Sunday, January 23, 2022

When Neon and Chrome Was a Winn Win


Winn-Dixie #2229
184 Marion Oaks Boulevard, Ocala (Marion Oaks), FL - Marion Oaks Shopping Center

     We spent a lot of time last year looking at Winn-Dixie's future, checking out some of the company's new and remodeled stores. While that remodel wave is still going strong into 2022, I think the time has come to remember some of the those funky untouched older stores Winn-Dixie was famous for until recently. There was a time when it was pretty common to come across a Winn-Dixie that hadn't seen a remodel in over 25 years - today's feature store being a rather extreme example of that very scenario. However, Winn-Dixie has been spending the last few years correcting that major flaw, with these older stores remodeling at a rate faster than I've ever seen before. When 2021 came to a close, over 70% of the company's stores have since been remodeled to either the "Down Down" or "Winn Win" decor packages, with over 50 more remodels in the works for 2022. While it's sad seeing some of these relic-like holdouts remodel after so long, it's finally about time Winn-Dixie takes store remodels seriously. The reason I keep bringing up remodels is because everything we're about to see in today's post was wiped away in a remodel that took place in late 2021, when this store received its first-ever remodel after 30 years in operation. That's a long time to go without a remodel, so you know what was here prior to that had to be somewhat interesting!


     The Winn-Dixie we're touring today is located in a massive residential subdivision in Southern Marion County called Marion Oaks. Marion Oaks is one of the many large, sprawling Floridian residential developments constructed by the Deltona Corporation (formerly known as Mackle Brothers), the famous builder of many large suburban developments across Central and Southern Florida. Like most of Deltona Corporation's cities, Marion Oaks is a massive web of curving residential streets that has slowly built-out over time. Although the development has existed since the late 1970's, Marion Oaks had its first major wave of development in the mid-1980's and early 1990's due to a successful marketing campaign targeting residents in northern cities. During that first growth wave, the new burst in construction caught Winn-Dixie's attention, leading them to develop the community's first - and so far only - grocery store near the community's original core in 1992.


     Development in Marion Oaks began to taper off come the late 1990's, and the community began to stagnate until a second development boom began in the late 2010's. The second development boom was spurred by the decision to turn Marion Oaks into a hub for new warehouses and distribution centers, that decision made due to the massive amounts of land available around Marion Oaks for these types of buildings. The construction of these new warehouses has again brought more people to Marion Oaks for the newly created jobs, that on top of people discovering and preferring the more laid-back nature of Marion Oaks compared to the bustle of Ocala a few miles to the north. Even with all the fluctuations, Winn-Dixie has managed to persist here in Marion Oaks. A lot of that persistence probably came due to Winn-Dixie being the only grocery store around for a decent number of miles in each direction, but a win by default is still a win.


     When Winn-Dixie was strapped for cash, upkeep in many of these "captive audience" stores was tossed to the side, since there really wasn't a lot for Winn-Dixie to fear with shoppers running off to other options nearby, as there really weren't any. Come the 2020's, Winn-Dixie has a little more financial freedom, and commercial development is creeping closer into the bounds of Marion Oaks (including a new Publix being built on the development's northern fringe), so the time was right to finally give this store its first remodel.


     So after all that lovely history and background information, I'm sure you just want to see the inside of this place already. Alright, alright, we'll head inside and see what made this store so unique come the 2020's:


     Hmmm, neon signs, wood paneling, and orange floor tiles - just what year did I say it was again? While the color scheme and vibe of the decor looks like something you'd find in a 1970's living room, this was actually Winn-Dixie's decor package from the late 1980's into the early 1990's. The decor we see in here was actually launched with the first batch of Marketplace branded stores in the late 1980's, and was used in the Marketplace stores until its much more famous successor came along in the mid-1990's, the time when Winn-Dixie decided to go all-in with the Marketplace format.


     Until its late 2021 remodel, the Marion Oaks Winn-Dixie was one of two locations in the chain that still hung onto the original Neon Marketplace decor, and in turn, were the two stores that had gone the longest without a remodel (as Neon Marketplace was the oldest decor package I knew of in any Winn-Dixie store). The other Neon Markeplace store, the chain's last, is located in North Port, Sarasota County. As far as I'm aware, the North Port Winn-Dixie has yet to remodel, although I'm sure the clock is ticking on that one.


     While I'm glad I got to visit the Marion Oaks Winn-Dixie before it remodeled, I would like to state that neither of Winn-Dixie's Neon Marketplace holdouts into the 2020's (Marion Oaks and North Port) were the premier examples of this package, as the decor really slipped into disrepair at both stores over the years. Overall, I want to say that North Port is the better preserved location of the two, as most of Marion Oaks' neon signs were removed for one reason or another through the years. North Port still has a majority of the original neon signs - however, none of North Port's signs light up any more. At least Marion Oaks still had one sign that worked over in the pharmacy, even if that was one of the only signs left behind!


     Through the last few photos, we've slowly made our way past the front check lanes toward the produce department, which is located in the front right corner of the building. Like most of the departments in the store, the walls in the produce department are just blank white - a quick maneuver to hide the remains of the old neon signs that once graced the walls of this department and others throughout the store. Outside of the few departments that did retain their original neon in here, the rest of this place was actually pretty boring, as most of the store was just blank white.


     A small alcove of seasonal merchandise was located in the front of the store near produce and the check lanes. I believe these little alcoves used to house Winn-Dixie's photo counters back in the day, all of those having been removed from stores around the time of Winn-Dixie's 2005 bankruptcy. The seasonal alcove was turned into a new customer service desk following the 2021 remodel, giving this nook a little bit of purpose once again.


     At one time, Winn-Dixie would have had check stands running all the way to the end of the orange tile. The number of check stands was reduced through the years in most stores, leaving lots of little areas like this which now serve as a home for the weekly BOGO deals.


     The tile octagon in front of me would have been the original home of the floral department, which would have had its own counter and island on those tiles. Floral was shrunken down to a few coolers on the front wall through the years, visible in the background. 


     The produce department would have looked much more fun with its original neon and chrome detailing, looking something along the lines of this. Now the produce department was looking pretty blank and spaced out, although the 2021 remodel did a really good job of making this part of the store more presentable.


     The produce department trickled a bit into the first grocery aisle, which was also home to greeting cards, books and magazines and well as pallet drops of various weekly specials. Following the 2021 remodel, all this before me would be converted into the store's new beer and wine department (which relocated here from the other side of the store).


     While there's some interesting ceiling aesthetic in this aisle, the fun stuff lurks straight ahead at the end of the aisle:


     Nearing the back right corner of the building, we spot the second of the two surviving neon signs in this store - the seafood counter's "Fisherman's Wharf" sign. (The other department with neon was the pharmacy, which we saw a snippet of when we first walked in).


     Back in 1992, all this neon and chrome had to look really futuristic, because weren't we promised that the future was going to be all chrome back then?!


     Sadly, our all-chrome future hasn't happened yet, so this seafood department was just left to rot back here is all of its shiny chrome glory. Winn-Dixie scrapped the full-service seafood counter at this store entirely over the years, covering up the old prep area with a white curtain and some self-serve coolers.


     It appears the neon hadn't worked on the Fisherman's Wharf sign in years either, as none of the photos I'd seen of this store showed it turned on. The sign would have glowed blue at one time, matching the floor tile, looking something like this.


     Some major modifications were made to this corner of the store following the late 2021 remodel, as the seafood counter was remodeled and reopened. You can get a quick glimpse at the modifications made in the background of this photo, which also showcases the relocated beer and wine department.


     Leaving the seafood counter, here's a look back up aisle 1 toward the produce department.


     This part of the store had to look so much more interesting before it was all painted white. It would have been much sadder seeing this place remodel had more of the original decor been preserved than two little patches, but for glimpses at 30 year old supermarket decor, I guess we have to take what we can get! Interestingly, while both Marion Oaks' and North Port's original neon decor wasn't kept up well, there actually is a super-well preserved example of a Neon Marketplace store left out there - located in a Winn-Dixie-turned-Ingles in Boone, NC. Ingles actually added some of their own neon to that store after taking it from Winn-Dixie, but a lot of Winn-Dixie's old neon is accounted for in there, and in working order too! Ingles actually did a better job preserving Winn-Dixie's old decor than Winn-Dixie did in their last two stores with that decor!


     Leaving aisle 1, we'll turn the corner toward the check lanes and the rest of the grocery aisles:



     While this store was clearly old, Winn-Dixie did a decent job maintaining this place and keeping it presentable. I've been to some older Winn-Dixies that just felt dumpy on top of being old, and this was not one of them.


     The Fisherman's Wharf sign was just too interesting to not grab a few more photos of as I popped out of aisle 3.



     The meat coolers are the next thing we find along the back wall after the old Fisherman's Wharf counter, stretching most of the way into the back left corner.



     Popping out at the front end again, the neon 'prescriptions' sign pokes out above the check lanes.



     I'd have to guess the meat coolers in this store were original to its 1992 opening, as they certainly didn't look modern...


     It appears Winn-Dixie replaced the coolers throughout the store as part of the 2021 remodel, as the ones in produce, the deli, and beer and wine appear new in the photos Winn-Dixie posted to Facebook to show off the store's new look. After 30 years of use, I think Winn-Dixie got their money's worth out of these old coolers.


     The old meat service window was blocked with promotional signs, much like the old seafood counter was. At one time a sign like this would have graced the wall back here, with Winn-Dixie's famous "The Beef People" slogan lit up bright for all to see.



     Returning to the front of the store, here's a much clearer photo of the "Prescriptions" sign on the side of the pharmacy, still glowing bright after nearly 30 years. 


     Frozen foods, along with that department's accompanying original coolers and blue floor tile, occupy the center of the salesfloor. The ceiling raises up over the frozen foods aisles, another common trait of these late 1980's/early 1990's Marketplace stores.



     I've yet to find a photo, but I'd imagine all these coolers were replaced during the 2021 remodel as well. It's quite impressive how much more thorough Winn-Dixie has been in the most recent remodels, opting to replace the coolers, floors, and most other fixtures rather than reusing most/all those, like was typical in the Down Down-era remodels.


     Beyond frozen foods, the ceiling returns to its normal height and we enter aisle 8.


     The pharmacy can be seen in the distance at the end of aisle 10, although we'll get to some better photos of the pharmacy in a moment...



     Here's one final look at the store's back wall before we loop around into the last aisle:


     In the last aisle we find beer and wine, all of which would relocate to aisle 1 behind produce following the 2021 remodel. The coolers along the wall were home to mostly dairy products, making for a bit of a strange amalgamation of products in this aisle. (However, one plus to the old arrangement was that the champagne and orange juice were right across the aisle from each other - now those two items are located at separate ends of the store, and I'm sure the forgetful Sunday brunch folks won't be happy about that on a last minute mimosa run!)


     Here's a closer look at the dairy coolers, which were set into the wall under a lower ceiling.


     In the front left corner of the building is the combined deli and bakery department, which you can only identify from the displays of bread and chicken salad out front, as there aren't any signs to help you over here. Once upon a time this corner would have looked more like this and this, which is a little more identifiable than all this blank white before us.


     Thankfully, the 2021 remodel really cleaned up this corner, and the new design is so much nicer than all the blank white it replaced. The post-remodel look gives the deli and bakery their own identifiable spaces, even though the bakery in this store is still pretty small.


     Most of this store's bakery is located in the corner itself, previously featuring these very old-school wood-grain display cases. All the cases were modernized in the remodel, and these two departments look much less sad than they did prior.


     Behind that cooler is the deli counter, with the pharmacy off to the left of that.


     Leaving the bakery and deli counter behind us, we'll work our way toward the pharmacy as we enter the final stretch of our tour...


     The pharmacy counter is located in its traditional home between the deli and front end, its space designated by that patch of brown tile and another neon sign.


     Like the 'Prescriptions' one around the corner, the 'Pharmacy' neon sign also worked. If nothing else, it was nice this store kept the neon signs for one department in working order for all those years. The pharmacy was given a major overhaul during the remodel, with a new, larger waiting area installed where the old customer service counter was located. Here's the (now neon-less) result of the remodel, which actually turned out quite nice.


     As we make our way to the exit, here are a few parting shots of those last working neon signs:



     5 check lanes total in this store, although the remodel added new self-checkouts to bring up the total check lane count.


     The check stands themselves were original to the store too, the old wood-grain design paired with the orange floor tile. The check lane lights were updated to the common Purple/Maroon design in the early 2000's, the same time Winn-Dixie swapped out most of the aisle markers and lane lights from the Marketplace era. 


     So there you have it - the Marion Oaks (formerly) Neon Marketplace Winn-Dixie. As much as the old decor didn't fare well in the nearly 30 years it was here, it's pretty impressive it lasted as long as it did. As Winn-Dixie's remodel rampage continues on, the North Port Winn-Dixie still stands as our last Neon Marketplace holdout, but for how much longer, who knows. If you know of any funky older Winn-Dixies out there, be sure to visit them soon, as they might have a remodel coming their way any time now. I never thought I'd be saying that about Winn-Dixie, but here were are, seeing those stores that haven't been touched in 25+ years see their first remodels at long last. I have a decent compilation of some funky decor Winn-Dixies in my archives that I hope to post before long, thankful I got to those before they all remodeled (as many of them did). While it's sad seeing many of these supermarket relics get remodeled away, it's nice to see Winn-Dixie serious about their future, and wanting to upgrade all their stores for the first time.


     The Marion Oaks Winn-Dixie served as our little taste of the Neon Marketplace decor. We'll eventually make it down to North Port for a post about that neon decor store, but for next time, we'll have to settle for more Albertsons. And some Publix. And maybe some extra Publix for good measure. What am I talking about, you ask? Well, just come back in two weeks to find out!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

19 comments:

  1. Wow, it's really quite hard to believe this store is from 1992. When I compare this to something like the Kroger Signature stores that opened in Houston in 1993, this Winn-Dixie looks like a relic! And, of course, the Kroger Neon decor that Kroger used in those 1993 stores had been around for a few years prior to 1993. Just for comparison, here's a link to Retail Retell's great photos of the Blytheville, AR Kroger which had Neon decor and which felt more modern looking than this Winn-Dixie: https://flickr.com/photos/130271900@N03/albums/72157689880898494

    The chrome and neon look does remind me of some of our Fiesta Mart locations from around the year 1988 and also the Market Basket store in Orange, TX that Je of the Louisiana & Texas Retail Blog covered a couple of years ago. I'll post some links below for reference. I think both the Fiestas and Market Baskets look better than the Winn-Dixie and, fortunately, both of those chains have kept those chrome and neon stores unchanged here in current times.

    Market Basket Orange, TX: https://southernretail.blogspot.com/2019/03/market-basket-orange-tx.html

    Mission Bend Fiesta Mart: https://houstonhistoricretail.com/2021/09/03/the-mission-bend-fiesta-where-neon-still-reigns-king/

    As much as I love retro supermarkets like those Fiestas and Market Basket, I must say that retro Winn-Dixies tend to look a bit grungy and depressing looking...at least they look that way in photo form. Maybe they look better in person, but I think it's fair to say that Winn-Dixie is wise to renovate those stores. I might be lukewarm about Winn-Dixie's current decor packages, but I'm sure most shoppers will view it as being an upgrade over worn out looking supermarkets.

    Speaking of neon and Ocala, did you checkout this Firestone when you were down there? We still have a couple of retro Firestones like this in Houston, one near the former Northwest Mall, but this looks even more spectacular than ours even. This is really neat! You could probably spend a few days in Ocala scouting out all kinds of interesting retail. Link: https://goo.gl/maps/mpHjgkpAeoFBVLjK7

    Maybe you saw me mention this at Northwest Retail's blog the other day, but I was recently at the local Randall's and I saw they had a new, large photo sitting on the wall of the entryway. It's a retro photo of an Albertsons from the 1940s or 1950s I would guess! What's that doing at a Randall's?! As I told NW Retail, it's not quite local flair since we didn't have Albertsons back in those days in Houston, but I suppose we can call it Albertsons flair, lol.

    Did you hear about the sudden closure a couple of days ago of the FLL Sears? https://transformco.com/press-releases/pr/2153

    While Florida might be going in the negative direction with Sears and Kmart, the Sears (Hometown) renaissance continues in Houston. Sears just opened a new Hometown Store in the old Sears building at my local mall, a successful mall, Willowbrook Mall. Mike has some photos of this at the HHR Facebook page if you want to see what Eddie Lampert is up to since this is supposedly a corporate-owned Hometown store. They're reusing the old mall entrance, but since the Hometown store is in the back part of the store, they've setup fake walls using old Sears fixtures and tarps to lead people to the Hometown store from the mall. It's quite something to see, check out Mike's photos for sure! I recently checked out the store myself. Inventory is a bit low right now, but they claim that the store is getting additional merchandise in the near future. I reckon some of the new inventory might come from the FLL Sears that is closing.

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    1. Winn-Dixie’s décor packages that originated in the 1980’s looked like something from the 1970’s to me. The non-Marketplace décor Winn-Dixie used at the same time as this one didn’t seem any more modern (see here: https://albertsonsfloridablog.blogspot.com/2019/08/the-winn-dixie-that-time-forgot.html) Both the Neon Marketplace and Non-Marketplace décor packages were retired by the mid-90’s for the more famous Marketplace décor, which was definitely more on par with the design trends of the 90’s than what it replaced. Kroger definitely did a better job with their neon décor for making it look modern for the time, however, in its full form Winn-Dixie’s version of Neon décor wasn’t too bad, but the burnt orange colors and wood-grain fixtures made it seem more dated than it should have. That’s neat you still have some supermarkets that have preserved their 1980’s neon in year area. Besides what’s left of the décor at the North Port Winn-Dixie (for now), I can’t think of any other supermarkets with a lot of neon left in Florida! Interestingly, the font used in Market Basket’s signage is the same one Winn-Dixie used in the mid-late 90’s version of the Marketplace décor.

      Décor wise, the Marion Oaks Winn-Dixie looked pretty depressing before the recent remodel. Maintenance wise, the building seemed decent (no major roof leaks, the place was clean, etc.). At least Winn-Dixie was maintaining this store, even if the old décor didn’t look the best near its end.

      I didn’t visit the Firestone location when I was in Ocala, although that is a really neat retro location of theirs. I didn’t spend a lot of time in Ocala on this trip, as my Ocala stops were part of a larger loop around the area to cover a few highlights and two Publix stores that were about to be torn down. There is a lot to see around Ocala, so one of these days I’ll have to venture back up that way to see more of what I passed on the first time.

      I know Albertsons and Randall’s are the same company now, but that’s weird they’d put a large picture of an old Albertsons in there over a photo from Randall’s own archives. My local Albertsons used to have three old photos of a 1950’s era or so store hanging on the wall in front of the check lanes, which I was always fascinated with. Those photos disappeared right as that store starting its closing process, otherwise I’d have been tempted to ask about taking them home!

      Yes, I did hear about the closure of the Fort Lauderdale Sears. The property Sears sat on had been purchased by a developer about two years ago who has wanted to get rid of Sears and build a new high rise, so that store was really just living on borrowed time (although, it seems like every Sears is living on borrowed time these days). It’s really interesting that Sears seems so interested in expanding the Hometown stores in the Houston area, as I can’t think of a single new Hometown store opening in Florida in recent times, not even to “replace” a full-line store. That’s a really interesting setup the Willowbrook Mall Sears Hometown has, although a row of fixtures to make up a fake wall sounds like something Sears would do!

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  2. Cool store; although, I wish more of it had been preserved over the years. Still worth the trip for the seafood dept. and pharmacy! I'm glad you got to photograph the North Port store before it disappears because it looks neat having still retained the original striping, etc. Also, good find on the Boone, NC Ingles. Funny how they went through the effort to make their own neon signs for the meat and seafood departments!

    Somehow you did it, you managed to tie Spongebob into a post on a '90s Winn-Dixie! I have not seen that clip in years and don't know how you managed to dig that up in your memory. Fitting tie in though.

    I died laughing at your mimosa comment because I know somebody who would not be happy at all about the orange juice now being so far from the champagne!

    That store looks like it has a nearly identical layout to Winn-Dixie #168 in Chiefland, FL. The tax records say that store was built in 1989 but it uses the pink & teal Marketplace decor. I believe it has not been renovated yet. That store also has tiling and signage for the "Fisherman's Warf" that looks like what #2229 would have featured behind the curtain. I assume they left this behind in Chiefland during the late-'90s Marketplace remodel because that signage says "Dockside Seafood."

    I can't wait to see what kind of adventures we find at the next Publixsons!

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    1. It would have been nice if either Marion Oaks or North Port had been perfectly preserved through the years, but the little pieces left behind at both were still interesting to see. Certainly more going on at North Port than we had at Marion Oaks, but more on North Port once I post those pictures (which should hopefully be sooner rather than later). A blog commentor is actually who tipped me off on the Boone, NC store a while back, although I don’t remember which post that comment was left at. Pretty crazy that Ingles took better care of that décor than Winn-Dixie has at their own stores that kept it for this long!

      Maybe I just watched too many cartoons as a kid, but I remember quite a bit from the older Spongebob episodes. The chrome reference was just too fitting when describing a chrome décor! And hopefully Winn-Dixie doesn’t get too many complaints about the new layout from the Sunday brunch folk!

      Winn-Dixie’s Marketplace format has been around since the late 1980’s, so Chiefland could have opened as one of the earliest Marketplace stores with the neon décor. Chiefland only seems to lack the higher ceilings over frozen foods and produce compared to Marion Oaks, but other than that, the layout is basically the same. I’m sure the curtained-off departments in the back were still pretty original here, and it would have been fun to see what was still back there!

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  3. Nice post! I like how you wrote the beginning, you did a good job describing the captive audience phenomenon. That has always interested me. Even though it took 30 years, I'm glad Winn-Dixie has finally invested in this store by giving it its first remodel. As cool as it was seeing those few remnants and traces of the old neon décor... as a whole, this store was looking quite a bit worse for the wear, given how much of the store was just blank white, and also how the seafood and meat service counters were closed off and covered over. It's good to hear that your experience was that the store was still kept up well, but from just a strictly visual standpoint, this store left a lot to be desired.

    I'm glad Anonymous mentioned the Blytheville Kroger in his comment, as the whitewashed walls where all the former décor elements used to be at this Winn-Dixie remind me of how the burnt out neon signs were simply painted over at that Blytheville Kroger as well. Like this location, Blytheville also remodeled this past year, but I doubt much was done there besides a cosmetic refresh. In that sense, Winn-Dixie probably did the better job overall, as I'm glad to see their remodel not only freshened the place up but also took the effort to actually relocate departments, replace cases, etc., giving the whole store a renewed sense of purpose. As you and I know, that doesn't always happen in remodels, even long-overdue ones.

    I like the old comparison pics to what the décor once would have looked like here (as well as the 1970s living room, lol), and think it's especially cool that that Ingles store not only kept but also added onto the existing Winn-Dixie neon décor. Hopefully that will continue to rock on for years to come! Even with Winn-Dixie's sudden commitment to wiping out most of their old décor, it's nice to know that Marketplace will also continue to survive in several places where other operators have taken over in the years since Winn-Dixie. (At least, I think that's an accurate statement, haha!)

    For as much as I love a good neon sign, I actually think my favorite thing about this store would have to be those orange and blue floor tiles. I just really like that shade of blue for some reason! That also reminds me somewhat of the colored floor tiles from Kroger's greenhouse era.

    Finally, I'm glad the Sing Oil Blogger brought up your SpongeBob reference in his comment. SpongeBob clips live rent-free in my head, and I had a very good feeling that's what was going to be behind your link, haha! My coworkers also would've made that connection immediately, so clearly I'm working at the right place with the right people XD

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    1. I forgot to mention it earlier, but the colored floor at the Winn-Dixie does remind me of the old color floors at Kroger as well. At least this is the case with the orange. We still have at least one Kroger with the orange stripe flooring in Houston, but it's not a Greenhouse store. Instead, it's an old Weingarten's that later briefly became a Safeway and probably an AppleTree as well. It's a rare Kroger that has a Safeway Marina-like curved roofline (though it's only really visible from the inside). It's a neat store to say the least. I'm sure Retell Retail will be surprised to see things like Bountiful decor elements which sit so low on walls that they can be touched:

      https://goo.gl/maps/GCKD3MYLpBYSj4AD8
      https://goo.gl/maps/RxVxgYS1b5wEY4Qw7

      I'm less positive about the powder blue flooring and coffin coolers at the Winn-Dixie than Retail Retell is though, lol. It looks incredibly dated to me and not in a good way. That said, the Sellers Bros. supermarket chain here in Houston has a thing for blue checkerboard flooring, even in stores designed more recently than the early 1990s, and it's kind of a trademark color of theirs. Here's a Sellers Bros. with blue flooring/coolers and also some neon as well! It's certainly a retro looking store with those aisle markers and all, but I'll let you guys decide if this is a better look than the Winn-Dixie: https://goo.gl/maps/AnAyw1hNQ2DtsrPKA

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    2. Thanks! Visually, I agree, before the remodel this place was pretty depressing to look at. Maintenance was pretty good (no leaky roof spots and the place seemed clean), which was nice to see, but all blank white walls with nothing on them really made the store feel bland. The remodel really transformed the entire feel of the store, and Winn-Dixie did a very good job making the store look presentable again after so long.

      Winn-Dixie has been doing a good job of being more thorough with remodels, ever since the debut of the Winn Win décor. I’m a bit happy Winn-Dixie pushed off remodeling most of the really old stores until now, as those stores are the ones that really needed the extra effort to clean up (new floors, coolers, fixtures, etc.). The Down Down-era remodels were much less involved in most cases. Winn-Dixie gave this store the effort it deserved after going so long without a remodel. I know Kroger’s recent remodels have varied a lot in effort. I’m sure Blytheville needed the effort, but I don’t know how much effort Kroger was will to put into that remodel. I do know I’m scared to see what the floors in Blytheville look like now…

      I’m just happy there were so many pictures of this old décor online, although the preserved décor in the Boone, NC Ingles helped quite a bit to make that a reality! I don’t know when I’d ever make it to Western NC, but I’d love to take a walk around that Ingles. Crazy they kept that décor, and seem to be maintaining it too, but it’s great that an example of Winn-Dixie’s neon décor will live on for a while longer (even though it won’t be in a Winn-Dixie!). And you are right with that statement – some new operators have recycled the Marketplace décor in mostly original form in some old Winn-Dixies, and I know of a few former Purple/Maroon stores living on in that form as well. So even if Winn-Dixie wipes all their Marketplace stores out, Marketplace will still live on elsewhere!

      And I remember a lot of really old Spongebob episodes better than I probably should! Glad to know I’m not the only one with that problem! :)

      @Anonymous from Houston and Retail Retell: The colored floor tiles seem to be a classic supermarket thing, as a lot of supermarket chains liked to use color-coded department tile from the 70’s into the early 90’s. I’m sure the colored tiles looked better in this Winn-Dixie with the décor in its original form, and not surrounded by all that white!

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  4. When the Boone Winn Dixie was sold to Ingles, they liquidated all of the W/D merchandise for cents on the dollar. I cleaned out the Chek Cola, since that was one of the last chances to get it before W/D pulled out of the Carolinas for good.

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    1. Interesting memory from that store! That was the time to stock up, while the prices were good.

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  5. I believe the Winn-Dixie in Sun City Center still have the neon lights. When I get there next I'll check. It is a Marketplace store...

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    1. Is this the store you mean, on Sun City Center Blvd? https://goo.gl/maps/py6F9CZL1Hv4JRJ89

      It looks like it has Down Down.

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    2. The current Sun City Center store was a late 90’s build, so it would have had the more common Marketplace décor when it opened (like this store: https://myfloridaretail.blogspot.com/2019/07/winn-dixie-2304-new-smyrna-beach-fl-pre.html - still some neon in there, but a bit different than what Marion Oaks had). Sun City remodeled from that décor to Post-Bankruptcy, and like the Sing Oil Blogger mentioned, has Down Down now.

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  6. Awesome tour anyway. Gotta love Marion Oaks, its specific marketing for those in the Northeast, and its more DIY approach to lots like much of Florida has. Plus the SpongeBob SquarePants reference!

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  7. I'm late to this "Marketplace" Party, and who took away all the chrome?! Haha!

    I agree, this store looked so dull on the inside without the remodel. When you shared the photo of the former Seafood counter covered up by a vinyl partition, it was particularly depressing. I would have loved to have seen this store on its Grand Opening in '92. What a place Winn Dixie was back in the 90s. I'm glad to see that they are successfully rehabilitate their reputation in Florida. I myself have become a regular Winn Dixie shopper again. I rarely go to Publix anymore (and I'm not going to lie, it's a bit out of spite), but prices too.

    You saw my few photos from WD #30 in High Springs the other day. Even though it got Down Down instead of Win Winn, the place looked great!

    The next time I'm in Ocala, I will have to check this one out. I actually like the old exterior signage on this store before it remodeled to Win Winn.

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    1. I think it was the Winn Win Twins that stole all the chrome! :)

      Had the old neon decor been in better shape, it would have been sadder seeing this store remodel, but this place really needed the remodel. The store looks really good now with the new Winn Win decor, and it looks much less depressing now that there's something on the walls! Ever since the West Melbourne Winn-Dixie reopened, I've been going to Winn-Dixie much more often than I have in the past. They run some decent sales, the pricing on what I usually buy is pretty decent, and I've learned how to use the rewards program to my advantage. I actually haven't shopped at Publix much at all recently, outside of my Publix stops on various retail road trips. I like the route Winn-Dixie is heading in right now, and it would be great if they beat the odds and actually turn themselves around.

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  8. Wondering when the old relics in Deltona amd DeLand will get a remodel. Those stores were not even Marketplace stores and with the exception of a few interior tweaks are relics of the 1980s.

    Good to see they are finally getting these stores modernized after all these years. Sion the old Winn Dixie will be gone.

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    1. The ancient Deltona store on Providence was actually overhauled and converted into a Fresco y Mas last fall: https://beacononlinenews.com/2021/12/15/deltona-winn-dixie-becomes-frescos/

      I've been to that Deltona store before the remodel, and it really needed to be fixed up. The North Woodland store in DeLand has not yet remodeled as far as I'm aware, but hopefully is gets a remodel soon.

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    2. Makes sense about the store on Providence as it was really focused on the Hispanic market. Drive by the Nirth Wiodland store about a month ago and still untouched. Interested to see how it looks when they finally remodel it.

      Thanks for the info and the great blog!

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