Sunday, September 22, 2019

Former Albertsons #4336 - Montgomery, AL (Atlanta Crossing Shopping Center)

*** Photos courtesy of YonWooRetail2 ***
Albertsons #4336 / Bruno's Foods #XX
5544 Atlanta Highway, Montgomery, AL - Atlanta Crossing Shopping Center

     Today on AFB, I check off another first for the blog: an Alabama Albertsons! As you may already know from perusing the blog and the store list, Albertsons' Florida division once included a handful of stores in Alabama. Albertsons' expansion into Alabama began in 1977 when the company was still partnered with Skaggs stores, all part of Skaggs-Albertsons' plan to create a larger footprint of stores throughout the Southeastern US. After the breakup of Skaggs-Albertsons, Albertsons continued opening stores in Alabama, reaching a total of 7 locations in the state by the mid 1980's. Unlike Albertsons' existing Southeastern presence in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, the few Alabama stores never got off to a strong start. After a few years of lackluster sales, Albertsons announced the sale of their 7 Alabama stores to Bruno's Market in 1985, the earliest casualties for Albertsons' Florida division. Bruno's was one of the top grocers in Alabama back in the mid-1980's, so they were a fitting suitor for Albertsons former stores. Albertsons took the money earned from the sale of their Alabama locations to invest in new stores in Florida, Texas, and Louisiana.

     This particular store in Montgomery opened in 1980 as the town's first Albertsons location, located on the eastern outskirts of town on the US 231 beltway. A second Montgomery Albertsons would open on the south side of town in 1982, which will be the subject of a future AFB post. This store was built using the traditional Skaggs-era building style, essentially identical to the stores being opened in Florida at the same time. The only major difference between the Florida and Alabama Albertsons stores was the inclusion of liquor stores. The Florida locations had liquor stores tucked into the side of the building due to our "liquor wall" law. The Alabama locations did not have liquor stores at all, as from what I understand, only the state can sell hard liquor in Alabama (although beer and wine is allowed to be sold in grocery stores). Alabama still has quite a few dry counties and dry cities too, but I don't know where Montgomery falls in with all of that.

     Like the other 7 Albertsons stores in Alabama, this location was sold to Bruno's in 1985 after only 5 years in operation. Since Albertsons came and went in Alabama so fast so long ago, most people don't even remember Albertsons even had a presence in Alabama. For having closed nearly 35 years ago, this building still displays many obvious Albertsons remnants all these years later. Actually, 5 of the 7 former Albertsons stores in Alabama are still easily recognizable to this day.

     Anyway, Bruno's operated in this building from 1985 until 1998, when Bruno's moved into a larger and more modern former Delchamp's store down the street. I don't think anything operated in this building between Bruno's closing in 1998 and the arrival of the current tenants, as satellite images seem to show this building abandoned for most of the 2000's and early/mid 2010's. Rockin' Jump Trampoline Center would move into the left half of this former Albertsons building in February 2016, 18 years after Bruno's departure, with the right half in the process of becoming a Korean market as of Summer 2019.

     Thanks to AFB contributor and photo sleuth YonWooRetail2, today's trip to Alabama was possible. While out this way for a family reunion, YonWoo made it a point to photograph Montgomery's two former Albertsons locations. This store in the Atlanta Crossing Shopping Center happens to be the first of those Alabama locations to make it to the blog, representing this long gone market for Albertsons. As you've seen in the last few pictures, Albertsons' old facade was left pretty much in-tact here. Even the glass vestibule looks fairly original, although the doors have been reconfigured to accommodate the tenants in the now-subdivided building.

     Here's a look at Rockin' Jump's entrance. While the exterior of this former Albertsons building has been well preserved, it appears that Rockin' Jump gutted the interior of their portion of the building upon moving into this space.

     While Rockin' Jump has made themselves at home in this former Albertsons building, Zion Market was still working on renovating their portion of the building. This store still has yet to open as of September 2019, so I haven't seen any photos online yet to tell if any characteristics from Albertsons remain inside this half of the building.

     Moving our attention to the left side of the building, here's a look toward Albertsons' old side entrance.

     Here on the left side of the building we can see Albertsons' old river rock panel walls remain, since been painted over in beige though.

     Rockin' Jump still uses Albertsons old side entrance too. Usually when these old Albertsons stores get subdivided the side entrances are covered over, so this was interesting to see. Had a liquor store been installed in this building, it would have been tucked into the left side of this vestibule.

     So that's what remains of Alabama's first store in Montgomery, which isn't bad for a building that hasn't housed an Albertsons in nearly 35 years. The other Montgomery Albertsons is also quite well preserved like this one, and still houses a grocery store to this day. We'll eventually get to see that store thanks to YonWoo's retail adventures, but for now, let's take a quick look at the rest of this shopping center:

     The Atlanta Crossing Shopping Center is a decently sized plaza located at the junction of Atlanta Highway and the US 231 outer beltway of Montgomery. This shopping center is located directly across the street from Montgomery's Eastdale Mall in a major retail corridor. While many of the shopping centers around the mall have seen tenants come and go in recent years, the area still seems decently busy from what I can tell online. When Atlanta Crossing opened in 1980, its anchors were the Albertsons store we saw today (the large building with the darker roof at the top right of the above image) and Service Merchandise (the large building at the bottom of the image).

     Pictured here is the former Service Merchandise store, which closed in 2002 with the rest of the chain. After Service Merchandise closed, the building was split between a Fred's Super Dollar and a Chinese Buffet. If the Fred's in this location hasn't closed already, it will by the end of 2019 following the chain's recent announcement of liquidation.

     With that little bit of background on the rest of the plaza out of the way, now it's time to look at some satellite imagery of this former Albertsons store. We'll begin by looking at some Bird's Eye aerial images of this building courtesy of Bing Maps:


Left Side


Right Side

      And here are some historic aerial images, courtesy of Google Earth and

Former Albertsons #4336 - 2018

Former Albertsons #4336 - 2011 - The building sitting abandoned.

Former Albertsons #4336 - 2002 - Still abandoned, but it looks like a car sale was going on in the parking lot when this image was taken.

Former Albertsons #4336 - 1998 - Bruno's was still open at the time this image was taken, as they had yet to purchase the old Delchamp's down the street.

Albertsons #4336 - 1981 - This is probably the closest we'll ever get to seeing an image of an Alabama Albertsons while still in operation, seeing how it looked from above. There was a decent little crowd at Albertsons this day too.

     While Albertsons is a rather obscure and long forgotten portion of Alabama's supermarket history, the remnants of that 7 year experiment are still rather obvious all these years later. To conclude this post is a short video YonWoo took driving around the back and left sides of Albertsons #4336, showing more of the Albertsons remnants that remain here today. Eventually I'll get around to posting the other Montgomery Albertsons YonWoo has photographed for us, but for next time we'll jump back to Florida to cover yet another of the many, many Albertsons stores that once dotted the landscape of the Sunshine State.

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Former Albertsons #4412 - Oviedo, FL - Revisited

Albertsons #4412 / Sprout's Farmer's Market #621
1121 Alafaya Trail, Oviedo, FL (formerly 80 W. Mitchell Hammock Road) - Central Square Shopping Center (formerly Albertsons Shopping Center)

     Today on AFB, we revisit the former Oviedo Albertsons store. After sitting empty for nearly 10 years, quite a bit of change has happened since we last saw this place in August 2018. To bring everyone up to date on the fate of store #4412, I returned to Oviedo about a month ago to see how dramatic the changes were...

     As you can tell by comparing the above image with the first one of the abandoned Albertsons, well, you'll determine there isn't much to compare! This might as well be a completely different building I'm taking you all to today, but trust me, this was the former location of Albertsons #4412 (and the original building too). After sitting empty for all that time, the former Oviedo Albertsons is now home to Sprouts Farmer's Market. This store is Sprout's second location in the Orlando area, which opened on June 19, 2019. In the process of getting this building ready for Sprouts, pretty much everything from Albertsons was wiped away. This place was gutted to the steel shell, with the facade completely rebuilt. There isn't a trace of Albertsons to be found here in Oviedo anymore, with the plaza's remodel even going so far as to change the name of the plaza and the building's street address! The only clue of Albertsons ever being here is to look at the shape of the building from above on Google Maps, but that's about it.

     Since the average Sprouts Farmer's Market is only 30,000 square feet in size, Sprouts only takes up the left half of the 55,000 square foot former Albertsons building. As of August 2019, the right half of the old Albertsons is still vacant.

     For those of you unfamiliar with Sprouts, they're another one of the many new organic grocery chains entering Florida. Sprout's stores fall into the same category as Lucky's - smaller stores with a more lighthearted, less pretentious approach to organics. I had never been to a Sprouts prior to this day, so not only did I come here to update everyone on the fate of this former Albertsons store, but also due to my curiosity to see what Sprouts was all about.

     Here's a close-up look at Sprouts' facade, the empty right half of the building visible in the distance. While there isn't much left to see from Albertsons here anymore, we'll still take the time to head inside and see what this newcomer to Florida is all about:

     Stepping through the front doors, the first thing you see is a large island that's home to the deli and prepared foods department. From what I read in an article about this store, this location was to feature a new interior layout for Sprouts, serving as a model for new locations opening in the future. However, I can't find the article where I read that again to link back to it. So if you've been to Sprouts before and this layout looks odd, that's why!

     At most other organic-focused grocery stores, the first department you enter into is usually produce. While most organic stores seem to like that layout to immediately entice customers with the colors and freshness of the produce, Sprouts is going in a different direction with this store. Here, produce is in the back middle of the store. While produce is still a very important department to Sprouts, this layout of putting prepared foods near the front entrance makes the store more convenient for people running in after work to grab dinner and go. It's an interesting diversion from the usual psychology of these organic stores, but this tweak makes a lot of sense.

     Along the right side wall, behind the deli island, was a small aisle with some refrigerated meals and a portion of the store's dairy department. It looks like I forgot to get a photo of that aisle, but you can see the end of it on the right side of this image. Anyway, behind the deli island we have the meat counter, which is the primary subject of this photo. Meats take up the back right corner of this store, with the coffin coolers in front of the meat department being the home to some prepackaged and frozen meats and seafood. 

     Here's a look into the back right corner of the store, looking past all the meat coolers.

     In addition to the meat department, wine and beer was also located in the back right corner. Sprouts calls their wine department the "Corks & Caps" department, at least per that sign hanging over the aisle. I don't know how well you can see it when you zoom in on the above photo, but all the letters in the Corks & Caps sign were made out of old bottle caps, which I thought was neat.

     In the above photo, we're looking into the back of the store where the produce department is, as seen from behind the deli counter. However, to get to produce, we first have to wind our way through the bulk foods...

     Oh bulk foods - where have you 'bin' all my life? Taking some punny (but classier) decor advice out of the playbook of Ollie's Bargain Outlet, Sprouts has a large selection of bulk foods located in the center of the store. You can see the produce department peeking out in the background of this image.

     Now in the back of the store, here's a look up toward the front. This half of the building was originally home to Albertsons' pharmacy and health and beauty departments, as well as some of the dairy and frozen food departments. Here's a peek at what the interior of this side of the building looked like back in the Albertsons days. It's a big difference between then and now.

     Well, I guess I did manage to get a photo of that aisle stuffed behind the deli island, just from this vantage point way in the back of the store!

     Here's a look down the back wall of the store, into the back left corner. Albertsons would have had some meat and dairy cases back here, now replaced with produce displays for Sprouts. Since Sprouts is "Farmer's Market" themed, the back wall of the store contains a mural of some rolling farmlands. In the middle of the mural is Sprouts' logo, which was made of fake grass. Since this is an organic store, what better way to make things look and feel more fresh and farmy than throwing some grass into the decor too?

     While the cheeses were located behind the deli counter, the remainder of the dairy department could be found in the back right corner of the store. Continuing on with the farm theme, the decor for the dairy department was made to look like a barn.

     The frozen food coolers lined the left wall of the store.

     A random grocery aisle view.

     Sprout's health and beauty department is located in the front left corner of the building, right where Albertsons' old pharmacy counter would have been.

     With this quick peek toward the checkouts, that completes our interior tour of Sprouts Farmer's Market.

     While there wasn't much to see here from Albertsons anymore, I thought Sprout's was a decent store. Sprout's is continuing to expand in Florida, with some new stores planned for the Tampa, Jacksonville, and South Florida areas, as well as more stores around Orlando. Right now Sprout's has 10 locations in Florida, although nationally they have 352 locations. Even if nobody wants to compete directly with Publix, Florida has become quite the place for a large variety of organic food shopping!

     Off to the left side of the old Albertsons is the former Liquor store, which was also completely remodeled. Unlike many former Albertsons liquor stores, this one will be finding new life as offices for Spectrum Cable in the near future (according to the sign in the window).

     To finish off this update of the former Oviedo Albertsons, I also included a few photos to show off the remodeled plaza that branches off to the side of the old Albertsons. Here we're looking down the walkway in front of Sprout's, looking at their outdoor seating area. Sprout's also had an interior dining area located in front of the deli island, but I didn't get a photo of that due to an old man sitting at one of the tables giving me dirty looks as I walked by.

     This plaza was hit with a lot of vacancies in the years after Albertsons left. However, with Sprout's now calling this plaza home, some new tenants have begun to move back into the plaza. In the distance you can see one of these new tenants, Eat The Frog Fitness (how the heck did they come up with that name?!), which was getting ready to open shortly after my visit here.

     Here's another photo of the remodeled plaza, its previous look visible in this photo.

     While the Albertsons is no more, Oviedo now has another up and coming shopping center to serve the residents of town. With all the other development going on around this plaza in the last few years, it was no surprise someone finally decided to grab this place and clean it up after so long. All the other development in this area seems to be leaning more upscale, and the remodel of this plaza seems to be going in that same direction.

     Anyway, to finish off this post, here are a few interior photos of store #4412 that our Albertsons photo sleuth YonWooRetail2 dug up from the internet. These photos were taken during an in-store event, and showcase some of the departments with their Industrial Circus era signage:

     Now if only I can reach into this photo and grab one of those cookies, I'd be a happy blogger! 😁 Anyway, that's all I have for now. Since I wrote and scheduled this post prior to the passage of Hurricane Dorian in the event my power went out, hopefully I'll be able to keep things on track for another post in two weeks depending on how the power situation works out. By the time you're reading this we'll all know what our windy house guest Dorian did on his visit to Florida, and hopefully the results were more positive than destructive!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger