Friday, May 27, 2016

Out With the Albertsons, In With the Safeway (In Largo)

Safeway #4402
10500 Ulmerton Road, Largo, FL - Largo Mall

     Jumping over to Tampa Bay now for a quick look at the new Largo Safeway. This mini-post is brought to us by our longtime Largo remodel contributors Ross T. and Dave M. These first 7 pictures are the ones sent in by Ross, and will be followed by the ones sent in by Dave. Ross's pictures are from earlier this week. The Safeway signage was installed around that time revealing the final product.

    Close-up of the new Safeway sign.

      Liquor and Pharmacy signage.

     As you can see here, and over at the Altamonte store as well, the right side entrances don't look to be getting any signage over them. Originally, there was a sign that said "Food" on this side of the building. It looks like Safeway is scrapping the "Food" sign at these stores, and only keeping the "Pharmacy" ones.

     While Ross was at this store, he saw the sign crew installing the new Safeway signs on the roadside pylon for Largo Mall. You can see the new Safeway sign going up in the above photo. However, some Albertsons signs had yet to be changed during his visit:

     The directory still says Albertsons...

     And so did the other roadside pylon. At least earlier this week it did. That's all changed now.

     Thanks Ross for sending in those pictures! Now for some more pictures from Dave:

     Dave sent in some night shots of the exterior of the Largo Safeway, taken either the night before the switch became official or the morning of the switch. This is what all of the signage looks like when it's illuminated.

     According to Dave: "This area is where they make fresh juice and infused water, bottled and labeled as Safeway. They even keep wheatgrass in the cold looks like sod. There is no Jamba Juice signage or labels to be seen. There are "smoothie machines" on the counter next to the juicer. I wonder if JJ signage etc. will come at a later date." According to a while back, Largo was supposed to be the only one of the three Florida Safeways to get a Jamba Juice, but as of now it looks like that's not the case.

    Another look at the road sign for Largo Mall, with the Safeway logo now completely installed. I think it would have been better to make the Safeway letters white on here instead of black, as the black is somewhat hard to read on the brick background.

     A picture of the top of Safeway's first Florida circular. Each of the three stores had their own special circular printed, although the only difference between each one was the map of the store location.

     The top of a Safeway receipt.

     Dave spotted this Safeway truck on I-275 recently. He had this interesting story to go along with it as well, which I would like to share with everyone: 

"Safeway trailer leaving St. Pete north on 275. The license plate on the trailer (which may mean nothing) was from Maryland.
Interesting story here: Largo has been running a huge 50% off (75% in frozen) sale on discontinued items for the last couple of months. The latest additions included current house brands. I asked a manager why current product was being discounted. They told me that they were switching warehouses. I asked if they were going to being served from a current Safeway trade area and they said they didn't know for sure. They did say that this was the 1st step of a larger plan for Safeway in FL...which we already kind of guessed." 

     I think that Maryland plate could potentially mean something. Safeway has a distribution center in Prince George's County, Maryland, which is probably where these three stores (or possibly more if the "larger plan for Safeway in FL" comes to fruition) are going to be supplied from, rather than the Safeway distribution center in Texas. Very interesting.
     So with that little piece of information I will conclude my series of mini-posts about the new Safeway stores. More Safeway coverage will be coming to the blog in July, when I will take everybody on an extensive tour of one of the three new stores. Thanks again Ross and Dave for sending in these pictures of the Largo store, and for the continuous coverage throughout the entire remodel process.

Until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Out With the Albertsons, In With the Safeway (In Altamonte Springs)

Safeway #3304
503 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs, FL - Palm Springs Center

     Today's Safeway mini-post will feature some photos that have been sent in to the blog of the Altamonte Springs store. The first five pictures were sent in by contributor Jay, who happened to be at the store a few days ago as the sign crew was finishing installation of the new Safeway signs. In the photo above, you can see the sign crew putting the finishing touches on the pharmacy sign, which is located over the left side entry. As we saw in past photos covering the remodel of the Largo store, the Altamonte store also received an exterior refresh as a part of the remodel. This is what this store looked like before the renovations began.

     The next few photos show the installation of the new Liquor store sign:

     Liquo_. Only one more letter to go...

     And there's the new Liquor sign ready to go!

     Finally, Jay provided us with confirmation that the Altamonte store will be providing grocery delivery as well with this picture of one of their trucks. A commentor over on the "Bring Safeway Right to your Door!" post mentioned that Altamonte had 5 or 6 trucks of their own. I can only assume that Oakland Park will be offering grocery delivery as well if the other two stores are. Considering Publix's rocky relationship with grocery delivery, and the fact that nobody else in Florida really offers this service, I think grocery delivery will probably work out well for Safeway.

     Thanks again Jay for sending in those pictures! Now for a few more pictures sent in by contributor Ian W.:

     This exterior picture of the Altamonte store that Ian sent in was taken a day or two after the ones taken by Jay. They're really not fooling anybody with that banner covering the Safeway sign. Even in the few days (actually, few weeks) before this switch became official, these stores were pretty much Safeways already in look and feel.

     Another thing Ian wanted to point out was that Safeway is still using Albertsons' cookie recipe. These are the famous Albertsons cookies, however Safeway ditched the old Albertsons purple bag in favor of these plastic containers.

     Ian also said the recipe for the dinner rolls was kept the same as well, so it's probably safe to assume the rest of the bakery goods (and probably deli items) from Albertsons that we all remember will remain as they were. Thanks for not messing that up Safeway!

     Thanks again Ian for sending in those photos! Tomorrow another Safeway mini-post, this time from the Largo store.

So until then,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

RIP - Albertsons Florida - 1974-2016

     May 25, 2016 - Albertsons Florida, an Albertsons division last based out of Maitland, Florida before being merged into the Houston Division, passed away peacefully on May 24, 2016. Albertsons Florida was born in Clearwater, Florida on October 9, 1974 as a partnership between Albertsons Food Stores and Skaggs Drug Centers to bring a one-stop shopping experience to the people of Florida under the name Skaggs-Albertsons. By the end of the 1970's, Albertsons had stores in every major market in Florida from Pensacola to Jacksonville and from Miami to Tampa. In 1978, Albertsons and Skaggs parted ways, leaving Albertsons solely in charge of growing their Florida presence. By the late 1990's, Albertsons had grown to over 120 Florida locations and was the third largest grocery chain in Florida in most markets. However, as the 2000's wore on, Albertsons began to crumble. Their quirky theme sales, giveways, oversized decor props, and bonus buys just weren't enough to keep them afloat. Their 100+ stores slowly began to shrink every year until they were left with only three locations statewide by 2015. After 41 1/2 years in Florida, Albertsons did achieve some marks in Florida supermarket history. They were the most successful non-Florida based traditional grocer to operate in Florida, and they were the last remaining outside holdout of the Great Florida Grocery Wars of the 1970's and 1980's. Many Floridians fondly remember Albertsons through the years, and their legacy won't be forgotten. Albertsons Florida was preceded in death by many other Florida supermarket competitors such as Food Lion, Sweetbay Supermarkets/Kash n' Karry, A&P/Family Mart, Kroger's Florida Choice/SupeRx, Grand Union, Jewel-Osco, Super Saver, and the list goes on... Albertsons Florida leaves behind their sister chain, Safeway, to take over where they left off in the Sunshine State. Services will take place the morning of May 25, 2016 at the grand opening of your local Safeway Florida store. Condolences can be left in the comments section of this post.

     So today marks a big day for Florida supermarkets as Safeway Florida makes its official debut, replacing the last three Albertsons stores in Altamonte Springs, Largo, and Oakland Park. I'm hoping for the best with Safeway, and hopefully they will grow to more than three locations. Detailed coverage of a Safeway Florida store will be coming to the blog in July, however tomorrow and Friday I will have two mini-posts featuring some Safeway photos that have been sent into the blog from our contributors over the last few days.

So until then,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Tale of Two Krogers - Part 2

     Finally, the continuation you may or may not have been waiting for. Today AFB presents Part 2 (the final part) of our Tale of Two Krogers series. A Tale of Two Krogers - Part 1, featuring the former SupeRx Food and Drug and Florida Choice stores in Titusville, was featured on the blog back in January. Today we travel further south in Brevard County to the city of Rockledge for Part 2, which will feature the former SupeRx and Florida Choice stores there. As was the case with Titusville, Rockledge's former Kroger owned stores are still relatively well preserved after cycling through a few different uses since both of these stores closed in the late 80's. Since I covered the general background info on Kroger Florida in the Part 1 post, I won't go into much detail about it here. If you would like to know more about the history of Kroger in Florida, or if you would like a refresh, be sure to take a quick look at the Part 1 post.

     So let's get right into this and start from the beginning with Rockledge's former SupeRx Food and Drug store:

SupeRx Food and Drug #506
201 Bougainvillea Drive, Rockledge, FL

     This was one of the earlier SupeRx stores, having first opened in 1982. This store was supposed to be replaced by a new Florida Choice store two miles to the south of here in the later part of 1988, however due to Kroger announcing their departure of the Florida market in July 1988, those plans were never fully completed (more on that in the second half of this post). This was one of 6 Kroger owned stores that Gooding's purchased as a part of Kroger's departure from Florida. That deal also included an additional two Florida Choice stores that were under construction but nearly complete at the time of the sale, including the nearly complete replacement for this store two miles to the south. After the deal was finalized, Gooding's opted to open their Rockledge location in the nearly complete (and much larger and nicer) Florida Choice building, closing this one when the new store was ready to open. This building sat empty until 1991 when it found a new life as a 32 lane bowling alley called Space Bowl, a popular hangout in Rockledge during the 90's. Space Bowl eventually fell on hard times by the mid-2000's, and they ended up closing around that same time. Most recently, this building was home to a business file storage facility called Business Archives of Rockledge, which eventually moved out in the later part of 2015. According to some planning documents from the city of Rockledge, the federal government has recently shown interest in purchasing this building. What they plan to do with this place I don't know, but at least I got my pictures before Federal Agents could have a chance to chase me away!

     As we go through these pictures of the SupeRx, you'll notice they were taken at two different times. Some of these were taken in September 2015 when the Business Archive place was still open (like the one above), and some were taken in January 2016 after they moved out. I just wanted to point that out before you begin to wonder why the brown SUV parked in front of the building appears and disappears throughout these pictures.

     Of all of the former SupeRx Food and Drug stores I've found, this one is probably the most well preserved example left in the entire state, exterior-wise anyway. I don't know if the windows and doors are original to the building, but what you see here is (what I'm pretty sure is) the original design of the building at least.

     The liquor store is the building attached to the right side of the main store. We'll take a closer look at that shortly.

     During my September 2015 visit here, the old Space Bowl labelscar was still completely visible after a good 10 years or so of going out of business. By January 2016, the labelscar had been painted over.

     I'm not completely sure about this, but I believe that door was a side entrance that led into SupeRx's pharmacy department.

     So when nobody was around my second time here, and when the front walkway wasn't being used as an extension of the parking lot, I decided to get a closer look at this place. This is what it looks like under the front walkway.

     Like I said before, it's the exterior that makes this place the most well preserved former SupeRx in the state that I know of. Looking though the front door, it's easy to see this place was completely gutted out. I'm sure the bowling alley stripped out most traces of SupeRx, and in turn the archival place stripped out all the traces of the blowing alley.

     Another look down the front walkway, taken closer to the liquor store.

     Now for a quick look around the former liquor store...

     Sometime between September and January, some of that paneling on the corner of the awning fell off.

     The liquor store entrance.

     The liquor store has since been converted into somebody's office. While the main store has been stripped to the core, the ceiling in here looks to be original to SupeRx.

     The right side of the building.

     With this picture of the tiny, empty parking lot, that pretty much wraps up our look at the old SupeRx Food and Drug of Rockledge. Now let's begin our journey to the next stop, the former (technically never opened) Florida Choice of Rockledge:

      If we go South on Route 1 about 2 miles and then cross the railroad tracks, we'll find ourselves at the old Florida Choice. Let's take a look at it:

Florida Choice #638
224 Barton Boulevard, Rockledge, FL - Barton Commons

     Kroger was already prepared to make their big move from the tiny old SupeRx down the road to this much nicer and larger building. Kroger anticipated that move would occur sometime in late 1988. However, Kroger announced their Florida departure in July 1988, halting construction on this nearly completed building. As I mentioned earlier, this building and the old SupeRx were sold to Gooding's Supermarket, with Gooding's opting to use this building for their new store. While it was Gooding's who put the finishing touches on this building, this building still expresses the Florida Choice design. This store is an exact copy of the former Titusville Florida Choice store seen in Part 1 in just about every way, with the exception of the fancy curved detailing seen over the entryway here. This store lasted as Gooding's until 1997 when they pulled out of Brevard County. Since then, the leftmost third of this building has become a Bealls Outlet, the rightmost third has become a Brevard Health Alliance clinic, but the middle third has sat empty since Gooding's departure in 1997. And unlike the Titusville store, which was boarded up tight, we'll get a peek inside this building to have a small taste of what Florida Choice (well, Gooding's mostly) was like.

    Moving further to the left across the exterior. Behind those small rectangular windows were the old liquor store.

     The leftmost portion of the building, home to the piece of the old Florida Choice that Bealls Outlet took over.

     Like in Titusville, the exterior of the building is so massive, it's difficult to get all of it in one picture. I had to break everything into sections.

     The blue tile trim remains from this building's anticipated days as Florida Choice. Florida Choice's logo was blue, which is probably why they used that color.

     Looking into the entryway. The vestibule is set up exactly like what we saw in Titusville, minus the boards. The doors to the far left go into the old liquor store, while the remaining doors all led into the main store.

     And here begins our look inside to see what this place was all about. This is looking into the former liquor store. The liquor store went deeper into the building than this, however when Bealls Outlet carved out their portion of the building to move into, they took over the back portion of the liquor store too.

     Bealls Outlet's partition wall is in the background. Given the current state of the building and the configuration of this space, the old liquor store will probably be combined into the empty portion of the main store when or if something ever takes that over. 

     The first set of entrance and exit doors into the main store. The far right side of the vestibule would have been a mirror image of this, however the clinic now in that part of the building reconfigured the entryway for their purposes.

     Peeking inside the old left side vestibule. I see Gooding's left one of their signs behind over the door. The sign says "Gooding's - Carry out to your car is our service - No tipping please". Back in the day, Gooding's rivaled (and to some, exceeded) the quality and customer service that Publix offered and is known for today, and was a very nice place to shop. Today, the last remaining Gooding's just outside of Disney World in Orlando is a complete joke, but that's a post for another day.

     So what lies within the open door?...

     ...Our glimpse into what probably is the most well preserved interior remnant from Florida Choice out there. While I'm almost positive the ceiling and flooring are from Florida Choice, the pastel color scheme and decor remnants in the very back are more then likely a Gooding's artifact, as they were the ones to finish this building. I have no idea what kind of interior Kroger would have used in one of these stores, but more than likely it would have been something custom designed for this division and not the Kroger standard Bauhaus or Neon interiors that were used somewhere around the time these stores were built (as can be seen on The Mid-South Retail Blog in those links).

     Remember that squiggly tile pattern from here? The faint outline of that tile was about all we got to see inside the old Titusville Florida Choice. At least we get to see a bit more than that here. It looks to me like the portion of back wall that we can see in this picture was home to the meat department.

     You really can't get a more stereotypical 80's Florida supermarket color scheme than what you see here on the back wall.

     The wall you see to the right divides this unoccupied portion of the building from the clinic.

     Just a few more pictures from outside before moving on. You can see the entrance into the clinic in the background of this picture.

     When Kroger said they wanted to "go big" with Florida Choice, they really meant that both figuratively and literally.

     Almost done here...

     Going all the way to the back of the parking lot, I finally succeeded in getting the entire exterior in one picture. This was definitely one giant grocery store back when this place first opened. So with this I will wrap up our look at the former Rockledge Florida Choice store (that never actually opened). Now let's move on to some Bird's Eye aerial images of these two stores, starting with the old SupeRx Food and Drug:

Front - Due to the shape of the lot, this store got an oddly configured, and rather small parking lot.

Right Side


Left Side

     And now Florida Choice:

Front - The clinic in the rightmost portion of the building had yet to open when these images were taken.

Right Side


Left Side

     And now for some historic aerials courtesy of Google Earth, again, starting with SupeRx:

Former SupeRx Food and Drug - 2014

Former SupeRx Food and Drug - 2007

Former SupeRx Food and Drug - 1999 - This is the building in it's bowling alley days.

Former SupeRx Food and Drug - 1994

     Now it's Florida Choice's turn:

Former Florida Choice - 2014

Former Florida Choice - 2005 - Only the Bealls Outlet portion of the building is occupied at this point.

Former Florida Choice - 1999 - The building is completely empty.

Former Florida Choice - 1994 - And the building when Gooding's was still around.

     And finally, an overview of Barton Commons, the plaza in which the Florida Choice was to open in. The entire plaza opened in late 1988 with anchors Kmart, Bealls Department Store, and Gooding's (after Kroger bailed out before they could finish the Florida Choice). As we saw, the old Florida Choice was split up into three spaces after its life as a grocery store ended. As for the other anchors, the Bealls is still open, and the Kmart closed in the 2003 mass closure wave as they tried to emerge from bankruptcy. The Kmart is still empty 13 years later.

     And to conclude this post, and The Tale of Two Krogers series, here's a look down the front of Barton Commons from the old Kmart (Store #3666). This was one of the ugly late 80's Kmart stores, and was a pretty average store from that era. The parking lot of this building is roped off from the rest of the plaza, and it doesn't look like there are any plans in the works for this space at the moment. It looks like the landlord is just letting it sit. Anyway, I have many more pictures of this old Kmart to post to AFB on flickr at some point (don't ask me when).

     So that concludes our look at SupeRx Food and Drug and Florida Choice for the time being. There's a chance SupeRx or Florida Choice may pop up again on the blog, as there are some other interesting examples of both of those store's former locations out there. But that's the distant future. As for the near future, more Albertsons coming to the blog in two weeks, and in the even nearer future than that, Safeway Florida's official launch is in three days. I have a little something prepared for that event as well, although the official AFB Safeway Florida analysis won't be coming until July...

So until the next time,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger