Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Lion Sleeps Tonight...

Food Lion #1329
3826 S. Clyde Morris Boulevard, Port Orange, FL - Food Lion Plaza

     So what happens when Publix goes on safari? They come back with a Food Lion trophy to hang over their mantle (haha, haha). While Food Lion hunting drove the species to extinction in Florida (along with some other, larger issues), Food Lions are not quite an endangered species yet in some other states. That's good news in case you really want to make the journey to observe a Food Lion in its natural habitat. The continued expansion (or "introduction of invasive species", if we want to keep the ecological theme going!) of Publix and Wegmans into the Carolinas and Virginia may very well put the Food Lion on the endangered supermarkets list if they don't try to better compete with these new invaders, but that's a discussion for another time. Anyway, if you look around Florida close enough, you may still find the decaying skeleton of the once magnificent beast known as the Food Lion lurking around the state, like I happened to find this particular day in Port Orange...

     For a Florida Food Lion store, the Port Orange location was one of the later ones to be built. This Food Lion opened in 1996, just as Food Lion's massive expansion across Florida began to die off. In the decade prior to this store's opening, Food Lion was trying to build stores just about everywhere and anywhere they could find open land in Florida, especially in areas around Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers, and Tallahassee. By the mid-1990s, Food Lion had begun to slow their Florida expansion plans. The Florida Food Lion stores weren't performing up to expectation, and were constantly getting crushed in price and quality from the other long established supermarket chains in Florida. The pressures of the supermarket landscape in Florida in the mid-1990's mixed in with Food Lion's media and financial troubles from the same time period didn't help the situation much. Food Lion attempted to continue expanding into new Florida markets in the mid-1990's, including doomed expansions into South Florida and the Panhandle west of Tallahassee. In 1996, Food Lion's parent company Delhaize purchased Tampa-based Kash n' Karry, a somewhat troubled but well established supermarket chain in Florida (especially in western parts of the state). With Food Lion failing in Florida, Delhaize was hoping to use the Kash n' Karry purchase to boost their struggling Florida presence. Kash n' Karry became the new focus for Delhaize in Florida after the purchase, with the opening of new Florida Food Lions coming to a near halt after the purchase. Of the few new Food Lion stores Delhaize planned to open in the late 1990's throughout Florida, those new stores were instead built as Kash n' Karry locations. In 1999, hoping to salvage most of their Food Lion stores in Florida, Delhaize rebranded the majority of these locations to the Kash n' Karry brand. The exception to that rebranding was a cluster of Food Lion stores in Northeastern and North Central Florida (including the Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, and Gainesville areas), the only pocket of Food Lion stores doing semi-well in Florida due to the lighter competition in these areas.

     Residing just south of Daytona Beach and within the confines of Volusia County, the Port Orange Food Lion managed to escape the Kash n' Karry rebranding of 1999, continuing on into the new millennium as a Food Lion.

     While the Port Orange Food Lion opened in 1996, Food Lion had wanted to open a store in this town since the late 1980's. Food Lion entered Volusia County in the late 1980's after purchasing 5 SupeRx Food and Drug locations in the county from Kroger, including the SupeRx stores located in Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Ormond Beach, Holly Hill, and Orange City (Food Lion Store #s 651-655). There was also a SupeRx Food and Drug store located in Port Orange about three miles away from here (which I briefly mentioned in the previous post). However, Food Lion chose not to purchase that SupeRx location, deciding instead to develop a store on their own in Port Orange immediately after the SupeRx purchase went through. The original plans for the Port Orange Food Lion, designated as store #658, mentioned building a new store on the plot of land directly across the street from where their store would eventually be constructed (the land where the Walmart Neighborhood Market is now). Store #658 had a targeted opening date in 1990, but those plans fell through, also for reasons unknown. Food Lion had a large number of stores they planned to build throughout Florida, but never came to fruition. To see some of these planned locations (as well as a list of all the Food Lions stores that did operate in Florida at one time), you can check out the list I compiled on the AFB Retail Database by clicking here. I realize I haven't added any new lists to that site since it launched in September 2017, but I do have a few more lists in the works to post once I find the time to finish those up (amongst all the other projects I keep coming up with!).

     The Port Orange Food Lion remained at this location until Food Lion officially pulled out of Florida in 2012. By that time, Food Lion only had three locations left in all of Volusia County, down 6 stores from its peak of 9 in the late 1990's. Food Lion was slowly closing stores in Florida during the early and late 2000's as Publix continued to grow, and Delhaize did hardly anything to make Food Lion more competitive in Florida. This Food Lion did receive a remodel in the mid-2000's as we'll see in just a moment, but the renovations were just cosmetic and didn't appear to add any new features or services. I don't know just how widespread Food Lion remodels were in Florida in the 2000's, but I do know that Food Lion had a bit of a remodeling spree in other parts of the Southeast during this time.

     Fighting the sun glare, the above photo shows the far left side of the former Food Lion building. To the left of the Food Lion were two small storefronts, both of which were empty during my visit this store (although the Health Food tenant left their signage up after closing). To the right of the Food Lion building were more small storefronts, which still had a few tenants in them. However, with the small amount of traffic those few tenants brought in, the entire complex still managed to feel pretty dead to me.

     This building's exterior was an exact copy of every Food Lion store built from the mid-1980's until the early 2000's, with the rectangular facade and the double sided vestibule. There are a lot of these buildings still floating around Florida in various shapes of abandonment and repurposement, and it's quite obvious when you see one to know what it was prior.

     Looking through the left side doors, we get this view into the empty vestibule. The carpet you see here was added during the mid-2000's remodel. Speaking of that mid-2000's remodel, we can see part of its signage peeking out into the vestibule in the background of this photo. The front right corner of this building was home to the combined deli/bakery department, and part of the deli sign is peeking out. It turns out this was my best photo of the deli/bakery space, considering its location in the corner behind that dividing wall. However, even though I didn't get a good look at the deli/bakery, I got much better interior shots of the rest of the store.

     Now that we've seen the vestibule, let's jump right in to some photos of the salesfloor. Peeking through the front windows now, I was able to get some nice shots of the abandoned interior of this place. The fact that all of the interior lights were still on helped quite a bit with getting good interior photos. The decor you see here debuted in 2005, and was used in a large number of remodels through the early 2010's. I've seen this interior referred as the "Rutherfordton interior" elsewhere on the internet, a the name being derived from the city in which the first store with this interior opened in. From what I've seen, this interior is fairly appealing in its complete form, as can bee seen in this photo album from a Food Lion store in Virginia. While the department signs themselves were left up on the wall, the complimentary decorative pieces that matched the department signs (such as that linked example) were all removed. In the above photo, we're looking into the left side of the building. The blue walls to the left side of the building designate the old Frozen Foods department, with the beginning of the meat department visible along the back wall. In the foreground we can see scars from where a counter was removed, revealing some of the tile pattern from the decor package that this store opened with (which I believe was this).

     Another view of the left side of the building, this time with scars from the checkstands now visible.

     The meat department lined the store's back wall, with a full service counter located under the "Fresh Seafood" sign visible in the back right portion of the above image.

    The customer service desk is what left behind the rectangular shaped tile scar in the above photo.

     My attempt at a zoomed-in panorama of the store's back wall. At the far right of this image, we can now see the produce department.

     This was the best view I could get into the right side of the store, where the produce department was located. In this particular decor package, the overhead lighting in the produce department was removed and replaced with a large wooden grate with spotlights on it, making that department darker than the rest of the store. If you zoom in on the above photo, you can see the hanging grate is still there, but none of the spotlights are on, making the back right corner of the store appear darker than the rest of the building.

     Now that we made our way to the right side of the building, here's a look through the right side entry doors into the vestibule. From this angle we can see into the front left corner of the store, where the beer and wine was located.

     Opposite the right side entrance was this small cubbyhole for shopping cart storage, something that was not present on the other side of the vestibule. The remainder of this small shopping center is also visible in the background, with that portion of the plaza occupied by a hair salon, a nail salon, two small restaurants, and a book store.

     For these views angled to the left side of the building, the evening sun was not the most cooperative with me! At least the glare wasn't too bad that it messed up the entire photo, and we can at least make out much of the old Food Lion building in its entirety.

     This exterior overview of the former Port Orange Food Lion wraps up our tour of this abandoned supermarket, as viewed from its empty parking lot. To finish off this post we have the usual satellite imagery, begining as usual with some Bird's Eye aerial views, courtesy of Bing Maps:


Right Side


Left Side

     And now some historic aerial imagery, courtesy of Google Earth:

Former Food Lion #1329 - 2017 - The empty Food Lion is to the left side of the image, with the new Walmart Neighborhood Market across the street on the original site that Food Lion wanted to build their store.

Former Food Lion #1329 - 2014

Food Lion #1329 - 2010

Food Lion #1329 - 2006

Food Lion #1329 - 1999

Future Food Lion #1329 - 1995

     To conclude this post, I found a photo of the Food Lion back when it was still in business. I don't know exactly when the above photo was taken, but it probably dates back to the early 2000's prior to the interior remodel. During that remodel, this Food Lion received the brown paint scheme we saw in the prior photos as well as updated exterior signage, while the above image shows the store in its original form with original red signage. I pulled this photo from this website, which has a couple of other photos of this store from the early 2000's as well. As of May 2018, this Food Lion building is still sitting empty, a fate many of these former Food Lion stores suffer from. Unlike some locations Food Lion picked, this store was actually built in a semi-busy area on a major roadway, so this building has a better chance of finding a new tenant than some other former Food Lion stores out there.

     So while the Floridian sub-species of the Food Lion has been hunted to extinction, AFB will serve as the museum to preserve the photos of fossils that will remind us the Food Lion was once able to roam freely around the cities of Florida. However, Publix is the real king of the jungle in Florida, and proved to be too ferocious a hunter for the weak and feeble Food Lion, who became another one of the many dodo birds of Florida's once robust supermarket scene.

Anyway, that's enough dumb metaphors for today. Until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Former Albertsons #4356 - Port Orange, FL

Albertsons #4356 / Super Saver #1527
3803 South Nova Road, Port Orange, FL - Park Place Plaza

     When Albertsons first built this store in the mid-1980's, they were one of three grocery stores to locate in the newly built shopping centers that had popped up at the busy intersection of Dunlawton Avenue and Nova Road. Nova Road was at one time the major strip for retail within the Daytona Beach/Port Orange area. While there are still plenty of stores along this stretch of road today, many newer retail developments on the western edges of town near Interstate 95 have begun to overshadow the older shopping centers along Nova Road. As you drive down Nova Road today, you can find many examples of repurposed discount stores and grocery stores, all of which are interesting in their own way. However, today we will focus on the former Port Orange Albertsons store, which was one of the few Trapezoid model Albertsons stores to be built in Florida in the mid-1980s. The exact year the Port Orange Albertsons store opened was 1983, on May 18th to be exact, as the first of two Albertsons stores to ever operate in the immediate Daytona Beach area (the other being store #4370 in Daytona Beach proper, which opened 5 years after #4356). Albertsons co-anchored the Park Place Plaza with Bealls Department store, which still operates in this location today. As I just mentioned, Albertsons was one of three grocery stores to operate at this same intersection back in the mid-1980's, competing against a Publix and SupeRx Food and Drug all within a few hundred feet of this location (in addition to a Winn-Dixie about half a mile south on Nova Road). SupeRx was the first store to bow out, closing in 1986 when Kroger retired that brand from Florida. SupeRx Food and Drug actually had a small cluster of stores in the Daytona Beach area, totaling 6 locations as well as one western Volusia location in Orange City. Food Lion bought 5 of those 7 Volusia County SupeRx stores in the late 1980's as part of their entrance into the area, although the Port Orange SupeRx store was one of the two stores not included as part of that deal. For the next 19 years, it was just Albertsons and Publix at this intersection. 

     In 2005, Albertsons announced they would be converting their Port Orange store, as well as the nearby Daytona Beach Albertsons store, over to the Super Saver discount supermarket brand. As we all know, Super Saver wasn't given much of a chance to prove itself, as the new owners of Albertsons' Florida division closed just about all of the newly converted Super Saver stores in 2006. After closing as a Super Saver, this building did not sit empty long. By the end of 2007, it had found its new life divided between a Ross Dress for Less store and Walgreens.

     Even with all of the exterior modifications that came with the subdivision, this building still retains the look and shape of a mid-1980's trapezoid model Albertsons store, including the river rock panel walls too!

     Moving over to the Ross half of the building for a close-up of those famous river rock wall panels. Unlike the last Albertsons-to-Ross conversion we looked at on the blog, at least this place has a little bit more to see from this building's days as a supermarket.

     Where those angled windows are now would have originally been home to Albertsons' left side entrance and exit doors, set up just like this. The original concrete ramp leading to Albertsons' front doors is still visible, with the ramp leading to Ross's new main entrance just beyond that. Both Ross Dress for Less and Walgreens relocated their entrances to the front of the building.

     Moving inside Ross, this photo looks across the very front of the store toward Albertsons' old left side entrance. This Ross store had windows across the entire front, which made for a nice, brighter effect inside the store.

     Moving away from the front of the building, this Ross location begins to look like just about every other one of their stores as we go further into the sales floor. Other than the slightly modified front to take into account the shape of the old Albertsons building, there weren't any other apparent clues of Albertsons to be found within this store. The above photo is looking down Ross's right side wall, which divides it from the Walgreens next door. This area would have been the approximate location of Albertsons frozen foods department when they were still in this building.

     The back of the Ross store, looking toward the former location of Albertsons' produce department.

     The above photo doesn't really have to do with anything related to the former Albertsons, but I thought the stock photo in the frame was different. I found this as I was cutting through an aisle in the housewares department, and thought it was interesting to see a stock photo of an old sign frame used! Old sign frames are pretty photogenic, right? Anyway, let's get back on track for the last few photos I took inside this store:

     While Ross has linens and housewares along the store's left side wall, this would have originally been the location of Abertsons bakery and deli. The bakery would have been in the area where I was standing to take this picture, with the deli in the distance. Produce would have been in the floor space to my left.

     Back up front once again, where the outline of the former Albertsons building is much more apparent.

     With this photo completing our look around the Ross half of this former Albertsons, let's head back outside to make our way over to Walgreens...

     This is looking down the front walkway from Ross toward Walgreens, with Walgreens main entrance just ahead (designated by the columns in the distance).

     Like the Ross side of the building, the shape of the former Albertsons building is still very much apparent on the Walgreens side too. What I find interesting about this Walgreens is that it's not a freestanding location. Since the later part of the 1990's, it's been pretty rare to see a suburban Walgreens pop up in something other than a freestanding building (that wasn't opened as part of an acquisition). Walgreens opened this store from scratch, so they must have had a difficult time finding the land for a freestanding building in this area. Unlike older shopping center Walgreens stores, this store was a bit larger and Walgreens was able to add in a drive thru pharmacy here. While in half an old Albertsons, this Walgreens was still in alignment with one of their modern freestanding locations.

    Walgreens also replicated the effect of Albertsons' river rock panels on the columns they added for their new entrance. It's neat to see how during this subdivision, the new modifications were able to embrace the original look of the Albertsons building.

     This Walgreens had a rather odd entryway compared to their typical stores. Through these double doors was a small vestibule with two sets of doors. The door straight ahead when walking through these double doors led into Walgreens' liquor store, while the set of doors angled to the right led into the main store. It was pretty unusual to see a liquor store off of an interior vestibule like that, and I can see some people accidentally walking into the liquor store instead of the main store with this arrangement!

     Besides the unusual entryway set-up, the rest of this store looked like just about every other Walgreens out there. The above photo was taken in the center left of the Walgreens, looking toward the front of the store.

     Along the mirrored wall in the distance would have been Albertsons' meat and seafood counter.

     The cosmetics department is located along the left side wall at the end of this aisle. That is the wall that separates Walgreens' liquor store and some backroom space from next-door Ross Dress for Less.

     The pharmacy counter was in the store's back right corner.

     The right side wall, which is where Albertsons' health and beauty department would have been located. Even now, part of this area still serves its original purpose as home to health and beauty aids, which can be seen further down this aisle beyond the coolers.

     The front right corner of the store, which we are looking at in the above photo, was the approximate area of Albertsons' pharmacy counter. The area that includes the photo counter and back portion of the coolers would have originally been part of Albertsons' liquor store space, which was removed when Walgreens moved in.

     Walgreens' front counter was located in the small dip created by the shape of Albertsons' old vestibule, although I wasn't able to get a good photo of that area. This was the best photo I was able to get of Walgreens' front end. 

     Stepping back outside, we can see how it's still pretty obvious as to where the Albertsons liquor store was located as we look toward the right side of the building.

     This 'wedge' piece that signified the Albertsons liquor store is still in place, even after the rest of the liquor store was sealed off and removed. You can also see where the old liquor store entrance and windows were covered over, as the river rocks are a lighter color where the wall was patched up. Before Walgreens moved in, the Albertsons liquor store would have looked something like this.

     As we being to wrap up this post, here is an overview of all the major stores that reside/have resided at the intersection of Nova Road and Dunlawton Avenue. Of all those logos you see on the map, only Bealls and Publix are still in their original locations (although Publix did rebuild their store on this corner in 2008 in the same spot as their old one). The Kmart closed in 2009, and Wal-Mart relocated further west on Dunlawton to a new Supercenter near Interstate 95 in 1998. The Wal-Mart, Kmart, and SupeRx buildings have all since been divided into spaces for smaller tenants, just like the Albertsons building was.

     With that little bit of extra information out of the way, it's now time for some historic aerial images, courtesy of Bing Maps:


Right Side


Left Side

     And now for some historic satellite imagery, courtesy of Google Earth:

Former Albertsons #4356 - 2017 - Overview of the entire shopping center.

Former Albertsons #4356 - 2010

Former Albertsons #4356 - 2006 - This store still appears to be operating as Super Saver in the above satellite image.

Albertsons #4356 - 2004

Albertsons #4356 - 1995

     So that's all I have to share about Albertsons #4356. Even after finding a new life as a Ross and a Walgreens, this place still retains many of the characteristics from its early days as an Albertsons. The Daytona Beach area is a really fun place to visit as far as old retail and supermarkets are concerned, as there's quite a bit of it to be found here amongst the famous beaches and the speedway! We'll stick around the Daytona Beach area for our next post, where we'll check out a bonus store no too terribly far away from this old Albertsons. Stay tuned for that in two weeks!

Until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger