Saturday, August 27, 2022

Where Shopping Is A Pleasure, 2004 Style

Publix #172
4601 9th Street North, Naples, FL - Neapolitan Way Shopping Center

A Classy Collaboration: A Companion to This Week's My Florida Retail post by The Sing Oil Blogger - Yes folks, you heard that right - you get to see two posts by two different Southeastern retail bloggers about the same store on the same day! Madness I tell you, and I'll explain the reason for the madness later in this post, so sit back and enjoy the tour!

     Ah, 2004 - a much simpler time when OutKast and Usher were topping the charts, Friends and Frasier were coming to an end after spending over a decade on NBC, and the only election most people cared about was if Pedro would become the new class president (an election that Florida couldn't mess up!). By the time 2004 came around, Publix was trying to brace the company for the new millennium. After a few years of experimentation, a totally new look for the company would be rolling out in full force come 2004. Moving away from the era of pastels, the signature design of the 1990's, Publix was looking to embrace the new trends of earth tones, a warm feeling, and a classy shopping experience. Publix would embrace this design concept in various forms for the majority of the first two decades of the 21st Century, beginning with the design's first iteration, "Classy Market 1.0". Classy Market 1.0 existed in various forms from roughly 2001-2007, though its first few years in existence were very prototypical. By 2004 the design for Classy Market 1.0 was perfected, rolling out in newbuilds and remodels throughout the chain. However, Publix being Publix, the Classy Market decor package had a number of evolutions during its 20 year run, as Publix made sure their designs stayed fresh and modern. Publix is a chain that likes to keep stores on-point and on-trend, so as the years went on, the older variants of Classy Market eventually fell out of flavor, getting remodeled into newer versions of the decor. While a number of chains may still have a vestige of the 1980's or 1990's sticking around for one reason or another, a time capsule into the chain's past, we're not so lucky with Publix. Remodel-happy Publix is very good about keeping stores modern, so amazingly, Publix's oldest remaining decor package left in an active store today only hails from the early 2000's (and it's quite shocking a decor that old even remains). Publix typically likes to remodel stores every 5-6 years, however, the store we'll be touring today has escaped a remodel for nearly 20 years. We'll go more into the reason for why that is in a moment, but for today, we're going to take a look at and appreciate the relic that is the very last Classy Market 1.0 Publix. So as they would have said back in 2004, let's get it started in here:

     Until recently, I was under the impression that Classy Market 1.0 was totally gone, with the last remaining holdouts being removed from the company by 2018 or so (with store #371 being one of those later holdouts). However, about two years ago, someone left a comment on the blog stating that Publix #172 still had Classy Market 1.0 in the present. At the time though, the newest photos on Google were from 2018, so it was still a bit of a mystery as to whether that tip was true or not. Finally in late 2021, a contributor sent me a handful of photos from Publix #172 showing Classy Market 1.0 in all of its glory, confirming the unthinkable - a Publix that hadn't been remodeled in nearly 20 years. After getting that confirmation I knew I had to make the drive out to Naples to see this place. Finally, on a very cold morning this past January, my opportunity arose, and here we are: Publix #172.

I guess if a Bentley or Rolls Royce is out of the budget upon your move to Naples, a metallic pink Mercedes will have to suffice!

     Publix #172 opened on August 28, 1986, and is currently the oldest operating Publix store left in Naples (and all of Collier County, too). The store #172 is a recycled number, originally used by an unrelated store that operated from 1972 to 1985 many miles north of here in New Port Richey. As I've mentioned in the past, Publix had a bad habit of reusing store numbers until the early 1990's, creating lots of oddities in the numbering sequence of the older stores. Considering how "vintage" this store is compared to most other Publix locations out there, it should be no surprise that it has active replacement plans in the works (which was yet another motivator for me to make the drive out here sooner rather than later). About the only way a Publix with an older decor package can survive as long as this one has is because Publix wants to replace it. Currently, plans call for a tear-down and rebuild of store #172, with a modern 49M replacing what we see here now. However, Publix's plans seem to keep hitting a snag, as (per The Sing Oil Blogger upon his visit to this store) those plans have been delayed indefinitely yet again. No matter what happens though, either Publix will get their way and this store will be demolished and rebuilt, or Publix won't get their way, and the store will instead be remodeled to Evergreen. So really, no matter what the outcome is, Classy Market 1.0 is living on borrowed time.

     Stepping inside, we begin our interior tour with this horrifically blurry shot of the vestibule (this was the only photo I took of the vestibule, so sadly this will have to suffice, but the rest of my photos turned out much nicer!). Being a late 1980's build, this is one of Publix's "single vestibule" stores, with the single windowed hallway connecting the two sets of doors. From the vestibule you enter the store behind the check lanes, and then get funneled into the weekly BOGO section.

     Now is where the fun begins! Entering the store itself, we wander beyond the check lanes to find the greeting card nook to my right along the front wall, with the service desk and the BOGO tables to the left of that. Besides all that, and even though all the Valentine's Day balloons weren't sharing the love by blocking some of the signs on me, we get our first glimpse of this store's Classy Market 1.0 decor. Between all the balloons, we can also see the window to the right of the "Service" sign, which looks out over the salesfloor from the mezzanine breakroom above it.

     Turning the corner into dairy, we get a better feel of the Classy Market 1.0 ambience. One of the staple decorations in the Classy Market 1.0 decor were the faux windows and awnings, which we get a sampling of on the walls of the dairy department. Classy Market 1.0 also used a light-colored earth tone palate, with pale greens and yellows being the staple colors of this decor package. The earlier versions of Classy Market 1.0 used serif lettering for the department signs, another one of the unique features of this decor. Later Classy Market 1.0 stores would end up getting a sans-serif font for the department signs (using the same font carried through to Classy Market 2.0, 2.5, and 3.0), but besides the font change, the rest of the decor design stayed the same.

     If memory serves me right, the last time I saw the serif version of Classy Market 1.0 in person would have been in 2014, so my experience here in Naples really brought me back to a time I didn't think I'd get to relive again!

     Looking into the store's back right corner, here's a close-up shot of the window and awning decorations used prominently in this decor. There's just something really classy looking about this decor and the way it all comes together, hence why I began calling this package (and in turn, its later variants) "Classy Market".

     Above the dairy coolers in the back right corner were some old posters, designed using the same font as the rest of the decor. The three posters explain (from left to right) the Publix Checkout Promise (If during checkout the scanned price of an item, excluding alcohol and tobacco products, exceeds the shelf price or advertised price, we will give you one of that item free), the Publix Guarantee (We will never knowingly disappoint you. If for any reason your purchase does not give you complete satisfaction, the full purchase price will be cheerfully refunded immediately upon request), and the Publix Carryout Service (Helping you out with your groceries is just one of the extra services we are happy to offer you. No tipping, please.). While later decor packages don't prominently display these services on large posters like this, Publix still lives by all the things mentioned on these signs.

    Spinning around 180 degrees from our last photo, here's a look across the back wall, where we find the deli alcove.

     The current Publix Deli logo (along with the accompanying logo for the bakery) made its debut with Classy Market 1.0, replacing the previous Wavy Pastel-esque logos for both departments (two links there).

     In addition to the main deli signage on the front of the jut-out, additional signage was installed on each side too. The side closest to the dairy aisle advertised the "Custom Subs", with the other side (which we'll see in a moment) advertises "Sliced Meats".

     Like most older Publix stores with delis of this design, the main deli counter with the sliced meats resides in the middle, with the fried chicken/Pub Sub counter off to the right of that.

     Here's the deli as seen from the other side of the back aisle. The meat department is the next department we find along the back wall following the deli, but we'll see more of the meat department in just a moment.

     Entering the grocery aisles, we find the standard 1980's setup with the raised ceiling over the center aisles.

     As I was researching Publix #172 for today's post, I stumbled across an interesting article from this store's past. In May 2007, Publix announced they would be converting this store into one of the original Greenwise Market prototypes, announced just a few months before the opening of the first original Greenwise in Palm Beach Gardens in September 2007. In preparation for the conversion, Publix #172's pharmacy (which had only opened in 1998, most likely during the Wavy Pastel remodel) was to be shut down on June 16, 2007, with the conversion process to Greenwise happening over the 18 months to follow. However, after the opening of the first three Greenwise stores in Palm Beach Gardens, Boca Raton, and Tampa in late 2007, Publix began to lose faith in the concept, canceling all plans for future Greenwise Market locations, including #172's conversion. Publix's decision to open their first "hybrid store" prototype (Greenwise's replacement) only a few miles up the road probably helped with canceling the plans for this store's Greenwise conversion too. What stinks about all that was Publix #172 lost its pharmacy for no reason in the end, and to this day the store still lacks a pharmacy (although #172's planned replacement is supposed to bring back the pharmacy counter). However, if Publix did carry through with the Greenwise conversion in late 2007, Classy Market 1.0 would have died out around 2018, as this store would have been heavily remodeled to look like this.

     I feel the aborted Greenwise conversion just adds to the oddities of this store overall. Publix's intent certainly wasn't for this store to go so long without a remodel, but it seems like their plans for the future of this store can never progress as intended.

     Returning to the front of the store, here's a look across the front end. I have some better pictures of it coming up later, but I'd like to note this is one of very few Publix stores left that still retains its Wavy Pastel-era decorative metal structure over the front check lanes. While these metal structures survived a number of remodels, most of them were wiped away come the Classy Market 3.0/Sienna remodels, meaning you won't find one of these often in 2022. However, while the metal awning survived all these years, interestingly, the original CM 1.0 check lane cubes didn't - the cubes we see here are the CM 3.0/Sienna variant.

     Considering this store got the Wavy Pastel-era metal structure over the front check lanes, most likely this store's decor lineage started with the 1980's shiny metallic design, followed by Wavy Pastel, then Classy Market 1.0. Since the now-closed pharmacy was added around 1998 (per Florida's pharmacy license database), I'd imagine the Wavy Pastel remodel happened around that same time too. I haven't been able to narrow down the timeframe for the Classy Market 1.0 remodel, but since the serif version was used, the remodel would have most likely happened around the 2004-2005 timeframe, only a few years before the aborted Greenwise conversion would have begun.

     Returning to the back of the store, here's a nice overview of the meat department. The meat department sign is accented by a pop of pale pink, as well as more of the decorative window and spotlight props.

     If you were to ask me to describe the general effect of Classy Market 1.0 into a few words "subdued and refined" would be my answer. The later Classy Market packages were much bolder and stronger in their design and color scheme. While the later packages clearly morphed their way out of this one, Classy Market 1.0 managed to maintain a much different feel overall than its later variants, the pale color scheme really helping to differentiate Classy Market 1.0 from its descendants.

     I really seemed to like photographing the meat department, didn't I? I feel this part of the store really captured the entire essence of Classy Market 1.0, with the colors, props, and crown molding all present in this one scene.

     As I mentioned earlier, I visited this store on one of the coldest days of the year, which is why you're seeing people wearing their puffy winter coats throughout all these photos (we sometimes dust those things off for a day or two in Florida!). Driving out here to Naples, the thermometer in my car dropped as low as 34 degrees Fahrenheit, and the grass on the side of the road in the more rural areas I drove through was covered in a layer of frost. It was a rather surreal sight, actually, and not your typical Floridian weather! However, seeing this store was worth waking up early on this chilly morning.

     Between the check lanes and the bakery is a small wine nook, and presumably where this store's pharmacy used to be until it was shut down in 2007. Had I known about the pharmacy closure when I was here I would have poked around the wine department more for clues to its prior existence (such as scars on the terrazzo where walls were removed).

     Only a few more grocery aisles to go before we make it to the left side of the store and frozen foods. Here's a quick look down the rather busy chip aisle.

     Health and beauty products could be found in aisle 11.

     The last two grocery aisles (numbers 13 and 14) are home to frozen foods, with a small chunk of aisle 13 also reserved for the cold beer. All of the original Classy Market 1.0 category markers survived above the coolers too, although it's not really surprising Publix decided to keep the matching category markers through the years for consistency (unlike Winn-Dixie's older stores, which sometimes have a mish-mash of category markers from all different eras).

     From the end of aisle 13, we see the seafood counter straight ahead, with floral to my left.

     Instead of having an actual wall sign, the seafood counter was given this hanging sign instead, with a decorative awning placed above the counter itself. A bit of an odd choice, as other Classy Market 1.0 stores had an actual wall-mounted seafood sign.

     Opposite the seafood counter is the floral department, which somewhat floated in the middle of the back aisle in between the two frozen food aisles. In these older Publix stores I've seen floral located both here as well as on the wall where the orange juice is in the background - I don't know the reasoning for the placements, as I've seen both 1980's and 1990's stores with both arrangements.

     The back left corner of the store is home to produce. In addition to the old wall decor, the spotlight grid hanging above the produce department is another older Publix feature that's almost non-existent these days, with most of those getting ripped out in later remodels.

     The "Specialties From Around the World" sign (or some variant of that phrase) was another produce department staple from Classy Market 1.0. Interestingly, one of the other variants of this sign managed to survive a remodel at one of my local Publix stores when it remodeled to Classy Market 3.0 a number of years ago - a crazy little relic there, but being on the wall of the prep room probably helped it escape getting removed.

    Publix has to be one of very few chains that can keep a nearly 20 year old decor package looking nice and somewhat modern. While pastels may not be the hip color palate of today, the decor has been maintained, and looks just as good as it did the day the Classy Market 1.0 remodel finished.

     From produce, here's one last overview of the back of the store.

     Working our way up front as we near the end of our tour, we'll take aisle 14 back for a look at the Frozen Foods wall sign.

     The front left corner of the store is home to the bakery (as seen here), and as typical of these older Publix stores, freezers for ice cream line the two walls of the bakery alcove not occupied by the main bakery counter.

     Also like in produce, the spotlight grid over the bakery is another nearly dead Publix design feature from years ago.

     Here's a quick look at the bakery counter itself. What I find odd about this particular scene is the tile pattern above the bakery counter is actually the tile pattern from Classy Market 2.5. The "Breads" and "Desserts" signs are the correct Classy Market 1.0 designs, but the newer tile is throwing me off. From what I understand, Classy Market 1.0 used plain white tiles in the bakery, unless this pattern is older than I thought? I don't know, but this store's oddities are really stacking up!

     Leaving the bakery, here are a few photos of the front end as we prepared to leave this relic of a Publix...

     While this Publix wasn't as crazy crowded as its sister store 3 miles to the north, it was still bringing in a decent crowd, however this store felt much calmer overall, which I liked better.

     Thank you for shopping at the world's most outdated Publix, with one last glimpse at Classy Market 1.0 as we return outside...

     To the right of the Publix building is this abandoned storefront, which previously housed a Hallmark store and more recently a short-lived pet shop. As part of Publix's plans for a new store, this store front would be demolished along with the Publix next door in order to allow enough room for the larger store.

     Since this space is going to be coming down with the Publix before long (if all goes as planned), it wasn't up for lease, and is just sitting here waiting for its date with the wrecking ball.

     Hopefully you guys enjoyed my virtual tour of this extremely outdated Publix as much as I enjoyed visiting it in person. What's crazy is at this point, Classy Market 1.0 looks like it might outlive Classy Market 2.0, as Publix's last Classy Market 2.0 store is expected to close for its rebuild in September 2022. We'll get to see the last Classy Market 2.0 store on the blog before long, but it probably won't be until after it closes if that September date does hold true.

     In addition to Publix, a Walgreens serves as the junior anchor to the Neapolitan Way Shopping Center. Since strip center Walgreens stores aren't super common anymore, I took a quick picture of this one for posterity. I did peek through the windows of this Walgreens, and the inside was the typical modern Walgreens fare, so this store has seen more updates recently than its supermarket counterpart behind me!

Classy Market was everything, everything that Publix wanted
It was meant to be, supposed to be, but they lost it
All of the memories so close to me just fade away
All this time Publix was pretending
So much for this post's happy ending

     That popular song from 2004 couldn't have put it any better, even if a weird old Publix decor package wasn't necessarily what Avril Lavigne was going for with that song. Classy Market 1.0 is living on borrowed time, as Publix will get their way and modernize this store somehow before long, so we just have to enjoy this fluke of Publix past while we can. I wish I had a happier way of ending this post, but we all know Publix - the outdated will not stay outdated for long!

     I hope everyone enjoyed my little tour of the world's most outdated Publix, the most modern outdated supermarket you'll ever see! In addition to my coverage of this store, you can also check out today's additional coverage of this store on MFR by my pal The Sing Oil Blogger for a different perspective, and it will be interesting to see what you guys think after reading two posts about the same store but written by two different people. I think this is the first time anything like this has been done in the retail community, so the two of us are interested in seeing what you guys think! (Either it will be an interesting new perspective, or you guys will be saying to yourself, "AFB, why'd you have to go and make things so complicated?")! 😄

     Anyway, that's all I have to say about today's store (and all the references to pop-punk hits from the early 2000's that I plan to make), so be sure to come back in two weeks for some more coverage of former Floridian Albertsons stores.

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Former Albertsons #4417 - Naples, FL (Pelican Bay)

Albertsons #4417 / Publix #1337
8833 Tamiami Trail North, Naples, FL - Marketplace at Pelican Bay

     It's back to business here on AFB after my little rest break. I hope everyone had a nice summer themselves while I was gone, and I certainly had some fun retail road trips during my time off too. While I keep amassing hundreds of store tours to feature, I just need to work on getting more of those tours published to the blogs! Anyway, today's post pulls another small contribution out of my massive backlog, as we dive deeper into the history of Albertsons in Southwest Florida. Featuring the major cities of Port Charlotte, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and Naples, Southwest Florida is famous for its tranquil gulf coast beaches and stunning sunsets. For the retail fans in the room, Southwest Florida is also home to some rather fascinating supermarket relics too. While today's post won't be covering one of the region's more fascinating relics, we'll be seeing one of the more interesting examples of retail in the area next time on AFB. However, today's store does hold a small historical significance for both Albertsons and Publix, so let's dive into the backstory of this store and learn more about it:

     Compared to the other major cities in Southwest Florida, Naples has always had a sleepier, small-town feel compared to larger cities like Fort Myers and Cape Coral to its north. Over the years, Naples has made a name for itself as being the "Golf Capital of the World", and being a haven for rich retirees looking for a waterfront estate (and what goes better together than rich retirees and golf?!). Naples is by far the ritziest of all the Southwestern Florida cities, and I can certainly attest to that too as I saw two Bentleys in the parking lot of this Publix as I was walking into the store (amongst other quite nice cars - putting may car in the running for the dumpiest one in the lot!)

     With the Naples area growing a bit slower than the areas to the north (especially in terms of more middle-income suburban development), it took Albertsons until the early 1990's before touching the market with its first stores. It wasn't until 1994 when Albertsons made its debut in Collier County, opening store #4417 on the northern end of town (the location we'll be touring today) and #4422 in the firmly middle-class East Naples neighborhood further south on Tamiami Trail (a tour for another day). With Naples being a slower-growth area, and Albertsons not really being known as a classy store, it makes sense it took them a while before entering Collier County. The US 41 corridor from the Lee County line into downtown Naples is a very high-end area, especially the further south you go toward downtown. Albertsons tried to give store #4417 a higher-end exterior compared to the typical store of the time, although I've never seen any interior pictures of #4417 to tell if Albertsons tried to do anything fancy in there (like adding a cheese counter or an expanded wine department).

     The only photos I could find of Albertsons #4417 before Publix came along were these grainy old photos showing the store in the middle of the conversion process, courtesy of an old real estate listing that no longer exists. Albertsons #4417 was one of the 49 locations Publix bought from Albertsons in 2008. While most of the stores Publix bought in that deal were converted by the end of 2008 or the beginning of 2009, old #4417 was an exception. Instead of the cheap conversions many other stores received, Publix decided to use this building (and its affluent location) to their advantage. After taking control of the space, Publix decided to completely gut and rebuild the interior of old #4417 and turn this building into a new "hybrid prototype", the precursor to Publix's modern 54M design. The "hybrid prototype" was supposed to combine a regular Publix store with the best features from the original Greenwise Market concept from the late 2000's, and this new format was a major contributing factor to the original Greenwise Market's demise. The Sing Oil Blogger recently took us on a tour of the second "hybrid prototype" location in Brookhaven, GA on MFR, which you can recap here (where he goes into much more detail about the prototype's origins). The new Publix #1337 that would open in the shell of former Albertsons #4417 was a significant opening for Publix - debuting the new prototype layout, as well as a new decor package - Classy Market 3.0/Sienna (yes, that package's 11-year run began right here in a former Albertsons in Naples!)

     So even though Publix didn't leave us much in terms of Albertsons relics (besides the exterior, which is completely original), this is still an interesting Publix to tour due to its significance within the company. Publix #1337 opened on October 21, 2010, replacing store #249 in The Pavilion Shopping Center across the street (which closed the night before #1337 opened).

     Considering how well-off this area is, I can see why Publix would want to use this location to debut the new store design. Publix's 54M prototype is typically reserved for high volume stores in well-off areas, and #1337 checks off both of those boxes.

     Now that we've seen the exterior, it's time to put the Albertsons relics behind us and step inside, however, there is one more thing I should mention about this store...

     …sadly, I visited Publix #1337 right as its remodel to Evergreen was nearing completing. Even if Publix wiped away all traces of Albertsons from the interior, I was hoping that at the very least, I can see this store with the very first installation of Classy Market 3.0/Sienna still in-tact. I probably shouldn't be surprised Publix remodeled this store, as its decor was 11 years old at the time the remodel happened (and Publix likes to remodel stores every 5-6 years if they can). CM 3.0/Sienna was a very nice decor that held up well over the years, so it's pretty sad to see it going away almost as fast as it originally appeared everywhere!

     The previous photo was a general overview of the store's grand aisle that you see upon entering, while the photo above shows the new dining nook, located immediately to your right after walking through the main entrance. When this store remodeled to Evergreen, Publix made some minor tweaks to the layout, and this dining nook was one of the modifications. Originally, the store's cafe would have been located where the dining nook is, the dining nook originally in a small room off to the side of the deli counter.

     As for the cafe, that was shifted over to the left from its original space, taking over a piece of the old bakery counter in its expansion. In my travels, I've actually noticed there are actually 4 different cafe options Publix might include in a store, the one we see here being the basic coffee/tea/soda/pastry option. Publix has a special cafe option for their South Florida stores, which while branded exactly like the one here, offers a totally different Hispanic-oriented menu of pastries and coffees. Then you have the stores with Pours, which is just the cafe we see here with a beer and wine tap added on, and the last option being the Publix stores with a Starbucks inside. I'm surprised Publix has such a variety of cafe options available, as the cafes aren't exactly a common feature to stumble across.

     To the left of the cafe is the bakery, which had yet to have its department sign installed (the Evergreen remodel was about 95% done when I took these photos, so while most things look complete, we'll notice some things aren't quite right as we continue through the rest of the store).

     Following the bakery is the deli counter (which we saw in our very first interior photo), followed by the Aprons catering counter (which occupies the room where the original dining area was located).

     Produce occupies the large space in front of all the service departments, completing the 54M's "grand aisle". Albertsons' "grand aisle" would have been located on this side of the building too, with bakery in the same corner where Publix's bakery is now (oddly enough), and the deli in the back right corner where the wine department is now, with produce running in-between.

     Here's a straight-on look at the new catering nook, located in the original dining alcove. The original catering counter would have been located under the drop ceiling to the left of the current "CATERING" sign, the old counter's space now used for an expansion of the wine department (the old drop ceiling not serving much of a purpose anymore with the move). To the right of the catering nook we see part of the deli, which retained its original older CM 3.0/Sienna brown wall tile, which clashes with the rest of the new gray-colored decor (and don't get me started about how the gray clashes with the original brown-painted ceiling too!)

     Here's a look back at what we covered so far in the grand aisle, looking through produce toward the new cafe and dining area.

     Like most 54M Publix stores, we have a large wine department located in the back right corner of the store, where Albertsons' deli was located originally. The wine department here is very large, and even has a counter for the in-store wine attendant. Sadly, the attendant was nowhere to be seen when I was here, so I couldn't ask Publix's resident sommelier if the $500 bottle of Dom Perignon they had for sale would pair well with my PB&J sandwiches.

     Following the wine department, we continue along the back wall toward the meat and seafood counter, located next door. The small counter immediately to my right (which got partially cut off in the photo) was a dedicated sushi counter.

     Finding the meat counter to my right, I spy a rare early CM 3.0/Sienna relic back there - the brick-like (or "striated muscle", as the Sing Oil Blogger put it) wall texturing and matching brown service meat case! Here's a better look at this department in original form, where you can see more of the original brick patterning that didn't make the cut for the later CM 3.0/Sienna stores. Sadly, I didn't realize what kind of wall texturing was still lingering behind when I was here, or else I would have taken a better photo of the meat counter. Only recently has the Sing Oil Blogger gotten me to analyze the nuances of Publix's tile backsplashes to date various remodels, and I don't think I'll ever be able to look at tile the same way again now!

     Leaving the service departments behind us, we'll begin our transition into the store's grocery aisles. As the original 54M "hybrid" design, this store was also the first Publix to debut the "hybrid" drop ceiling/warehouse ceiling look that all larger modern Publix stores (49M and up) use. I quite like the hybrid ceiling design, as it creates a neat effect that makes the perimeter areas feel larger than they really are.

     Returning to the front of the store, here's a look across the ridiculously busy front end.

     Not only was this store's front end busy, the entire store was a madhouse when I was here, and I visited on a Monday morning! If this was the crowd on a weekday morning, I'd hate to see the crowd this store draws on a Saturday afternoon...

     After fighting the crowds up front, we return to the slightly calmer grocery aisles as we make our way toward frozen foods.

     Two aisles of frozen foods are located in the center of the store, in the break between the two sets of drop ceilings. It seems that Publix keeps the original mustard yellow color of the coolers in stores that remodel to Evergreen rather than repainting the trim, leaving for an interesting color contrast with the brown ceilings and gray walls.

     The (crowded) back wall transitions into dairy following the meat coolers, with dairy extending to the back left corner of the store.

     Also, have you noticed anything peculiar about the aisle markers yet? If you haven't, you'll see that the aisle markers received their new gray Evergreen placards, but the numbers had yet to be switched over the new Evergreen design. I guess what we see here proves that the original Sienna aisle marker frames get reused in remodels, since the design of the signs themselves didn't change, just the colors of the placards.

     From the back of the store, we'll continue along in the second frozen food aisle as we continue to meander through the remaining grocery aisles...

     Along with the missing bakery sign and the in-transition aisle markers, aisle 12 is probably one of the most obvious examples of how this store's Evergreen remodel wasn't quite finished yet. Some product in the aisle was still being shuffled around, and the row of shelves to my left had yet to be rebuilt in its new home.

     From the end of aisle 12, here's a look at one of the dairy department signs, although the sign itself got quite glared due to the presence of the spotlights.

     One of the funkiest aspects of this store's layout can be found on the left side of the building. Typically in a 54M Publix store, dairy wraps around the store's back left corner and continues up the left side wall. In this store, dairy is located entirely within this alcove in the back left corner of the building, with the overflow extending along the back wall toward meats. I don't know if this alcove was Publix's intent for 54M hybrid stores going forward, or just a one-off oddity due to this store being shoehorned within the walls of a former Albertsons.

     From the alcove, here's a look toward the remainder of dairy along the back wall, looking back at what we've covered so far.

     Since dairy found its home in that alcove, the store's last aisle (where dairy would typically be, with bread, peanut butter, and jelly on the shelves opposite) is home to health and beauty products. It just feels weird seeing diapers along that wall and not dairy coolers!

     The pharmacy counter is located in the store's front left corner, and the Evergreen decor pairs quite well with the Sienna pharmacy design and its glass tiles.

     Albertsons' pharmacy would have been located in the same spot at Publix's, and it's quite strange how much of Albertsons' mid-1990's layout resembles that of a 54M Publix! Like Albertsons would have, a few small aisles of pharmaceuticals extend out from in front of the pharmacy counter.

     Here's one last look at the store's bustling front end, as we head back outside for a few final looks at the exterior...

     The attached liquor store is located to the right of the main supermarket building, its entrance visible here. Publix modified the original Albertsons liquor store entryway into one of their own when this store was under construction.

     Returning to the parking lot, here's the exterior of the liquor store, still in its original Albertsons design.

     A very nice store for Publix, and I'm sure this was a very nice store for Albertsons too.

     With our ground level coverage out of the way, let's go up in the air for some satellite images, starting with some Bird's Eye aerial images courtesy of Bing Maps: 


Right Side


Left Side

     And now for some historic aerial images, courtesy of Google Earth and

Former Albertsons #4417 - 2021 - The empty anchor building to the south of the former Albertsons is an old Stein Mart, which closed with the rest of the chain in 2020.

Former Albertsons #4417 - 2014

Former Albertsons #4417 - 2010 - This image must be from early 2010, as it shows Publix's conversion work still going on.

Former Albertsons #4417 - 2008 - Abandoned Albertsons at the time.

Albertsons #4417 - 2005

Albertsons #4417 - 1995 - The southern portion of the shopping center had yet to be built.

Future Albertsons #4417 - 1984 - Nothing where Albertsons was, but the shopping center at the top of the image shows the relatively new Publix #249 across the street, which was replaced by #1337. While the image makes it seem like Publix plopped a store in the middle of nowhere, there's actually a large neighborhood right behind the plaza. It just took a while before the intersection built out.

     That's all I have to report on for former Albertsons #4417, Naples first Albertsons, and Publix #1337, the store that gave us the 54M and CM 3.0/Sienna. We'll be sticking around the Naples area for our next post, a really fun bonus store that should be an easy guess if you've been following recent Floridian supermarket talk (and was my main motivation to drive all the way out here when I did). You're going to love our next destination, as it's at store that is the last of its kind, so be sure to come back in two weeks for that!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger