Sunday, June 21, 2020

A Little Bit of Food Lion In My Life, A Little Bit of Publix By My Side...

Food Lion #1329 / Perrine's Fresh Market of Port Orange
3826 S. Clyde Morris Boulevard, Port Orange, FL - Perrine's (formerly Food Lion) Plaza

     When it comes to supermarket conversions, you never know what to expect. Sometimes the building gets gutted to the bare walls, the new tenant starting from scratch. Sometimes the new tenant barely lifts a finger or a paintbrush, leaving much intact from the store in the building prior. Sometimes the new tenant gets a good deal on bits and pieces of other stores, combining them all into a interesting compilation called Perrine's Fresh Food Market of Port Orange. I think you guys will enjoy the supermarket conversion I'll be sharing with you today, considering its little bit of this and little bit of that approach to remodeling we'll see shortly!

     If this building looks familiar to you, that's because we visited this place once before on the blog. Back in May 2018, I featured a tour of this ex-Food Lion in abandoned form, with much of its mid-2000's Food Lion decor still intact inside. To quickly recap the history of this store, Food Lion operated here from 1996 until the company closed its final Florida locations in 2012. This Food Lion was one of a handful to remain in the Daytona Beach area until 2012, Food Lion's southernmost market at the time. Food Lion's messy expansion into Florida is explained in much more detail in the original post, although it was quite impressive they lasted in Florida until the early 2010's, and weren't chased out sooner. After Food Lion closed, this building sat empty for 8 years. Located away from most of Port Orange's major retail centers, this 35,000 square foot commercial building in a mostly residential neighborhood was a tough sell. I thought this building would be chronically empty, so I was pleasantly surprised to see it found a new tenant after so long. Not only did this building find a new tenant, but a grocery tenant too - that was a complete surprise, considering how hard it is find new ones of those in Florida!

     Perrine's Fresh Food Market officially opened for business in Port Orange on November 8, 2019. Perrine's Port Orange location is considered a "flagship" for the family behind the business, and is the largest of the company's current stores. Founded in 1986, Perrine's began when founders Arnold and Dianna Perrine began selling watermelons out of the back of their pickup truck on weekends in Titusville. Formerly a NASA engineer, Mr. Perrine left that job to go all in with his wife on their produce venture, eventually establishing stores in Titusville, New Smyrna Beach, South Daytona, and Ormond Beach. Unfortunately, Perrine's South Daytona store closed permanently in 2016 after being severely damaged by Hurricane Matthew, and the Titusville store (which I believe was Perrine's first store) was sold to new owners in 2018, so the current company could focus on its core Volusia County operations. Even down two stores, Perrine's was still doing well, and was eager to expand. The Perrine's had their eye on the old Port Orange Food Lion for a number of years, and come late 2018, finally made a deal to take over the long abandoned building. With its November 2019 opening, the Perrine's finally achieved their dream of operating a full service supermarket (as all their previous locations were mostly produce-centric, or really tiny).

     Stepping onto the store's front walkway, here's where we begin to see how Perrine's features a little bit of everything from Florida's supermarket past. The cart corral at the store's left side entrance is from The Fresh Market, no attempts at all made to cover the logo of the corral's previous owner.

     To go with that cart corral was a complete set of old Earth Fare carts. Like the corral, zero attempt was made to conceal where these carts came from, with Earth Fare's logo still prominently displayed on each handle. In addition to that, all of Earth Fare's advertisements were still on the front of each cart. I hadn't even walked inside yet and things were already getting good!

     As you can tell by the fixtures, Perrine's only made very minor changes to the building itself too. Stepping into the vestibule, the place still feels very much like a Food Lion.

     Leaving the vestibule, you enter the very large produce department (which makes sense, as produce is Perrine's namesake product). Produce takes up  the majority of the left side of the store, but we'll get back to the produce department in just a moment. Let me pan the camera to the right for a quick preview of what's to come...

     As you saw in my original post from this store, Food Lion left most of their decor up on the walls when they left. I was hoping to see some of those signs get reused in the remodel, as that seemed like a possibility with a small company like this. Unfortunately, I was wrong, as Perrine's removed all of Food Lion's signs - just to replace them with ones imported from a former Publix! Like I keep saying, a little bit of everything here...

     Immediately to the left upon entering is the service desk, located in the same spot where Food Lion had theirs (at least originally, as the mid-2000's remodel might have moved the service desk to an island in the middle of the check lanes). The service desk also serves as an ice cream shop, although the serving of ice cream had been temporarily suspended here at the time of my visit due to corona. Since nobody was at the counter, I took this picture and decided to poke around here a little...

     In case you were curious as to what happened with all of the merchandise from Lucky's and Earth Fare after those chains liquidated, well, it appears it went to Perrine's! While this picture shows some chocolate bars from both chains, this wasn't the extent of Lucky's and Earth Fare branded merchandise to be found here. Perrine's had cases and cases of store branded merchandise from both chains for sale, across most grocery categories too. Perrine's must have gotten some good deals from Lucky's and Earth Fare's warehouses as those liquidated too, as Perrine's really stocked up on their stuff.

     Here's are some more examples of Lucky's and Earth Fare products I spotted while here, with the Earth Fare applesauce above, and Lucky's honey below.

     Lucky's Florida Honey - a nice touch of local flare to a market Lucky's thought they were going to dominate. Perrine's bought so many cases of honey from Lucky's liquidation, they used the cases themselves to build this display!

     Lucky's and Earth Fare products aside, as we step into the produce department, we see the check lanes and Food Lion's old bakery department in the distance, complete with a Publix bakery sign. More on the bakery later in the post though, as we'll continue now with our walk through the produce department.

     A Publix restrooms sign hangs in the corner of the produce department, pointing into a small corridor.

     Looking into the corridor, the restrooms are behind those doors to my the left. The wall you see to my right was added by Perrine's, one of the only major modifications they made to this building after moving in. Perrine's partitioned off Food Lion's old frozen food department to create more backroom space, reducing the width of the store by a little bit.

     Returning to the main sales floor, here's a look toward the new wall, featuring a painting of Perrine's logo (as well as some random stock photos of food).

     The centerpiece of Perrine's Port Orange store, located prominently at the front of the building, is "Big Blue". Big Blue is a 1950's Ford pickup truck decorated with Perrine's logo on the side, now used a showpiece for various displays. Big Blue isn't a prop either - it's an actual pickup truck. I have no idea if it still runs, but it certainly could if the Perrine's wanted it to!

     Unfortunately, Perrine's had a lot of large displays blocking much of Big Blue when I was here, but I still walked around it to get a few photos. I like the way they set up the peach crates in the bed of the truck, creating the effect of peaches spilling out into the crates below.

     Big Blue is a neat little nod to how Perrine's Produce was started by two people selling produce out of the back of their pickup truck (and for all I know, this could be that very pickup truck). I'm also rather curious as to how the Perrine's got this truck in here (maybe it was narrow enough to go through the front door?), as getting a pickup truck into a supermarket sounds like a tricky task (but hopefully not as tricky getting a trolley out of a restaurant, which MFR contributor Retail Retell discussed on his blog recently).

     Leaving the produce department, we find some displays of promotional items as we move toward the deli island.

     In the middle of the sales floor is the deli island, which offered a full selection of sliced deli meats as well as prepared foods too. In front of the deli is the salad bar, which was stocked with various containers of pre-packaged salads at the time due to corona.

     Please tell me I'm not the only one who's mind still tries to imagine the word "Publix" over that deli logo, just like in the original sign. All of the Publix decor brought in here came from a Classy Market 3.0 store that closed, however I have no idea which one. The only store Publix closed in Volusia County in the last year happened a month after Perrine's of Port Orange opened, and that store had Classy Market 2.0 when it closed. The Perrine's had to have traveled somewhere outside the area to acquire all this decor.

     Rounding the side of the deli, here's a look toward the front of the store once again, as well as a quick peek at Perrine's bulk food selection.

     Here's one final look into the produce department, looking at the coolers along the new partition wall.

     Even though Perrine's Fresh Market is a full service supermarket, it's run in a manner much closer to Lucky's and Earth Fare than Publix, placing more emphasis on the fresh departments and local/specialty/hard-to-find products. Unlike Lucky's and Earth Fare, Perrine's isn't dedicated to organic foods though, even though Perrine's format is similar to what the organic guys use. Anyway, like many stores that place an emphasis on fresh products, a large selection of wines could also be found here. Wines take up the back left corner of the sales floor.

     Some fake branches extend out from that pole in the middle of the wine department for a tree-like effect. In addition to that, some hand-painted murals line the walls of the wine department, featuring some grape vines to go with the vineyard theme. Unlike a lot of the retail relic decor in the rest of the building, I think pretty much all of the wine department decor was homemade.

     Perrine's also sold souvenir wine glasses, embellished with their logo. I didn't buy one, but I thought it was a neat product.

     Leaving the wine department, the meat and seafood counters take up the remaining space in the back of the store.

     I don't really know what to call them, but those decorative wooden things hanging over the back of the store are the only decor relic left by Food Lion that Perrine's reused.

     So while we have some Food Lion remnants hanging on above, the imported Publix remnants can be found on the walls, including the old Publix "Seafood" sign above the service counter.

    To keep things interesting, Perrine's also hung some seafood props on the wall around the sign.

     To the left of the seafood counter in the meat counter, featuring another old Publix sign. Perrine's meat counter is located where Food Lion's used to be, with Food Lion's meat coolers extending along the wall where the wine is now. The Seafood counter we just saw was located along the back wall of Food Lion's former produce department.

     Here's a look across the back of the store at the service meat counter. The meat counter was really busy when I visited the store, so it must be a decent place to buy meat.

     The back right corner of the store is home to the dry grocery selection, housed in about 4 aisles between seafood and the bakery. Here's a look down one of the aisles, where three of Food Lion's old tile patterns all meet at one point (the faux wood tile being from the produce department, the two-tone brown stripes being from the meat department, and the rest being the tile pattern in the remainder of the store).

     Perrine's offers a little bit of everything in the grocery aisles, including organic and non-organic products. It seems like Perrine's does a bit of closeout/liquidation buying too (hence all the Lucky's and Earth Fare merchandise), so there's probably a decent variety of merchandise finding its way in here all the time.

     Speaking of those Lucky's and Earth Fare products, here's one last example of those mixed in with the selection of canned goods.

     The last grocery aisle was home to frozen foods and non-food products. The sign for the Frozen Food department is another Publix remnant, with the coolers most likely being second-hand too (although I couldn't tell you from where).

     A random picture of the corner, where some overflow coolers from the seafood department were kept.

     Here's a final look at the frozen food aisle, with the bakery department visible in the background.

     The bakery now in sight, we'll use this time for a quick look over here...

     When Food Lion was here, both the deli and bakery would have been housed under that lower ceiling in the front right corner of the store. Since Perrine's would be offering a larger selection of prepared foods and baked goods than Food Lion did, Perrine's moved the deli into the newly-created island, giving their bakery department full run of this corner.

     The hanging wooden thing over the bakery sales floor is another Food Lion remnant. These things were a distinctive piece of Food Lion's mid-2000's decor, and from the looks of it, are probably difficult to remove (as not only are they big, but they also contain most of the department's lighting).

     Perrine's offers a large selection of baked goods, ranging from products baked in-store to pre-packaged goods.

     The bakery sign is yet another Publix remnant, just sans the "Publix" part that would have originally been placed above the word "bakery". The way Perrine's placed the sign on the wall is a bit odd, as it's not centered. Unless Perrine's plans to put their own logo above the word "bakery" at some point, this sign just looks a little out of place in its current form.

     Lots of fresh baked breads can be seen here from Perrine's bakery...

     ...and apparently, Lucky's bakery too. At some auction (presumably at the former Ormond Beach Lucky's store), Perrine's must have acquired Lucky's flower duster in addition to other fixtures. I found it amusing seeing Lucky's script-L logo dusted over the top of many of Perrine's bread loaves. I guess once all the Lucky's product Perrine's bought sells out, we'll have this interesting way to remember Lucky's time in Florida by. I never would have thought to look for supermarket relics on loaves of bread before, but I guess anything is possible!

     From the bakery department, here are a few final views across the store, this photo looking toward the back of the building and the seafood department.

     Turning 90 degrees to the left, here's a look from the bakery toward the produce department.

     And lastly, here's our view toward the check lanes. Unlike most supermarkets, who place their check lanes in a neat row across the front of the store, Perrine's does something different. Perrine's arranges their check lanes to extend inward from the front into the sales floor, like you see above. It's different, but it doesn't feel like an awkward arrangement when you shop here.

     While the wooden trellis (ah, that's the word I've been trying to think of all this time!) over the check lanes looks similar to the ones hanging over the meat and bakery departments, the check lane trellis isn't from Food Lion (although they did have a similar one to match the rest of the decor, but it was removed after the store closed). That trellis is yet another Fresh Market relic.

     As you saw, there was a lot going on at this place, with a little bit of many supermarkets represented within these walls! Decor aside, this was a neat little store, and a nice reuse of this long abandoned Food Lion. Hopefully Perrine's will have plenty of success with this store, and if they choose to open more like this one, I'll certainly be curious to see what the inside is all about!

     I hope you guys enjoyed this little update to the Port Orange Food Lion. However, the time of year has come to where I take my usual summer break. That being said, I won't be posting anything new on here for the month of July, although keep an eye on My Florida Retail throughout July for new posts from either myself or the blog's other contributors. AFB will be back in full swing come August though, with plenty of great stores to tour, a big Florida supermarket anniversary to celebrate this fall, and possibly a themed posting series or two (sounds intriguing, right?), so you have something to look forward to upon my return!

That being said, I'll see you guys again in August! So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger