Sunday, September 9, 2018

A Sendoff For Safeway Florida

     With August 24, 2018 marking the end of Safeway's brief tenure in Florida, as well as Albertsons' 44 year long Florida run, I feel we should mark the occasion with some pictures of the three Florida Safeway stores. This post is a compilation of various photos taken throughout the closing process of the three stores, most of which were submitted by fans of AFB or posted on some of my contributor's flickr pages. We've discussed the end of Safeway and Albertsons in Florida a lot on the blog over the last few weeks, so I'll try not to go into too much detail about that again. We'll use this post to remember what was and what Safeway could have been. Without any further blabbering by the blogger, let's jump into some pictures, starting off with the Altamonte Springs Safeway:

Safeway #3304, 503 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs, FL:

     This first set of photos, taken about a week prior to the store's closure, are courtesy of AFB contributor Reviewer Jay:

     Getting down to the end, merchandise in the store was marked down 20-80% off. However, most food items were only hovering around the 20% discount. Greeting cards were the only item marked to 80% off, but even then, I'm sure there there were a bunch of those left over as the store neared the very end. Nobody ever seems to want greeting cards during a store closure.

     The deli counter, looking pretty bare. According to Reviewer Jay, any remaining deli meats left at this point were marked to $4 per pound, regardless of what the item was to clear out the remaining product.

     No soup (or salad) for you! The soup, salad, and hot foods bar was empty, as their last day was around Monday, August 13th.

     Nearing the final week in operation, empty cases were a common theme here.

     One unusual thing with these Safeway liquidations (at least here in Altamonte Springs) was the store was selling off all of their bulk bakery and deli ingredients to get rid of them, such as these industrial sized buckets of cake frosting. I guess with no stores around to transfer this stuff too, selling it off was the only option.

     However, if a bucket of frosting was a bit much for your home kitchen, Safeway was also selling off individual portions of their bakery ingredients, like the packages of frosting seen here.

     In addition to bulk frosting, there were also bulk bagel toppings for sale too.

     The produce department was rather wiped out by this point.

     Moving on to the grocery aisles, where there seemed to be a decent amount left to choose from in most parts of the store.

     However, some other aisles were looking a bit barren.

     For $5 per box, Safeway was selling off cases of their shelf labels and tags, another item I've never seen for sale at a supermarket liquidation before. Reviewer Jay thought this was a bit odd too, as it would be pretty hard to find a person who would want these. The decision to sell these labels was also probably due to the fact there were no other Albertsons/Safeway stores in the area to send them too. Hopefully there's a small business out there who could find some use for some Safeway tags, or else these all ended up in the dumpster...

     Frozen foods were nearly wiped out.

    More emptiness, scattered randomly amongst aisles that still had some product left.

     Even two years after the Safeway conversion, this Albertsons cart was still floating around the Altamonte Springs store. Reviewer Jay was happy to find this, and used this cart for his shopping trip too.

     These next photos of the Altamonte Springs Safeway were taken after the store's closure, courtesy of YonWooRetail2's flickr photostream:

Safewayless in Florida

     These photos of the Altamonte Springs Safeway were taken about a week after the closure. When Ian was here, a clean-out crew was in the building doing something.

Safeway no more! Altamonte Springs, FL.

     Certainly a sad time in Altamonte Springs...

Former Safeway #3304/Albertsons #4304 - Altamonte Springs, FL.

      With this photo of the empty Altamonte Springs Safeway Liquor store, we've concluded our photos from this store. Now, onto Largo...

Safeway #4402, 10500 Ulmerton Road, Largo, FL:

     This set of photos from the former Largo Safeway was sent in by AFB contributor Ross T. These photos depict the store on its second to last night in operation, showing a sad but interesting perspective:

     At the Largo Safeway, the deli, produce, and the bakery were all on the right side of the building, similar to the Altamonte store. With only one full day left in operation, all of these fresh departments had been roped off, as they were now completely devoid of product.

     Since there wasn't any room for a produce sign to be hung on the wall, Safeway got creative and hung the sign over the produce coolers. You can see the sign behind that cart of banana boxes.

     More of the empty fresh departments. Originally the deli in this store was in an island off to the left of here. The island was removed during the Safeway conversion, and the deli was moved to the front corner of the building. You can tell by the gap in the lighting where the island was removed.

     Looking across the front end, with the closed juice bar immediately to the right.

     I believe this was one of the only aisles to have any product left in it as the Largo Safeway neared its end. I think whatever was left was just consolidated onto these shelves, with most of the other aisles already emptied out and in some cases, completely removed already.

     At the very front of the store was more random merchandise, marked to 50% off to get rid of it. These shelves look to contain mostly pasta, sauce, and energy drinks, with some random bakery bulk ingredients on the racks to the right.

     Frozen foods, located in the center of the store, is completely empty.

     All of the aisles in this part of the store (which looks to be the back right) have been removed. It's weird to see the aisle signs still hanging over an empty section of sales floor!

     More emptiness.

    This store was so big, it's health and beauty department went all the way up to aisle F! (For comparison, Altamonte's HBA section only went up to aisle C). Currently the largest Publix store in operation is Publix #1326 in Bradenton, which is the old Jewel-Ocso/Albertsons on Cortez Road, coming in at over 80,000 square feet! That's a huge store for a chain whose largest prototype is 61,000 square feet, and has an average store size of under 50,000 square feet. Actually, the top three largest Publix stores are all former Jewel-Osco buildings, and the top five largest are comprised entirely of former Albertsons stores. At over 70,000 square feet, this former Safeway will definitely make the top 5 list of largest Publix stores in the chain. If you're interested in learning more about the largest Publix stores, you can read an interesting discussion about there here.

     'Thank you for shopping at your Largo Safeway' is what we see as we complete this short tour of the store as it neared its end. In addition to the photos you just saw, duckman66 on flickr has a particularly interesting set of photos from this store taken a few days after its closure. You can view that photoset by clicking here and then scrolling to the right.

Safeway #4319, 950 E. Commercial Boulevard, Oakland Park, FL:

     As has been the case here on AFB, I got no photos into the inbox from Oakland Park (I will make it down there one of these days and make it up to everyone though!). Since I felt it wouldn't be right to put this post up without representing the Oakland Park Safeway in some way, I've compiled a few Google Streetview and Google Review images below to document this store as it begins its transition into a new Publix:

     The Oakland Park Safeway was essentially an exact copy of the Altamonte Springs store. They were the same 1970's Skaggs-Albertsons building design, and they were both remodeled by Albertsons extensively around the turn of the 21st century.

     Here's a close-up of the front of the building. The Altamonte Springs store had a bit more of a covered walkway than Oakland Park, but other than that the exteriors were practically the same.

     All of these Google Review photos were taken prior to the liquidations, so everything in these photos will look much more normal and less depressing than the photos you've seen thus far. Pictured here is the front end of the Oakland Park Safeway, looking toward floral and the deli if you look past the registers. To the right is Starbucks and the store's seating area, called The Floranada Cafe, with Floranada being a reference to Oakland Park's original name that hasn't been used since the late 1920's. It's always intrigued me how deep Safeway dug to come up with the names for these seating areas. Altamonte Spring's "The Roost" was just a reference to a nearby park, but Largo's "Citrus City Cafe" was also a reference to a historical name for the area that had long since disappeared from usage.

     Here we can see the bakery, produce, and wine and beer, all located along the store's right side wall.

    The front left corner of the store was the home to the pharmacy counter and health and beauty, the front end visible in the distance.

     And lastly, a random center store shot, showing some of the custom aisle markers with the local street names on them. If you want to see some more photos of this store, you can do so by clicking here to scroll through the Google Review photos.

     While the facts point out that Safeway didn't stand much of a chance in Florida, they still will be missed. There are a lot of people online, outside of this blog, who have posted comments and reviews stating how much they're going to miss the three Florida Safeway stores. These stores were different. They were clean, carried some different products you don't see all the time in Florida, and really got themselves a following. I've heard mixed reviews on center store pricing, however Safeway's sales and their reasonably priced fresh departments seemed to make up for any pricing issues elsewhere in the store. Whether Safeway was just a ploy to clean up these old Albertsons stores to make them desirable to sell off, a stunt to hopefully take advantage of SEG's financial downfall that never truly materialized (yet anyway), or a serious attempt for the company to re-image themselves in Florida, one thing is for certain - the stores worked. Even with distribution issues and some corporate uncertainty, these three Safeway stores had strong sales and proved that Floridians can accept a newcomer to the land of many Publix stores with the right formula. Just read the reviews - people overwhelmingly liked these Safeway stores. They had a strong following, all the way up to the end. There are lots of people out there who want to see another traditional grocery chain come to Florida and give Publix a  serious run for their money. Will that ever happen again? Who knows, but I'd like to not give up hope just yet.

     So with that being said, we can now bid our final farewells to Safeway Florida, another blip on the list of supermarket chains that tried but failed in the Sunshine State over the years. From what I've heard per duckman66, these Safeway stores will reopen as Publix in November 2018 after some minor preparations to get them ready for the busy holiday season. After the holiday season, Publix will do full remodels of these stores to bring them up to Publix standards, with those remodels beginning in early 2019. It will be interesting to see what happens to these stores in the coming months, and what these remodels will involve. As always, coverage will continue here on the blog as these Safeway stores transition into Publix. Speaking of buildings transitioning into a Publix, that's actually what I have coming up for you in two weeks when we get back into our regular store posts. Sure, there are plenty of Publix-sons out there (with three more coming soon), the Pub Lion was pretty weird, but just wait until you see this Publix conversion! I still can't decide if the store coming up next time or the Pub Lion was the weirdest Publix conversion store I've been to, but I'll let you guys be the judge of that in two weeks...

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger


  1. Its interesting that the Oakland Park store had a Starbucks sign outside. Altamonte didn’t have a sign but had a Starbucks.

    1. I think Largo had a Starbucks sign too. I don't know why Altamonte never got one.

  2. It's a shame seeing these stores closing while looking so nice. All of that work will go to waste when Publix rips it all out because it doesn't fit their corporate specs. :(

    1. Very true. I don't know why Albertsons dumped all that money into these stores just to sell them off to Publix two years later, who won't keep anything from Safeway in the end.

  3. It's very sad to see these stores in this state of affairs, but at the same time I'm glad your contributors thought to document them and send in their photos. Glad the Safeway experiment, however short-lived, is getting the attention it needs on your blog! Too bad Albertsons sold out, but as you said, not entirely unsurprising. In any case, Safeway Florida will be missed :( (Oh, and maybe you'll be able to visit at least one of the three before Publix remodels them - good luck, if that's on your radar!)

    1. I'm glad I was able to get some photos in to document these stores before they closed for good as Safeway. At least that some demonstration that Safeway had themselves a bit of a fan base in Florida! And yes, I very much want to see one of these stores once Publix takes them over. Considering I missed the closings, that will have to serve as the next best thing if I can make it out to Altamonte at the very least!

  4. Your description of the former Oakland Park Safeway makes it sound like a typical present-day Jewel-Osco, which is funny because it started as a Florida version of that same chain.

    1. I think you mean Largo, not Oakland Park, as that was the old Jewel-Osco Florida store out of the three. Anyway, I've seen some photos of modern Jewel-Osco stores, and it look like Albertsons is keeping those stores up very well, which is nice to see!