Saturday, August 13, 2022

Former Albertsons #4417 - Naples, FL (Pelican Bay)


Albertsons #4417 / Publix #1337
8833 Tamiami Trail North, Naples, FL - Marketplace at Pelican Bay

     It's back to business here on AFB after my little rest break. I hope everyone had a nice summer themselves while I was gone, and I certainly had some fun retail road trips during my time off too. While I keep amassing hundreds of store tours to feature, I just need to work on getting more of those tours published to the blogs! Anyway, today's post pulls another small contribution out of my massive backlog, as we dive deeper into the history of Albertsons in Southwest Florida. Featuring the major cities of Port Charlotte, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and Naples, Southwest Florida is famous for its tranquil gulf coast beaches and stunning sunsets. For the retail fans in the room, Southwest Florida is also home to some rather fascinating supermarket relics too. While today's post won't be covering one of the region's more fascinating relics, we'll be seeing one of the more interesting examples of retail in the area next time on AFB. However, today's store does hold a small historical significance for both Albertsons and Publix, so let's dive into the backstory of this store and learn more about it:


     Compared to the other major cities in Southwest Florida, Naples has always had a sleepier, small-town feel compared to larger cities like Fort Myers and Cape Coral to its north. Over the years, Naples has made a name for itself as being the "Golf Capital of the World", and being a haven for rich retirees looking for a waterfront estate (and what goes better together than rich retirees and golf?!). Naples is by far the ritziest of all the Southwestern Florida cities, and I can certainly attest to that too as I saw two Bentleys in the parking lot of this Publix as I was walking into the store (amongst other quite nice cars - putting may car in the running for the dumpiest one in the lot!)


     With the Naples area growing a bit slower than the areas to the north (especially in terms of more middle-income suburban development), it took Albertsons until the early 1990's before touching the market with its first stores. It wasn't until 1994 when Albertsons made its debut in Collier County, opening store #4417 on the northern end of town (the location we'll be touring today) and #4422 in the firmly middle-class East Naples neighborhood further south on Tamiami Trail (a tour for another day). With Naples being a slower-growth area, and Albertsons not really being known as a classy store, it makes sense it took them a while before entering Collier County. The US 41 corridor from the Lee County line into downtown Naples is a very high-end area, especially the further south you go toward downtown. Albertsons tried to give store #4417 a higher-end exterior compared to the typical store of the time, although I've never seen any interior pictures of #4417 to tell if Albertsons tried to do anything fancy in there (like adding a cheese counter or an expanded wine department).


     The only photos I could find of Albertsons #4417 before Publix came along were these grainy old photos showing the store in the middle of the conversion process, courtesy of an old real estate listing that no longer exists. Albertsons #4417 was one of the 49 locations Publix bought from Albertsons in 2008. While most of the stores Publix bought in that deal were converted by the end of 2008 or the beginning of 2009, old #4417 was an exception. Instead of the cheap conversions many other stores received, Publix decided to use this building (and its affluent location) to their advantage. After taking control of the space, Publix decided to completely gut and rebuild the interior of old #4417 and turn this building into a new "hybrid prototype", the precursor to Publix's modern 54M design. The "hybrid prototype" was supposed to combine a regular Publix store with the best features from the original Greenwise Market concept from the late 2000's, and this new format was a major contributing factor to the original Greenwise Market's demise. The Sing Oil Blogger recently took us on a tour of the second "hybrid prototype" location in Brookhaven, GA on MFR, which you can recap here (where he goes into much more detail about the prototype's origins). The new Publix #1337 that would open in the shell of former Albertsons #4417 was a significant opening for Publix - debuting the new prototype layout, as well as a new decor package - Classy Market 3.0/Sienna (yes, that package's 11-year run began right here in a former Albertsons in Naples!)


     So even though Publix didn't leave us much in terms of Albertsons relics (besides the exterior, which is completely original), this is still an interesting Publix to tour due to its significance within the company. Publix #1337 opened on October 21, 2010, replacing store #249 in The Pavilion Shopping Center across the street (which closed the night before #1337 opened).


     Considering how well-off this area is, I can see why Publix would want to use this location to debut the new store design. Publix's 54M prototype is typically reserved for high volume stores in well-off areas, and #1337 checks off both of those boxes.

     Now that we've seen the exterior, it's time to put the Albertsons relics behind us and step inside, however, there is one more thing I should mention about this store...


     …sadly, I visited Publix #1337 right as its remodel to Evergreen was nearing completing. Even if Publix wiped away all traces of Albertsons from the interior, I was hoping that at the very least, I can see this store with the very first installation of Classy Market 3.0/Sienna still in-tact. I probably shouldn't be surprised Publix remodeled this store, as its decor was 11 years old at the time the remodel happened (and Publix likes to remodel stores every 5-6 years if they can). CM 3.0/Sienna was a very nice decor that held up well over the years, so it's pretty sad to see it going away almost as fast as it originally appeared everywhere!


     The previous photo was a general overview of the store's grand aisle that you see upon entering, while the photo above shows the new dining nook, located immediately to your right after walking through the main entrance. When this store remodeled to Evergreen, Publix made some minor tweaks to the layout, and this dining nook was one of the modifications. Originally, the store's cafe would have been located where the dining nook is, the dining nook originally in a small room off to the side of the deli counter.


     As for the cafe, that was shifted over to the left from its original space, taking over a piece of the old bakery counter in its expansion. In my travels, I've actually noticed there are actually 4 different cafe options Publix might include in a store, the one we see here being the basic coffee/tea/soda/pastry option. Publix has a special cafe option for their South Florida stores, which while branded exactly like the one here, offers a totally different Hispanic-oriented menu of pastries and coffees. Then you have the stores with Pours, which is just the cafe we see here with a beer and wine tap added on, and the last option being the Publix stores with a Starbucks inside. I'm surprised Publix has such a variety of cafe options available, as the cafes aren't exactly a common feature to stumble across.


     To the left of the cafe is the bakery, which had yet to have its department sign installed (the Evergreen remodel was about 95% done when I took these photos, so while most things look complete, we'll notice some things aren't quite right as we continue through the rest of the store).


     Following the bakery is the deli counter (which we saw in our very first interior photo), followed by the Aprons catering counter (which occupies the room where the original dining area was located).


     Produce occupies the large space in front of all the service departments, completing the 54M's "grand aisle". Albertsons' "grand aisle" would have been located on this side of the building too, with bakery in the same corner where Publix's bakery is now (oddly enough), and the deli in the back right corner where the wine department is now, with produce running in-between.


     Here's a straight-on look at the new catering nook, located in the original dining alcove. The original catering counter would have been located under the drop ceiling to the left of the current "CATERING" sign, the old counter's space now used for an expansion of the wine department (the old drop ceiling not serving much of a purpose anymore with the move). To the right of the catering nook we see part of the deli, which retained its original older CM 3.0/Sienna brown wall tile, which clashes with the rest of the new gray-colored decor (and don't get me started about how the gray clashes with the original brown-painted ceiling too!)


     Here's a look back at what we covered so far in the grand aisle, looking through produce toward the new cafe and dining area.


     Like most 54M Publix stores, we have a large wine department located in the back right corner of the store, where Albertsons' deli was located originally. The wine department here is very large, and even has a counter for the in-store wine attendant. Sadly, the attendant was nowhere to be seen when I was here, so I couldn't ask Publix's resident sommelier if the $500 bottle of Dom Perignon they had for sale would pair well with my PB&J sandwiches.


     Following the wine department, we continue along the back wall toward the meat and seafood counter, located next door. The small counter immediately to my right (which got partially cut off in the photo) was a dedicated sushi counter.


     Finding the meat counter to my right, I spy a rare early CM 3.0/Sienna relic back there - the brick-like (or "striated muscle", as the Sing Oil Blogger put it) wall texturing and matching brown service meat case! Here's a better look at this department in original form, where you can see more of the original brick patterning that didn't make the cut for the later CM 3.0/Sienna stores. Sadly, I didn't realize what kind of wall texturing was still lingering behind when I was here, or else I would have taken a better photo of the meat counter. Only recently has the Sing Oil Blogger gotten me to analyze the nuances of Publix's tile backsplashes to date various remodels, and I don't think I'll ever be able to look at tile the same way again now!


     Leaving the service departments behind us, we'll begin our transition into the store's grocery aisles. As the original 54M "hybrid" design, this store was also the first Publix to debut the "hybrid" drop ceiling/warehouse ceiling look that all larger modern Publix stores (49M and up) use. I quite like the hybrid ceiling design, as it creates a neat effect that makes the perimeter areas feel larger than they really are.


     Returning to the front of the store, here's a look across the ridiculously busy front end.


     Not only was this store's front end busy, the entire store was a madhouse when I was here, and I visited on a Monday morning! If this was the crowd on a weekday morning, I'd hate to see the crowd this store draws on a Saturday afternoon...


     After fighting the crowds up front, we return to the slightly calmer grocery aisles as we make our way toward frozen foods.


     Two aisles of frozen foods are located in the center of the store, in the break between the two sets of drop ceilings. It seems that Publix keeps the original mustard yellow color of the coolers in stores that remodel to Evergreen rather than repainting the trim, leaving for an interesting color contrast with the brown ceilings and gray walls.


     The (crowded) back wall transitions into dairy following the meat coolers, with dairy extending to the back left corner of the store.


     Also, have you noticed anything peculiar about the aisle markers yet? If you haven't, you'll see that the aisle markers received their new gray Evergreen placards, but the numbers had yet to be switched over the new Evergreen design. I guess what we see here proves that the original Sienna aisle marker frames get reused in remodels, since the design of the signs themselves didn't change, just the colors of the placards.


     From the back of the store, we'll continue along in the second frozen food aisle as we continue to meander through the remaining grocery aisles...




     Along with the missing bakery sign and the in-transition aisle markers, aisle 12 is probably one of the most obvious examples of how this store's Evergreen remodel wasn't quite finished yet. Some product in the aisle was still being shuffled around, and the row of shelves to my left had yet to be rebuilt in its new home.


     From the end of aisle 12, here's a look at one of the dairy department signs, although the sign itself got quite glared due to the presence of the spotlights.


     One of the funkiest aspects of this store's layout can be found on the left side of the building. Typically in a 54M Publix store, dairy wraps around the store's back left corner and continues up the left side wall. In this store, dairy is located entirely within this alcove in the back left corner of the building, with the overflow extending along the back wall toward meats. I don't know if this alcove was Publix's intent for 54M hybrid stores going forward, or just a one-off oddity due to this store being shoehorned within the walls of a former Albertsons.


     From the alcove, here's a look toward the remainder of dairy along the back wall, looking back at what we've covered so far.


     Since dairy found its home in that alcove, the store's last aisle (where dairy would typically be, with bread, peanut butter, and jelly on the shelves opposite) is home to health and beauty products. It just feels weird seeing diapers along that wall and not dairy coolers!


     The pharmacy counter is located in the store's front left corner, and the Evergreen decor pairs quite well with the Sienna pharmacy design and its glass tiles.


     Albertsons' pharmacy would have been located in the same spot at Publix's, and it's quite strange how much of Albertsons' mid-1990's layout resembles that of a 54M Publix! Like Albertsons would have, a few small aisles of pharmaceuticals extend out from in front of the pharmacy counter.


     Here's one last look at the store's bustling front end, as we head back outside for a few final looks at the exterior...


     The attached liquor store is located to the right of the main supermarket building, its entrance visible here. Publix modified the original Albertsons liquor store entryway into one of their own when this store was under construction.


     Returning to the parking lot, here's the exterior of the liquor store, still in its original Albertsons design.


     A very nice store for Publix, and I'm sure this was a very nice store for Albertsons too.


     With our ground level coverage out of the way, let's go up in the air for some satellite images, starting with some Bird's Eye aerial images courtesy of Bing Maps: 


Front


Right Side


Back


Left Side

     And now for some historic aerial images, courtesy of Google Earth and historicaerials.com:


Former Albertsons #4417 - 2021 - The empty anchor building to the south of the former Albertsons is an old Stein Mart, which closed with the rest of the chain in 2020.


Former Albertsons #4417 - 2014


Former Albertsons #4417 - 2010 - This image must be from early 2010, as it shows Publix's conversion work still going on.


Former Albertsons #4417 - 2008 - Abandoned Albertsons at the time.


Albertsons #4417 - 2005


Albertsons #4417 - 1995 - The southern portion of the shopping center had yet to be built.


Future Albertsons #4417 - 1984 - Nothing where Albertsons was, but the shopping center at the top of the image shows the relatively new Publix #249 across the street, which was replaced by #1337. While the image makes it seem like Publix plopped a store in the middle of nowhere, there's actually a large neighborhood right behind the plaza. It just took a while before the intersection built out.


     That's all I have to report on for former Albertsons #4417, Naples first Albertsons, and Publix #1337, the store that gave us the 54M and CM 3.0/Sienna. We'll be sticking around the Naples area for our next post, a really fun bonus store that should be an easy guess if you've been following recent Floridian supermarket talk (and was my main motivation to drive all the way out here when I did). You're going to love our next destination, as it's at store that is the last of its kind, so be sure to come back in two weeks for that!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

7 comments:

  1. Anonymous in HoustonAugust 13, 2022 at 11:06 PM

    Wow, the interior of this Publixsons really gives very little evidence of it ever being a former Albertsons. I suppose that's not unusual for a Publixsons, but still, Publix certainly did gut out the interior of this place as you say. For what is surely a Publix in a rather wealthy area, I have to say that I find this Publix to be quite ugly. I think I'd be looking for the nearest Winn-Dixie if I lived in the area! The nEvergreen is, well, nEvergreen. I can't say it's the worst installation of it I've ever seen in photos, but the combination of nEvergreen and those mustard coolers is just bizarre. I'm not sure what Publix was thinking there.

    Really, it's just surprising that Publix ever would have used coolers of that color here in modern times. It really looks like a relic out of the 1970s or something and I don't mean that as a compliment. But, yeah, that color really catches the eye, and not in a good way, in contrast to everything else nEvergreen. Perhaps Publix will update those coolers at some point.

    All in all, I'm thinking this store probably would have looked nicer as an Albertsons! I can't say that I have the slightly clue as to what the topic of the next post might be, but hopefully that Naples grocer will be a little more photogenic than the subject of this slightly sad looking Publixsons! I'm intrigued to know what the subject might be!

    As you might have heard, Sears Hometown has pulled the plug on two of the last three remaining Sears Hometown stores in Houston. One of the closing stores will be the famed Willowbrook Mall one near me in the old Sears location. That only opened earlier this year so it had a very short life. I can't say I'm surprised that the store is closing. I'm still surprised Lampert even opened it in the first place! Oh well, at least they kind of tried, lol.

    You might have seen this as well, but Mike asked me to do a guest post about my local Randall's. In here is some not-so-local flair from Albertsons. It's very strange! I first saw that Albertsons photo a few months back and I'm still surprised Albertsons put that photo up there in the entryway! Link: https://houstonhistoricretail.com/2022/08/10/north-houstons-remarkable-handy-randalls-in-champions/

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    1. Yes, Publix left nothing behind from Albertsons in this building. They took this place and started from scratch, which happened with a handful of other Albertsons buildings they bought in that 2008 deal. However, I'm sure a cheap conversion of an old Albertsons wouldn't have gone over well in this ritzy part of town, so I'm not surprised Publix went all-in with a remodel here. Interestingly, Winn-Dixie doesn't have any stores on this side of Naples (and hasn't in years) - all of Winn-Dixie's current Naples stores are way out in the easternmost parts of town that are much less fancy! Evergreen doesn't look to bad when everything matches, but there's something off-putting about seeing that decor mismatched with the brown ceiling and mustard-colored cases (which paired much better with CM 3.0/Sienna!). The mustard colored cases were an odd choice to begin with, but they didn't look bad at all with the original decor.

      What I will say about our next destination, I don't believe any gray paint exists in this next store, so I think you'll like it!

      Yes, I saw you mention on one of the other blogs the closing of the Willowbrook Hometown store and a few other Sears Hometown locations in Houston. With the way the Willowbrook store was set up it looked like more of a temporary pop-up operation than a serious attempt at something permanent, so I guess I'm not too surprised it didn't last long, especially with all the other funny shenanigans Eddie seems to pull with Sears too. I guess the fact that store existed was something interesting in its own right, and another oddity in the weird downfall of Sears...

      I don't know why Albertsons put a photo of one of their stores in an Randall's, but that is weird! Could they really not find another historic photo of Randall's somewhere in their archives?! Unless Albertsons really wants to push they're now the ones in charge of the company? I'm sure a lot of people probably don't even realize the connection between Randall's and Albertsons these days, and find that photo to be really odd!

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  2. I can totally relate to your comment about amassing hundreds of store tours; at least I'll be able to knock out a few as well over the next couple of weeks! Southwest Florida certainly has some retail gems, and I can't wait to see what we have in store for two weeks from now . . . 😉

    Wow, that façade really does look nice for an Albertsons! I've seen Publix do an interior rebuild while leaving the exterior in-tact several times (#1427 and #1119 come to mind), but it is always strange to see the final product. As usual, thank you for all of the callouts, and I'm glad that I happened to time my post on #1363 to be ready as a comparison for this store! It's really crazy to see how Publix modified the layout of this store compared to #1363, and they even swapped out the bakery display tables to match the ones I saw in #1798.

    I've been to several other "premium" Publix stores which have a counter for a sommelier, yet I've never seen anybody at that counter. I wonder if the service was axed during COVID. I suppose you'll just have to take your chances that your bottle of Dom will pair with your PB&J and my gas station pickle-in-a-pouch! At least Publix keeps their OJ near the Dom, unlike Winn-Dixie (did somebody say Sunday Funday)!

    It’s crazy how #1363 didn't have the dedicated sushi counter that this store does. Also, while the "striated muscle" tile isn't common to see, the round tiles in the seafood counter are even more rare! Only the Sienna stores built within the first 3-or-so years of the package received this tile, while the striated muscle tile lasted through at least the 2016 package refresh. Anyway, I'm glad that I got you to catch on to the tile nuances, because they can provide tons of insight into a store's history! Speaking of the tile, it is interesting how this store had its original bakery and café tile replaced in favor of the Evergreen patterns, while #1363 kept the original Sienna tile in these departments.

    Other than the tile (or maybe including the tile in the deli) the few remaining traces of Sienna tile clash so badly with the cool colors of Evergreen. I guess I'll just have to call these "special" stores Everbrown from now on! I know the aisle signs have probably since dropped the wood-grain, but the brown ceiling and brown & mustard coolers look so bad with the whites and greys in the rest of the store!

    I guess they developed this design specifically to fit within the old Albertsons' walls, but decided to modify it to fit in 56,000 sq. ft. for #1363, then downscaled it for the 54M-2. I took a look at the square-footage of this store and it looks to be around 51,000 sq. ft.

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    1. Yes, the backlog stays but the photos seem to keep on coming! At least you seem to be progressing on your backlog better than I am though. There's plenty of fun stores to check out in Southwest Florida, and some very outdated ones can still be quite "classy"! :)

      The arched facade was just starting to become a popular choice for Albertsons around the time this store opened, and I'm glad this location got that design as it fits the aesthetic of the area much better. #4422, which opened around the same time in East Naples, got the usual blocky facade, but East Naples is nowhere near as fancy as this area is though! It seems like if a building is new and large enough, Publix will opt to keep its shell instead of tearing down the whole thing, which is at least a little bit of a consolation for people like us trying to find traces of the past! (#1439 and #1488 were also complete gut jobs of former Albertsons stores that still kept the original buildings too). Your timing of the post on #1363 worked out well, and the timing happened to be pure coincidence!

      I haven't seen the wine counter staffed at one of the fancy Publix stores in ages either, unless that's a service reserved for peak shopping times these days (like weekend afternoons). Oh well, I'm sure that $500 bottle of Dom was dreaming of nothing more than being paired with a PB&J and some gas station food!

      I'm surprised Publix put more efforts into #1337's and #1398's remodels than they did at #1363. I'm sure with a chunk of the bakery service counter being sacrificed for the new cafe, Publix just decided to go all-in with installing new tile back there while everything was getting rebuilt. I didn't know that about the round seafood tiles either, but you are the Publix tile expert!

      From your other posts I figured the ceiling and cooler colors were permanent, and I really can't believe Publix lets something like that clash so bad with the rest of the decor, as usually Publix is pretty cohesive with remodels. I'm sure repainting the ceiling is a big project, but it doesn't seem like it would take much effort to put a quick layer of gray paint on the cooler trim!

      I didn't even realize this store was only 51,000 square feet either. That would explain the odd dairy alcove, and make #1363 the first "true" hybrid prototype store built to its full size.

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  3. Welcome back! I hope you had a good break from blogging. It would appear I've taken a summer break as well, even though that wasn't really my intent, haha!

    With the Bentleys and other fancy cars in the parking lot, I definitely believe it that your car was probably out of place. My current car probably would be too even though it's only a year old, and if I showed up here in my old car, I'd probably be escorted off the property (in a police golf cart, of course!)

    It's very cool that Sienna/CM3.0 got its start in this location, a former Albertsons no less, but sorry to hear you missed seeing that original implementation prior to the Evergreen remodel. I bet the old décor would've looked better here, especially since, as you mention, a lot of the unchanged elements (tile, ceiling, ugly yellow coolers!) clash so badly. I'm very surprised Publix is leaving all of those things intact; at the very least, the coolers would probably be the easiest thing to change with just a fresh coat of paint. And evidently in the past they put a boatload of effort into their wall tile, so this lack of attention is uncharacteristic in comparison!

    I know exactly what the next tour will be -- I'm very much looking forward to it!!

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    1. Thank you! I had a nice break, and managed to squeeze in a few road trips too, which was nice. Hopefully your summer wasn't too hectic, and that you'll be returning to blogging soon yourself!

      My car is only 6 years old, but that was certainly the old end of the spectrum compared to all the other cars in the lot of this store. My car also falls well below the Mercedes tier, so that alone will get you looks around here. If I showed up in the car I had before the one I have now (if it made it out to Naples in one piece), I think a swarm of police golf carts would have been following me around!

      It's weird that Sienna/CM 3.0 began in an old Albertsons, of all places. I only missed seeing the original decor by a few months, but I still spotted a few traces of the original decor in here. Sienna/CM 3.0 is still really common so missing it here wasn't a big tragedy, unlike if I missed out on seeing the decor at a certain store down the street! I really don't see how it would take a lot of effort to grab a can of gray paint and touch up the trim on the coolers so at least those match, as even Winn-Dixie has figured out how to do that now! I know the ceiling would be a much harder project to repaint, but it's really strange how Publix is letting some of these elements clash as much as they do now.

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  4. So that awkward dairy corner was actually home to the pet supplies previously. It was much less awkward looking but I guess publix felt it was not necessary to have a pet section the size of a small wine department.

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