Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Celebrating 4 Years of AFB!

     Today marks 4 years since I embarked on this little journey to explore the former Albertsons stores of Florida, in addition to the other supermarkets and supermarket oddities to be found across this crazy but great state in which I call home. Where else but Florida would you find a Publix in a former Food Lion, or a Winn-Dixie in a former Kroger-owned building? Florida is an interesting place for retail history, and we've only scratched the surface of it so far here on AFB. Thanks to all of the long-time followers and new friends to the blog that have joined in the last year. AFB is now 231,000 pageviews strong, a number which keeps growing faster than I ever would have anticipated four years ago today! I have plenty of good stuff lined up for 2018, from the always interesting supermarket reuses, to former Albertsons stores, and maybe even a few surprises from supermarkets past to throw in too. There's always something new (or old!) to find out there...

     The Florida supermarket scene in 2017 hasn't been too terribly turbulent. The biggest thing this year was the expansion of SEG's Harvey's and Fresco y Mas stores throughout more of Florida. Coming up in the new year AFB will take a tour of one of those new Harvey's stores, as I've had some interest come in on what those stores are like. Still no new news out of Albertsons on what their ultimate plans for Safeway in Florida are, so the waiting game there continues. Those three stores all seem to be holding their own a year and a half in. Other than the issues with the flooring at the Altamonte Springs Safeway reported earlier this year (which have since been resolved), the Florida Safeway stores seem to be doing rather well. All three of the locations have hundreds of positive online reviews, and someone told me that the Safeway stores were exceeding sales expectations according to an employee they spoke with in Altamonte Springs. Will 2018 bring us some answers to what's going on with Safeway Florida? We'll just have to wait and see.

     Thank you everyone for another great year on the blog! Next year will be AFB's 5th year online. It really doesn't feel like it's been that long to me since I started! As you keep scrolling down you'll see the usual stats from our AFB year in review, as well as the year's last feature post from an abandoned Albertsons store with a rare for Florida interior! Enjoy the post, and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! New AFB blog posts will resume in January.

So until the next time,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

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The year in review (and some random stats):

Albertsons Stores Covered:

#4303 - Winter Park, FL (Semoran & Aloma)
#4347 - Orlando, FL (S. Semoran)
#4355 - Panama City, FL (The most popular feature post of the year)
#4357 - Vero Beach, FL (Update)
#4359 - Apopka, FL (Semoran)
#4415 - Ocoee, FL
#4423 - Winter Park, FL (Full Sail)
#4425 - Callaway, FL
#4438 - Orlando, FL (Union Park)
#4463 - Orlando, FL (Windermere) (The third most popular post of the year)
#4495 - Orlando, FL (Curry Ford & Dean)
#4498 - Apopka, FL (Rock Springs)

Bonus Buy Stores Featured:

The Last Gooding's - Gooding's of Lake Buena Vista (The second most popular post of the year)
Publix #219 - Lake Placid, FL
Publix #1102 - Fort Pierce, FL (The Pub Lion)
Winn-Dixie #221 / Xtra Super Food Center - West Palm Beach, FL
Winn-Dixie #2325 - Cocoa Beach, FL
Winn-Dixie #2383 / Florida Choice - Winter Park, FL

Safeway Florida Store Count: 3 (No change from 2016)

Additionally, 2017 also marked the launch of the AFB Florida Retail Database. Be sure to check that out too if you haven't!

Former Albertsons #4498 - Apopka, FL (Rock Springs)

Albertsons #4498
1438 Rock Springs Road, Apopka, FL - Rock Springs Plaza

     I promised everyone last time that AFB's final store post of 2017 was going to be a good one, so hopefully this will not disappoint! Considering that this post is of an abandoned Albertsons, it's got to be good, right? But this isn't just any abandoned Albertsons - this was the third to last new Albertsons store to open in Florida in April 2003. And why is that important? Not only was this one of the last new Albertsons stores to be built, but this was one of only a handful of Florida Albertsons stores to get the mid-2000's Santa Fe interior. The Santa Fe interior, which is called Albertsons Marketplace over on Acme Style, was used by Albertsons from roughly 2002/2003-ish through 2007 in both new build and remodeled stores. Considering how few new stores Albertsons built in Florida during that time period, and how few major remodels happened during that time too, this interior was hardly ever seen in Florida. Albertsons #4498 is the very last Albertsons to still have traces of the Santa Fe interior completely in-tact in Florida, which is why this store is pretty special. This store had this interior from the day it opened in 2003 until it closed on June 9, 2012 (the same day the other, much older, Apopka Albertsons (#4359) on the east side of town closed). To this day this store still sits abandoned, and still has the Santa Fe decor completely in-tact inside. Pretty interesting, right?

     In addition to having a rare-for-Florida interior, this store was also one of the few "Early 2000's Modified" Albertsons stores built in Florida. These stores were rather large and had a separate entrance for the pharmacy department, which differentiated them from the more typical early 2000's design store. Albertsons #4495 in Orlando was a mirror image of this Albertsons in Apopka if you'd like a better idea on the details of an Albertsons store from this era.

     This was the longest lasting of the 5 "Modified Early 2000's" model stores that Albertsons built throughout Florida, lasting 9 years. 9 years isn't too terribly long of a life for a grocery store, but not completely bad when you think about it. Some Albertsons Florida stores barely made it 2 years, and the one in Hialeah (#4467) barely made it a few months. There were even some entire chains that couldn't make it 9 years in Florida all together!

     The exterior detailing of this store is essentially an exact copy of what we saw at Albertsons #4471 in Sanford, which opened in 2000. The only major difference in Sanford was that store used brick on the exterior walls and columns, while this store did not use brick.

     It's sad seeing this nice, newer store sitting completely abandoned. The one good thing is this place is being up-kept, and hasn't been let to rot away like many abandoned grocery stores. Being in a still-active (but small) shopping center probably helps with keeping the old Albertsons building in good shape, as even the topiary was still being maintained out front three years after the store closed! A little bit later in this post we'll see the reason why Albertsons isn't in much of a rush to find a new tenant for this space, even though this building is currently on the market for lease (according to the banners on the front of the building).

     The smaller archway you see off in the distance was the pharmacy entrance on the right side of the store. The liquor store is on the left side of the building, and its archway was visible in a few of the previous photos.

     Still a pretty clear "Albertsons Sav-On" labelscar up there on the main arch. However, we've seen plenty of this store's exterior. Let's go under the arch and get closer to the good stuff...

     The entrance and exit into these later "Modified Early 2000's" model stores were a bit odd. Under the main arch was the entrance (in the foreground of this photo), followed by a wall and then the exit (in the background, where the metal guides are visible). The pharmacy entrance also had a similar set-up, just shrunken down a bit more.

     Turning the other direction, the entrance to the liquor store is visible in the distance.

     Albertsons left plenty of their signage hanging in the front windows after they left. Even though the glare won in this photo, you can still make out much of this reusable bag poster hanging next to the main entrance.

     Typical Albertsons store hours signage. The giant "OPEN" lettering is classic Albertsons.

     For our first taste of the interior, here we see the welcome signage hung above the old cart storage area just inside the main entrance, greeting nothing but dust, silence, and some crazy guy looking through the glass now!

      Looking away from the welcome sign into the old cart storage area itself, we see this. Well, this part of the store is still living up to the "storage" part of its name! When the 13 Florida Albertsons stores closed in the Summer of 2012, most of the stores held fixture sales afterword to liquidate the excess equipment. Whatever fixtures didn't sell at those locations ended up here in Apopka, in addition to most of this store's old equipment too. This place is the Albertsons fixture graveyard now. Since that's the case, Albertsons probably isn't in much of a rush to lease this place out, as they'd have to do something with all of this junk if someone really wanted this space. To this day they still keep all of this stuff here, and are still adding to it. The old Albertsons carts from the Altamonte Springs, Largo, and Oakland Park stores were all dumped in here once those locations converted into Safeways, probably along with some other old fixtures from those stores too. I took these photos prior to the Safeway conversions happening, and we'll see a photo from that same perspective in just a moment without all of those carts in the way.

     The opening into the main store begins to appear as we move further to the right...

     After three years, this sign taped to the window finally fell off. As you can see, it directed people to the Altamonte Spring Albertsons (now Safeway) located about 10 miles away from here.

     And there it is, Albertsons' Santa Fe interior in all of its glory! (Well, it's in all of its glory somewhere behind all of the junk, that is!) The main entrance brought shoppers into the store's "grand aisle", where the deli, bakery, and produce were located. The deli was located in the front left corner of this store, with the bakery just beyond that along the left side wall. Produce lied just in front of those two departments, under those hanging black spotlights you can see in the background.

     A quick Google search turned up this lone photo of store #4498's interior from when it was open. This photo was posted by "Jayne" to the Yelp page for this store in 2011. This photo was taken from just inside the main entrance, looking toward the left side wall. A little bit of the Floral department is visible here, as well as part of the deli signage.

     However, we now turn our attention to the current abandoned state this store lies in. In this photo, we can better see the bakery and seafood department signage (which is a bit clearer if you zoom in on this photo). The produce department is now filled with lots of old coolers and other equipment from the service departments at the other Albertsons stores closed in 2012. Some of this stuff is probably from this store too, but there's no way all of it was.

     The Seafood signage is a bit clearer here, but the tall cooler blocks the "Meats" part of the sign.

     Even in 2003, wood paneling was still in style at Albertsons! The bulletin board you see above the wet floor cone would have been where the weekly ad was hung for shoppers to view.

     Looking back toward the entryway from the store's main exit.

     This sign still managed to hang on three years later...

     Looking through the glass of the exit door this time, we elevator? I never realized these Modified Early 2000's model Albertsons stores had a second floor until I saw this. I assume the second floor was home to the manager's offices, the break room, and some storage. Even in other supermarkets with a private second floor, I don't recall seeing an elevator in such plain view like this before.

     A straight-on view of the tiny elevator.

     This door was located next to the elevator, so this was probably the equipment room for it.

     Enough about that elevator, let's continue down the long row of windows that span the front of this store for an interior tour...

     While frozen foods were located in the center of the store, the frozen foods department was not as large as all of these rows of coolers seem to suggest! Most of these coolers were dragged over here from other stores, and lined up where the grocery shelving once was.

     Along the back wall we can see the "Quality Meats" sign that was placed over the meat coolers.

     Scars from the register stands can be seen in the foreground.

     Freezers, freezers, and more freezers!

      Did I mention there were a lot of freezers and other types of coolers in here? The one bad thing about all of this junk is that it blocks a lot of the decor that was left behind on the back walls.

    Look at that - an old Albertsons cart!

     And yes, more freezers. I don't know what Albertsons plans to do with these freezers or any of the other junk they left in here, but I guess if any of the three Safeway stores need extra equipment, they could always pull something out of here.

     According to the paper taped to this particular cooler, this cooler was originally at store #4346 (Venice), before being sent to store #4436 (Valrico). After #4436 closed in 2012, this cooler found its way here to #4498 for no reason other than to collect dust.

     If you zoom in on this photo, to the left side you can see some of the square decorations on the back wall.

     Finally, we find the end of the many rows of freezers! Getting further toward the right side of the store, we can see the (grainy) "Fresh Dairy" sign in the background of this picture (above the random rows of stuff that takes up the remainder of the former sales floor).

     Getting near the end of the row of windows, part of the former video rental department becomes visible (including the bottom of its sign).

     The video rental box takes up the space between the pharmacy side exit and entrance doors.

     My attempt at a closeup of the wall decorations in the back of the store. These decorations look like this close-up, and the patterns changed based on which department they were in.

     Now that we've found the pharmacy side exit, we've completed our look through that long row of windows.

     Here's a look back at those windows we just took a peek through. I like how Albertsons was generous with the windows at these newer stores of theirs. Windows are something many newer stores seem to lack.

     For the last little bit of our interior tour of the main store, we'll take a look through the few windows that surround the pharmacy side entrance...

     As far as getting any more good glimpses into the main store, this was about it from the pharmacy entrance. Part of the old pharmacy counter is visible to the right through the opening. From the looks of it, some kind of machinery is being stored on the racks in this part of the store, but it's hard to tell exactly what is on those racks due to the photo's graininess.

     This small cart storage area was also included with the side entrance...

     ...and was complete with another "Welcome to your Neighborhood Albertsons" sign.

     This emergency exit door marks the end of the right side of this building. Beyond here is a small strip of stores, which still seemed surprisingly full even with the Albertsons being gone for three years at this point. The strip to the left side of the building also seemed decently busy too, at least when I took these photos two years ago.

     Looking back at what we just covered. The pharmacy entrance is to my left, with the main entrance way down there in the distance.

     As seen in the exterior photos earlier in this post, the pharmacy entrance also had its own archway. The labelscar above the arch once said (as if you couldn't already guess it) "Pharmacy".

     And once again we find ourselves back at the main entrance. There's only one thing left to cover here...

     ...and that would be the old Albertsons liquor store. So let us do as the sign says and visit the liquor store next door...

     This view from the main entrance to the former liquor store would have once been lined with vending machines, as all of those outlets on the wall seem to suggest.

     The liquor store still has a rather clear labelscar up on the arch.

     The hours for Mon.-Thurs. and Fri.-Sat. also need to be changed to "Closed" as well now!

     The Santa Fe liquor store decor really isn't too terribly different from from the liquor store decor used alongside the Grocery Palace interior, other than some minor changes to the color scheme.

    Most of the stuff left in here seems to be from when the liquor store's coolers were removed. However, if Albertsons runs out of storage space in the main store next door, they could always begin putting their stuff in here too!

     One last look down the front walkway, this time from the liquor store toward the main entrance.

     Before jumping into the satellite imagery, here are a few more of the many exterior photos I took of this Albertsons store to wrap things up...

     The road sign facing Rock Springs Road. The top panel that says "Beef O' Brady's" now is the panel that once held Albertsons' logo, as can be seen here.

     And now is the time for some satellite imagery. First up, as usual, are some Bird's Eye aerial images, courtesy of Bing Maps:


Right Side


Left Side

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

Former Albertsons #4498 - 2017

Albertsons #4498 - 2010

Albertsons #4498 - 2005

Future Albertsons #4498 - 2002 - It looks like site prep had just begun for the new Albertsons in this image.

Future Albertsons #4498 - 1999 - Nothing on the corner yet.

     Once again, thanks to Yelp, here's another photo of Albertsons #4498 from when it was still open. Someone named "Janene" posted this photo in 2010 of the main entrance. Other than the presence of the Albertsons logo and the lights in the building being on, not much has changed here since this photo was taken.

     And in addition to that Yelp photo, here's an outdated photo from the Orange County property appraiser of this store from April 2006. This photo provides a nice overview of the entire storefront, from the liquor store all the way to the pharmacy.

     What the future has in store for Albertsons #4498, I really don't know. For now, Albertsons seems rather content with using this place as their own private storage facility. There's already a Publix on this corner, so Walmart would be the only other grocery store who would want this place. There was an article published not long after this store closed that falsely reported this store and the other Apopka Albertsons (#4359) were going to become Walmart Neighborhood Market locations, but that obviously never happened. There's also the very slim chance this place could reopen as a Safeway, but that's probably more wishful thinking than anything at this point. Since this store isn't located in any real retail strip, finding a new tenant is probably difficult, so it's probably safe to say that Albertsons' junk will have a good home in this store for the foreseeable future.

     And with that, we conclude the year 2017 here one AFB! I hope everyone enjoyed what 2017 has brought to the blog, and I have plenty more to bring to everyone in 2018! Posting on the blog will resume on January 7, 2018. Hope to see everyone then!

Until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger