first installment of Life after Lucky's behind us, I feel we're caught up enough on the current events to head out on the road and scope out another former Floridian Albertsons store. On the northern fringes of the city of Tampa we find this store, former Albertsons #4445, a rather short lived late 90's location. Lasting only 7 years as an Albertsons, this wasn't even Albertsons' worst example of a store crashing and burning quickly in Hillsborough County, as the county had two stores that barely cracked a year in business! Albertsons' success in the immediate Tampa area was a bit spotty, with store #4445 unfortunately falling into the less-than-successful category.

     Albertsons #4445 opened in 1997 on the site of an abandoned Kash n' Karry, and was a fairly standard store for the time (essentially an exact copy of this location, but flipped). Not much changed here until 2005, when this store was included as part of the 11 under-performing Albertsons locations to convert to the company's new discount banner: Super Saver. (Fun fact: this was the newest of Albertsons' stores to make the switch to the new brand). Speaking of Super Saver, look what I have here:

     YonWooRetail2 was able to dig up some photos of this store from, specifically from its short-lived Super Saver days (I couldn't find any photos of this store as an Albertsons though). Photos of the mid-2000's Super Saver concept are rare enough to begin with, so I won't complain!

     While there weren't any overviews of the interior of the Tampa Super Saver, we do get a few small glimpses from inside the store in these few photos. The photo above shows us some of the price tags (featuring Super Saver's smiling shopping cart mascot), with the photo below giving us a quick glimpse of the front end. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but from what I vaguely remember from my few times in Super Saver, the store had green warehouse shelving racks and yellow plastic aisle markers with the shopping cart mascot on them. Unfortunately, I don't remember much else than that, besides a lot of other Albertsons fixtures (like the check stands and shopping carts) being reused for Super Saver. In the above photo with the aisle shot, you can see the store's original Blue and Gray Market decor tile pattern remained after the conversion. These conversions weren't big budget, which would probably be expected for a discount store rebranding.

     Like all the other Floridian Super Saver stores, this one closed with the rest in 2006 after Albertsons was split between Cerberus Capital Management and SuperValu. After Super Saver closed, the building sat vacant for a year until Ross Dress for Less popped up in the building's left side in 2008, accompanied by Ross's sister store dd's discounts in the right half of the building. dd's didn't last long, and their half of the building would become home to Aldi in 2009.

     What's so intriguing about this building in its post-Albertsons life is how Albertsons' facade remains completely in-tact even after the subdivision - especially when neither tenant has any use for the old facade. Ross and Aldi both carved out their own entrances from the Albertsons building, leaving the old Albertsons facade as an oddly placed decorative feature these days. But as we all know, this isn't the weirdest example of a supermarket subdivision we've stumbled across before.

     Albertsons' main entryway would have been located under the grand arch seen here, which now leads to a wall. Besides some new paint, no modifications were made to the arch since Super Saver closed, making for a weird effect. You still want to think this arch is the grand entrance to something, when really it isn't anymore.

     While leaving all of Albertsons' facade in-tact, Aldi actually squeezed-in an arch of their own for their new main entrance, filling in a gap that used to exist between the entryway arch and the one for the liquor store.

     Ross carved their entrance out of a blank wall, located in the area where Albertsons' pharmacy counter would have been.

     Let's head inside Ross for a quick spin around the store...

     As would be expected, neither Ross nor Aldi left anything from Albertsons inside either of their spaces. Both gutted and stripped the interiors to start new.

     Ross occupies the portion of the building where Albertsons' meat and seafood counter, as well as the pharmacy, would have been located. What we see here looking toward the right side of Ross's sales floor would have been Albertsons' grocery aisles.

     This photo gives us a pretty good overview of the store.

     The old meat and seafood counter would have been located straight ahead of me in the back left corner.

     Meat coolers have given way to framed art these days.

     Here's the view down the left side of the sales floor, looking in the direction of the old pharmacy counter.

     Now that we've seen the inside of Ross, let's make the short walk over to Aldi.

     The front walkway is virtually unchanged from the days when Albertsons was here. The round lights on the canopy above are a very distinctive Albertsons remnant.

     The pair of fire exits on my left marks where the split between Ross and Aldi happens. The door on the left belongs to Ross, while the one on the right is Aldi's.

     Here we find ourselves under the grand arch, which isn't so grand anymore since it doesn't lead to much. Aldi bricked in Albertsons old entrance (which would have been to my left), and they did so pretty well, as you'd never know a set of doors were once located here.

     Here's a better look at the location of Albertsons old entrance. If you look really, really close (right around the top of the short window by the front of the carts), you can see a subtle change in the way the blocks are aligned. Either that's our only faint clue as to what used to be here, or I've stared at this wall for too long trying to find something!

     Aldi was the one who carved out all the windows you see along the front of the building. Albertsons would have only had the windows surrounding their entrance doors on these late 90's stores. Before we head into Aldi, here's another look at the old Albertsons facade, still weirdly in-tact to this day (and so painfully obvious that it's not fooling anyone!)

     Aldi's entrance is carved into the front right corner of the building, opening into the space where Albertson's bakery would have been. The former liquor store entrance can also been seen just beyond Aldi's doors too, and we'll check that out in just a moment. But first, into Aldi we go...

     This Aldi was remodeled into the company's latest prototype, which features a new layout with produce in the front, a larger product selection (coming from an increase in organic and natural products), and an overall classier feel. Even after these remodels, it's still the same Aldi we all know, just looking nicer now.

     Looking down the right side of the store, we find ourselves in the area where Albertsons' bakery, deli, and produce departments were once located. This is the view looking straight down the aisle after entering the store. As you can tell, this was a busy place!

     Aldi puts a lot of effort into their recent remodels, changing out just about everything in the process (which results in the store having to close completely for a few weeks, in many cases). Prior to the recent remodel, this store also had a drop ceiling, which was entirely ripped out. About the only original feature to have survived this store's remodel was the old yellow tile floors, a classic Aldi feature. Aldi uses plain polished concrete in their newest stores, so the floor is the one telltale sign this location is older than it appears to be.

     Even prior to the recent remodel, Aldi left nothing behind from Albertsons in here, so we didn't miss out on anything.

     Some coolers line the back of the store, much like Albertsons had.

     Here's one last overview of the sales floor as we make our way back outside...

     The very busy front end can be seen here.

     Of course, I have to save the best part of this store for last. As we've seen time and time again, while the main store has been split up and rebuilt in the years after Albertsons' departure, the old attached liquor store sits chronically abandoned next door.

     The attached liquor store hasn't seen a tenant since Super Saver's departure in 2006. For that reason, nearly 15 years later, the original Albertsons enter and exit decals remain on the doors, but better yet...

     ...the original Albertsons Blue and Gray Market decor lives on inside the liquor store too! While some of the decor got lopped off when the back coolers were removed (cutting straight through the letters too), we get our trusty little glimpse into the past here in North Tampa.

     While there isn't any cold beer to find here anymore, there's no shortage of Albertsons remnants! I don't know what it is with these old liquor stores sitting chronically empty for so long, but they've sure come in handy to make my posts more interesting, and help me with figuring out what decor package the original stores ended their runs with. Considering how this store only lasted for 7 years, it's no surprise it retained its original decor from start to finish. With a 1997 opening, this would have been one of the last Albertsons stores to open with Blue and Gray Market, as Blue and Green Awnings would begin to take that decor package's place by 1998.

     While this former Albertsons store has been subdivided and renovated through the years, there's still an intriguing number of remnants from this building's past life to see here in North Tampa. How the facade remained remarkably in-tact post-subdivision is quite impressive, and I'm surprised Aldi did so little to modify it, as it encompasses most of their space.

     Anyway, to finish out this post, here's the usual run of satellite imagery, beginning with some Bird's Eye aerial images courtesy of Bing Maps:


Right Side


Left Side

     And now for the historic aerial images, courtesy of Google Earth:

Former Albertsons #4445 - 2019

Former Albertsons #4445 - 2012

Former Albertsons #4445 - 2007 - The building was sitting vacant here after Super Saver's closure the year prior.

Super Saver #1535 - 2006

Albertsons #4445 - 2002

Albertsons #4445 - 1998 - The plaza was still fairly new when this image was captured.

Future Albertsons #4445 - 1995 - Here you can see the old Kash n' Karry building that once stood at this site. While the building looks long abandoned in the image, it appears this store only closed sometime around 1993 (the latest hit I get on this store doing a search). Kash n' Karry already had a larger store just down the road at N. Florida and Fletcher (an ex-Family Mart), so this much older location became rather redundant.

     And there you have it everyone, the former North Florida Avenue Albertsons! Of course the tree has to block most of the original Albertsons facade in this overview shot, but trees just like to get in my way all the time!

     So that's all I have for today's post. Two weeks from now will be the first part of a two part profile of one of Florida's many dearly departed grocery chains. It's a chain we've seen before on the blog, but I feel it's time we finally give this company the profile it deserves as we explore the two main concepts they produced over their 10 years in existence. It's going to be fun, so come back in two weeks for that!

Until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger


  1. Dds Discount had the Aldi side of the building after SuperSaverclosed.The Kash and Karry that used to be here was always deserted in the early 90s. You could go in and literally be the only shopper. I dont how it lasted as long as it did. I also remember SuperSaver had a weird layout. Ob one side it was like a normal grocery store but then a little over half the store the aisles ran the other direction this was the part that had snacks soda and such.

    1. It's interesting how so many of those dd's stores that popped up around 2007/2008-ish closed within a year or two of opening. Including this location, the dd's in a portion of the former Daytona Beach, Merritt Island, and Panama City Albertsons all suffered the same fates. I updated the post with that info. With the bigger Kash n' Karry down the street, I'm surprised this location lasted as long as it did too, as there was an overlap between the two stores for at least 4-5 years. Thanks for the info on Super Saver too. I only vaguely remember the place myself, so I really don't remember much about the layout.

  2. Pretty cool to see the liquor store décor intact still, let alone the whole main store facade!

  3. I'm sure this Albertsons would have looked quite similar to the Albertsons we had here in Houston which also opened in and around 1997. In fact, the little slice of Blue & Gray Market decor you found takes me back to many of our old Albertsons!

    I can't say I'm familiar with the Super Saver concept. When Albertsons left Houston, they left in a hurry and didn't even bother trying to save themselves with things like a discount grocery store (though my local Albertsons, which lasted only about a year, did have one of those Albertsons Garden Centers). The decor of the Super Saver stores seems rather, well, bright. I'm not sure why discount grocery stores go for extremely bright colors, but that has been a trend for decades now I suppose. Perhaps jarring the eyeballs of discount shoppers is a way of shaming them and making them want to shop at supermarkets with fatter profit margins?

    On the topic of Blue & Gray Market Albertsons stores which were painted bright colors, I'm not sure if I shared this with you before, but we have a former Albertsons here in Houston which was turned into an Indo-Pak ethnic grocery store called the World Food Mart. There are still many Albertsons elements left in this store including the 'Tetris S' floor design and some Blue & Gray signage turned into all kinds of other colors. There are even some old Albertsons carts in this store if you look at the photos closely enough. It's an interesting place, I'm sure you'll enjoy looking at the photos of it on Google. The "Make Pakistan Great Again" signs on the outside of the store are certainly, well, interesting, lol. Link:

    The conversion of an Albertsons to an Aldi and Ross reminds me of the former Texas City Albertsons (which itself is a former Randall's). For a long time, that was subdivided into a Goodwill and a Dollar Tree, but the shopping center got a real boost when the abandoned Kmart nearby was turned into an HEB. Thus, the Goodwill was evicted and work was done a couple of years ago to convert the former Albertsons into an Aldi, Dollar Tree, and Ross. It should be noted that the Dollar Tree is not where the old Dollar Tree was, they have a new location where the Goodwill was.

    Here's how things look now:
    And how they looked when Goodwill was still around:

    From looking at the Google pictures of the Texas City Aldi, it looks similar to the Tampa Aldi in many ways, but a big difference is the flooring. Like all other Aldis I've seen in Houston, the Texas City store has a concrete floor. That makes the space look dark and rather dingy compared to the Tampa store with floor covering. Granted, that floor in Tampa looks pretty marked in some spots so it's hardly the classiest floor I've ever seen at a supermarket.

    The Tampa Ross also looks relatively well cleaned and organized for a Ross, but that's not saying much.

    1. 1997 was prime time for Albertsons to be building stores in Houston. Albertsons opened a lot of stores around Houston in such a short time too, at least 80 or so throughout the division before it imploded in 2002. I'm not sure if you've ever seen this before, but pseudo3D put together this table of stores that once made up Albertsons' Houston division:

      Super Saver came along after Albertsons left Houston, although some stores around Dallas did make the switch (just to close in 2006 alongside all the others). From what I remember, Super Saver used a green and yellow color palate in the store. It was bright, but not overly so like SEG's Harvey's decor. I'm sure there's some psychology to the trend, but Aldi (like we saw above) has been breaking away from that for darker colors to make the store feel classier.

      Yes, the World Food Mart is quite the interesting place from those photos! It's always neat seeing obvious traces of decor from prior tenants reused like that, especially when that store closed as an Albertsons almost 20 years ago now. The Texas City Albertsons looked pretty interesting before the big remodel. I wonder how thorough Goodwill was with their remodel, and if anything from Albertsons remained in there. With the current state of the building, I doubt there's a chance anything remains, as the building looks like it was very thoroughly rebuilt.

      The yellow tiles in the Aldi in this post are a holdover from this being an older store, opened in the late 2000's. Sometime in the 2010's is when Aldi switched to concrete. I think Aldi is a more recent player in Houston (coming along sometime in the 2010's), so with those stores being newer, the older tiles aren't featured in any stores in the area. I don't shop at Ross all too much, but I have seen some stores that look a little strewn about. I guess that's one of the repercussions of being a discount store though.

    2. Part I:

      I am familiar with Pseudo3D's Albertsons list and his Safeway & Albertsons in Texas Blog which is sadly no longer updated as far as I know. I take it that the Safeway & Albertsons in Texas Blog was inspired by your fine blog. Although that blog may have not gained the following that your blog has, I wouldn't take that as a sign that there isn't interest in the history of Safeway and Albertsons in Texas. I can't speak for the whole state, but tales about Albertsons massive, but short-lived attempt at ruling the Houston grocery segment has spurred on many discussions on forums and blogs covering Houston retail.

      Actually, there is another list of former Houston Albertsons locations on the Houston Historic Retail blog. I actually usually use that one more often than P3D's list. Hopefully P3D is not offended by this if he reads this. The only reason why I prefer the HHR blog list is because it has a large photo of one of the Albertsons stores that was in my area. I remember that store well and I still stop at that shopping center once or twice a year to take a look at the Goodwill store which is in the former Sears Hardware store that was next to the Albertsons. Link:

      That's interesting that Dallas got the Super Saver stores, but that's not surprising since Albertsons has hung on in the Dallas market even to this day. They have an odd dual presence in Dallas with their own stores and also the Tom Thumb stores which is the sister brand to Randall's under the Safeway umbrella. Both Tom Thumb and Albertsons in Dallas is under threat from HEB's slow encroachment into the Dallas market.

      The Goodwill in Texas City did not retain any of Albertsons' features as far as I can tell. It had a pretty standard interior that Goodwill put into their stores around 2010 or so, but that store was slightly larger than most Houston area Goodwills. It's possible that the donation center part of the store had some Albertsons features though since that's mostly kept as a warehouse. I never went into the donation center at that location though so I'm not sure.

      It's a shame that Goodwill closed because it was probably my favorite Goodwill in the Houston area. They often had vintage, and sometimes not vintage, high-end electronics for sale and usually at decent prices. On different trips to that Goodwill, I picked up a working Nakamichi cassette deck, a working Denon 3 head cassette deck, and a 1980 Radio Shack direct drive turntable which needed a little work (I did fully restore it and now it's not only a great piece of stereo equipment, but it's also a piece of retail memorabilia from Radio Shack's best days). All of those are the things which I dreamed of finding at a thrift store, but I thought I would never actually find them. Not only did I find them, but I picked all of those up for less than $25 each! The funny thing is that Texas City is a blue collar industrial suburb so you'd never expect to get great stuff from thrifts there, but I think Goodwill trucked over inventory from the nearby Friendswood/Clear Lake area which is near where the NASA Johnson Space Center is.

      I never shopped at the Texas City Albertsons, but I wish I did see it. It was in a former Randall's and Randall's stores from the 1980s-1990s were known for having fairly elaborate vestibules and/or entryways. Actually, Randall's had very nice decor and designs all over their stores at that time. I wonder if Albertsons kept that aspect of Randall's at that location or if they just make it look like a normal Albertsons Blue & Gray Market store. I suppose we'll never know unless I can find someone who shopped at that location.

    3. Part II:

      Ironically, when Albertsons left Houston, Randall's (Safeway) did pick up some of the old Albertsons locations. Some/all of these stores still exist and are now under the Albertsons umbrella once again. However, I think Safeway did a pretty good job scrubbing most aspects of Albertsons away from these locations. That's okay though because we have some very well-preserved Albertsons decor all over the Houston area thanks to Food Town and places like the World Food Mart. Albertsons archeologists would have plenty to study in Houston, lol.

      HEB's discount supermarket chain, Joe V's Smart Shop, uses a bright red and yellow color scheme in their stores. The popular discount chain in Canada, Loblaw's No Frills chain, also uses a bright red and yellow scheme. None of them are as bright as Harvey's, of course, but they're still pretty bright. Any store brighter than Havery's would require customers to wear sun block and sunglasses while shopping, lol.

      You're right that Aldi expanded to the Houston area in the 2010s. The great majority of their locations are in freestanding locations built by themselves. That shopping center location in Texas City is a bit of an oddball by their local standards. It's strange seeing the Tampa Aldi have as many customers as it does because the Aldis that I've been to around here are usually pretty quiet. Then again, the one I go to most frequently is at an intersection which also has a Kroger, HEB (former Randall's), and Food Town (former Food Lion) so Aldi might be the fourth option for most shoppers out of that bunch.

      I don't shop at Ross often either due to the messiness and general chaotic scene at their stores here in Houston. From what I can remember, Ross mainly expanded into the Houston area when they took over Solo Serve locations back in the early-to-mid 1990s. Solo Serve was a closeout clothing store like Ross, but their stores were quite a bit nicer and less chaotic. Solo Serve was a San Antonio-based retailer. You can read about them and see pictures of their stores in this link:

  4. Across the street (Florida Ave) was I believe an old USave. It is where Big Lots is located. Could you write up that old store? Thanks...

    1. I figured the Big Lots was a grocery store prior - thanks for identifying that one as a U-Save! I didn't stop there when I was in the area, so I don't have any coverage of it, unfortunately. I'd like to get back to Tampa again (as there's plenty out there I haven't covered), so I'll keep that store in mind.