Saturday, May 10, 2014

Former Albertsons #4416 - Palm Bay, FL

Albertsons #4416
820 Palm Bay Road NE, Palm Bay, FL
Palm Bay Village

     Well, it might not look like much at first glance, but what you see in the above photo was former Albertsons #4416. This Albertsons opened in 1994 as a typical early 90's Albertsons, and was shuttered in August 2006 with five other Albertsons stores across Florida not long after Albertsons' Florida division was sold off to Cerberus. In 2008, the renovations you can see above were completed, and this former Albertsons was split between Office Depot and Aldi. However, the very far right side of the main Albertsons building and the Albertsons liquor store (in the far right of the above photo with the blue awning) were never touched when this building was split into Office Depot and Aldi, but we'll take a closer look at that area a little later. There's still some interesting things to be seen over there, but back to the main part of the store for now.

     Here's another view of the exterior before we head inside. This photo has a better view of the original section that remains from when this store was an Albertsons. Too bad all of those palm trees just have to get in the way of the exterior photos. Most Florida cities require trees and plants in parking lot islands as a way to beautify them, but all they do is make for a harder time to get photos of these places! Anyway, I guess we'll head into Office Depot first...

     This photo was taken right after walking through Office Depot's main entrance. There's not a single piece of Albertsons left in here. They really did a thorough gutting when Office Depot and Aldi moved in. As soon as I walked in here I knew I wouldn't find much. First of all, this store would have had a drop ceiling as Albertsons. Albertsons didn't start using a warehouse ceiling until the Plaza Model came out around 1998. Also, Albertsons would have had a tile floor. If you look closely at the concrete floor in these Office Depot photos, you can see the diamond shaped marks where Albertsons' floor tiles would have been before they were ripped out. In Albertsons days, this photo would be pointing down the grocery aisles toward the dairy department, which was along the back wall straight ahead.  

     Looking from the right side of the Office Depot to the left. Albertsons Pharmacy would have been to the left along that side wall, with Health and Beauty straight ahead of me, and the Meat & Seafood counter would have been off to the right in the back left corner of the building. The warehouse ceilings in here and over in Aldi seemed unusually high to me. I don't know if it was just me of if it was because the original drop ceiling was removed, so the original roof went higher than in stores built with warehouse ceilings. 

     One last look inside Office Depot before heading back out. 

     Now back outside heading toward Aldi, whose entrance is to my left in this photo. Albertsons main entrance and exit would have been approximately located behind where Aldi's carts currently are. Now let's go inside Aldi...

     As with Office Depot, not a whole lot of Albertsons to see in here either. Completely gutted and remodeled. I promise you though, things will get much more exciting here in a moment, so don't change web pages just yet! 

     Aldi takes up what would have been most of the Grocery Aisles in this building's Albertsons days. This photo looks in the direction toward where Albertsons main entrance and most of the cash registers would have been.

     Just one last shot from inside of Aldi before heading back out. Aldi doesn't quite take up the entire right half of the Albertsons building. Behind that wall to the left is still an abandoned piece of the Albertsons, where the bakery, deli, and produce departments would have been located. 

     Now walking back out of Aldi and toward the abandoned Albertsons liquor store, which is behind that first set of glass doors up on the left. What you see here is all original to the Albertsons. Behind that emergency exit door is that last abandoned piece of the main Albertsons store that Aldi never took over. 

     This is what that last remaining piece of the original store looks like from the exterior. The architecture and all of that blue trim still says Albertsons all over it.  Back to the liquor store...

     Looking back in the direction toward Aldi and the emergency door from the Albertsons liquor store.

     The entrance to the old Albertsons Liquor store, which has been abandoned since 2006. This is where this post starts to get really interesting. 

     Another view of the Liquor Store doors, which still has all of the original Albertsons decals and the original Albertsons store hours. But what's that I see through the window? (Hint: It's not the cinder block.)

     It's the Blue & Gray Market interior! (I told you this post was going to get much more exciting.) Well, it's a stripped out version of it anyway. There would have been blue lettering along the walls when this was still open, located in that white area between the two pink stripes. Also, that pattern in the floor tiles is a dead giveaway of the Blue & Gray Market interior. All the way in the far back would have a row of glass door coolers for beer, and you can see the marks on the floor where the aisles for the wine and liquor would have been. The far right wall would have been another set of coolers. 

     It's amazing how many times you see the main Albertsons store get re-purposed into all kinds of things, but the liquor store will still sit abandoned for years afterwords. The liquor store above is going on 8 years abandoned already, while the rest of the main store (well, most of the main store) has been reoccupied for 6 years already. Usually these liquor stores are our last glimpse into the Albertsons that once occupied these sites, like the one above.

     Before we head off into satellite imagery, I was able to find one historic photo of this store from when it was still an Albertsons:

Historic Photo courtesy of 

     It's not the greatest photo in the world, but you can still make out the general look of the original building.

     And just a quick glimpse at the road sign. This is the main sign facing Palm Bay Road, and it's a modified Albertsons style road sign. 

Now for the Bird's Eye Aerial Images (Courtesy of Bing Maps):

Front - You can clearly see the dividing line between Aldi and Office Depot here.

Right Side


Left Side

Historic Aerials (Courtesy of Google Earth):

Former Albertsons #4416 - 2014

Albertsons #4416 - 2005

Here's something pretty interesting, the store is still under construction here - Future Albertsons #4416 - 1994

       Just one last look at Former Albertsons #4416, and the accompanying shopping center before I finish. It's amazing how even in a store that looks to be renovated beyond recognition, there's still something from it's past life to be found. 

Well, I guess that finishes today's post. Until next time, 

The Albertsons Florida Blogger  

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Picture's Worth A Thousand Tiles - The Story of the Publix Murals

     When you bring up Florida retail with anyone, the first thing they'll mention is Publix. Publix has a long history here in Florida (not to mention a strong following) that dates back to their creation in Winter Haven in 1930 by George Jenkins, or as he was more commonly called by his associates, "Mr. George". Mr. George was a very innovative man, adding features to his stores such as air conditioning, florescent lighting, terrazzo floors, and automatic eye doors, all of which were unheard of concepts for a supermarket back in the 1940's when Publix started to expand throughout the state. However, one of the most unique ideas of Mr. George came along in the mid 1950's. He had the idea to commission a tile mural to be placed on the front of every one of his new stores. He hired local Winter Haven artist Pati Mills to hand paint nearly 200 tile murals for new Publix stores across the state for nearly 25 years. These murals were comprised of hundreds of 4x4 white tiles, each of which was hand glazed and fired. I think these murals are one of the most interesting parts of Florida retail history, which is why I decided to do an entire post about them. 

     In this post we're going to take a look at these classic murals on two Publix stores. The first mural that we're going to take a look at is located at Publix Store #215, which is located at 4711 Babcock Street NE in Palm Bay, FL, in the Palm Bay Center. 

     This store is a 70's Model Publix that was renovated sometime in the mid-90's, which is why the exterior looks different than a typical 70's Publix. This store has two murals, one to each side of the entryway.

     This mural is the one that's located to the right side of the entryway, and has a fruit and wine theme. This mural, along with the cornucopia (which we'll see below) were the two most common themes for these murals. While these murals sometimes shared common themes, no two were ever exactly the same. 

     I don't know much about tile glazing, but this looks like it took a long time to do! And this mural is a baby compared to the one on the other side of the store! There's a lot of detail if you look at these murals closely. I guess the doves flying over all of the food means 'A Plenitude of Food brings Peace'. Possibly anyway. I'm not very good at finding the deeper meaning in art. 

      Now off the the much larger cornucopia mural over to the left side of the entrance. This is the right half of the mural, with fruits and vegetables spilling out of the cornucopia, leading to more bottles of wine. According to one article I saw, the average dimensions of one of these murals was 7 feet high by 62 feet long. Using 4"x4" tiles, if I did my math correctly, that comes out to an average of 3,906 tiles in one mural alone! My seemingly exaggerated title for this post is actually an understatement! 

     Over to the left half of the mural, which is supposed to represent one of Florida's many orange groves, which most modern Florida cities were built on top of. However, most of this orange grove was chopped down when that fire door was put in, which I'm sure is not original to this store. This door had to be added when this store was remodeled and expanded in the mid-90's.  

     This was the best panoramic type shot I could get of the cornucopia mural considering its size.  

     Over to the very right of the cornucopia mural in the bottom corner was Pati Mills' signature. This photo also gives you a close up to where you can actually see the brush strokes.

     While must Publix stores had a mural similar to the one above, some stores had specialty murals to compliment the city or region that store was in. The next Publix mural we're going to look at has one of those specialty murals. This store is Publix Store #202, which is located at 3200 Lake Washington Road in Melbourne, FL, in the Lake Washington Crossings shopping center. 

     This is another older Publix store that's had a facade upgrade in recent years. This store was in the process of getting upgraded to the 3rd Generation Classy Market interior when I visited. This store only has one tile mural, which you can see to the far left in the above photo. 

     The mural for this store has a waterfront/harbor theme, which I assume was done because the city of Melbourne has dubbed themselves "The Harbor City". Above is the left half of this store's mural, which is more of a medium sized one. This half shows boats moored at a dock with old fashioned (somewhat European styled) buildings in the background.

     The right half of this specialty mural, which shows the 'Fisherman's Wharf' building on the left and the 'Shak's Seafood Restaurant' building on the right. 

     And here's a panoramic overview of the entire harbor mural. I couldn't find the signature on this mural, but maybe I just didn't see it.  

     On my retail excursions I'll be on the lookout for more of these murals. As I've mentioned before, Publix likes to keep their stores up to date, which means many stores that have had these murals have been abandoned or torn down as Publix builds new stores. These murals are practically impossible to preserve if the store is set for demolition. These tiles are stuck on the wall really good and they get brittle from being in the harsh sun for so many years (and removing brittle fragile tiles from a wall is not an easy chore if you want them all out in one piece). The only way to successfully preserve one of these murals would be to cut out the entire wall in one piece, which would be expensive and hard to transport. There's a really good article of a group in Temple Terrace, FL who fought to save their Publix mural when their old Publix store was set for demolition as a part of a downtown redevelopment plan. Unfortunately, those plans weren't successful, and in the end they had to settle on hiring a professional photographer to do a panoramic photograph the entire mural, and after the store was demolished, the tile fragments were collected to be used in stepping stones to be placed throughout the city. To read that article, click here.   
     As for the murals shown in this post, the one at the Lake Washington Crossings store still has some time left on it since, like I mentioned earlier, that store is currently getting an interior remodel (the mural should be left alone during this process). The Palm Bay Center store doesn't seem like it's going anywhere anytime soon, but with Publix, you never know. 

     Pati Mills' Publix Murals are still remembered as one of Publix's classic features from the past, and are still admired by shoppers to this day at some stores, leaving one of the most famous artistic legacies in all of retail history. I'm going to try my best to photograph her murals as I find them. It must be hard for an artist to see their work being destroyed, like when the murals are lost when these Publix stores are demolished. Pati Mills had to have put hours into hand glazing all of those tiles! Pati is still doing art to this day, including tile murals (but no longer for Publix).

     Also, I have more exterior and interior photos of the two Publix stores whose murals were shown above. Those photos should be coming to the Albertsons Florida Blog's Flickr Page in the near future. 

     For now, that's all I have. Come see us next Saturday for another tour of a former Albertsons!

See you then!
The Albertsons Florida Blogger


Thursday, May 1, 2014

The All New Store Models & Interiors Tab Is Now Here! (And Other Announcements)

     For a while I've been mentioning that I'd be getting around to putting something together that would explain the Albertsons interiors. Well, here it is in the all new Store Models & Interiors tab! While it might not seem like much right since there aren't many pictures, I tried to include links to existing photos online so you could see what these interiors look like. I hope to get some of my own photos on there soon, along with some better photos to replace some of the grainy ones. Along with the Albertsons interiors, I've also decided to put explanations of Publix and Winn-Dixie store models and interiors there also as they'll be coming up here and on my flickr page pretty often. With the introduction of the new tab, the Albertsons Store Model directory has also been moved from the Useful Information tab to the new Store Models & Interiors tab. Be sure to check out all of the new information there!

     Also, there will be a special bonus post going up this Saturday, May 3rd, featuring one of  my favorite things from Florida retail history. The following Saturday, May 10th, there will be a post featuring a tour of another former Albertsons store. Hope to see you then!

Until Next Time,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger