Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Bye Bye BI-LO...

     It was announced today that SEG sold off 62 BI-LO and Harvey's stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia to Food Lion, with the sale expected to be completed in early 2021. This sale was announced alongside word that the BI-LO brand would be retired, with SEG exploring options for the remaining BI-LO stores not included in this sale. SEG is looking to use money from the sale of BI-LO's stores to enhance the core markets where Winn-Dixie, Fresco y Mas, and the remaining Harvey's stores operate. More information on the end of BI-LO can be found in this article, with a complete listing of BI-LO locations going to Food Lion accessible here.

     I always expected BI-LO's demise to be a more drawn out process than this, but BI-LO always seemed to be the weakest of SEG's brands, at least to me. It's sad news to see the brand will go away, but not really a shock to hear.

Anyway, that's what going on in the grocery world right now. So until next time,

AFB

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Much Greener and Wiser the Second Time Around


Greenwise Market #1659
4747 South Florida Avenue, Lakeland, FL - Shoppes of Lake Miriam Crossing

     Now that we've seen the original Publix Greenwise Market, today is the day we jump into the future to understand the modern Greenwise Market. Besides the fact that both concepts were organic specialty chains owned by Publix, the feel and shopping experience of the original and new Greenwise stores couldn't be any different. As we'll see today, the new Greenwise stores remove the more formal feel of the original concept for a much more modern, "cooler" I guess you could say, vibe. I know a lot of you are curious about these new stores, so let's jump into this and see what the new Greenwise is all about!


     While it would have been a nice compliment to my previous post about Publix Greenwise Market, the store we'll be touring today is not the one that replaced the last original Publix Greenwise Market store in Boca Raton we saw previously. The store we'll be touring today is located in the most sacred of cities for Publix, Lakeland, which is home to the company's corporate headquarters. It seemed only fitting Publix would want to put a new Greenwise store in their hometown, as this store will probably become an experimental location for new Greenwise concepts in the future (much like the regular Publix across the street from here has become). Unlike most urban areas in Florida, Lakeland (a city of 110,000 residents) was never touched by any of the organic supermarket hubbub of the late 2010's. Lakeland never got a Lucky's, Earth Fare, or Sprouts (either planned or completed), and they don't have any of the organic stalwarts either (Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, or The Fresh Market). The announcement of Lakeland getting a Greenwise store of their own was a big deal, as it would be the city's first major organic grocery store.


     The new Lakeland Greenwise Market store opened on December 12, 2019, the same day the new Boca Raton Greenwise Market opened to replace the last original prototype. The new Boca Raton and Lakeland Greenwise stores were the fifth and sixth new Greenwise stores to open, following the opening of other locations in Tallahassee (the first new Greenwise), Mount Pleasant, SC (the second), Mountain Brook, AL (the third), and Lexington, SC (the fourth). The Lakeland Greenwise Market and its accompanying shopping center were built on the site of a former Kmart store (which we toured a while back as it liquidated), the Kmart building completely demolished for the new Greenwise Market.


     It's probably just a coincidence, but the texturing behind the Greenwise Market sign reminds me a lot of the facade of 1970's-built Publix stores.


     Walking up to the front of the building, we catch a glimpse of Greenwise's large patio seating area straight ahead. The area behind the windows to my left is the indoor dining area, so there was no shortage of seating here!


     Turning the corner from the last photo, we near the store's main entrance. This photo looks over the shopping carts toward the outdoor seating area, which was a popular hangout spot on the evening I visited this store. I visited the new Lakeland Greenwise Market only a week after it opened, and it was certainly busy. I'm sure the newness of the store played into the crowd during this visit, but this is a busy part of town. When I came through here a few years ago to document the closing Kmart and the Publix across the street, both were absolutely mobbed.


     Stepping through the front doors, we're greeted with this sight as we enter. Produce and floral take up the sales floor space immediately upon entering, with the "Eats" department prominently located straight ahead. Like I said, this store had a much different vibe than the original Greenwise had, a vibe much more in line with Lucky's than Whole Foods (the competitor the original Greenwise tried to mimic). The new Greenwise decor is much more fun, sleek, and modern than that of its predecessor, and is loosely based off of Publix's new Evergreen decor.


     Turning to the left we find the "Pours" department, home to Greenwise's indoor cafe and taproom. As the name would suggest, the specialty at Pours is drinks, with the offerings here including draught beer, wine, coffee, tea, kombucha, and smoothies (all of which are explained in more detail at the Pours link above). Much like a certain other trendy specialty organic chain that's no longer in Florida, Greenwise Market also offers their own "sip and stroll" promotion for shoppers. Sip and stroll was a huge differentiation point for Lucky's, and extremely popular too, so it makes sense Publix would want to offer their own version of that program at Greenwise Market. Even Winn-Dixie realized how popular Lucky's sip and stroll had become, and they've been experimenting with the concept too.


     I don't know if Publix saw Lucky's as a threat or if they just wanted a piece of a huge new market, but the revival of Greenwise came right as Lucky's began their rapid expansion into just about every region of Florida. Even though Lucky's is gone now due to their corporate zeal, their concept wasn't a failure. The laid back, less intimidating, beer-sipping approach to organics really won a lot of people over, and got more people to venture into these types of stores. I'd have to guess that Publix realized Lucky's was onto something with their unique format, winning over a segment of Floridians that Publix had failed to capture once already with the original Greenwise stores. Since Lucky's could pull off such a huge success in Florida with their format, of course Publix could too...


     Now that we've turned our attention away from Pours, let's jump back into the produce department. Produce takes up the front right corner of the store, with floral displays mixed in amongst the fruit and vegetables. The produce department lacks any kind of signage, with the cartoon-like pictures of fruits and vegetables on the wall serving as a reminder of what this department offers.


     Another one of the major changes between the new Greenwise stores and the originals is the size of the building. While the original Greenwise locations were around 40,000 square feet (about the same size as an older Publix store or Whole Foods), the new Greenwise stores top out around 25,000 square feet, just a little over half the size of the originals (and more in line with the size of a Lucky's). With these new Greenwise stores about the same size as a Lucky's, it makes sense that Publix bought 5 former Lucky's locations during the company's bankruptcy auction in March 2020 (all of which will most likely become new Greenwise stores).


     The largest department at these new Greenwise stores (and the store's specialty) is the "Eats" department. "Eats" is the name given to the large prepared foods department, and the department is broken up into two parts: the island, which contains the majority of the ready-to-eat options, and the counter in the back, which is set up like a traditional deli counter.


     Some produce coolers wrap along the side wall, with the Eats island forming a small aisle between the two.


     The Eats island was broken up into various food stations, each one labeled on a hanging sign. The food stations located within the island included burritos and burrito bowls, Asian foods and sushi, pasta, and pizza. While this store is much smaller than the original Greenwise, the prepared foods selection was much more extensive. The right side of the Eats island is pictured here, home to the burrito station (set up in a build-your-own burrito fashion like Chipotle).


     We'll get back to the Eats island in just a moment, but first, a diversion to the Eats counter located along the store's back wall. Pictured here is the far right side of the Eats counter, home to the gourmet popcorn station (my first time seeing something like this in a supermarket, although I've heard about these elsewhere before).


      While the average Publix deli offers fresh made butter popcorn, packaged in a giant bag for $1.99, Greenwise takes that concept to a whole new level. Popcorn gets is own counter here, with a variety of flavors offered (including cheese, caramel, and some others I don't remember), popped and packaged throughout the day.


     Next to the popcorn station was the sandwich station, which I didn't get a closeup photo of (as I was more mesmerized by the popcorn station). The Greenwise sub station is basically the same concept as the normal Pub Sub station, but with fancier options (like Boar's Head Ham and Brie Baguette and Turkey Pesto Foccacia).


     The left side of the Eats counter was more or less your typical deli counter, featuring the usual sliced meats as well as some pre-made salads and entrees. I also like the effect of the floating words located under each of the departments here.


     Between the Eats island and the Eats counter was the store's selection of baked goods. A lot of the baked goods were set up in self serve cases like the one pictured here, but there were also a few tables of pre-packaged baked goods as well. In addition to the baked goods, some grab and go cases of snacks and drinks were located on the back of the Eats island, located just out of frame to my left.


     Some more baked goods for your viewing pleasure (and I sincerely apologize if you're reading this post before you've eaten dinner!).


     A large double-wide aisle occupies the space between the Eats island and the main grocery aisles. In the center of this aisle are the fresh food bars, including a salad bar and hot foods bar (which included chicken wings and some other meats).


     Returning to the Eats island, here's a look at the pizza station located on the island's left side.


     There's no shortage of dinner options here!


     Here's one last look from the Eats department, looking back toward the main entrance and Pours. While Eats was a large chunk of what this store is all about, there's still more for us to see as we jump into the grocery aisles...


     Well, there's more to see beyond this crowd, anyway. The check lanes and grocery aisles are in this photo somewhere!


     While the front of the store was a bit hectic, jumping to the back of the store is proving to be a calmer experience right now. The back wall of the store was home to dairy products, with the "Cuts" department located in the background.


     Aisle 1 is located immediately beyond the Eats double-wide aisle, and is home to the bulk food section.


     Poking out into the front of the store, it's a little less chaotic now, so here's a better look across the store's front end.


     Jumping back into the grocery aisles, we find ourselves in aisle 2. Interestingly, new Greenwise uses a flat style of aisle marker, rather than a tri-sided one like a normal Publix (or original Greenwise). A neat touch to these aisle markers is that the number itself is made up of a picture of food (for example, the '2' here is made up of Cheerios Greenwise Organic Toasted Oats, which coincidentally happen to be located in this aisle too).


     This store is much wider than it is deep, so the grocery aisles are rather short. What you see here is the average length of the grocery aisles.


     Unlike the original Greenwise, which carried a mix of organic products and regular groceries, the new Greenwise store is almost strictly organics. The vast majority of products are Greenwise brand, but other major local and national organic brands can be found here.


     The back left corner of the store is home to "Cuts", which is the meat department. In addition to the usual meat and seafood cuts, the Cuts department also featured fresh made sausages and in-store seasoned and sliced bacon.


     Frozen foods can be found in aisle 6, with frozen carrying over into aisle 7 as well.


     Alcoholic and non-alcoholic bubbly could be found in aisle 8...


      ...with more alcohol to be found in the store's last aisle, aisle 9. Beer coolers take up the store's left side wall, with more wine to my left. A word collage fills up the wall above the coolers.containing adjectives that describe the products and departments throughout the store.


     Leaving aisle 9, what do we find but the "Finds" department. While the name "Finds" seems to suggest surprise deals or other random limited time products that Greenwise found (like Aldi does with their 'Aldi Finds'), that's not what Greenwise is going for with this department. Instead, Finds is the specialty "foods of the world" department, where one is to 'find' themselves new exotic cheeses, wines, or other specialty items to excite the taste buds and discover new products from around the world. The beer and wine department we just saw is officially a part of the Finds department, in addition to the specialty cheese counter located under the sign, and the olive bar in front.


     Here's a look at the olive bar, with some refrigerated charcuterie meats in the case behind it. You know a department has a little bit of class to it when the word 'charcuterie' is used to describe the sliced deli meat!


     The last department we've yet to explore at new Greenwise is "Care", which is located between Finds and the front check lanes. Care, as the name would suggest, is the health and beauty department, featuring a wide selection of vitamins, supplements, aromatherapy products, and natural personal care items.


     The Care department featured a few short aisles of products like this which ran perpendicular to the main grocery aisles, much like the pharmaceutical aisles at a normal modern Publix.


     Some table displays of items from the Care department spilled out into the main aisle, like the one with the decorative soaps seen here.


     Now that we've seen the Care department, the front end lies straight ahead, beyond the display of Corona (how fitting for these times...)


     This store had 6 staffed check lanes, located in an island setup after the Care department. Beyond those lanes were the self checkouts.


     Six self-checkouts in total here, with the Pours department peeking out in the background.


     Lastly from within the new Greenwise store was this neat piece of local flare artwork. Located in front of the check lanes, this painting was commissioned by Publix to a pair of local artists, Bump Galleta and Fred Koehler, and is titled "Lakeland on the Move". The painting featured a compilation of local Lakeland landmarks, including Southgate Shopping Center, Hollis Garden, downtown Lakeland, the city's many namesake lakes, the Publix birthday cake water tower, and even this thing (which I have seen light up at night, and does look really cool)! These Greenwise paintings are a nod to the Publix tile murals of yore, according to this article about the Lakeland painting. That article goes into much more detail about the painting, and has a much better, higher resolution image of it for you to view (as my photo cut off pieces of the edges). This painting is such a neat nod to Lakeland, and an awesome piece of local flare! Every new Greenwise store gets a special painting commissioned by a local artist to be featured at the front of the store. However, Publix doesn't seem to have any guidelines as to what the paintings need to feature, as some Greenwise stores have much more abstract pieces than this (that link featuring the painting at the Tallahassee Greenwise store).


     Stepping back outside, here's another look at the store's exterior. However, we're not done with this place yet, as we still need to take a quick peek at the outdoor seating area:


     The outdoor seating area took up a large covered space along the right side of the building. In the seating area were some regular tables for eating lunch, and a more lounge-like area (pictured here) for kicking back, sipping some coffee, and maybe working on some schoolwork.


     Turning away from the comfortable couches, here's a look toward the dining area.


     For a fun touch, the outdoor seating area also had a cornhole game set up out front, the game boards custom designed with the Greenwise logo. The little girl in the picture was using that cornhole board as a slide, which I guess put this to some kind of use.


     Leaving the main store behind, we'll take a quick look at the small shopping center attached to the new Greenwise. Like many new-build Publix stores, the new Lakeland Greenwise Market has an attached liquor store in a neighboring storefront. The liquor store is just a generic Publix liquor store, and has no ties to the Greenwise concept at all. I don't know if liquor stores will be a common feature at Greenwise stores going forward, or if the liquor store here in Lakeland was opened to make up for the regular Publix across the street not having one.


     In addition to the liquor store and a few other small storefronts, Greenwise Market will co-tenant the Shoppes of Lake Miriam Crossing with HomeGoods, pictured here. During my visit, the HomeGoods store still had a ways to go with the construction, with the interior build-out still in the process. The new HomeGoods, Polk County's first, was planned to open in early 2020, but it appears that opening date was pushed back due to the coronavirus.


     And there you have it everyone - the new Greenwise Market! It's quite clear that the new Greenwise was designed to go after Lucky's, although as it worked out, Publix didn't have to put in any effort to scare off their rapidly expanding competitor. Lucky's caused their own demise in the end. From the looks of it, Publix seems committed to the Greenwise revival, with six confirmed new Greenwise stores planned to open by 2021 (and that's not counting the locations Publix bought from Lucky's during their bankruptcy). The laid-back approach to organics has merit to it, and Publix is the type of company that will a do a good job of running these stores and perfecting the format. Publix also has deep pockets to fund these new stores, something that Lucky's lacked, which helps too.


     Since the Lakeland Greenwise Market store is so new (as of the original writing of this post), there aren't any satellite images of it available yet (at least from what I saw in my usual sources of satellite imagery). The above photo shows the location of the new Greenwise Market on top of the Kmart building it replaced, relative to the Publix across the street that I mentioned a few times in this post. At least in this situation, Greenwise and Publix are two different concepts, so having these stores so close together makes sense (unlike the usual occurrence of two normal Publix stores across the street from each other). The Publix across the street from the new Greenwise, store #356, has a bit of backstory to it. It's a really strange Publix in terms of layout, and appears to be a high volume test location for projects Publix is experimenting on. I have Publix #356 photographed, with those pictures coming to one of my blogs eventually.


     While the new Greenwise store sits on the site of a demolished Kmart, one rather obvious relic was left behind from the property's former tenant. Greenwise's road sign on S. Florida Avenue reuses the distinctly 90's Kmart sign frame, the Kmart sign removed to feature the logos of Greenwise (and eventually) HomeGoods.


     While on the topic of Kmart, here's a look back in time at the store that once stood here. This was one of Kmart's nicer stores, this location getting a decent remodel after spending 6 years as a Sears Essentials store in the late 2000's. However, for more on the Kmart that once stood here, all the details about this place can be found in my post here.

     Kmart aside, that completes our look at the Greenwise stores of past and present. Hopefully the revived Greenwise store fares better than some of its competitors have, but Greenwise does have the advantage of being owned by Publix to keep it around for many years to come. As we saw, old Greenwise and new Greenwise are two very different concepts, but out of curiosity, which one was your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

     Anyway, that's all I have for now. More Albertsons coming up next time, so be sure to come back in two weeks for that! So until then,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger