Saturday, June 3, 2017

Summer Break

     Of course, with Summer now beginning, that means its time for the usual AFB summer break. The blog will be on break from now through early August, with posting to resume on August 13, 2017. During my break, please don't be offended if it takes me an unusually long period of time to reply to any comments or e-mails I may receive until my return to blogging. Once posting resumes on August 13th, feature posts will resume back to the normal schedule of every other Sunday through the beginning of December. Thanks everyone for your patience and see everybody in August! Have a great summer!

PS - If you haven't seen it yet, please check out the post on Albertsons #4347 below!


Friday, June 2, 2017

Former Albertsons #4347 - Orlando, FL (S. Semoran)

Albertsons #4347/Sedano's #39
5660 Curry Ford Road, Orlando, FL

     **This Sunday's feature post has been pushed up to publish today due to some back end schedule reconfigurations. With that being said, here it is:

     Earlier this year, we took a look at the newer of the two Albertsons stores that were built along Curry Ford Road in Eastern Orlando. That newer store was store #4495, and was part of the last batch of new Albertsons stores to be built in Florida. Moving five miles westward along Curry Ford Road we find ourselves at the other Albertsons built along this road, the much older store #4347. Store #4347 predates store #4495 by 22 years, with this store's grand opening occurring in late 1981. This was the very first Albertsons "Trapezoid Model" store to open in Florida, the first major change in store design that Albertsons brought to Florida since their debut in 1974. Up until this point, all of the existing Florida Albertsons stores were still constructed using the Skaggs-Albertsons era store design, even though that partnership had dissolved 4 years prior. The "Trapezoid Model" Albertsons stores were very much based off of the layout of those old Skaggs era stores and included a very similar interior floorplan, but there were a few changes made. The "Trapezoid Model" stores included a reconfigured entryway (which, when viewed from the air, is shaped like a trapezoid, hence the name I gave it), and also eliminated the side entrance/exit that the older Skaggs era stores had. Also, the attached liquor stores were brought to the front of the building, rather than being tucked into the side of the building like on the Skaggs era design. But like I said before, other than that, the interior floorplan was pretty much the same as the prior generation stores. Honestly, it wasn't until the mid-90's when Albertsons began to switch around their longtime interior floorplan in their stores, as even the late 80's/early 90's Superstore Model Albertsons still had similar floorplans to the Skaggs era stores. Anyway, store #4347 was built at the very busy intersection of Curry Ford Road and South Semoran Boulevard. South Semoran Boulevard is a major road in Orlando that connects Orlando International Airport with the city's eastern and northern suburbs. Along South Semoran Boulevard are many stores and shopping centers, most of which were built during the 70's and 80's (although some newer retail centers have been built along South Semoran right outside of the airport). This Albertsons was built practically on top of a Woolco store and (what was at the time) an A&P located directly behind it, however I'll go into much more detail about the neighbors later in this post.

     Even with the new store design that Albertsons rolled out in the early 80's, these "Trapezoid Model" Albertsons stores still continued to use their funky 70's Stripes interior for these stores. That interior is what this store opened with in 1981. This store was remodeled in 2002 to the Industrial Circus interior, however I'm unsure of any remodeling that may have happened between when this store opened and 2002. I'm assuming it was remodeled to Blue and Gray Market at some point in the early 90's, as I can't imagine the original interior from 1981 sticking around until 2002 in here. UPDATE 6/2/17 - A commentor confirmed this store was remodeled to Blue and Gray Market around 1992/1993. Also part of the 2002 interior remodel, that brown stucco portion with the grid pattern on it was added to the exterior, but that was the extent of the exterior modifications Albertsons made here during their tenure in this building.

    In late 2009, this Albertsons location was included as one of the three Central Florida Albertsons stores to be sold to Miami-based Sedano's as part of their expansion into Central Florida. The other two locations Albertsons sold in that deal were Store #4410 in Kissimmee and Store #4462 in South Orlando. By early 2010, this store reopened as Sedano's after some light remodeling. Rather than Sedano's leaving everything from Albertsons behind like what happened at Store #4462, this store received the treatment that store #4410 got - a simple decor swap, but with plenty of traces of Albertsons left behind as we will soon see.

     Sedano's repainted the exterior of this store when they took it over. When Albertsons was here, the area where Sedano's sign is now was the lighter beige color of the other exterior walls, and the rest of the "trapezoid" was the current darker color of the area behind Sedano's sign. Sedano's also painted over Albertsons' river rock walls, were were left exposed until Sedano's opened here.

     Looking toward the pharmacy side entrance from the front of the liquor store. This store's pharmacy is run by an independent operator, as Sedano's does not run pharmacies of their own. All of the other Orlando area Sedano's leased out their old Albertsons pharmacies to independents to run, however this store's pharmacy was the only one that didn't end up closing shortly after Sedano's opened.

     A closeup of the painted over river rock walls. With how uneven the river rocks are and the large gaps and crevasses between them, it doesn't seem like an easy task painting these walls.

     If you look closely behind the word "SEDANOS" on this sign, you can see the marks from where the word "ALBERTSONS" was scraped off.

     The "OPEN" lettering in the window and the store hours below that are also original from Albertsons, another one of their classic traits.

     So let's head inside and take a look at what lies within...

     While that last photo was of the left side entrance, we're actually going to start this interior tour as if we walked in through the right side entrance. This is the sight immediately after walking through the right side entryway. Customer service is just out of frame to my left (where those black ribbons are), and the pharmacy counter is straight ahead in the front left corner. To my right was some kind of new stand that was being built in the space that was once home to Albertsons' floral island. As we've seen in the past, Sedano's (as well as other Hispanic-oriented markets) rent out their extra space to independent owners of various small businesses.

     An interior view of the right side entrance. To the left in this photo, we can see where the edge of where the deli counter once was.

     Turning the corner for a look at the former deli space, which Sedano's had converted into a cafe. The cafe at this store was much smaller than the in-store cafe's at the South Orlando and Kissimmee Sedanos, as this store seemed much more crunched for space. We can also see some of this store's Industrial Circus decor remnants, which include the tile backsplash in the former deli-now-cafe and in the former bakery in the background, which is now home to Sedano's small deli counter.

     Another look into the small cafe at this store. In addition to the tile backsplash, those spotlights shining down on the random food photos are also left over from the Industrial Circus decor. However, that link shows you what these spotlights shined on in the more deluxe version of this decor. In this photo of the empty Longwood Albertsons (#4353), you can have a more accurate (but less clear) look at the green platform thing these remodeled Florida stores got for the spotlights to shine on. The spotlights were probably too much of a pain for Sedano's to remove, but they made good use of them throughout the store by adding the photos underneath.

     Just beyond the former bakery-now-deli space (which I appear to have not gotten a good photo of) we find the produce department.

     In addition to the "Fruits & Vegetables" wall sign, the produce department also got that homemade "PRODUCE" hanging sign and the hanging triangle with photos of vegetables on it. You can also see Albertsons' old deli and bakery in the background of this photo.

     Toward the back of the produce department were the bags of bulk rice, behind which we can see some of the famous Albertsons wood paneling.

     Turning the corner for a look into the back wall of the store...

     A few of the grocery aisles...

     Above the "Fresh Meats" we can see the windows from the upstairs offices which look over the main store.

    Behind the meat cases you can see more wood paneling. As I've mentioned in the past, Albertsons loved that stuff.

     The frozen foods department is located in the center of the store. From the looks of it, the coolers are probably original to Albertsons, if not original to when Albertsons opened this store in 1981 (they looked pretty old).

     Unlike the small goof at the Kissimmee Sedano's, "Gluten Free" was spelled correctly on the aisle markers at this store.

     The Sedano's meat counter was insanely busy when I was here, almost reminiscent to what I remember from the meat counter at my old local Albertsons. There are a lot of original Albertsons elements in this photo. In addition to the tile backsplash and the spotlights mentioned earlier, that wood-like trim above the counter is also a remnant from the Industrial Circus interior. A bit grainy, but this photo from the Longwood store shows what this counter would have looked very similar to when Albertsons was here.

     Prepackaged lunch meats were to the right of the meat and seafood counter.

     My attempt at a straight on view of the meat and seafood counter, but the crowd blocks much of the view.

     A closeup of some of the Industrial Circus wall detailing.

     Photos of a few more grocery aisles, this time from the left side of the store...

     At some point, Albertsons pushed this store's dairy department into an alcove in the back left corner of the store. From what I understand, I think this spot would have been home to additional backroom space when this store first opened.

    An overview of the dairy alcove. While dairy coolers line the walls of the alcove, the floor space in here was dedicated to pallets of special deals.

     A closeup of some of the coolers built into the wall.

     This is looking up this store's last aisle, aisle 13, with the dairy alcove immediately to my right. Overflow coolers from the dairy alcove line the right side of this aisle, with beer and wine taking up the rest of the space here.

     The view down the center aisle, as seen from aisle 13 on the far left side of the store.

     As I mentioned earlier, an independent operator (called Rx Care Pharmacy) now runs the pharmacy in this store. From what I can tell, this pharmacy is still open as of June 2017, the only Sedano's in the Orlando area to still have someone running the former Albertsons pharmacy.

     A crummy image of the other side of the pharmacy counter and the left side entrance. However, that's about it from the interior of this store, let's step outside for a quick look at the attached liquor store:

     Like most trapezoid model stores, the attached liquor store was built into one of the building's front corners, with that corner being the left side at this store. While the 'Liquor' sign itself matches the rest of Sedano's exterior signage, the liquor store is not run by Sedano's. Currently, the old Albertsons liquor store is home to Bully's Liquors, and they kept all of the original Industrial Circus liquor store decor in there. Some interior photos of the liquor store can be seen at the provided link.

    Corner view of the liquor store.

     And lastly, a look at the old Albertsons road sign, this being the one that faces Curry Ford Road. The sides of the sign frame are still the original Albertsons blue color.

     Now, time for satellite imagery. First, some Bird's Eye views of this store, courtesy of Bing Maps:

Front - These Images were taken when Albertsons was still here

Right Side


Left Side

     And now for some historic aerial images, courtesy of Google Earth and

Former Albertsons #4347 - 2016

Albertsons #4347 - 2008

Albertsons #4347 - 2002

Albertsons #4347 - 1999

Albertsons #4347 - 1994

Future Albertsons #4347 - 1980 - Not much longer after this image was taken, construction on a new Albertsons would begin here.

     As I mentioned earlier, this Albertsons store was built next to an existing Woolco and Pantry Pride store. The map above show the layout of all of the major stores that were built on this corner. Even though the S. Semoran Woolco closed with the rest of the US Woolco locations in 1983, the small access road that connects Curry Ford Road to the old Woolco building is still officially named "Woolco Way", as can be seen in the image. There aren't any signs for Woolco Way if you go to visit this site in person (I checked - I wanted to get a picture of a sign), however the addresses for all of the stores in that strip plaza to the left of the Albertsons building all have Woolco Way addresses. Now that we've finished our tour of the former S. Semoran Albertsons, let's take a quick look at the neighbors, starting with that former Woolco store:

1900 S. Semoran Boulevard, Orlando, FL - Woolco Center (now Century Plaza Shopping Center)

     This store opened as a Woolco on March 14, 1973 as one of two Woolco stores to open in the Orlando area that day (the other one being the Butler Plaza location in Casselberry, located at 1403 E. State Route 436). March 14, 1973 marked Woolco's entrance into Central Florida, after Woolco had already established a presence in other parts of the state (such as Jacksonville and South Florida). Central Florida would later gain a third Woolco store at 904 Lee Road in northern Orlando later in 1973. Those three locations were the only Woolco stores to operate in Central Florida, all of which lasted until the chain's demise in the United States in 1983. After Woolco closed, their S. Semoran location was subdivided into smaller spaces, and over the years those spaces included tenants such as Handy City, Petland, World Gym, Office Max, and White Rose Nursery (which may or may not have actually opened in this building, but I did find plans showing that White Rose was planning to open a location here). Currently, the tenants occupying the old Woolco building are as follows (in order from the left side of the building to the right side): Aldi, dd's Discounts, Shoe Land, and Ross Dress for Less.

A&P / Pantry Pride #723 / Big Lots #524
1880 S. Semoran Boulevard, Orlando, FL - Woolco Center (now Century Plaza Shopping Center)

     This A&P opened in 1973 around the same time that the next door Woolco opened. A&P closed this store sometime around 1981/1982 or so as they pulled the namesake A&P brand out of Florida in favor of their new Family Mart format of the time. A&P sold this store to Pantry Pride when they closed, and Pantry Pride relocated here from their former location at 133 S. Semoran Boulevard (Store #743), a mile and a half to the north. I don't know the exact year this closed as a Pantry Pride, but it had to be by the mid-80's, when they chain retracted to South Florida for their final years in operation. I'm sure the big new Albertsons right in front of this store didn't help Pantry Pride's business any either. This building sat empty until 1995 or so, when Big Lots opened in this space.

     Here's a quick photo from inside of the Big Lots. The only clues to this building's previous life as a supermarket are the mismatched brown and white tiles throughout the store. If you want a more detailed look at this Big Lots, I have an entire series of photos from this store which you can view on my flickr photostream by clicking here and scrolling right.

A&P / Winn-Dixie #2288
2960 Curry Ford Road, Orlando, FL - Crystal Lake Plaza

     While on the topic of A&P, I'd just like to quickly mention this other nearby former A&P store. This former A&P is located 2 miles to the west of Albertsons #4347 and the former A&P/Woolco building. This building was constructed in 1963 as a Centennial design A&P store, a design which was relatively rare in Florida. Most Florida A&P locations built during the years the Centennial design was used were built suing their more "modern" design. I don't know if the A&P next to the Woolco would later replace this store of if they both coexisted for a time, but I do know this store was gone by the time the 80's rolled around. Winn-Dixie has been in this space for a very long time now, probably opening in here not long after the A&P closed. While Winn-Dixie did expand and modify the building to fit their needs, they did preserve some of the old Centennial A&P roofline, which is more apparent in the inset photo at the bottom right of the above image. For a more detailed look at this store, I have an album of photos from this place that can be viewed on my flickr photostream. Even with the small addition Winn-Dixie added onto this building, this is still the tiniest Winn-Dixie I have ever been to, and probably one of the smallest Winn-Dixies out there in general.

Kmart #4390
1801 S. Semoran Boulevard, Orlando, FL

     Finally, the last of the major retail neighbors to former Albertsons #4347 was this Kmart. This Kmart was built in 1971, and was a typical early 70's Kmart. This Kmart lasted until 2011, when Kmart's 40 year lease on this building expired, and they announced they were not going to renew it. Ever since then this place has been sitting abandoned, although it was gutted in late 2015 to prep the building to be divided into smaller stores. However, the current owners of the building don't want to do the subdivisions and remodeling, and instead are trying to sell this building with the conceptual plan they had drawn up for someone else to carry out. So because of that, this building still looks like this today (minus the part of the roofline where the Kmart logo once was - that looks to have been removed at the same time they were working on gutting out the building).

     There's just something about this building that made this a very depressing visit. I've visited many abandoned stores in the past, but there was just something about this place that made it seem unusually sad. Anyway, for more photos of this former Kmart, I have yet another flickr album full of photos from this store. For some photos of this store when it was still open, this webpage has a bunch of them.

     So that's about it for the South Semoran Albertsons (and its many neighbors). To wrap up this post, here's an old photo of this store from the Orange County Property Appraiser, showing what it looked like in July 2006 as an Albertsons:

     For some reason, Sedano's decided to flip the color scheme, but otherwise, the building is still looking the same today.

So that's all I have to say right now. Until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger