Sunday, April 28, 2019

Un Tipo Diferente de Winn-Dixie - ¡Es Fresco y Más!

Winn-Dixie #2267 / Fresco y Más #2267
7382 Curry Ford Road, Orlando, FL - Curry Ford East

     ¡Hola a todos! As you've probably seen in recent years, Winn-Dixie's parent company Southeastern Grocers has been trying some different things to keep the company afloat. One common practice that SEG used quite often prior to the 2018 bankruptcy was converting low performing Winn-Dixie and BI-LO stores into SEG's two other banners: discount-oriented Harvey's and Hispanic-oriented Fresco y Más. Converting stores in this manner is usually seen as a desperate means of survival by a struggling retailer, but I guess there are sometimes when this maneuver can prove to be successful (at least for the short term). While the success of the Harvey's conversions haven't been the greatest, SEG has seemingly found some success in their conversion of stores to Fresco y Más. As of early 2019, Fresco y Más has a total of 26 stores, with only one Fresco y Más store closing since the brand was launched in 2016 in Hialeah. Also, since SEG's 2018 bankruptcy, the only store conversions that have occurred have been from Winn-Dixie to Fresco y Más. Harvey's conversions have all but stopped since the bankruptcy, which leads me to believe many of those conversions have been a flop.

     The Fresco y Más store we'll be looking at today is located in South Orlando at the intersection of Curry Ford and Goldenrod Roads in the Azalea Park neighborhood. South Orlando, especially the area surrounding Semoran Boulevard near its intersection with the 408, has a very high Hispanic population. As such, this area is home to many Hispanic-oriented supermarkets, including Sedano's, Bravo, and Presidente Supermarket (coming soon), in addition to Fresco y Más representing the large Hispanic grocery chains. In addition to those big names, this area also contains many little independent Hispanic stores, but those stores typically focus on produce and meat more than anything else (in addition to being quite small). With the right demographics, it's no surprise that Winn-Dixie chose to convert this store into Orlando's only Fresco y Más so far. While this is the only Fresco y Más store in Orlando, Fresco y Más also operates two stores in Tampa. The rest of the Fresco y Más stores are located in South Florida, specifically in the greater Miami area. From looking at the Fresco y Más store locator, it looks like Winn-Dixie converted the majority of their Miami locations to Fresco y Más, especially in the western reaches of Miami-Dade County.

     As for this location, Winn-Dixie originally opened this store in 1980. Prior to the conversion to Fresco y Más in 2018, it was pretty apparent this store opened in 1980, as it retained its original Winn-Dixie logo all the way until the Fresco y Más conversion began. Even though this store had the old logo for so long, it did receive a remodel to the Marketplace decor sometime in the 90's. That was also the decor this store sported until 2018, when the Marketplace decor was finally swapped out for that famous yellow color we all know and love...

     Anyway, Fresco y Más opened their Orlando location on April 18, 2018 with a grand fanfare. The grand opening included giveaways, cooking demonstrations, live music, and an appearance by the Fresco y Más car (and the car can be seen here at a grand opening). And if that wasn't enough of a party, the festivities later spilled outside the store on opening day! I can't think of too many other examples of a supermarket parking lot being turned into a dance floor!

     OK, if you clicked through those videos I linked to, that was probably enough dancing for one AFB post! Getting back on track now, we head through the front doors and turn to the right. Doing such, we find ourselves in this store's produce department. The layout of this store is identical from the Winn-Dixie days, following the usual pre-Marketplace era layout seen in most older Winn-Dixie stores.

     As you can tell, Fresco y Más uses the same obnoxiously bright yellow version of the Down Down interior as Harvey's Supermarket. The main difference with Fresco y Más's version of this interior is that Spanish subtitles are included along with the main department name on the walls.

     Leaving produce behind us, the aisle that runs down the right side wall of the building is home to beer and wine. Additionally, bulk bags of rice are stored in the center of this aisle. Getting into the grocery aisles is where you really begin to feel how different this store is from the average Winn-Dixie, as there are a lot of less common Hispanic foods carried here that you'd never find in the usual Winn-Dixie.

     As is usually seen in recently remodeled stores under all of SEG's banners, Fresco y Más also has the $1 Zone. Like I've said before, I really like the concept of a $1 Zone. This part of the store is an impulse buy paradise. For Fresco y Más, the product selection in its $1 Zone was also tailored to reflect this store's appeal to Hispanic shoppers, offering a variety of $1 versions of Latin drinks, snacks, cookies, and cleaning products in addition to the usual fare.

     In the back right corner of the store we find the butcher counter, complete with the black tile blacksplash common throughout SEG's recent remodels.

     Returning to the front of the store, here's a look across the front of the building, looking from produce toward the front end.

     Four our first look into the grocery aisles, here we have a peek at the drink aisle, aisle 2. The aisle markers here are identical to the ones used at Harvey's, which are a different style from the ones used at Winn-Dixie. Typically with aisle signs designed like this one, the placards on the left correspond with products on that side's shelves, with the same being true for the placards on the right. Here, however, the placards on the left are in English, with the placards on the right being the Spanish translation of the corresponding word or words on the left. So even with six slots, each aisle has only three categories represented on each sign.

     It's very, very yellow in here! Not only are the walls that crazy yellow color, but the endcap price signs and shopping carts also match. The fact that many of the products in this image also have yellow packaging doesn't help the situation much either!

     Snack foods can be found here in aisle 3.

     Here's a quick look across this store's front end as we work our way further to the left side. At least this part of the store uses white walls to counteract all of that yellow in the rest of the store.

     Next up, some more photos from the grocery aisles:

     FROZEN. One thing I will say about this decor is these large department names make for easy location of the departments as one wanders throughout the store. It's hard to miss these giant letters!

     Frozen foods are located in the center of the store. It looks like Winn-Dixie threw in some new coolers for this remodel as well...

     ...well, new coolers for the majority of the frozen food department at least. Heading over to aisle 10, it's clear that the one side of this aisle has older coolers than the other.

     Returning to the back wall, we next find the lunch meats.

     Following the lunch meats is dairy, with the milk specifically located along the back wall. The remainder of the dairy products can be found around the corner in aisle 15, which we will see near the end of this post. 

     As you can see, this store was pretty busy for a weekday afternoon, something I can't say about many Winn-Dixie stores in general. And it's not like this is the only grocery store in the area either, as within two miles of this store are two Publix stores, two Walmart Neighborhood Markets, and a Sedano's.

     Laundry detergent and soap can be found here in aisle 13. Peeking out in the background are the deli and bakery departments, as well as the lunch counter. That just so happens to be where we're headed next...

     Pictured here, the front left corner of the store is home to the deli and bakery. In addition to that, a new lunch counter was also added during the Fresco y Más remodel. The lunch counter is actually one of the major new features as part of the Fresco y Más remodel, and is portrayed as one of the store's main draws.

     At most of the Hispanic-oriented supermarkets I've been to in Florida, the deli and bakery departments tend to be pretty small in order to focus more on prepared foods and a lunch counter. While the lunch counter is the star of the stage here, Fresco y Más still decided to offer a normal sized deli and bakery here as well, in line with the offerings from a typical Winn-Dixie.

     Speaking of that lunch counter, here it is. Called the "Cocina" (meaning "kitchen" in Spanish), the lunch counter offered a variety of prepared Hispanic foods. The food from the Cocina could be purchased a la carte, however there was also a lunch special that consisted of an entree with two sides for $5.98, the entree changing daily. I thought that was a pretty good deal for lunch. Had it not been 9:30 in the morning during my visit here (too early for me to take a lunch break), I probably would have tried something from the Cocina. I'm sure I'll be out this way again for one reason or another, so I can always stop back to try something. The food looked pretty good from what I saw walking by.

     Anyway, in addition to the food counter, some tables were set up in front of the counter where you could eat your lunch. Like I said, it was a bit early for most people to be picking up lunch during my visit here, but I'm sure these tables get some use. The lunch counters at Bravo and Sedano's are usually pretty crowded, so I'd be surprised if that wasn't the case here.

     Here's a view that's a bit more pulled back, showing the Cocina from a distance. Like I said this store had a rather large bakery department, including a selection of Hispanic baked goods in addition to the usual fare.

     While the bakery counter is located amongst the deli and Cocina just out of frame to the left, the bakery department sign got pushed off to this side wall above the coolers for the refrigerated cakes.

     Before we begin to leave this store, the last thing we have to see is the remainder of the dairy department in aisle 15.

     Now that we've circled the sales floor, here are a few more photos of the front end to finish up this tour:

     While many of these banner conversions were a last-ditch effort to save some failing Winn-Dixie stores, SEG seems to have found some success with Fresco y Más. In a company that seems to have trouble figuring out what it wants to do going forward, it's nice to see something positive coming from one of the brands.

     As time goes on we'll probably see a few more Fresco y Más conversions trickle out from SEG. We probably won't see conversions in droves like we saw prior to the 2018 bankruptcy, but Fresco y Más has clearly proven a small niche for itself. I will say, this store did clean up well in the remodel. While I'm not a fan of the yellow color chosen for these remodels, this conversion was done with a bit more care (and money) than the Harvey's conversion we saw in Cocoa. Overall, I think Winn-Dixie did a good job with this store, and I think cleaning this place up and changing the format has really helped.

     While I linked to it earlier, here's a quick screengrab of this store as it looked prior to the remodel, still displaying that really old Winn-Dixie logo. There's no denying this was a tired old Winn-Dixie prior to the remodel, and that Fresco y Más will help this store live "la vida buena" for a while longer.

And yes, let's finish off with just a little more dancing.

So that's all I have for now. Until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Former Albertsons #4377 - Winter Haven, FL

Albertsons #4377
1965 8th Street NW, Winter Haven, FL - Spring Lake Plaza

     Wonderful Winter Haven, Florida, home to a charming little downtown, numerous lakes, Legoland Florida, and the birthplace of Florida's favorite supermarket chain, Publix. However, on the northern side of town, tucked into a rather nondescript shopping center that's seen plenty of tenants come and go over the years, we find this building. This beige building with a slight Southwestern/Mission style architectural flare was once home to Winter Haven's Albertsons store, one of two Albertsons stores to have opened in Publix's home turf of Polk County. Unlike the other Polk County Albertsons store in Lakeland, the former Winter Haven Albertsons doesn't have as spectacular of a backstory, having a rather average 19 year run during the company's time in Winter Haven.

     The Winter Haven Albertsons opened on August 24, 1989 on an outparcel of the existing Spring Lake Plaza. I know it sounds odd to build a supermarket on a shopping center's outparcel lot, but when you see how the plaza is arranged later in this post, the setup doesn't appear all too strange. The photo above, dug up by YonWooRetail2, shows the Winter Haven Albertsons store on its opening day, certainly looking like a spectacle with its large size and grandiose exterior.

     For 19 years not much changed here at the Winter Haven Albertsons store. A remodel occurred sometime around the turn of the 2000's, refreshing this store's original Blue and Gray Market decor to something new. I haven't been able to figure out what decor package this store closed with (I really want to say it was Blue and Green Awnings, but I don't know for sure). YonWooRetail2 recreated the above photo to show what this Albertsons location would have looked like during the 2000's.

     It was on July 30, 2008 the announcement was made that the Winter Haven Albertsons store would be closing due to underperformance. This announcement came only a month after Albertsons had announced that they would be selling 49 of their Florida locations to Publix. It would take a month for this store to close for good, with Albertsons' final day of business here in Winter Haven being August 30, 2008. While outlasting its sister store in Lakeland by 15 years, Albertsons' time in Polk County was certainly a tough ride. This store sat empty for 7 years before it was announced that CenterState Bank would be moving their operations center into half of this former Albertsons building. Currently, only the right half of this former Albertsons building is occupied by the bank's offices. The rest of the building remains empty, and more than likely the remaining empty portion of this building will become home to more office space when the time comes.

     CenterState Bank's remodel didn't change any of Albertsons' old exterior architecture. Besides some new paint and the addition of those lights along the upper wall of the building 
(where Albertsons exterior signage would have once been placed), that's all that was modified. The interior work involved a complete gut and rebuild, as we'll see shortly.

     Over on the left side of the building, we find the old liquor store and the main store's pharmacy side entrance.

     While I usually end my posts with some pictures of the old Albertsons liquor stores, today we'll be starting off with some pictures of the old liquor store. Above is the old liquor store entrance, which was incorporated into the left side entryway at this store rather than given its own distinct archway.

     Peeking through the windows into the liquor store's interior, it was too dark to really see anything in here.

     Playing with the lighting settings on my computer helped brighten the photo a bit, but you still can't tell much from this.

     YonWooRetail2 had much better luck with the lighting when he visited this store, compared to the situation during my visit. He took the above photo as well as the following photo. Unlike most cases, Albertsons stripped out just about everything they could have in here, not leaving much of a trace of any old decor remnants. The ceiling and lighting are original to Albertsons, although the flooring in here looks to have been replaced during this store's remodel from the turn of the 2000's (as the original floors would have looked like this).

     Moving away from the liquor store, let's begin to turn our attention to the main portion of this former Albertsons. Panning to the camera just a bit to the right from the liquor store entrance, we see the store's old left side entrance straight ahead.

     The original swinging entry and exit doors are still in place here from Albertsons. The entrance door was the one to the right, the exit door being the one on the left.

     Unfortunately, those doors were about the only original thing to remain from Albertsons as we turn our attention to the interior of the main store building now. As you can see here, for the conversion of the right half of this building into offices for CenterState Bank, the entire main portion of this building was gutted to the wall studs. Peeking through the left side doors, this is what the left side entry vestibule looks like now - nothing particularly interesting.

     Turning the corner, here are a few photos looking into the gutted left half of this former Albertsons store. This half of the store would have been home to the pharmacy and health and beauty departments (which would have been around the corner to the left), as well as the dairy department. Like the interior photos of the old liquor store, these photos also turned out quite dark on me. After playing with some settings, we can see this half of the building is currently being used by CenterState Bank as storage.

     I believe I've shared this story with you guys a few times in the past, but I'll tell it again as it does go along with this post: After I took my last interior photos of the the empty left half of the old Albertsons building, I stepped back toward the parking lot, hoping to get a few additional exterior photos before heading off to my next destination. As I was walking in the road in front of the building, a lady ran out of the bank's offices and began asking me why I was taking pictures of the place. Having noticed a 'For Lease' sign by the liquor store, my quick thinking then sprang into action. I responded to the woman that I was representing a client who was interested in finding office space in the area, and the empty portion of this building was one of the options I was was going to submit for the client's consideration. After telling her my story, the lady's only response was, "That space isn't for rent!" After a little more playing dumb to ease the tension, the lady then told me to call the number on the sign in the liquor store's window for more information before she returned into the building. I'm just glad I was able to talk myself out of that one, but I didn't stick around this place for long after going through that! I don't want to jinx anything, but in my 6 years or so of actively documenting retail buildings, I've only been confronted 4 times for photo taking - every time taking exterior photos, never photos inside a store. Two of those four times were by curious bystanders who wanted to tell me more about the building I was photographing (which was pretty neat), another time was the story I just mentioned, and I had another not-so-great experience while out getting retail photos as well. That incident didn't actually involve me taking photos directly, but was more of a matter of me being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

     Anyway, by the time I was confronted here, I fortunately had most the photos I needed of this place. I took this photo from the car's window on my way out of here, my only one showing a clear view of the side of the building that was converted into the bank's offices. I wouldn't doubt it if my lady friend was still looking through those windows to see if I had left, so before she returns, let's get the heck out of this place!

     Here's a quick look down the right side of this building...

     ...and here's a quick look at the back, specifically the old receiving docks for Albertsons.

     So that's what the Winter Haven Albertsons is like these days. Of course, this happened to be my first stop of the day, so having that lady confront me about my picture taking wasn't the best way to kick off a day of retail travels. However, I'm happy to report that things only got better from here, so I can't complain.

     Anyway, here's an overview of the entirety of Spring Lake Plaza, showing how the Albertsons was essentially built as an outparcel to the plaza. For a few years Albertsons even shared this plaza with a Winn-Dixie, the original grocery tenant to Spring Lake Plaza. Speaking of that Winn-Dixie, let's take a quick look at it:

Winn-Dixie #765
1160 Havendale Boulevard NW, Winter Haven, FL - Spring Lake Plaza

     Winn-Dixie was one of the two original anchors to Spring Lake Plaza upon its opening in 1985 (the other being a movie theater). Only 4 years after opening here, Winn-Dixie had to deal with the competition of the new Albertsons store that opened in its parking lot, as well as competition from a Publix less than a mile to the south. Winter Haven and Winn-Dixie never had a very good relationship, so with all the competition nearby, Winn-Dixie ended up closing their store in Spring Lake Plaza around 1995. In the years after Winn-Dixie closed, their former space was been divided between a Dollar Tree and a gym. The gym that was previously in the right half of the Winn-Dixie building had since closed, although a new gym has opened in this space since I took these photos way back when.

     Here's another look at the old Winn-Dixie space.

     Spring Lake Plaza's other anchor is this movie theater, which is located at the southern end of the plaza behind the old Albertsons building. The movie theater is currently affiliated with Cobb, who very well may have been running this theater since the beginning (but I don't know for sure).

     Also during my visit to this plaza, a carnival was set up in a portion of the parking lot. I took a few photos of it, because who doesn't like a few pictures of a carnival thrown into a blog post?

     Now that we've seen the old Albertsons, the old Winn-Dixie, and a carnival, it's now time to take a look at some historic satellite imagery. First up, some Bird's Eye View images, courtesy of Bing Maps:

Front - These images were taken when this building was still fully abandoned.

Right Side


Left Side

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

Former Albertsons #4377 - 2018

Former Albertsons #4377 - 2012

Albertsons #4377 - 2006

Albertsons #4377 - 1994

Future Albertsons #4377 - 1979 - It looks like a restaurant and a motel or two had to be taken out in order to accommodate the Albertsons store that would eventually be built on this site.

     To wrap up this post, here's another photo of the Winter Haven Albertsons now, looking quite peaceful as the sun was about to set on this particular evening when YonWooRetail2 visited. It seems like the evening would have been a better time to visit this place than very early in the morning, when all of the employees were hanging around here watching me!

     Not only did YonWoo have better luck photographing this former Albertsons store than I did, but he did a good job digging up some old pictures of this store when it was still in business! The above photo appears to have been taken sometime during the 2000's, as the Sav-On pharmacy signage had been added to the exterior when this photo was taken.

     So that's all I have to say for now. If you ever feel like visiting this place for yourself, remember to watch out for my lady friend, as she'll have her eyes on you!

Until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger