Albertsons #4484 / Publix #1342
1101 8th Avenue West, Palmetto, FL
I've done so many posts about Publixsons stores that I'm starting to run out of creative ways to introduce these as our subject of the day. It doesn't help that I still have many more Publixsons store tours in my archives too, but hopefully by the next one, I'll overcome my bout of writer's block and an introduction will spill right out of me. However, for now, I have nothing. So while a froofy intro just isn't in me this time around, that doesn't mean this store is any less interesting. The store we'll be seeing today is one of the most modern examples of a Publixsons out there, this store opening as an Albertsons shortly before the chain's great Floridian decline began to set in.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the area, Palmetto is a small town located just north of Bradenton, and marks the beginning of the area traditionally referred to as Southwest Florida. Due to the quiet nature of the area, Palmetto, as well as surrounding towns like Ellenton and Parrish, have seen a rise in population from those looking to leave the hustle and bustle of nearby Tampa and St. Petersburg for a calmer way of life. While continuing to this day, a lot of this population boom began in the early 2000's, a boom that Albertsons caught on to. Albertsons purchased land for two new stores in this area to take advantage of the growth - one site in the heart of downtown Palmetto (leading to the store we'll be touring today) and the other site in the newer growth part of the area (which would bring us store #4477 - a tour for another day).
Albertsons was able to bring this store to downtown Palmetto as part of a redevelopment plan. This store was built on the site of an abandoned shopping center once anchored by a store called Mr. C's Community Market, which had closed in 1998. Sitting at a prime corner in the heart of town, the abandoned supermarket was a bit unsightly. The new Albertsons would bring a much needed new grocery option to town, as well as serve as a symbol of revitalization to the area. The new Albertsons opened on June 4, 2002, as one of the last handful of Albertsons stores to open in Florida.
At the time of Albertsons' opening, the only competition the new store faced was a Kash n' Karry located a few blocks away (oddly situated off a side street too). In addition to that, Winn-Dixie had a store on the eastern edge of town, and Publix's closest store was way out in Ellenton. Albertsons found themselves a nice location in the middle of town with this store, and even though Albertsons only lasted 6 years here, I don't think this was a poorly performing store - I think this store ended up in Publix's hands due to its strong location. This was one of the 49 Floridian Albertsons stores sold to Publix in 2008, a store Publix wasted no time in reopening. Before 2008 even ended, Publix was up and running out of this building, with Publix's grand opening happening on December 18, 2008. Opening in Palmetto brought a completely new location into Publix's store fleet, as this store was far enough away from any other existing Publix to lead to a replacement situation.
As you can tell, Publix's speedy conversion in 2008 left the building in mostly original form. From this vantage point looking across the front walkway, we still have a very strong Albertsons feel here as we look toward the entryway. If it weren't for Publix's typical green recycling bin crashing this photo, you'd think Albertsons had never left the building.
The Palmetto Albertsons was a typical early 2000's store, aligned with the fresh departments on the right side of the building. In this photo we can see the very much original-to-Albertsons entryway, inclusive of the arched windows above the doors.
Stepping inside and turning to the right, we find the deli counter. While the counter itself if located along the right side wall in the corner, Albertsons would have had a prepared foods counter and prep space to my right, behind the coolers of ice tea that Publix installed. Publix still uses part of Albertsons old prepared foods prep area as the Pub Sub station, although most of the area is now blocked by those coolers.
A mid-2010's remodel to this store brought about the Classy Market 3.0 decor, that remodel wiping away any obvious Albertsons decor remnants Publix may have left behind in the original conversion. While the design of this building is most typically associated with the Grocery Palace decor, that's actually not the decor this store opened with. Interestingly, come 2002, Albertsons has reintroduced its Blue and Green Awnings decor as a replacement for Grocery Palace in new-build stores of the time. That's what this store opened and (most likely) closed with, looking something like this. The second wave of Blue and Green Awnings decor lasted from 2002-2003, with the last few Albertsons stores to open in Florida in the late 2003-2004 time frame getting the rare Santa Fe decor.
This photo looks toward the sub station and Albertsons' old prepared foods counter.
Overall, the deli occupies a rather large area in the front right corner of the store, this photo giving us a nice overview of the entire department. Some pre-made foods and specialty cheeses are located in the island cooler in the middle of the department.
Following the deli, we next encounter the produce department. While not as bad as the monster 70,000 square foot Publix in the former Jewel-Osco, there were a few places in this nearly 60,000 square foot former Albertsons that seemed a bit overly spaced out, such as this transition area between the deli and produce. The front end is another area where we'll see Publix had trouble filling in the extra space, those pictures coming up later in this post.
A good chunk of space was dedicated to the produce department, although Publix was a bit generous with the spacing of the displays to fill the large area they inherited from Albertsons.
Here's a look back at what we've covered so far, with the deli in the background of this photo taken from within the produce department.
Take a close look at the two aisle markers in the background of this image. In a very unusual move for Publix, the entirety of the produce department was given the designation of Aisle 1, with Aisle 2 being the half aisle of shelves to my right. Typically in situations like this, the grocery shelves bordering the produce department would be part of Aisle 1, with produce left as-is without any numbering. Publix isn't one for fluffing the aisle count to make a store feel larger, as Publix isn't a company that likes running big stores to begin with, so I was surprised to see this. However, Publix's little tactic of numbering the produce department as Aisle 1 pushed this store over the edge when it came to aisle numbering, as this store has the highest aisle count I've ever encountered at any Publix. We'll see how high the numbers go later in this post, but for now back to
Aisle 1 the produce department:
Unlike the crazy flooring from the Grocery Palace decor, these early 2000's stores that opened with Blue and Green Awnings decor would have used a plain white vinyl tile throughout. Publix ripped out all the old tiles from Albertsons prior to moving in, replacing the white tile with some colored tile patterns around the perimeter of the store. The remainder of the salesfloor is covered with a faux terrazzo flooring, a common choice for Publix when moving into a building that wasn't theirs originally.
Leaving the produce department, we find the bakery located on the store's back wall.
Albertsons' old bakery was significantly remodeled after Publix moved in, although the Classy Market 3.0 remodel was most likely when the major work was done to change this department to one more in-line with Publix's standards. I believe these Blue and Green Awnings stores also had the angled ceiling over the bakery like their Grocery Palace counterparts, a feature Publix has since ripped out for their standard curved front.
The bakery counter at this store seemed unusually wide to me, however, that could just be because Publix usually stuffs their bakery into a corner, so you rarely ever see one as spread out as this.
With some displays of baked goods in the middle of the back aisle, here's one final look toward produce as we continue to move deeper into this store.
We'll cut down aisle 3 to return to the front for a moment...
Looking across the front of the store, the pharmacy island becomes visible to my left. The pharmacy island is another holdover from Albertsons, a design trait that allowed the pharmacy counter to be immediately in front of you upon entering the store.
Albertsons would have had a large health and beauty department in the aisles opposite the pharmacy counter, taking up the first half of these few aisles. When Publix moved in, health and beauty was consolidated into the entirety of aisles 7 and 8, freeing up more space for Publix's grocery aisles.
The pharmacy counter was heavily modified by Publix through the years, like most of the other service departments in this store.
Aisle 5 is home to a very large selection of international products, courtesy of this store's larger than average size.
Following the bakery, the next service department we find along the store's back wall is the meat and seafood counter.
Random comment: Even though Classy Market 3.0 is officially retired, Publix did a really good job of making that decor look nice in any building they added it to. Even though Publix modified the service departments to their liking in this store's last remodel, the rest of the (mostly-untouched) former Albertsons store looks like it was always intended to have this decor. Classy Market 3.0 was a very adaptable decor, and it will be interesting to see how well Evergreen adapts to Publix's older and acquired stores.
The store's meat coolers follow the service counter, stretching almost all the way to the other side of the store.
Returning to the grocery aisles, here's one of those consolidated health and beauty aisles I mentioned before.
Following health and beauty, we find this aisle, home to everything you'd ever need for your next beach outing - beach toys, local souvenirs, and beer. While this store isn't near any popular beach spots, it is within half an hour's drive of two famous Gulf Coast beach destinations: St. Pete Beach and Anna Maria Island. Most likely Publix had an extra aisle's worth of space in this oversized store and didn't know what else to put here, so beach stuff it was. (And this is Florida, so no matter where a store is, beach stuff sells well here!)
Getting closer to the left side of the store, the meat coolers transition into dairy coolers.
Cutting down another aisle, we find a large selection of magazines and greeting cards down here.
The store's floral department is set into the side of the pharmacy island, facing the front check lanes.
Even though 15-16 aisles is about average for a Publix store, in this photo we can see the numbers getting much higher than that, meaning there's still a good amount of store to cover...
We can see the signage for the dairy department above the milk coolers in the corner. Dairy wraps along the side wall into the store's last aisle, with additional dairy signage down there too.
I'm sure poor aisle 15, seen here, had a rough time last year...
Looking toward the meat and seafood counter once again, this photo looks back at what we've covered so far.
Within aisle 18, we can discover what type of champagne will pair well with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (the lunch combo of choice for the budget-conscious gourmet).
Snack foods in aisle 19, and we've yet to run out of aisles...
From the back left corner of the store, here's a look across the width of the building. It's a pretty big place from this vantage point, the green paint from the produce department barely visible in the background.
The last two aisles of the store are home to frozen foods. Since the last aisle is actually longer than the one I'm standing in, that little pass-through was added about halfway through the center coolers.
At long last we've made it to the final aisle in the store - aisle 21. Like I said before, an average Publix will have somewhere around 15-16 aisles, and some of Publix's larger stores may hit the 17-18 aisle range. It's extremely rare to see a Publix store with an aisle count over 20 (as even the monster Pub-Osco we saw back in December topped out at 15 aisles). While the Pub-Osco building we toured in Palm Harbor was much bigger than this store in Palmetto, Publix had everything more spaced out at the Palm Harbor store than they do here.
Dairy occupies the side wall throughout most of aisle 21, with the rest of the aisle being home to frozen foods.
Rounding the corner out of frozen foods, we find ourselves at the front end once again. Publix had a large open space they inherited from Albertsons between the check lanes and the frozen food coolers, so in an attempt to fill the void, a large display of bottled water and Bud Light was created to fill the space.
Pulling the camera back just a bit further, here's a better look at how the last frozen food aisle sticks out from the remainder of the grocery aisles.
A wide aisle separates the check lanes from the grocery aisles. While all this extra space must come in handy on days when this store is especially busy, you can tell this was a result of Publix getting more room than they'd have liked from buying this big former Albertsons building.
This photo serves as my best example of how spacious the front end really is here. The aisle is wide enough to make the front end feel big, but not wide enough to where Publix could put displays out here without making the front end feel cluttered and cramped.
Even though Publix had the space to do so, they never moved the service desk to an island by the check lanes during the Classy Market 3.0 remodel. Instead, the service desk is still located along the wall by the front doors. In stores with the Grocery Palace decor, Albertsons would have had the service desk on the back wall of the pharmacy island originally. However, since this store was newer, I don't know if the layout was tweaked and the service desk was always in the spot we see here, or if Publix moved the desk here (replacing either a photo counter or video rental space from Albertsons).
Here's one last interior photo of this store, showing the hallway between the doors and the pharmacy island.
Although a bit on the large side for Publix's liking, Publix has done a nice job of making this store their own. The building is modern (even if it is pushing 20 years old now - was 2002 really that long ago?!) and Publix's decor fits the place well, so hopefully Publix gets a nice long run out of this building Albertsons gave up.
Lastly, here's a photo of the attached liquor store, located on the right side of the building.
With our tour out of the way, let's jump into the usual satellite imagery, starting off with some Bird's Eye aerial images courtesy of Bing Maps:
Front - Publix repainted the store from a brown and beige paint scheme to the gray and blue scheme sometime in the last few years, which we've seen with a few other Publixsons stores recently too.
And now for some historic satellite imagery, courtesy of Google Earth:
Former Albertsons #4484 - 2019
Former Albertsons #4484 - 2013 - Publix must be doing good business here, from the looks of that parking lot.
Albertsons #4484 - 2008
Albertsons #4484 - December 2002 - A brand new Albertsons store can be seen here.
Future Albertsons #4484 - April 2002 - The store was still under construction when this satellite image was captured, but the building and most major work seems to have been completed.
Future Albertsons #4484 - 1998 - The abandoned Mr. C's Market building can be seen at the top of the image. Albertsons' building would be placed over Mr. C's old store, with Albertsons' parking lot being built over those few small buildings on the corner below.
And that is the story of Albertsons #4484 in Palmetto. I was able to dig up an old photo of this store from its short 6-year life as an Albertsons, which is what we'll close out this post with. For my next post we'll stay in the area for another fun supermarket tour, so be sure to come back in two weeks for that!
So until next time,
The Albertsons Florida Blogger