8888 Lantana Road, Lake Worth, FL - Shoppes of Sherbrooke
Your usual Floridian supermarket blogger is back today, after I let The Sing Oil Blogger take over AFB last time with his post about that rare breed of Publix - the Pubno's. The Sing Oil Blogger will be back with another guest post next month, however, AFB himself is back in action today! In today's post, we'll take a quick look at a very short-lived Albertsons store in Palm Beach County, a short-lived store that held a very significant title - Albertsons #4384 was the very last new Albertsons to open in Florida. It's quite sad that not only was this Florida's last ever new Albertsons, but this store only lasted 2 years before closing too - I guess all that makes this store rather symbolic for what Albertsons was about to face in the coming years.
|Photo courtesy of a long-gone webpage YonWoo stumbled across|
Albertsons #4384 opened on June 9, 2004, one of many new retail complexes popping up in the western fringes of the Palm Beach County metropolis at the time. The 2000's brought a lot of new development to Western Palm Beach County, specifically in the area along the US 441/State Route 7 corridor and Lyons Road. Albertsons built this store to serve the many new residential communities and gated developments popping up around it, expecting sales at the new store to grow with the area as it built out. Store #4384 received a very nice custom facade, and was one of the nicest looking Albertsons stores in all of Florida from the exterior (I'm a sucker for arches, and the lattice makes for a classy addition too). Store #4384 would have had a layout identical to this when it was open, with the rare (for Florida) Santa Fe decor inside.
Much like store #4316(2) that opened a few months before it in 2004, the store number for this location is out of the usual sequence. By this time, Albertsons was getting to the point where they were running out of available new store numbers for the Florida division. That's why they began going back and recycling old numbers, as #4384 should have gone to a store opened in the early 90's. I've never found record of a store #4384 prior to this one in Lake Worth, so it appears Albertsons just used an old number that never was put in sequence (or was originally intended for a planned store that never made it off paper in the early 90's). Had Albertsons kept building stores in Florida after 2004, we probably would have seen more number recycling, but as it would be, #4384 would be the last...
It was never intended for store #4384 to be Florida's last new Albertsons. With debt growing from Albertsons' purchase of American Stores in 1999, the company was beginning to struggle as the 2000's wore on. While Albertsons was trying to cast off poorly performing divisions (Houston, Mid-South) to raise money to save the company from the debt, it wasn't enough. Competition was growing in other divisions, and Albertsons' financial problems were mounting to the point where the company couldn't keep up, even with other cost cutting measures being implemented. I did find record of another new Floridian Albertsons store that should have opened after this one, planned store #4493 in Milton, Santa Rosa County (just east of Pensacola). Store #4493 was targeted for a late 2004/early 2005 opening, a conversion of an old Piggly Wiggly building that Albertsons acquired. However, between the company's financial problems and competition in Florida heating up from Publix and Walmart, the plans for store #4493 were put on indefinite hold in mid-2004, and later canceled outright as Albertsons began its trajectory toward the 2006 split of the company.
The split of Albertsons into two separate companies was essentially the death blow for the Florida division. The Florida division wasn't the company's best performing at the time, so it was sold off to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management with some of the other weaker divisions. Cerberus' main intent with the stores they acquired was to get to as much money out of them as they could - which meant selling and closing stores to get the most value out of the real estate. Store #4384 was part of the first store closing round issued by Cerberus' new company, Albertsons, LLC., only one week after the new company was formed. Only two years old, built in an area that was still growing, and probably not showing sales up to its full potential, Cerberus probably wanted no part of this place. All that going against it, store #4384 got the axe right at the start (much like the fledgling Super Saver chain Albertsons created in 2004, which was killed off in the company's 2006 breakup because the stores hadn't had the time to prove themselves yet). #4384 sat empty until late 2009, when LA Fitness took over the building and gutted it for a new gym.
Thankfully, this building was an earlier acquisition by LA Fitness, meaning the conversion of the old supermarket into a gym kept the original facade from the previous tenant. Going into the mid-2010's, LA Fitness began to be more thorough with their supermarket conversions, ripping apart the entire facade to match their standardized design in addition to the interior modifications. Besides one minor modification I'll point out in a moment, the entire facade appears to be original from Albertsons - even the paint colors!
Stepping onto the front walkway, here's a look from the right side of the building toward the entryway. These 2003 and 2004-built Floridian Albertsons stores would have had three sets of doors into the store - a side entrance at the far right into the "grand aisle", the main entrance in the middle, and a side entrance at the left end of the building for the pharmacy. All of the dark orange painted arches on the front of the building signify where all of these entrances would have been. The first window cutout visible before me was the "grand aisle" side entrance, now converted into an emergency exit for LA Fitness.
All of these windows are original to Albertsons - at least the placement of them, that is. LA Fitness might have replaced the windows themselves, but they were always here.
Albertsons' (and now LA Fitness') main entrance comes into view here. The one exterior modification LA Fitness made to the facade (which I mentioned before) is visible in this photo, if you look to the left. When Albertsons was here, there were lattice panels installed in those arches that went all the way to the ground, meaning access to the store's main entrance was only possible by walking around the side, putting the main entrance in a little tunnel (I guess that's the best way to describe it). With three sets of doors, that set-up probably wasn't super confusing for people shopping at Albertsons to find their way in (as there were multiple entry options), but with LA Fitness consolidating into one entrance right in the middle, the old set-up probably was a bit confusing. LA Fitness ripped out the lattice panels (except for the very top of the panels with the arch), so you can just walk right from the parking lot to the main doors.
Walking past the main entrance, the old pharmacy door is visible in the distance.
Like the "grand aisle" entrance, the pharmacy entrance was also converted into an emergency exit.
Back out in the parking lot, here's a close-up of the arch over the old pharmacy door.
I know I said this once already, but I have to say it again, all the arches really make for a visually appealing shopping center!
Here's a close-up of the main entrance, and what remains of the original lattice panels. To enter Albertsons, you would have walk to either side of the dark orange painted portion of the facade to find the entrance. Now, you just walk right through it to get to the door.
On the far right side of the building we find the old liquor store, beyond the former "grand aisle" entrance.
Interestingly, the old liquor store is now home to a veterinarian's office - one of the more unusual reuses for an old liquor store that I've seen!
The veterinarian reused the original doors from Albertsons, but gutted the remainder of the interior to suit the needs of a medical office.
Here's a better look toward the entrance of the old liquor store, with the remainder of the shopping center stretching out beyond it.
So that's what remains of (what was) Florida's newest Albertsons store. Even though we're finished with our look at the old Albertsons, let's take a moment to explore what else surrounds it:
When it was built in 2004, the small shopping center Albertsons anchored (named the Shoppes at Sherbrooke) was to also include a small strip of stores to the right of the main supermarket building, and a new Eckerd pharmacy on the corner-facing outparcel. 6 years later, a Walgreens appeared across the street to give CVS (who took over the old Eckerd building) some competition. While we're here, we'll take a moment to explore those two pharmacy competitors and what has become of their buildings...
First up, we have the old Eckerd building in the parking lot of the old Albertsons store. While Albertsons was able to get two years out of their new building, Eckerd wasn't even able to open here. 2004 marked the year that Eckerd sold off its stores in Florida to CVS, with this store going into CVS's control as it was being built. I've seen a few other examples of Eckerd stores still under construction when the CVS deal happened, pretty much all of which just finished out construction and opened as CVS instead. While that scenario sounds intriguing, from what I've seen, CVS just let these buildings finish being built as Eckerd wanted them, but with CVS's signage and decor installed in the end. Really, this store looks no different than a CVS that opened in a building Eckerd had operated out of for years prior. But we're here, so let's pop inside really quick for a look around:
One way to tell the difference between an older freestanding Eckerd building and one built right before the sale to CVS is by the doors. The older stores just had a single set of double sliding doors as an entrance, with the later stores having the set-up seen here (two separate single doors to serve as a dedicated entrance and exit).
The interior is pretty typical CVS, this location having the curving center aisle leading to the pharmacy, with the other aisles branching off of it.
A fancy wine display can be found on the right side wall in the grocery department.
After the wine, a row of coolers follow on the right wall.
Greeting cards are located on the back wall, with the pharmacy counter in the back left corner of the building, straight ahead from where I was standing.
Here's a closer view of the pharmacy counter, signifying where the main aisle ends.
Back in the main aisle, here's another look toward the front of the store. Pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and health products occupy the aisles to my right, with groceries and all the other merchandise to my left.
Here's a quick look into the health and beauty side of the store.
Aisle 1 runs along the front of the store, with the registers on the opposite side of the entrance.
The aisle marker got in my way, but one of the more interesting things about these later freestanding Eckerd stores is the giant neon signs just inside the entryway. Eckerd would have had a neon sign that said 'Welcome to Eckerd' there instead (part of which can be seen in this photo), but it's nice to see CVS replicated the idea of putting a neon sign in the same place! The sign at this store wasn't switched on when I was here, but I've seen other CVS locations with these signs still turned on regularly.
So that wraps up our look at the CVS. Since I had a little extra time, I decided to venture across the street to the Walgreens building. Typically a run-of-the-mill Walgreens isn't something that would catch my interest, but this one at least had a little quirk to it:
Much like Albertsons, Walgreens wasn't able to make it at this intersection either. Even though Walgreens was a later addition to this intersection (not arriving until 2010), this store was also short-lived. Walgreens closed this store in 2016 after only 6 years, which was a longer run than Albertsons pulled off, but still not great. The Walgreens building sat vacant until 2018 or so, when one of the most popular purveyors of old drugstore buildings took over this space: Dollar Tree. Saying that, a Dollar Tree in an old Walgreens isn't anything super uncommon, but it's interesting to see what Dollar Tree recycled from Walgreens, and gives me a reason to add a few additional photos to this post...
The exterior of the building is still original to Walgreens. All Dollar Tree did was add their signs, and replace Walgreens' logo in the windows above the door with theirs (which was more visible in the previous photo).
Stepping inside, Dollar Tree made some modifications like ripping out the old tile floors and walling off the pharmacy counter, but the lighting seems like a leftover from Walgreens.
Looking across the back of the store, the old pharmacy counter was walled off so Dollar Tree could add shelves and coolers back here. I don't know if the old pharmacy counter is still back behind the wall or if it was ripped out completely, but there's no trace of it anymore from the salesfloor.
As you can tell by the signs, these photos were taken in the good old days when everything at Dollar Tree was still $1, and before we knew anything about a pandemic turning the world all topsy-turvy. As of February 2022, Dollar Tree has completed their rollout of bringing all stores to the new $1.25 price point, so I guess I can now officially start referring to Dollar Tree as the "$1.25 Store" now, since they're no longer truly a "dollar store"...
Along the right side wall, Walgreens' coolers would have been located where the shelves of cleaning supplies are now. The photo counter would have been in the corner at the end of this aisle.
Dollar Tree's check lanes occupy the same spot as Walgreens, but featuring the traditional Dollar Tree set-up instead of the long counter Walgreens would have had.
Looking back toward the front doors, that's all I have from the inside of this place...
Drug store distractions aside, let's head back across the street to the old Albertsons for our historic aerial images, starting off with the bird's eye aerial images courtesy of Bing Maps:
Back - Interesting the lattice pattern from the front of the building was replicated for the loading bays too!
And now for the historic aerial images, courtesy of Google Earth:
Former Albertsons #4384 - 2019
Former Albertsons #4384 - 2009 - Image taken before LA Fitness moved in.
Albertsons #4384 - 2005
Future Albertsons #4384 - Early 2004 - Here the shopping center is still under construction.
Future Albertsons #4384 - 2002 - Not much to see here yet
With the satellite imagery done, that concludes the sad story of Florida's last new Albertsons store. Albertsons wanted to make a big statement with this fancy new store, but unfortunately, the company's inner financial problems brought this store to a quick demise, with the rest of Albertsons' Florida stores following suit in the coming years.
While that ends the story of Albertsons #4384, I have plenty more coming your way soon! I'm planning to change things up for April here on AFB. Instead of sticking to my usual schedule of new posts every other week, for April, I'll have a post for you every week. My backlog is quite large and I'm feeling motivated for this, so why not treat you guys a little bit? That being said, be sure to come back next Sunday for another new post!
So until then,
The Albertsons Florida Blogger