Sunday, November 6, 2016

Former Albertsons #4341 and #4382 - Stuart, FL

Albertsons #4341/Shopper's World Flea Market/Scotty's Hardware #37
2281 SE Federal Highway (US 1), Stuart, FL - Stuart Centre

***Classic Photo Above Courtesy of William S. All Other Photos taken by AFB***

     The story of Albertsons' two stores in Stuart is a bit of a strange case. While I've been able to figure out much of the backstory on these two stores, there are still many unknowns about Albertsons' time in Stuart (especially with the second store). However, let's begin this post by starting at the beginning:

     In 1980, Albertsons opened their first Stuart store at the southeast corner of US 1 and Monterey Road, one of the busiest intersections in Stuart. The new Albertsons was a part of a new complex called Stuart Centre, which featured Zayre and Luria's as its other anchors. The photo above is a photo of the original Stuart Albertsons (Store #4341) taken sometime in the 80's. Overall it was a typical Skaggs Model store, however due to the size constraints of the lot it was built on, 4341 was on the tiny side, coming in around 50,000 square feet. While 50,000 square feet was pretty large for a grocery store back in the 80's, it was small for Albertsons. Most of Albertsons stores in the early 80's were around 55,000-60,000 square feet. By the late 80's Albertsons began to feel cramped in their tiny store, and they began to show interest in relocating. In 1988, an opportunity came up for Albertsons when Kroger announced they were pulling out of Florida and selling all of their remaining Florida Choice stores. Across the street from 4341 was a Florida Choice store that was now up for sale, which Albertsons snapped right up. Later in 1988, Albertsons moved to the newer and much larger building across the street, leaving tiny old 4341 behind after only 8 years there. I'll pick back up with what happened to Albertsons after the move to the replacement store (Store #4382) in a little bit, but there's still a bit to explain as far as the fate of 4341. The building sat vacant until January 1992, when Albertsons rented the building to a business called Shoppers World, which was a flea market. In August 1992, only after a few months in operation, Shoppers World closed without warning among claims of financial troubles by the owners. After Shoppers World closed, it was revealed that the owners had also stopped paying rent to Albertsons, something that had gone on since April 1992. All of this led to a year long lawsuit between Albertsons and the owners of Shoppers World, which was finally resolved in 1993. After the Shoppers World fiasco was resolved, Albertsons found another tenant for 4341 in 1994: Scotty's Hardware. Scotty's renovated the building by adding a lumber yard to the left side of the building, but otherwise they left it mostly intact from when Albertsons left. Scotty's would remain in this building until the early 2000's, but closed before the rest of the chain in 2005. After Scotty's closed, Albertsons finally sold their old building to the owners of the rest of Stuart Centre, who decided to tear down the old Albertsons building in order to extend the plaza with more small storefronts. So in early 2006, 4341 was demolished.

     Above is a photo of some of the storefronts that currently occupy the site that was once home to the former Albertsons building. As was expected, there isn't a trace of anything left from Albertsons here. Most of the site where the original Albertsons building was located is now the parking lot for these storefronts, with most of the plaza extension being pushed further back on the lot.

     More of the new plaza. The portion of the building where Mattress Firm is located backs up to the original plaza that opened in 1980.

      In this parking lot once stood an Albertsons. Since there wasn't much here to photograph, let's jump into some satellite imagery before jumping across the street to the replacement store:

     This satellite images shows an overview of the entirety of Stuart Centre and the locations of the original anchors. The "J" shaped piece of the plaza in the top left is the new portion of the plaza built over the former Albertsons site in 2006. While we're here, let's take a quick look at the homes of the other former tenants of this plaza:

Luria's #120
2339 SE Federal Highway, Stuart, FL - Stuart Centre

     Luria's opened with the rest of the plaza in 1980, and this location closed sometime in the mid-90's (probably 1996 or 1997-ish) as Luria's began to close most of their locations before going completely out of business in 1997. For those of you who don't know, Luria's was a Miami based catalog showroom chain (of similar format to a Service Merchandise), which (like many of the other catalog stores) focused much of their business on selling jewelry, although they also sold items in a variety of other departments. At their peak in the 1980's, Luria's had over 50 stores throughout Florida. Between the Luria family selling out in the early 90's and the fall in popularity of catalog stores at the same time, it was all downhill for Luria's in the 90's. If you're interested in a more thorough history about Luria's, this website has a pretty good history about them. Anyway, Luria's old space is now a Home Goods, and fairly unrecognizible after the facelift the exterior of the plaza received back in 2006.

Zayre #659/Ames #2659
2377 SE Federal Highway, Stuart, FL - Stuart Centre

***Above image courtesy of Google Maps Streetview***

     I forgot to get my own picture of this portion of the plaza, but this works. The Stuart Zayre store opened in 1980, and became an Ames in 1988 when they bought out Zayre. Like the other Ames stores in Florida, they all closed in 1990 when Ames declared bankruptcy due to their purchase of Zayre to begin with. Ironically enough, Zayre's former sister chain, TJ Maxx, now occupies most of this former Zayre, with Office Depot taking up the rest of the building.

     Now with that quick tour of the rest of the plaza out of the way, let's jump back over to the former Albertsons site for a trip back through time with satellite imagery courtesy of Google Earth:

Former Albertsons #4341 - 2016 - This shows the section of new storefronts built over the former Albertsons site.

Former Albertsons #4341 - Late 2006 - The Albertsons building is now gone, and construction has begun on the new strip of stores and a new parking lot.

Former Albertsons #4341 - Early 2006 - There's the old Albertsons! Like I said earlier, this store was tiny compared to other Albertsons stores from this era. The white rectangle on the left side of the building was an addition added on by Scotty's to house part of their lumber yard.

Former Albertsons #4341 - 2003

Former Albertsons #4341 - 1995 - Here Scotty's was still in business. 

     The map you see above shows the locations of the original Stuart Albertsons (#4341, at the top of the image), and its replacement, store #4382, at the bottom of the image. Not very far of a move at all, just to the plaza at the opposite corner. Let's jump over to the site of store #4382 to see what's happening over there:

Florida Choice #606/Albertsons #4382
2508 SE Federal Highway (US 1), Stuart, FL - Regency Square

     Albertsons relocated from store #4341 across the street to this store in late 1988, after purchasing this building from Kroger when they pulled out of Florida earlier that same year. Originally, this building housed a Kroger Florida Choice store. Florida Choice opened here in 1987, barely lasting a year when Kroger pulled out of the state. When this store first opened as Albertsons, I'm sure they were happy to be here. This store was 5,000 square feet larger than the original Stuart Albertsons, and had a much larger parking lot. Other than that, I don't know many specifics about the store itself. I believe Albertsons kept most of the Florida Choice building and layout intact during their time here, but I can't say for sure. Hardly anything exists online about this place. Also, when Recency Square first opened, all of the stores in the plaza had to have their signs in red (a feature that the plaza's landlords no longer enforce, however some of the old red signs still remain). I've always wondered if Florida Choice and Albertsons had to have their typically blue and white logos in red as well to match the rest of the plaza. Anyway, Albertsons lasted in this location until November 6, 1997. According to Albertsons, they closed this store because the local Stuart trade area was "not being as competitive" and that "the trade area has extended to the west and south; the bulk of the population has shifted." Albertsons said that their new store in Jupiter (Store #4446, located 20 miles to the south of here), which was set to open a few days after this store closed in November 1997, would essentially serve as a replacement for this store (although I don't think the original intent of the new Jupiter store was for it to be a direct replacement of this one - I think Albertsons just used the timing of that store's opening to their advantage as an excuse to close this one). After Albertsons left, this building sat empty until 2000, when the space was split between Stein Mart and a Books-A-Million. The landlord's original plan was to get Staples to rent a portion of the former Albertsons space, but that didn't go through. Currently, Stein Mart is still here, however Books-A-Million closed their store in the late 2000's. Not long after Books-A-Million left, West Marine moved into this space, relocating from a smaller store across the street.

     Like with the original Stuart Albertsons, there really isn't anything from Albertsons left over here either. When the building was subdivided in 2000, the interior was completely gutted and the exterior was completely rebuilt. However, at least the original structure remains over here, which is one thing that didn't happen across the street.

     West Marine takes up the right side of the building, where (if I got the layout right), would have been home to  Florida Choice and Albertsons's bakery and dairy aisles. The original entrance to Florida Choice and Albertsons was in the general area of where West Marine's entrance currently is as well (however the original entrance looked nothing like this). The liquor store would have also been tucked off to the side of the original entrance in the main building. 

     Looking down the front walkway, from the front of West Marine toward Stein Mart. While we're here, we might as well go inside West Marine and Stein Mart to see what the interior of this place looks like now.

     First up is West Marine. For those of you who aren't familiar with West Marine, they are a chain of stores that specializes in selling boat parts and accessories, although they also sell watersports and fishing items, and outdoorsy clothing and shoes.

     This side of the store has gone through two thorough renovations in its life: From Florida Choice/Albertsons to Books-A-Million, and from Books-A-Million to West Marine. With that being the case, and as I suspected, there was not a trace of anything original in here, not even anything from Books-A-Million.

     While the front part of the store was dedicated to the clothing and watersports stuff, the back part of the store with the numbered aisles was dedicated to boat parts and accessories, West Marine's core area.

     More boat parts...

     One last look toward the front of the store before moving next door to Stein Mart...

     Stein Mart takes up the left side of the building, where Florida Choice and Albertsons' produce, pharmacy, and deli departments would have been.

     Heading inside Stein Mart...

     If you're not familiar with Stein Mart, they're a department store chain that sells merchandise of the same type and pricepoint like you would find at a place like JCPenney. Their stores are not as large as a traditional department store, but they still offer the same type of merchandise. This is looking down one of Stein Mart's main aisles after walking into the store. Again, nothing from the grocery store days in here.

     Looking from the back of Stein Mart toward the front of the store.

     The back of the store.

     One last interior photo. I think this was looking into the back right of Stein Mart's space. Somewhere back here was Florida Choice and Albertsons' meat department.

     So that's really all there is as far as the current state of former Albertsons #4382 is concerned. Here's one last photo of the exterior of the former Albertsons.

   At the other end of Regency Square is the plaza's other anchor, the independently run Regency 8 Cinema. This movie theater has been here since the plaza was built in 1987, although originally it was affiliated with Cobb Cinemas.

     The plaza's road sign, with this one being the one that faces Monterey Road.

     Here's an overview of the entirety of Regency Square. The former Florida Choice/Albertsons is the large building at the bottom of the image, and the movie theater is toward the top left. Now for a look at some Google Earth historic aerial images of the Albertsons building:

Former Albertsons #4382 - 2006

Former Albertsons #4382 - 1999 - Here we see the building in its original form. At this time, Albertsons had already closed and Stein Mart and Books-A-Million had yet to move in.

Albertsons #4382 - 1995 - I think this is the clearest image I have of the original look of this building. I don't know the what the exact design of this Florida Choice building was, but I think it looked something close to this design by going off of the building's outline.

     So that's all I've got on the two former Albertsons stores in Stuart. I realize neither of these two former Albertsons stores were all that interesting to look at, but Stuart does have some much more interesting retail hiding around town. For the next feature post, we will stay in Stuart for a look at a Bonus Buy store, a store that may very well be one of the last of its kind. That will be coming up in two weeks, so be sure to come back for that!

So until the next time,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger


  1. I didn't even know there were Florida Choice stores that were built as Florida Choice. Most I assumed were SupeRx Food & Drug stores or A&P Family Mart stores. No one knows what it looked like but it was not a Greenhouse, which I'm disappointing about. An Albertsons Greenhouse would've been the coolest thing ever!

    1. There were quite a few of them, especially in the Orlando and South Florida areas. Kroger opted to not use the Greenhouse design in Florida, choosing the unique Florida Choice design rather than using the designs of the traditional Kroger stores elsewhere. That would have been something to see an Albertsons Greenhouse!

    2. From what I've seen on here, Florida Choice stores built from the ground up had big, boxy fa├žades similar to the wedge stores and the Greenhouse-Wedge hybrid stores. However, the entrance configuration differed from those last two models, and there weren't any interesting features about the glass or roof. SuperX Food and Drug stores were pretty similar to the Sav-On mode

    3. There was that similarity between the Kroger Sav-On and SupeRx stores, but the ground-up Florida Choice stores really weren't like anything else Kroger was building at the time other than some general characteristics. I've also found a number of variations to the ground-up Florida Choice design. The most common design was what you saw at the Titusville and Rockledge stores, but there were others that were nothing like that. It's just difficult to figure out a lot of the details about the Florida Choice stores as they only lasted for two years, and most of their buildings are barely recognizable now.

    4. Florida Choice was very short lived, much like the Carolinas Division in Charlotte. I believe the late 1980s-Early 1990s was when Kroger decided to put its individual divisions in charge of store design. There are wedge stores that date all the way back to 1988, possibly even 1987. Same with the Greenhouse-Wedge mix stores.

      There was another store in Orlando that was similar to the two you shown on your blog. Publix took it over, and it has since been replaced with a new store.

      I'd hazard a guess and say that Florida Choice's decor might be different from the neon grid. I believe that it depends on if Dillon's, King Soopers, and Fry's divisions were running different decor packages.

    5. The Indian Harbour Beach Florida Choice was also identical to the two stores that were featured on the blog, however that store was torn down in 2004 with the rest of the plaza it was in for a new Lowe's Home Improvement. That one you're talking about in Orlando is now an Academy Sports, and it is completely unrecognizable now. Publix left the building mostly in tact, which they also did with the Florida Choice they took over in West Palm Beach that is still open (however the WPB store has a much different design).

      I don't have the slightest idea what Florida Choice's interior looked like. I'd have to guess it was different than anything Kroger was using elsewhere, or at the very least was the neon grid with some kind of special variation.

    6. That first historical photo of #4341 in 1980 is the store photo that gave me a clue what the Panama City store may have looked like when it first opened in 1983. I'm still not sure when Albertsons updated their signage to the current format with the large A-leaf logo placed to the left of the newer artistic (I'll call it that anyway) font. I'm guessing Albertsons updated their store front signage around 1985 with the roll out of Blue and Gray Market, but There's no way of knowing, unless Albertsons corporate responds back to me with a #4355 photo. I actually went ahead and shot them an e-mail. I'll see what happens!

    7. I'm pretty sure 1985-ish is accurate for when the current logo configuration was rolled out, around the same time as the debut of the Superstore model stores and the Blue and Gray interior were introduced. I don't think it happened before that, but I don't know for sure either. The trapezoid stores were based off of the older Skaggs stores, and not much other than a slight exterior entryway modification differentiated the two designs. In case you were wondering, that "artistic" font is called "Introspect" (check your e-mail in a little bit for a present). Hopefully you hear back from Albertsons corporate! That would be very neat if that happened! Be sure to let me know what happens.