Sunday, February 26, 2023

Former Albertsons #4464 - Sarasota, FL (Central Sarasota Parkway)

Photo courtesy of a really old real estate listing

Albertsons #4464
3950 Central Sarasota Parkway, Sarasota, FL - Sarasota Oaks

     Albertsons always seemed to have an odd relationship with the city of Sarasota. While the nearby cities of Bradenton and Venice managed to secure themselves an Albertsons store by the early 1980's, it took Sarasota until 1988 to finally get an Albertsons of its own. As I explained last time we visited Sarasota (when we visited the city's original 1988 store, #4372), Albertsons wanted to build in Sarasota much earlier than 1988, but the company's original proposed site at Bahia Vista Street and Beneva Road was met with much resistance by area residents. Thankfully it was much smoother sailing to get #4372 up and running, with Sarasota finally getting an Albertsons of its own. After giving #4372 time to establish itself on the south side of town near the entrance to famous Siesta Key, come the late 1990's, Albertsons decided it was time to blitz Sarasota with more new stores. By 1998, there were confirmed plans by Albertsons to build three more stores around Sarasota, with rumors of a 4th location in the works as well. Those four sites included new Albertsons stores on the far southern edge of town near Sarasota Square Mall (that one would become store #4464 - the one we'll be looking at today), another store on the far northern edge of town at University Parkway and Lockwood Ridge Road (that one becoming #4465), a third along the Bee Ridge Road retail corridor at the intersection of Bee Ridge and Honore Ave. (that being planned store #4457, which was canceled due to community protest), and the fourth and final location being a rumored new store in Downtown Sarasota at the corner of S. Osprey Avenue and Ringling Blvd. (which also never came to be, the property redeveloped into other uses). If all that had gone as planned, Sarasota would have went from having 1 Albertsons store to 5 by the turn of the 21th Century - crazy! Sadly only two out of those 4 planned Sarasota expansion stores ever came to be, and we'll take a look at the first of those two today as we venture into the story of former Albertsons #4464:

Photo courtesy of the Sarasota Herald Tribune

     Albertsons #4464 opened for business in January 1999, and was a significant opening for Albertsons too - Albertsons #4464 happened to be Florida's very first Grocery Palace store to open, and was the second Grocery Palace store in the entire chain as well (following the opening of the company's first Grocery Palace prototype in Texas a few weeks prior). *Update - Per the research by Anonymous from Houston in the comments section below, it turns out this was really the 4th or so Grocery Palace store in the chain to open, so the Sarasota Herald Tribune was off on that statistic - however, this still was the first Grocery Palace store in Florida - that part is correct! While the interior of this store looked pretty typical for a Grocery Palace store, the exterior was odd, with an unusually designed entryway with swinging doors and a blocky 2000's "futuristic" facade. I believe the strange facade was meant to compliment the odd architecture of the rest of the plaza (which we'll see more of as we go through this post), but the entryway seems to be a transitional holdover from the mid-1990's Albertsons stores.

     Following the store's opening in January 1999, the Sarasota Herald Tribune did a huge write-up on the new store and its pioneering prototype. In addition, we'll also get a few photos of the interior of a Grocery Palace Albertsons store from the glory days of the design. As the caption of the above photo states: "The new store concept is based in part on new product "centers" and new signs," which is exactly what Grocery Palace's outlandish decor and designs were intended for. The photo above shows the original decor and design of Grocery Palace's baby department, with its specially designed super-sized department sign, category markers, and floor pattern.

     I grew up shopping at a Grocery Palace Albertsons, but I don't remember the large self-serve pastry case we see here. Granted, the Grocery Palace store I went to most was actually 5,000 square feet smaller than its sibling new-build stores of the same design, so I missed out on some of the more deluxe features of this design (like the dairy barn, and apparently the pastry wonderland!).

     It's grocery day. You're tired. You left your list at home. If only you could grab a latte and a seat, and take a few minutes to compose yourself and recompose your list. You walk into the new Albertsons store at 3950 Central Sarasota Parkway, and front and center is a coffee bar. Life is good. From where you sit, you look around the store. It's like no grocery store you've ever experienced. It's revolutionary and one of only two Albertsons stores like it; the other is in Texas.

     Items in this store are grouped together in "centers" by category, and centers are clearly identified by signs and other unmistakable markers. A giant baby hangs over the baby products center to lead you over to it. Need milk? It's as easy as locating the giant barn. The beverage center is beneath a container of giant plastic soda bottles and ice. A gigantic bowl of plastic chips, pretzels, peanuts, and cheese doodles identify "Snack Central".

     The article published about this store's grand opening had a rather poetic way of describing Grocery Palace, didn't it? In person, Grocery Palace has the strange effect of being the perfect balance of over-the-top but not totally overbearing, and is really quite mesmerizing. This decor played a large role in what made me like Albertsons so much, as it really made grocery shopping more fun with all those crazy props scattered around! Even today, I'd have to say Grocery Palace is one of my favorite supermarket decor packages of all time, both because of its crazy design and the pure nostalgia factor I have for it.

    "This is the future," App [Albertsons district manager at the time] said. "We're training people to shop a new way." The concept was designed by the people who know best what a grocery should be - the people who shop. App said the design grew out of information gathered during focus groups of shoppers. "This is what they wanted," he said.

     Customers seeing the store for the first time Wednesday said they liked the concept. Stewart and Nell Gillison like the revolutionary design of the store. "It's tremendous," said Stewart Gillison. "I think it'll be pretty easy to find things after you get accustomed to the store," said Gillison's wife Nell.

      Above is the remainder of the article published about Albertsons #4464's grand opening, the excerpt I typed out above featuring some interesting insight into how Albertsons developed the Grocery Palace design. (I want to know who in the focus group mentioned hanging a giant bowl of chips from the ceiling - that must have been some focus group!) That section of the article also goes into detail about some other fancy features of the new store, including one of the stranger features being a "fragrance counter stocked with $40,000 worth of merchandise, including $50 bottles of Calvin Klein's Contradiction and other designer fragrances." I vaguely remember the designer perfume section at Albertsons, as it always seemed odd to me that a supermarket sold expensive perfumes. That particular feature didn't last long, as buying a bottle of Chanel No. 5 with your chop meat and milk probably seemed strange to others too! (But probably came in handy for last minute Valentine's Day gifts).

Photo courtesy of a really old real estate listing

     In addition to Albertsons, Oaks Plaza also featured Toys R Us as a co-anchor to the center, with some of the other smaller tenants of the strip listed below those two on the sign. However, unfortunately for both anchors, neither had a very good future lying ahead of them.

Photo courtesy of a really old real estate listing

     As revolutionary as Albertsons #4464 may have been, it only lasted for 7 years before being selected for closure in 2006. As part of the breakup of Albertsons that year, this store was included as one of approximately 100 stores Albertsons shed as part of the breakup deal. All the stores closed as part of that deal were some of Albertsons weakest stores, and this ended up being one of them. Toys R Us also had a large closure wave in 2006 as well, however, instead of closing their Sarasota store outright, the Oaks Plaza Toys R Us location was converted into a Babies R Us instead. Babies R Us lasted until 2013, at which point Toys R Us finally gave up on this location.

     As with most of the funky or unusually designed Albertsons stores to have operated in Florida, of course, the fate of this store can be seen above. Yes, that is Albertsons #4464 as it appears today, the original building too (although you'd never know that from first glance). After sitting abandoned for 5 years, Kohls would end up taking over the building from Albertsons, with their new store opening on September 25, 2011. Kohl's completely gutted and rebuilt the place; however, the shell of the building is still from Albertsons (which you can see in the satellite images at the end of the post - from the ground, you'd probably think this building was always a Kohl's).

     Thankfully, what Kohl's did here in Sarasota was better than what they did to the other Floridian Albertsons building they purchased in Tallahassee, which was totally flattened in order for Kohl's to build a new store from scratch. I would have loved to get a better look at this store's strange facade from the Albertsons days though, as it was a design both unusual for a Grocery Palace store, and also because the funky early 2000's futuristic look was rather interesting! Sadly, all we get to see here today is a fairly plan Kohl's facade that looks like the facade of every other Kohl's store out there.

     I guess this Kohl's is fairly unique as it only has a single entrance (the one pictured here), rather than two entrances like most other Kohl's stores. This store didn't feel any smaller than a typical Kohl's, so I don't know if it's size or just the layout of the property that dictates how many entryways a typical Kohl's store gets.

     Stepping inside, the grandeur and pomp of Grocery Palace cedes way for your typical department store fare. The dairy barn has been replaced with white walls, Snack Central reduced to some clothing racks, and Beverage Boulevard is now paved with some very shiny white tiles. If nothing else, at least the designer fragrance counter has made a grand return to this building, with some more complimentary products than chop meat and milk this time around!

     The above photo looks from the front entrance toward the front right corner of the building, where the deli department used to be. Men's clothing now occupies the space where the deli was, extending back into Albertsons' old produce department.

     Our little loop around Kohl's has us going in a counter-clockwise orientation, with us talking a quick circuit around the salesfloor. Here we've turned the corner from the last photo, looking into what used to be produce when Albertsons was here. This side of the store is home to all of Men's clothing, with housewares picking up on the back wall where the Albertsons bakery used to be.

     Housewares and the store's small selection of hard goods occupy the space along the back wall, where Albertsons' bakery, "International Deli", meat and seafood counter, and dairy barn used to be (and in that same order from where I'm standing to the opposite side of the store).

     If I remember right, women's clothing occupied the middle of the store down that aisle to my left, with children's clothing along the left side wall in the old frozen foods department.

     Kohl's "Infant/Toddler" department doesn't have that same pizzazz as Albertsons' did, as we saw in the third photo of this post. It's just not the same without a giant baby suspended under a rainbow hanging above your head (although Kohl's decor may be less nightmare-inducing than that)!

     Rounding the corner, here's a (slightly blurry) look toward the front end, as seen from the front left corner of the building where pet supplies used to be. Additional space for Women's clothing lines the front wall.

     Our final interior photo looks down the store's center aisle, back toward the exit in the distance. Since there wasn't a whole lot to see in here, let's head back outside to take a look at what other elements from the past may be lurking around the property:

     Back outside, here's another look across the entirety of Kohl's facade. The former Albertsons liquor store was located on the right side of the building where Albertsons joined the rest of the plaza. You'd never realize it, but the liquor store is still here...

     …however Kohl's did a very good job of disguising it! The brown painted wall from the right side of Kohl's logo to the corner is the old liquor store. From both the outside and the inside of the building, you'd never even know the liquor store was still there, but it is. Kohl's merged the liquor store space into the main building, and it appears to be used as offices or some other kind of backroom space for Kohl's. In the aerial images we'll see at the end of the post, it's obvious the old liquor store space is still there, but from the ground (at least without walking around to the back of the building), it blends right in now.

     Turning our attention away from Kohl's, let's take a walk over to the small strip of stores that once connected Albertsons to the old Toys R Us:

     This (rather sad and abandoned looking) strip of stores contains the only original architectural elements from the plaza's early days still in-tact. The odd column projections, yellow window trim, and the overall blocky aesthetic are all original, and would have matched Albertsons' unique facade. It seems like whoever designed this shopping center was trying really hard to make it feel futuristic with the new millennium and Y2K just on the horizon at the time, with the abstract modern touches like the "Tetris shape" holes on Albertsons' facade, the slight industrial vibe, and the points that project out from the building for the columns.

     What was futuristic and modern back in 1999 wasn't looking so hot as we entered the 2020s. While the architecture might be a bit dated, the fact that this little retail strip was mostly abandoned wasn't helping with the overall aesthetic much either. Of the 10 spaces that make up this little strip, I think only one was occupied when I made my visit (a nail salon right next to Kohl's). There were signs for a pet shop and a tanning salon up too, but both of those had "Space Available" signs in the windows.

     Nearing the far right side of the little strip of stores, here we find some obvious remains from the plaza's former Cici's Pizza. Cici's was the unit with the white doors, the three door set-up an obvious sign of a former Cici's. The two doors to the right were the entrance, where one would have originally been marked "Dine-In Entrance" (most likely the inner one) and the other marked "Take Out Entrance" (most likely the one on the right). The door on the left would be the exit from the dining room. From what I can tell, Cici's closed this location around 2006, so 2006 really proved to be a terrible year for this shopping center. I peeked inside hoping there would be some Cici's remnants visible through the windows, but it turns out a medical office took over this space following Cici's departure, leaving the setup of the doors as our only remnant the endless pizza buffet.

Photo courtesy of a really old real estate listing

     Going back in time to the much happier days of the early 2000's, here's a look at the strip center when it was a little more lively. Cici's Pizza is visible in the foreground of this photo, along with some of its neighbors.

     At the other end of Oaks Plaza was the former Toys R Us, pictured here while still in business. To the right of Toys R Us was another small strip of stores, that strip's towering "World Savings" sign peeking out from behind Toys R Us (denoting the bank of the same name, which anchored that little strip). As for the fate of the former Sarasota Toys R Us building, here it is:

     Only about a year or so after Babies R Us finished its short stint in the old Toys R Us building, the building (along with the strip of stores to the right of it) was demolished. In its place another little strip of stores was built, which features a Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Skillets Restaurant, as well as a few other (mostly empty, from what I can tell) storefronts. In addition to that, a new Walgreens was built in the area that was once Toys R Us's parking lot. We can actually see the layout of all that in the satellite imagery, which we'll jump into right now:

Former Albertsons #4464 - 2019 - Bing Maps apparently doesn't have Bird's Eye aerial images for this area, hence why we're skipping those today and jumping right into the historic satellite imagery, courtesy of Google Earth. The image above shows us the modern configuration of Oaks Plaza, with the new structures where the old Toys R Us once was.

Former Albertsons #4464 - 2012 - The plaza in its original form, but with Kohl's in place of Albertsons. Here you can see how Kohl's incorporated the old Liquor into the main building following their renovations.

Former Albertsons #4464 - 2010 - The abandoned Albertsons, before Kohl's came along.

Albertsons #4464 - 2006

Albertsons #4464 - 2003

Future Albertsons #4464 - December 1998 - Only a month away from Albertsons' opening when this satellite image was taken, with the strip of stores connecting Albertsons and Toys R Us still in the works.

Future Albertsons #4464 - 1995

     With former tenants being a Grocery Palace Albertsons, Toys R Us, and Cici's Pizza, this shopping center would have been a retail wonderland for a young AFB, with a lot of the places I liked going to as a kid bundled up into one shopping center - if only I grew up in Sarasota instead! However, my childhood Albertsons, Toys R Us, and Cici's Pizza all managed to stick around quite a bit longer than the ones here in Oaks Plaza did (even if they weren't all in the same place), however, all of those are long gone now as well. As you can tell, it doesn't take any more than one look at a Grocery Palace Albertsons to make me wax nostalgic, but then again, I think there are a lot of us who would do anything to bring back the retail of the late 1990's/early 2000's again!

     Anyway, that's all I have to say about this former Albertsons store. In two weeks we'll be back to take a look at another former Floridian Albertsons location, so be sure to come back then for more.

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Former Albertsons #4327 - Plantation, FL


Albertsons #4327 / Publix #1345
1181 South University Drive, Plantation, FL

     As we've seen in our adventures over the years, the former Albertsons buildings throughout Florida have been recycled in a wide variety of ways - from bizarre subdivisions and interesting reminders of the past to entire college campuses and some of the holiest former supermarkets you'll ever see - we've seen a lot. However, even with the strangest of conversions, we always find ourselves back at a Publixsons, probably the most famous conversion of a former Floridian Albertsons store. However, us Floridians aren't special, as Publixsons stores aren't unique to our crazy supermarket scene. Believe it or not, there are a handful of Publixsons stores that also exist in Tennessee (as buying Albertsons' stores around Nashville was how Publix entered Tennessee in 2002 - your supermarket fun fact of the day). If I ever end up in Nashville, a visit to a Tennessee Publixsons will be very high on my to-do list, as those stores are odd in their own right. However, until that day comes, I have plenty of our famous Floridian Publixsons stores to share with you, just like the very successful Publixsons we'll be touring today in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Plantation:

Photo courtesy of YonWooRetail2

     Albertsons #4327 opened in 1978, a year after the break-up of the Skaggs-Albertsons partnership. As such, store #4327, while still using the old Skaggs-era store design, featured the revamped post-split Albertsons signage and logo. That late 1970's logo revamp is what gave Albertsons' its iconic A-leaf emblem that has now seemingly become ingrained with the company. The original Floridian Skaggs-Albertsons stores used a block-text logo, while other Albertsons stores outside of the Skaggs partnership zones used a logo in a Western-style font. The 1979 photo above was purchased by YonWooRetail2 from eBay, and after doing a little digging (as the photo came without any context of its location, other than being taken in Florida), he discovered it was a photo of Albertsons #4327 in its early days. It's a pretty neat artistic shot of the store, showing off the entire original exterior.

     While I don't know much about this store's remodeling timeline in the 1980's and 1990's, I do know it received a refresh around 2002, bringing to the store the facade we see today, as well as an interior update to the Industrial Circus/Broadway decor. Albertsons #4327 would have received a similar interior treatment as its number neighbor #4328 did a little to the north of here in Lake Worth. Albertsons #4327 was one of the 49 Albertsons stores sold to Publix in 2008, and one of the four stores purchased in that deal to be located in South Florida (the other three being #4332 in Coral Springs, #4440 in Cooper City, and #4446 in Jupiter).

     While some of Publix's acquired stores from that deal began to open in late 2008, the store we'll be touring today was one of the later openings, with the new Publix #1345 not opening until May 1, 2010. Publix put a lot of effort into remodeling this store, as I get the impression that Publix was planning on this location becoming a fairly high volume one (and signs point to Publix being right about that). Publix #1345 was a totally new store for Publix right next door to the busy Broward Mall, with a large number of large office complexes behind it. Plantation is also considered one of the better suburbs of Fort Lauderdale as well, especially the areas of town around the mall. As such, Publix gave this store a remodel that was thorough enough to modernize and Publix-ify the building, but without losing the bones of the old Albertsons. The new Publix was designed as a light prototype of the full-blown "hybrid" format Publix that would debut later in 2010 (also in a former Albertsons building too), which included all kinds of upgrades for a template Publix wanted to use for the company's highest tier locations. The hybrid store, which opened in October 2010, was the first store to ever feature Classy Market 3.0/Sienna. As such, I believe the store we'll be touring today was an early Classy Market 2.5/Bamboo store with its May 2010 opening date (and somewhat prototypical nature), although Publix would give this store a full remodel to Classy Market 3.0/Sienna by the mid-2010's, which is what we'll be seeing in here today:

     Stepping through the front doors, the first thing that catches your attention (as it's the first thing you see walking inside) is the large round "Specialty Cheeses" island. The island is not original to Albertsons, and was an addition by Publix when they first moved in. The specialty cheese counter is a staple of the fancier Publix locations, with the wine department in the aisle behind the counter.

     The store's deli is located in the front right corner of the building, the same place where Albertsons would have had this department. However, while Publix kept the same location for the deli (and its neighbor the bakery, as well as most other departments in the store), the deli was thoroughly rebuilt prior to the store reopening. The deli now has a curved lower ceiling which swoops inward along the front wall over the cold cut case, then swings outward over the corner where the hot foods and Pub Sub station are located. Albertsons kept the departments much more square during their time in this building, with Publix's 2010's stores preferring all the curves we see here.

     From this angle we get a better view of the deli corner, with the outward swooping ceiling added by Publix. Unlike what we saw at our last Publixsons (which was also housed in a 1970's Albertsons building), this store feels much more like a Publix inside with all the heavier modifications that were made here prior to the store reopening (like the curved walls, new lighting, and faux terrazzo).

     The way the deli in this store was set up (with all the coolers out front and some inconveniently placed poles) didn't make for the best photographic angles, but I think we get the gist of it. It also didn't help that there were already a decent number of people lining up at the deli for meats and sandwiches, and it was only 8:30 in the morning! I guess that's just some more evidence toward this being a higher-volume Publix store.

     The neighboring bakery department looks like something straight out of a newbuild Publix store, with the curved ceiling and the reconfigured bakery counter (with matching tile backsplash). The old Albertsons set-up would have been much more restricted than this, with the modern Publix bakery design feeling much more open and spacious.

     Publix's curved awnings are very pronounced in this store compared to a new-build Publix, where the curves come off as being a little more subtle. The drop ceiling probably makes the curved awnings seem a bit more overpowering, being closer to the floor. Adding in the round cheese island just out of frame just enhances the crazy curvy feel when visiting this store in person. It's not a bad effect, really, and the curves break up the otherwise plainness this department would have had if Publix kept Albertsons' original designs.

     I visited this store right before Valentine's Day 2022 (the timing of this post being completely coincidental in that regard too, but fitting!), so there were plenty of heart-shaped balloons on display (as we've seen), as well as this heart-draped table of flowers to buy for your true love. With the wine conveniently located next to this table, Publix had you all set for your Valentine's Day gift-giving needs! In the background of all these wonderful Valentine's Day deals, we see not Cupid, but the Publix apple poking out from over the front end. The Publix apple was included in older Classy Market 3.0/Sienna remodels, typically ones done before 2015/2016-ish (with later remodels replacing the apple sign with one of the P-dot logo).

     With the grand aisle being shoved into the same amount of space Albertsons had allotted for this part of the store, the cheese island comes off as being a bit awkwardly placed on the salesfloor. It gets a little tight around the sides of the cheese island, but not too cramped.

     Moving away from the service departments, we turn ourselves 180 degrees for a look into the produce department. Produce occupies the back right corner of the building, and its overall design hasn't been changed too much from the Albertsons days.

     Now that we've successfully passed by that table of Valentine's Day cookies and cupcakes without falling for some sugary temptations (I stayed strong!), here's a close-up shot of the produce department and its hanging sign (which got partially cut off, but 80% of it is accounted for at least!).

     Turning the corner, here's a look across the store's back wall. To our right is the meat department and its accompanying coolers (which now have Evergreen category markers hanging above - all the category markers in this store were swapped out for Evergreen ones, interestingly enough). The seafood department and its service counter are located further down, where the wall color changes to green.

     We'll cut down a grocery aisle as we loop our way through the remainder of the salesfloor...

     Popping out of aisle 2, here's a look across the store's front end. Publix's small seasonal department was located between the front entrance and the check lanes (as is typical in most Publix stores), with the pharmacy in the front left corner of the building in the background (which we'll see in more detail in a little bit).

     I'm getting to the point where I feel like I'm writing the same things over and over again every time we visit to a Publixsons store, as now we're at the part of the post where I mention this store has the dual front actionway setup typically only seen in Publixsons stores (and one Pub-Dixie I've been to). The aisle seen above is the inner actionway, with more wine in the first few short aisles up front, followed by various non-food selections after that. The main grocery aisles branch off to my right, and we'll cut through one of those to magically return to the back wall:

     I've said this before, but the Classy Market 3.0/Sienna decor really fizzles out after the grand aisle in these 1970's Publixsons stores. The back walls in these stores come off as being fairly blank, as all we see are the department signs mounted to the walls in their respective color blocks. A lot of the flair of the Classy Market 3.0/Sienna decor came from the design of the respective departments in new-build stores, and Publix rarely ever bothered to add any kind of flare in converted stores and remodels of older stores where that was lacking on the walls. As least the previous decor this store had would have broken up the blankness just a bit with some extra wall filler.

     Returning to the grocery aisles, here's a look down aisle 5, home to international foods, canned goods and cookware.

     Moving along to the paper product aisle, the sight before us confirms I took these photos last year and not in 2020!

     Frozen foods are located in the center of the store in aisles 7 and 8, the aisle above being aisle 7. In the above photo, you can really tell this store has a much stronger Publix feel to it than the similarly designed store we toured last time. When Publix swaps out the lighting, it makes all the difference.

     Following seafood on the back wall, we now transition into dairy. Dairy also wraps around into aisle 13 along the side wall, taking up the entire side of that aisle as well. Also in this photo, we can see the windows overlooking the store from the upstairs mezzanine area. Some of these later-build 1970's Albertsons stores had their mezzanine areas located on the side of the building rather than in the back, although even with the change, the mezzanine still served the same purpose of being home to manager's offices and (I believe) the breakroom too. Publix did something interesting with that mezzanine area upon moving in, which I'll discuss in just a moment...

     However, before we return to the corner, we'll loop our way back into the grocery aisles by cutting through the other half of frozen foods in aisle 8, complete with more Evergreen category markers.

     As we get closer to the pharmacy in the front left corner, the short aisles at the front of the store transition to health and beauty products. Here we're looking from one of those short Health and Beauty aisles into one of the main grocery aisles.

     Somewhere in the middle of the store I found Publix's clearance rack, which I always like to peruse, as some decent deals and oddball items can end up there. While many times I find products on here that Publix doesn't carry, this was my first (and so far only) time where I recall Publix putting some very lost store brand product on their clearance rack! (I've seen this a number of times at Winn-Dixie, but not with Publix). As we see here, someone at the pasta factory put the wrong shipping label on a box of Giant-MD/Giant-PA/Stop and Shop/Royal Ahold "Fruitbowl" brand ziti. I actually was planning to buy pasta on this supermarket outing too, and I would have bought a box of this mis-shipped Ahold Ziti just for the novelty of it if Publix's clearance price wasn't $3.99! I think the name-brand pasta costs less per box! I don't know who was in charge of pricing these boxes of Ziti, but whoever it was must have thought this was some gourmet pasta brand, and not boxes of wayward store brand pasta!

     In the end, I think I just bought a box of either Publix brand pasta, or whatever was on BOGO that week to keep around the house - I'll have to try that (apparently) exotic gourmet Stop and Shop brand another time! Anyway, moving along to the snack aisle, we find a large selection of brands that are much more common to find in a Floridian supermarket.

     Here's one final look across the store's back wall from the back left corner, before we begin to loop our way back up front...

     …but before we head back up front, here's a look into the back left corner itself. The back left corner of this store actually serves as the entrance to the Publix Apron's Cooking School - a top-tier Publix feature reserved for some of Publix's best and fanciest stores. Only 12 Publix stores currently have a cooking school, and we are in the presence of one of those 12. What's quite interesting about the cooking school in this store is that Publix located it in Albertsons' old backroom mezzanine area (if you turn the corner here at the fire door, there's a flight of stairs that takes you up to the cooking school). I don't know if the entire mezzanine is now part of the cooking school or if there are still offices and possibly a breakroom up there too, but placing it up there was a clever way to make use of what space was available in this building. Yelp has a photo of the cooking school's interior in case you wanted a taste of what it looked like inside. From looking at the calendar online, it seems like the cooking school still does at least one class or event a night on most days, with prices for a single cooking class ranging from $60-$120 depending on what it is (with a few free open house nights thrown in too). It's definitely a concept that will only work at higher-tier stores, but certainly something different for a supermarket to offer!

     With all that talk about the cooking school itself, I forgot to mention one other thing about this hallway - the wall tile. That tile is a remnant from this store's Classy Market 2.5/Bamboo days, and confirms that was the store's original decor. The tile on the deli backsplash was also obviously from CM 2.5 also, but I wasn't able to get a good picture of that like I could of the tile here.

     Turning the corner, here's a look at the store's last aisle. The remainder of dairy lines the left wall, with snack cakes, white bread, peanut butter and jelly located opposite. (I guess it's milk and PB&J for me today then...).

     Nearing the end of the aisle, we find Publix's large wall graphic of eggs - a very expensive piece of art these days! Beyond that we see the pharmacy counter poking out, which we'll take a closer look at next:

     I visited this store early in the morning, so I arrived before the pharmacy's usual 9:00am weekday opening time. (I typically hit the road between 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning on a retail road trip day to make the most out of my adventure, as well as to take advantage of those quieter morning hours - trust me, trying to photograph a Publix once it gets busy isn't fun!).

     While many of Albertsons' remodels around the turn of the 21st Century were pretty elaborate, typically involving reconstructed and enlarged spaces for the pharmacy and liquor store (especially with Blue and Green Awnings and Grocery Palace era remodels). However, moving into the 2002-2003 era, Albertsons began to cheapen out with the remodels, with the stores getting more of a light refresh than anything. These Industrial Circus/Broadway remodels were typically more budget-oriented, with pretty much every example of Industrial Circus/Broadway seen in Florida being in one of these cheap remodels of an older 1970's Skaggs or 1980's Superstore building. With the budget remodel, this store's side entrance was preserved with the liquor store staying put, the only major expense being the relocation of the pharmacy from the back of the store (roughly where the dairy back wall is now) to the corner like we see here. The location of the original side entrance works out nicely for the pharmacy, especially for people in a hurry to grab a prescription. Publix has kept that entrance open as well, with the side entrance getting its own dedicated express lane (which was staffed while I was here too). 

     Turning away from the pharmacy, here's one last look across the store's front end before we head back outside:

     While a lot of these Publixsons conversions were done on a limited budget, some (like we saw here) were much more elaborate, with Publix taking a year and a half to do a thorough conversion of this former Albertsons store. Surprisingly, with all that time it took, Publix could have easily gutted and rebuilt this store (or just flat-out rebuilt it), but instead they chose not to. However, I'm not one to complain about that, as a Publix that managed to keep the spirit of the old Albertsons alive is a much more interesting one to share with all of you! 

     Bringing our attention to the side of the building, here's a look at the store's side entrance, with the entrance for the liquor store tucked into the corner next to it.

     Besides some cosmetic changes, this side of the building still looks very much like it has since 1978.

     At some point, the building's original river rock panels were covered over with these ribbed concrete blocks. I'm surprised Albertsons took the effort to cover over the panels this thoroughly, as the river rock panels are usually just painted over or (at the most) covered with a layer of stucco in later remodels.

     Near the back of the building are the stairs leading to the emergency exit from the upper level mezzanine.

     To finish out our tour, here's one final look back at the side entrance and the liquor store. 

     With our tour complete, we now head up to the sky for some historic satellite imagery, starting off with our usual Bird's Eye aerial views, courtesy of Bing Maps:


Right Side

Left Side - Notice I left out the back this time - Bing's Bird's Eye imagery was glitching out on the back of the building, so I just left it out. We're not missing out on too much back there!

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

Former Albertsons #4327 - 2021

Former Albertsons #4327 - 2011

Former Albertsons #4327 - 2008 - The building lies in wait for Publix to begin construction here.

Albertsons #4327 - 2007

Albertsons #4327 - 2004

Albertsons #4327 - 2002 - The building as it appeared before its remodel in late 2002/early 2003

Albertsons #4327 - 1994

Albertsons #4327 - 1980

Future Albertsons #4327 - 1969 - Western Broward County wasn't home to a whole lot back in the late 1960's, but in a few years this would become prime commercial real estate!

     And with that, I've run out of things to say about our latest Publixsons store. I feel like I need a short break from all these Publixsons stores I've been writing about lately, so our next few posts will be a bit of a reprieve on that front. But don't worry, we'll be seeing another Publixsons before long. The next Publixsons I have scheduled will be a pretty interesting one, but, until then, let's see what other former Albertsons finds we can uncover that haven't been touched by the big green Floridian supermarket monster!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger