Sunday, October 18, 2020

How Sweet(bay) It Still Is to Shop at Winn-Dixie

Kash n' Karry #1914 / Sweetbay Supermarket #1914 / Winn-Dixie #2499
16751 Fishhawk Boulevard, Lithia, FL - Shops of Fishhawk

     Tucked away in the eastern fringes of the Tampa metro area we find a Winn-Dixie, a sedate little supermarket sitting in a plaza off Lithia-Pinecrest Road as it winds its way out from the bustle of Brandon and into the strawberry fields of rural eastern Hillsborough County. Like most of the Winn-Dixie stores around Tampa these days, the one we see here started out its life in the hands of Kash n' Karry, which would go on to become Sweetbay Supermarket before finally selling out to Winn-Dixie in 2013. Kash n' Karry/Sweetbay was Tampa's longtime hometown grocer, a chain of over 100 stores primarily located along Florida's west coast at the company's peak in the late 1990's. Unfortunately, a leveraged buyout of Kash n' Karry in the early 1990's financially crippled the company, with Kash n' Karry heading for bankruptcy until a potential saving grace came along in 1996. That was the year when Kash n' Karry was purchased by Food Lion's parent company Delhaize America, with Kash n' Karry's operations merged in with Food Lion's. Delhaize hoped that buying Kash n' Karry would prop up Food Lion's struggling Florida division. While Kash n' Karry began expansions under the new ownership, the company still struggled into the new millennium as Walmart and Publix began to rise to power as Florida's grocery leaders. Delhaize's last ditch effort to save Kash n' Karry involved pulling the company out of Central and Eastern Florida in 2004, and converting the remaining core West Coast stores to a new banner, Sweetbay Supermarkets, a Floridian twist on Delhaize's Hannaford brand from the Northeast. While the Sweetbay conversions significantly improved the feel of the older Kash n' Karry stores, again, Sweetbay was no match against Publix and Walmart. Delhaize America sold its remaining 72 Sweetbay Supermarkets to Winn-Dixie's then parent company, BI-LO Holdings (now Southeastern Grocers) in 2013, with all remaining Sweetbay stores converting to the Winn-Dixie name by April 2014. We've discussed Kash n' Karry and Sweetbay before on the blog, primarily at these two posts (two links there). Today we're going to take another look at a former Sweetbay Supermarket, for two reasons: 1) I want to present to everyone the evolution of Sweetbay over its short 10 years in existence, and 2) I just really liked this particular store. I have a good number of former Sweetbay stores photographed of all different designs and eras, and I could have picked any one of them to serve as the first part of this post. This store won out from all the others as it happened to contain a fun little surprise inside that even caught me off guard, which we'll see a little later. I also feel that since the vast majority of Sweetbay's stores were converted Kash n' Karry stores, this store serves as a good example of the "average Sweetbay". From Sweetbay's creation in 2004 until its demise in 2014, the company did open a few new stores from scratch (the bulk of which opened in the late 2000's). I have some of those new-build Sweetbay stores photographed for the future, including a really fun one we'll be seeing a month from now to complete my evolution of Sweetbay series, but I'm getting ahead of myself there!

     All that rambling aside, let's get back to the star of today's post though, the former Fishhawk Sweetbay. The shopping center we see here was the first major development in the master-planned neighborhood of Fishhawk Ranch, a new neighborhood built out in the late 1990's on some former pasture and farm lands. The Fishhawk Ranch development is one of the only major population centers in the mostly rural Tampa suburb of Lithia, located to the southeast of Brandon. With the completion of the new subdivision in the late 1990's, the developers set out to find a supermarket to serve as an anchor to Fishhawk Ranch's first shopping center, to be built at the community's main entrance at the corner of Fishhawk Boulevard and Lithia-Pinecrest Road. Kash n' Karry would ultimately be selected as that anchor, with the new 47,000 square foot supermarket opening in Fall 2000. The building design seen here was the most common one used by Kash n' Karry during its Delahize ownership years from 1996 until the debut of Sweetbay. Delahize had a second store design used concurrently with this one at the turn of the millennium - the round prototype - but that funky design is a story of its own for another day! Delhaize really tried to turn Kash n' Karry around in the late 1990's, pushing for numerous new stores, and trying to grow the company outward into Orlando and Florida's East Coast. I have to give Delhaize a lot of credit for trying, both with Kash n' Karry's last ditch modernization spree and the rebranding to Sweetbay. They wanted something to work, but unfortunately, the company got squeezed out of Florida in the end.

     The Fishhawk Kash n' Karry would convert to the Sweetbay banner in the mid-2000's with the rest of the chain. Besides some new paint to better match Sweetbay's color scheme, the facade of this store wasn't touched much during the conversion. Since this was a newer store at the time, the conversion here was nothing more than a decor swap and some new paint (although some older stores got nothing more than that either, but there were some more involved conversions out there). Sweetbay Supermarket closed for good at this location on March 29, 2014, reopening a week later on April 4, 2014 as Winn-Dixie. With a one week turnaround time, Winn-Dixie did nothing more to their acquired Sweetbay stores than restock the shelves and put in their own register equipment. All the stores retained Sweetbay's decor and layout, something that still holds true even to this day in many cases (like we'll see here). Winn-Dixie has begun to remodel many of their acquired Sweetbay stores of late, as remodels to the new Down Down decor have ramped up quite a bit in the last year. Seeing a grocery store use a completely in-tact decor package from a former tenant is quite intriguing to me, so I've been trying to get to as many of these untouched "Sweet-Dixies" (as I call them) before the cans of red paint find them.

     These Delhaize-era Kash n' Karry stores had very stately exterior designs, with the grand archways over the main entrance. I like the design of these stores, as the towering, grandiose entrance makes the store seem quite mighty.

     Stepping onto the front walkway, here's a look toward the store's main entrance. As far as I'm aware, the Kash n' Karry stores of this design only had a single set of doors serving as the entrance and exit, those doors pictured here.

     Stepping through the front doors, to the right was the cartwell, which also included a community bulletin board and display of promotional items (featuring Thanksgiving staples, as I visited here the week before Thanksgiving).

     Looking the opposite direction from the cartwell, we get this overview of the store's front end. Beyond the usual promotional stuff that greets you as you enter the store is the service desk and the check lanes. Until the early 2010's, the service desk used to be located against the building's front wall. In Sweetbay's final years here, the service desk was moved to the island where it currently stands, as the customer service sign seen here is actually from the "Sweetbay 2.0" decor package.

     Speaking of the Sweetbay 2.0 decor, one thing I've never discussed much was the evolution of Sweetbay's decor. The store we'll be touring today, like the vast majority of the other Sweetbay stores, used the "Sweetbay 1.0" decor. The Sweetbay 1.0 decor debuted with the chain in 2004, and was a Floridian spin on the concurrent Hannaford decor package of the time (see here for the Hannaford version - if you scroll through the photos, you'll begin to see the similarities between Sweetbay's decor and Hannaford's). All of the converted Kash n' Karry stores and Sweetbay's newbuilds through the end of the 2000's got the Sweetbay 1.0 decor, some stores getting fancier versions than others. Entering the 2010's and Sweetbay's final two years, that's when the super rare Sweetbay 2.0 decor package popped up. A month from now we'll see the amazing rarity that was Sweetbay 2.0 and talk more about that, but for now, we'll stick to the classics...

     The produce department is located in the front right corner of the building, the first department you enter following the natural progression of this store's layout. In the previous photo we saw some of the wall decorations for the produce department, with the main sign visible in the photo above.

     The floral department is located in an unsigned island between produce and the grocery aisles. The only feature designating the floral department are those hanging wooden circles, a distinctive feature from these larger, open ceiling Sweetbay stores.

     From produce, here's a look back toward the front end and the left side of the store. The floor tile pattern we'll see throughout the store is from Kash n' Karry, that light orange and white striped pattern a remnant from Kash n' Karry's late 90's decor package.

     Here's a close-up shot of the floral island, with an overview of the produce department in the background.

     Beyond floral and produce we find the "grand aisle", home to the store's deli and bakery departments, located toward the back of the building.

     Between produce and the deli were some refrigerated cases, containing the lunch meats and specialty cheeses (and Winn-Dixie really wanted to get the point across that there were specialty cheeses in this case, putting three signs on top of each other, each getting smaller as you go down!)

     Heading down the grand aisle, we finally make it to the deli counter. What's always fun about these Sweet-Dixies is how to this day, Sweetbay's logo can still be found all over the place in the store, such as the really large example behind the deli sign. It's so easy to forget you're in a Winn-Dixie when shopping at one of these stores - it really feels like Sweetbay never went anywhere!

     Here's a wide shot of the deli counter, looking back toward the lunch meat coolers in the background. The display cases closest to the left side of the image are original to the store, as the purple stripe running along the front of the cooler is a remnant from Kash n' Karry's decor (which was teal, green, and purple like we saw at this former Kash n' Karry in Ocoee, only this store would have had a more deluxe version of the decor seen in Ocoee).

     Zooming in behind the deli counter, the original Kash n' Karry wall tile was never changed out either. Original flooring, cooler striping, and wall tiles from Kash n' Karry are nice and all, but let me top all of this by turning around:

     While some of those harder to swap out things from Kash n' Karry tended to linger at these Sweetbay conversion stores, never have I seen a Kash n' Karry decor sign so obviously left behind like this! I didn't even know this sign was here when I made my visit, and it took me a few passes up and down this aisle before it sank in that there was something off about the 'Fine Wines' sign. But yes, that's very much a piece of Kash n' Karry, a piece I'm very surprised lived into the Sweetbay years.

     Once I realized this sign was a Kash n' Karry remnant, I had to sweep back through these aisles for a few more photos. If you're like most people and don't recall or know what Kash n' Karry's decor looked like, this signage does kind of blend in with the rest of Sweetbay's decor, as it uses bright colors and wooden accents like we've seen elsewhere in the store. As far as I'm aware, Sweetbay never had official signage for the wine department, which could have been a reason why these old signs from Kash n' Karry made the cut to stay here.

     In addition to the main 'Fine Wines' sign, some smaller matching signs also hung over the department, describing various kinds of wine (Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc are the two visible here). As we saw at that former Kash n' Karry in Ocoee a while back, there were similar descriptive signs used in the produce department as well.

     Here's a nice overview of the entire wine department and its matching original signage. There is so little documentation of Kash n' Karry out there, especially inside the stores, so finding any any traces of Kash n' Karry's old decor is always a nice surprise.

     Moving away from the wine department, we find the bakery in the back right corner of the store. Like we saw behind the deli counter, the tile backsplash in the bakery continues with Kash n' Karry's old pattern.

     The 'Bake' portion of the 'Bake Shop' sign blends into the logo in the background, which uses the same shade of red as the 'Bake' lettering. In person the blending in isn't as bad, but the pictures make the problem seem much worse.

     Here's a look at some additional signage at the corner of the bakery counter.

     As we begin to leave the grand aisle, here's a look across the back of the store. Meat and seafood take up most of the back wall, with the wall transitioning into dairy nearing the left side of the store.

     The first grocery aisle, which is unnumbered, contains a portion of the wine department, as well as various condiments. The numbered aisles begin under the drop ceiling with aisle 1, the next aisle over.

     Here's another look at the decorative hanging wooden circles as we exit the wine department.

     Organic foods and organic frozen foods take up this half aisle. While most grocery stores seem to be making the switch to mixing in the organic products with their standard counterparts (like Publix), Winn-Dixie, even in recent remodels, keeps the organic products separated in their own departments like this.

     Turning out of the aisle, here's a nice overview of the store's front end.

     As we make our way to the other side of the store, let's meander through some of the grocery aisles...

     The "Seafood Market" is nothing more than some self-serve coolers. It looks like there could have been a full-service counter in this spot at one time, but it was most likely removed and consolidated into the meat counter during the Sweetbay years.

     Here's a different angle of the 'Seafood Market', this time showing the location of the bakery in the background.

     The full-service meat counter is located right next door to the Seafood Market, in an interesting little round pop out from the back wall.

     What I've always found interesting about these Sweet-Dixie conversions is how Winn-Dixie went through the trouble to replace Sweetbay's meat department signage with a sign that said "The Beef People" - in the same font to match the existing Sweetbay decor too. Originally this would have been branded as the rather generic "Butcher Shop", as presented to you at that link by Sweetbay's former spokes-butcher, Kevin.

     The rounded design of the meat counter makes it stand out from the rest of the store's back wall, the spokes from the counter's awning tying in well with the hanging decor visible over the meat coolers in the distance.

     Here's a close-up of the service counter itself. The left half of the counter isn't used any more, the empty display cooler now covered with ads, with the only meats for sale located in the display case on the other side.

     To the left of the service counter is this small alcove with all the prepackaged meats. A decorative piece matching the awning over the service counter hangs above the alcove.

     A short aisle of some groceries splits the back aisle in half, separating the meat alcove from the grocery aisles.

     Back into the grocery aisles we go for a little while...

     Even Sweetbay's original category markers stayed through the conversions to Winn-Dixie. One of Winn-Dixie's big points when they converted these stores was to not touch the layout of the store in any way, a means to ease shoppers into the new brand taking over their local Sweetbay stores. As time went on, Winn-Dixie has made themselves at home in these buildings. Like I said before, many Sweet-Dixies had full remodels to Down Down in recent years (some of those remodels more intensive than others). The ex-Sweetbay stores that have yet to remodel are still pretty close to their original layouts, even within the grocery aisles, although some minor shuffling has since occurred. For example, the category marker here advertises "Hot Cereal", which has since moved elsewhere within this aisle. Unless you like your Froot Loops warm, this category marker is a bit inaccurate now!

     Getting to the store's halfway point, we find the pre-packaged breads and baking supplies.

     Greeting cards, magazines, and baby stuff in aisle 9. Throughout the 7 years the Sweetbay 1.0 decor was in use, two versions of aisle markers were used: the tri-siders we see here, as well as a flat version that was nearly identical to these. The tri-siders were the most common design in Sweetbay 1.0, with the flat version being a later design change from what I understand. Sweetbay 2.0 would switch back to a tri-sided design for the aisle markers.

     As we get closer to the left side of the building, here's a look across the back of the store, looking at what we've covered so far.

     Here's one last look at the meat alcove.

     Aisle 10 is the last aisle under the drop ceiling. The last two aisles, numbers 11 and 12, home to frozen foods, are located under the higher ceiling.

     Speaking of the frozen food aisles, here they are! Pictured here is aisle 11. Unlike the rest of the grocery aisles, the category markers here in frozen foods were swapped out by Winn-Dixie, these black ones being Winn-Dixie's most current design.

     Like we saw by the deli, the frozen food coolers still have the purple Kash n' Karry stripe running along the bottom. That would point to all these cases being original to the store as well.

     The dairy department takes up a small portion of the wall in the building's back left corner, with the remainder of dairy continuing around the corner up aisle 12...

     ...the remainder of dairy seen here. The coolers to my left are home to more frozen foods.

     The dairy department signage can be seen here. It looks like the Sweetbay category markers over the dairy coolers managed to survive too.

     Returning to the front of the store, in the front left corner of the building we find the pharmacy counter and health and beauty departments.

     While the Health and Beauty signage takes up the wall next to the pharmacy, the actual department is located in a few short aisles in front of the pharmacy counter. Since Sweetbay was never much of one for hanging signage, the Health and Beauty signage ended up on a wall near the department, rather than in the department itself.

     Here's a look at the pharmacy counter itself, which is set into the wall at an angle.

     About 3 or so aisles projected out from the front of the pharmacy counter with the health and beauty products, one of them pictured above.

     Here's an example of Sweetbay's health and beauty category markers.

     From within one of the health and beauty aisles, here's a look toward the front end.

     As we wrap up this tour, here's another look across the front end, looking back toward produce, which is visible in the background.

     Here's a look at some of the check lanes. One of the only major pieces of Sweetbay's decor that Winn-Dixie removed were the old lane lights, a victim of Winn-Dixie replacing these counters to fit their own POS equipment in. Sweetbay's lane lights looked like a pennant, and remained the same through both the Sweetbay 1.0 and Sweetbay 2.0 decor packages (although there were some stores that had the number in an orange pennant rather than a green one, like the example I linked to).

     These number cube lights Winn-Dixie installed were exclusive to their Sweetbay conversion stores, probably to look generic and not clash with the rest of the interior. However, as far as Sweetbay remnants are concerned, those purple light bars hanging over the check lanes are from Sweetbay.

     Here's another look at the customer service desk, which had a full check lane installed on one side of it (with the actual service counter located on the opposite side).

     Prior to moving the service desk to the island in the early 2010's, it would have been located here along the front wall.

     As we head to the doors, here's one final look into the store, a final overview of the entire front end to close out this tour.

     Thank you for shopping your neighborhood Sweet-Dixie.

     Like most Kash n' Karry stores from the 1990's, a liquor store was included as well, this one tucked into the building's right side. Pictured here is the entrance to the liquor store...

     ...with a view of the liquor store's exterior from the parking lot seen here.

     So there you have it everyone, the "average" Sweet-Dixie in a converted Kash n' Karry building. As time goes on, we'll see more from Sweetbay either here or on My Florida Retail, and explore some of the quirks and design changes from different eras of the company. A month from now we'll take a look at one of the most dramatic changes Sweetbay pulled off in its 10 years in business - the decor change from Sweetbay 1.0 to Sweetbay 2.0 as the company entered its final years. Sweetbay 2.0 took the company to a whole new level, and unfortunately, Delhaize never gave Sweetbay much of an opportunity to take that design anywhere. We'll see what Sweetbay was trying to evolve into a month from now when we conclude this overview of the company's short 10 years in business - a fun post for sure that one will be! In the meantime, more Albertsons in two weeks, so be sure to come back then!

Until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger


  1. Stores like this a bit interesting for me to look at since we didn't have Kash n' Karry/Sweetbay stores here in the Houston area and I know very little about them. We also don't have Winn-Dixie stores. Maybe we did at one time, that's a bit unclear to me, but if we did, I don't know where they would have been. I did shop at least one Winn-Dixie in Florida during my visits there. I'm thinking my visit to Winn-Dixie might have been during my trip to Orlando and Volusha County in 1997 (I don't think I went to a Winn-Dixie in 1988, but I did go to an Albertsons of course). I'm thinking it might have been at Daytona Beach. I was staying at the Pirate's Cove Hotel, which was under the Howard Johnson banner at the time, and that hotel had kitchenettes which I seem to remember using. There's a Winn-Dixie down a road from that hotel a bit. It has a modern facade now, but Google shows a picture of it having an older facade in 2014 so maybe it was around in 1997. Maybe not.

    Even though we didn't have Winn-Dixies here in the 1990s, they did run TV commercials here for a while for some reason. Maybe they were testing the market or maybe they were sponsoring some program that I was watching at the time? Anyway, I thus knew about 'The Beef People' and Chek Colas. My expectations were that Winn-Dixies would be nice, but I must admit that the Winn-Dixie I went to, wherever in Florida it was, did not meet the expectations. In fact, it was an utter failure. I remember very specifically seeing mold or mildew on produce and just a general sense of malaise. Although the Daytona Winn-Dixie seems to get Google ratings fairly similar to the nearby Publix stores, it does seem that Floridians seem to prefer Publix over Winn-Dixie by a pretty fair margin.

    Judging by the photos in your post, it seems that this Winn-Dixie is better than what I remember from my visit many years ago. It's no Publix, that's for sure, but it seems pleasant enough. I wouldn't have a problem shopping there regularly I don't think. One thing I evaluate when looking at grocery store photos is to see the price of bananas. It sort of tells me what the prices are like at the supermarket in general. Maybe I'm looking at the wrong sign, but it appears bananas are 65 cents/lb. Is that a common price for bananas at Florida supermarkets? Here at supermarkets like Kroger in Houston, the regular price for bananas is usually 49 cents/lb. I suppose it's good to be in Houston!

    One thing I remember about the Pirate's Cove Hotel since I brought that up earlier is that there was a Burger King near it which looked particularly vintage even in 1997. It looks like there is still a BK with a vintage exterior nearby. That must be the same BK, but it looks like the interior was renovated at least. It's funny that I remember that Burger King so well! At least in 1997, the Pirate's Cove was not expensive, but it was pretty nice and we had private access to the beach there which proved to be a very quiet way to get to the beach. I very much liked that!

    I'm not sure if you had a chance to look at the recent comment I made on the My Florida Retail Vero Beach Kmart post, but I found some great interior photos of the Lake Jackson, TX Albertsons in 1987 which had the Colorful Transition Market decor (I suppose, you'd have to take a look at it). I think you'll love those photos. The manager there was looking to promote the store and decided to hold a wedding there which was well-photographed by the Houston Chronicle newspaper and posted to their site in a 2017 blog post. If you're wanting high-res interior shots of a 1980s Albertsons, that might be what you're looking for. Even if you aren't, the whole concept of Albertsons holding weddings is quite bizarre and worth a look, lol. That Lake Jackson store was probably Albertsons' first real nibble at the Houston market before they fully jumped in some years later.

    1. Of the three big grocery chains founded in Florida (Publix, Winn-Dixie, and Kash n' Karry), Kash n' Karry was the only one that never ventured outside of the state, never making it too far from Florida's West Coast either. Living on Florida's East Coast, I never got to experience much of Kash n' Karry or Sweetbay myself, so seeing these Sweetbay stores in nearly original form is an experience for me too! I do know what Winn-Dixie you're taking about by the beach in Daytona. I have a photoset from there to post eventually, although as you saw, the store was remodeled in 2014. That remodel cleaned up the store a bit, but it feels like an older Winn-Dixie inside.

      That's weird Winn-Dixie was playing ads in Houston, especially since they never had much (or any) presence in the area. Similarly to the Winn-Dixie ads in Houston, a few years ago, one of our local radio stations kept playing ads for Rite Aid here. That was strange to me, as Rite Aid left Florida in 1995! I really can't explain that one.

      Since the 1990's at least, Winn-Dixie has been struggling with an image of being a dumpy chain. They've tried to reverse that image after the 2005 bankruptcy with a surge in store remodels and the "getting better all the time" ad campaign, but Winn-Dixie has had so many problems committing to anything, even today that reputation still haunts them. I was reading an article about the new Winn-Dixie stores opening later this year, and even Winn-Dixie's current CEO seemed to admit Winn-Dixie's connotation as a dumpy store is still out there, but it's something he wants to overcome, stating the upcoming new stores (on top of the recent remodels) will be ways to re-introduce shoppers to a revamped Winn-Dixie that will get people back. No matter what Winn-Dixie does they'll never beat Publix, but I have to give them credit these last few years for trying really hard to turn their reputation around.

      All of these Sweetbay stores Winn-Dixie inherited were remodeled within the ten years prior to Winn-Dixie getting them, so they were all in pretty nice shape at the time of the acquisition (unlike the Winn-Dixie stores still floating out there that haven't seen a remodel since the 1990's). And yes, 65 cents/pound is Winn-Dixie's usual price for bananas (give or take a few pennies from store to store). Publix's usual price is 69 cents/pound (again, give or take a few pennies depending on the location). Winn-Dixie and Publix are pricey for bananas, which is why I buy mine at either Super Target or Aldi, where bananas are always 45 cents/pound. You just have to search harder for banana deals here!

      I just responded to the comment on MFR about the Lake Jackson Albertsons (sorry about that, but sometimes it takes me a while to get around to responding to comments). It really is a great photoset you found!

    2. It's entirely possible that Winn-Dixie was sponsoring an event I was watching on TV and that's why we got the commercial for them here in Houston. It could have been a stock car race or something which has a traditionally Southeastern US audience, but it's hard to say now how I saw those Winn-Dixie commercials.

      A Rite Aid commercial in Houston would be similarly strange, if not even more strange, but I can't say I've seen them advertise here. We would get Kmart ads here on TV and radio for many years up until maybe 2017 or 2018 even. Of course, we have not had Kmarts here in the Houston area since 2002-3! I can only assume that Kmart paid for a national advertising campaign, but that might have been silly given their major holes on the map where they no longer had stores. Of course, those holes have only become larger here in recent times!

      Quite interestingly, Randall's has a new radio ad campaign and they aren't hiding that they are under the Albertsons umbrella at all in it. The ad is promoting Randall's fuel points program that they have with Chevron/Texaco stations. The ad reads out an Albertsons URL to learn more about the program! I never thought I'd hear Albertsons mentioned in a Houston radio ad after 2003 or so, but here we are!

      69 cents/pound for bananas! That's, well, bananas! Most grocers here, even Randall's who is hardly considered the low price leader, charges that much for organic bananas and much less for regular ones. It's really quite surprising that Publix can charge so much and still have such successful stores. It makes me wonder if there is room in the Florida market for a grocer who charges somewhere in between Aldi/Walmart level prices and Publix prices while still maintaining some standard of service. Winn-Dixie may serve that role now, but as you mention, they have a lot to overcome even with their recent efforts. It's rather surprising that nobody was more successful in putting Winn-Dixie out of their misery during their nadir and taking their marketshare while perhaps also trying to shave a little bit off of Publix's lead.

      I figured you'd like those Lake Jackson Albertsons photos from the 1980s and I wanted to make sure you were able to see them! I found my VHS tape from my 1988 Florida trip and went through it. The amount of retail on the tape is mostly limited to footage of an interesting looking Orlando Pizza Hut, if you even count that as retail, but that Pizza Hut rather amazingly allowed me to fill in a lot of gaps about my trip. I put something on the MFR Kmart post about that since the rest of that conversation was over there.

    3. I know Rite Aid had stores in Louisiana until the recent selloff to Walgreens, but was Rite Aid ever in Texas? I don't recall ever seeing references to Rite Aid in Texas before, unless like with Florida, Rite Aid came and went in Texas really quick many years ago. Surprisingly, only until the last 3-4 years, Kmart still had a decent spread of stores across the United States (the only major gap until then being most of Texas, although most major metro areas usually had at least 1 Kmart hanging around somewhere). Kmart airing national ads wasn't too much of a stretch even in the mid-2010's. Now though, the only remaining Kmarts (in the mainland US, anyway) are clustered in South Florida, the Mid-Atlantic/NYC Metro, and California, with single random stores in Montana and Michigan if I remember right, so a national campaign would be completely useless now!

      That's probably weird hearing the Albertsons references again in Houston, but with Randalls getting merged in with Albertsons, I guess before long references to the new parent company would begin popping up.

      Publix has a really strong and fiercely loyal following in Florida, which has certainly helped with the demise of many of Publix's former competitors. Publix has definitely taken a toll on Winn-Dixie, but the company keeps bouncing back. If Winn-Dixie were go out of business completely, that would leave most of Florida without another traditional grocery chain besides Publix, so it's really important that Winn-Dixie finds a way to keep going! I really think that Florida has room for another major grocery chain if someone wanted to put in the effort, but Publix is such a behemoth here, most outside chains don't even want to bother. However, Kroger could never figure out how to appeal to Floridians and Albertsons got squeezed out, so there really aren't many other options for a new competitor for Publix, unless something really crazy happens.

      At least you found that tape. It would have been fun if you found some historic Floridian retail footage on there, but at least you were able to solve the mystery of the hotel by rewatching the tape!

    4. The Rite Aid in Texas question is a good one. I've never seen Rite Aids in Texas. I certainly have not seen them in Houston. Of course, Texas is a big state though and the retail situation in places like West Texas and the Panhandle up near Oklahoma is really quite different than what it is here in the more populated part of Texas which includes Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and the South Texas region from Corpus Christi down to the Mexican border which includes Brownsville, McAllen, and places like that. For example, Albertsons is huge out in far West Texas, along with Lowe's Market (not to be confused with the Lowes grocery chain in the Carolinas, it's completely different), and they don't even know about HEB over there in the west.

      All that said, I don't think Rite Aid has done much in Texas. One oddity is that it seems that they own the RediClinic chain of walk-in clinics which had a number of locations next to larger HEBs, including here in Texas, up until August 2020 when it seems Rite Aid pulled the plug on RediClinic. I'm not entirely sure if Rite Aid always owned RediClinic or what. So, yeah, we did indirectly have Rite Aids in that manner.

      Je of the Louisiana & Texas Retail blog might know more about this because I know he was a fan of the K&B pharmacy chain in Louisiana which got purchased by Rite Aid many years ago. I've heard Je say that K&B had some Texas locations, presumably in east Texas near the Louisiana border, but I don't know if any of those got converted into Rite Aids. If they did, they probably didn't last too long. Je did document some former K&B Rite Aids in the last decade or so and they very much still looked like K&Bs.

      You're right that Kmart was in many/most major metro areas except in Texas up until recently even if they just had one store in some of them. I suppose a minor presence in some of those areas is still a presence. I do think your listing of current Kmarts in the mainland US is correct, but those things are always fluid.

      I'm not sure if Albertsons is really doing much to differentiate Tom Thumb (Randall's sister banner in the Dallas area) from regular Albertsons stores in the Dallas market. That must be a rather confusing situation for Tom Thumb and Albertsons shoppers. As an aside, your Randall's Remarkable card that you found at the Fort Pierce Kmart should work at Tom Thumb, but I don't think it'll work at any regular Safeway stores which use discount cards.

      I did drive by a Krogersons (Krobertsons?) just yesterday in Houston which still has Albertsons signage on the outside of the store, lol. Most of the Krogersons near me have removed the Albertsons signage since 2017 or so, but the Albertsons signage still lingers on in some places! Link:

      On the topic of Houston area Krogersons, did I ever share with you this Food Town in Pearland which has very well-preserved Albertsons Blue & Green Awnings decor, but also has some Kroger 2012 decor in it as well? I know you love mash-ups like this, lol, but so do I. Isn't Food Town amazing? Link:

      Kroger's success in Houston might not have happened if Kroger did not buy the Henke & Pillot chain in the 1950s. Henke's was a major local chain here in Houston and Kroger initially kept the Henke's name for a while in Houston and slowly started transitioning towards Kroger name until everything was 100% Kroger. Unfortunately, that's not of much assistance to Kroger in modern times as it relates to Florida because their only options would be to buy out Publix or SEG. Purchasing Publix would be expensive and would risk alienating Floridians and I don't think Kroger really wants any part of potential headaches and probable regret which would come from buying SEG. Who knows though, maybe small improvements made by SEG might make them a more viable takeover candidate.

    5. I figured Rite Aid never really ventured much into Texas. Geographically, Rite Aid has an odd distribution of locations, with all their stores clustered in the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast, and then the stores along the Pacific Coast, leaving a huge gap in the middle of the country (and now the Southeast). K&B seems to be the most likely way Rite Aid could have ever ended up in Texas, even if it was for a very short time. The RediClinic connection is interesting, and I never knew Rite Aid operated freestanding ones, let alone in areas where the company didn't have a presence.

      I know on the West Coast, areas with overlapping Albertsons and Safeway stores sometimes run using a combined ad, essentially removing any differences the stores once had. Tom Thumb is probably falling into a similar situation, although I don't know if Tom Thumb has moved to a combined ad with the local Albertsons stores. Even still, there probably isn't much difference between the two stores anymore, although I know Tom Thumb has opened (or plans to open) a few new stores, so they seem to be holding their own.

      That's really neat to see that Kroger with the Albertsons signs still up - nearly 20 years later too! That Kroger still has Albertsons' layout in-tact from what I can tell, but everything else has been Kroger-fied. It nice that the exterior signs remained through the recent remodel though. I don't recall seeing that Blue and Green Awnings Food Town before either, but yes, another fun mash-up for sure! Thanks to Food Town, more supermarket relics live on! I've never been to Food Town, but I'm already a fan :)

      A buyout probably would have been Kroger's best option to enter Florida back in the day. Kash n' Karry would have been a good match for Kroger to get a foothold in Florida had they bought the company in the 1970's or 1980's, but Lucky California (of all chains) ended up buying Kash n' Karry, running them until the late 80's. For whatever reason, Kroger thought designing new Florida-centric chains was their way into the state back then, but none of those stores took off. Publix would never, ever, ever sell out to anyone. Depending on how well SEG can turn themselves around, their current operating area (when taking BI-LO out of the picture) happens to be the one big chunk of the Southeast where neither Kroger or Harris Teeter operate. If SEG can overcome some hurdles and make themselves viable again, Kroger could become interested, but this would probably be a ways out if it were to ever happen.

    6. The Texas RediClinics were an odd thing because all of them that I saw were located in HEB shopping centers. I'm not sure if they had some kind of agreement with HEB or what.

      It's a wise move, IMO, for Albertsons and Safeway stores in the same market to run a combined marketing effort. It's funny because at least here in Houston, Randall's/Albertsons has a promotion with Chevron-Texaco gas stations and Chevron and Texaco stations are an example of a 'different name, same game' type retail operation. Granted, such a thing is common in the fuel retail segment.

      That said, I looked up Tom Thumb and Albertsons ads for stores which are very close to one another in the Dallas suburb of Carrollton. As an aside, Vanilla Ice, who has strong connections to both Florida and Texas, lived in Carrollton for a while during his youth. I'll leave that up to you to judge if that's a good or bad thing, lol. Anyway, the ads for Tom Thumb and Albertsons in Dallas are most certainly not combined when looking at the ads starting on October 21st. The Tom Thumb ad is more than twice as big as the Albertsons ad and the Tom Thumb sale prices are less than or equal to the Albertsons sale prices. For example, both have a sale for 12 oz. packages of raspberries or blackberries, but Tom Thumb's sale is for $2.97 and Albertsons' ad price is $4.99! Yikes! There are some prices which are the same though.

      Another big difference is that Tom Thumb, like Randall's, requires a card to get most of the sale prices. Albertsons, OTOH, makes no mention of card prices so I assume Albertsons does not use a card system. I know Albertsons didn't have a card when they were here in Houston. Both chains seem to use Safeway's Just for U e-coupon system though, but I reckon Albertsons stores must use phone numbers to access those instead of the card/number system that stores under the Safeway side of the operation use.

      On the topic of that Pearland Food Town with the Blue and Green Awnings and Kroger 2012 decor, I took a closer look at some of the Google images of the place and it seems that it also has what is clearly a Walmart beverage stand near the pharmacy! So not only does it have some Blue & Green Awnings decor and Kroger 2012 decor, but it also has a Project Impact fixture as well! How strange is that?! Food Towns are a great repository of retail history! Link:

      I didn't realize that Kash n' Karry was owned by Lucky California during that time period. That means that KnK would have had a sister (or cousin at least) chain here in Houston since Lucky California operated the Eagle Supermarket stores in Houston which operated from ~the very early 1980s to about 1985. I'm not sure how much KnK and Eagle stores had in common during that time though. Eagle was positioned as a discount grocer with smaller stores than most of the big names in the Houston grocery game at the time. Lucky California also operated GEMCO stores in Houston. I'm not sure if you had those in Florida.

      I know I read on AFB/MFR that Grand Union had a presence in Florida for a while. Well, Grand Union briefly had a presence in Houston in the early 1980s as well when they purchased the Weingarten's grocery chain that was a prominent grocery chain at the time. Grand Union didn't hold on to Weingarten's for long though as they flipped them to Safeway pretty quickly. Here's what a Grand Union era Weingarten's store looked like, I'd have to assume Florida Grand Unions were pretty similar:

  2. I completely agree with you that it's always fun seeing supermarket décor left over from a former tenant survive in the new tenant's occupancy. Even better is the old décor inception found at this store, with old Kash n' Karry stuff surviving first into Sweetbay's reign, and then all of that surviving under Winn-Dixie! I would've been fooled by that old Kash n' Karry signage as well, because it does indeed blend in quite well with the newer Sweetbay stuff. But it's definitely cool that it survived, and that Winn-Dixie barely changed anything, for that matter. Even the tiny bit they did change -- adding in "The Beef People" -- was done with great attention to detail, which I love to see. Looking forward to seeing "Sweetbay 2.0" in the second half of this series!

    1. That Kash n' Karry signage was a complete shock to me, as usually these conversions were really thorough with removing all of Kash n' Karry's old decor. Seeing that was certainly the highlight of my day! Even with Winn-Dixie's uptick in remodeling recently, I hope they leave some of these ex-Sweetbay stores alone, as most of them are quite nice and still feel modern too. If you liked the decor you saw in here, then you'll really like Sweetbay 2.0!

  3. No better way to start your morning than a nice hot bowl of Froot Loops. Sounds like some disgusting college student invention!

    Fascinating to see this conversion. I don't think this decor ever exactly made its way up to Hannaford, but I'm familiar with the general look of the interior. And honestly, it looks pretty good today, considering the age of the decor and the multiple changes in ownership. The floor does need an update more than the decor.

    I'm much more familiar with the decor package you linked in the Augusta, ME Hannaford. By the way, that store is absolutely stunning in person and the pictures don't really show how beautiful it is. I find the decor to be a bit flat but the facility is just gorgeous in that location. It was a new-build store a few years ago for a 1950s (maybe) era store a few blocks away. I photographed it last summer and I'll post it on The Market Report when we get around to covering Maine, which is, you know, 2022 at the earliest. Can't wait to see more Sweetbay stuff!

    1. It's the breakfast of champions right there! :)

      Hannaford and Sweetbay never directly shared a decor package, but there are some similarities between the two (the bakery decor at that Augusta Hannaford I linked to has a very striking similarity to Sweetbay's decor). Sweetbay's later decor package (the one we'll see about a month from now) took a more radical change from Hannaford, and really tried to give the store a more Floridian spin. These Sweetbay stores are some of Winn-Dixie's most modern locations, and the ones built from scratch as Sweetbay look even better. The flooring is very 90's though. It would have been nice to see that replaced, but very few Kash n' Karry conversions actually went through with replacing the floors.

      The Augusta Hannaford does look really nice! It looks like an interesting store. There really isn't much coverage of Maine retail, so that will be a fun black of stores when you get to it, so it will be worth the wait!