Sunday, May 26, 2024

Publix #80 - North Miami Beach, FL (Jefferson Super Center)

Publix #80
850 North Miami Beach Boulevard, North Miami Beach, FL - Jefferson Super Center

Today's post is a presentation of Miami-Dade County retail

     While I started my day of supermarket visits with the former Albertsons store we all saw last time on this particular trip, I actually had a much more pressing reason to make the drive all the way down to Miami on this June morning. As you probably know, I've been trying my best to document as many of the really old Publix stores out there I possibly can - especially the pre-1980's stores that dwindle in number every year. While most Publix stores built before 1995-ish seem to be at risk of getting replaced at any time, the oldest of Publix's stores left in the fleet are especially endangered, given their age, small size, lack of uniformity, and somewhat datedness. While Publix's oldest stores have seen plenty of modernization through the years, these stores are still an interesting (and rapidly dwindling) look into the company's past. As of May 2024, there are 8 Publix stores left in buildings that date before 1970 (those being #50 in West Palm Beach, #70 in Fort Lauderdale, #84 in Coral Gables, #91 in Miami Beach, #94 in Coral Gables, #114 in Wilton Manors, #127 in Miami, and #139 in St. Pete Beach), and at least 4 of those stores have known replacement plans at this time (#50, #70#84, and #94 - 4 out of the 5 oldest). Sadly, the store we'll be touring today was a 1960's ex-Wing Store that's already met its day with fate, but thankfully I managed to make the drive all the way to Miami just two days before it was set to close. It takes a lot to get me to drive through all the traffic to visit Miami, but to see this store was worth it, as tiny old Publix #80 had intrigued me for a while. I actually didn't think I was going to make it to this store in time, but things worked out in a very bizarre way and I made it in time - a bit close to the wire, yes, but I made it before this store was reduced to a pile of rubble. While we'll talk more about this store's fate in a little bit, let's start off with a discussion on its origins, as well as the origins of its former neighbor:

     Publix #80 was constructed to serve as the grocery component for North Miami Beach's new Jefferson Super Center store. Jefferson Super Center was part of the Miami-based Jefferson Stores, a chain of discount stores then-focused on the South Florida market. Jefferson Stores would later be bought out by Montgomery Ward in 1973 as part of that company's expansion into the discount sector, at which time the stores were renamed "Jefferson Ward" and Montgomery Ward took the chain national. However, in the days before Montgomery Ward and national expansion, Jefferson Stores was out to win over the shoppers of South Florida with its new "Super Center" concept. Compared to the regular Jefferson store, the Super Centers included 65 departments scattered about a single floor - from toys to clothing to electronics to hardware and even a prescription pharmacy, as well as a 200 seat auditorium to host fashion shows, cooking schools, and the company's weekly television show called "Big Break" (a talent show where contestants competed for prizes, which aired Sundays at Noon on Channel 10). Even with all that under one roof, Jefferson Super Center still lacked one thing - a grocery department. That's where Publix came into the picture, serving as the "grocery department" for the new North Miami Beach Jefferson Super Center, with Publix #80 later being known internally as "Publix at Jefferson Super Center" - a title store #80 held until its closure in 2021, long after Jefferson's was gone.

     Publix #80 opened for business on May 31, 1962, shortly after its neighbor Jefferson Super Center greeted its first customers. Store #80 would have looked just like the sketch at the bottom right-hand corner of the ad when it first opened, the classic 1960's Publix Wing Store.

     Even Publix's neighbor took out an ad in the Miami Herald to welcome the new supermarket to town, which I thought was a nice touch.

     Where there were plenty of older ads mentioning Publix #80 in them, I thought the one above from 1965 was particularly interesting as it features "Penny Publix" telling us all about the Publix Bonus Quiz Game. If you correctly answer the 19 fill-in-the-blank questions, it will reveal the name of the mystery product you would win for correctly solving the puzzle. If you complete the game today and "present your completed puzzle to the check-out girl at your favorite Publix market" you may get a weird look from the cashier instead of the mystery product, but if nothing else, if you solve the puzzle, you can be filled with a sense of accomplishment and give yourself a pat on the back! Here's a closeup of the puzzle if you want to try out your 1960's grocery knowledge (click on the picture for the full size):

     I managed to figure out the puzzle and what the mystery product was, so if you want to give this game a try, I'll post the answers down in the comments section of the post. There are a few tricky ones on there!

     Brain teasers aside, let's get back to the story of Publix #80! By the early 1980's, Publix decided to expand this aging Wing Store into a more modern design. Expanding into a portion of the parking area along the right side of the building, Publix was able to bring this former Wing Store to just around 35,000 square feet, with its 1980's size and redesign carrying on until this store closed in 2021 (with a few decor swaps in that time too, of course).

     The 1980's also spelled change for Publix's neighbor too. In 1986, Montgomery Ward sold the North Miami Beach Jefferson Ward store to Kmart, who opened a store of their own in the building later that year.

Photo courtesy of Ms. YN on Google

     The North Miami Beach Kmart, store #3613, eventually evolved to look like most Kmart stores of the 21st Century, just with a funky interior layout courtesy of the store's Jefferson origins (see here for more photos of this Kmart when it was open). Miami was always a strong market for Kmart, with a cluster of 7 stores remaining throughout Miami-Dade County into the late 2010's (an impressive number of Kmart stores for one county during that time). The North Miami Beach store was one of the Miami-area Kmarts that lasted into the late 2010's, when the remaining stores in the county began to close one by one until there was one left - the Kendall store, which is still open today by means that myself (and probably most others) don't even understand, especially with the store now a fraction of its original size and stuffed inside its old Garden Center. The strange happenings in Kendall aside, the North Miami Beach Kmart remained in operation until a closing wave announced in August 2017, with the store closing for good by the end of that year. After Kmart closed, Publix must have seen the opportunity to finally expand and modernize the tiny (and somewhat hidden from the road) store #80. By 2020, Publix officially had plans in the works for a new store on the site of the old Jefferson's/Kmart building, which was all part of a huge redevelopment project for the entire Jefferson Super Center property. The new Publix, store #1715, would open for business on June 10, 2021, with #80 closing for good the night before on June 9th. We'll talk a little more about the redevelopment project later in the post, but for now, let's take these next few minutes to remember the Publix that stood on this site for nearly 60 years before store #1715 came to be:

     As interesting as store #80 was from a historical perspective, as soon as I pulled into the parking lot I began to realize why Publix wanted to replace this location. #80 was very well hidden from North Miami Beach Boulevard, having been tucked into the back right corner of the old Jefferson Super Center complex. Also, the parking lot was extremely tiny. While the parking issues probably weren't as bad when the lot in front of the old Jefferson's building was accessible, with that closed off, there was hardly any parking at this busy little store. I had to circle the parking lot for a bit before I finally came across a spot at the very back of the lot.

     The facade we see here dates back to the store's early 1980's expansion, which is when this store's tile murals were also installed (which we'll look at in much more detail toward the end of the post). The marble you see around the windows is another classic Publix trait. Publix used marble on their store facades from the days of George Jenkins' "dream store" opening in 1940 until the early 1980's, when I'm sure marble became way too expensive of a building material for a supermarket chain to use on just about every new store. The marble we see here was redone when the store was expanded, as the marble extends down into the store's addition area as well, and looks uniform across the facade.

     Stepping inside the store, you enter directly into the salesfloor behind the check lanes, into the area that once housed all the BOGO bins. When I visited this store two days before it was set to close, it was crawling with groups of employees and managers running around taking fixtures apart and packing excess product into boxes (presumably to wheel next door to the new store). The two managers seen in this photo were taking down some displays near the entrance and loading shelves onto that pallet.

     Additionally, the photo above looks into the portion of the store that was added on in the early 1980's. During the expansion, the service desk was moved into the front right corner like you'd see in a typical early 1980's Publix store, with the restrooms to the right of the service desk. During that expansion, this store's layout was redone to resemble the floorplan of a typical early 1980's Publix, with only a few small quirks stemming from the expansion.

     Turning the corner past the service desk, we enter aisle 1. Like most 1980's Publix stores, dairy lines the building's right side wall. I'm actually surprised the above photo turned out as clear as it did, as this aisle was crawling with employees, including a circle of managers standing right behind me!

     Leaving the dairy aisle, we turn left at the back wall and find the deli alcove.

     A 1980's Publix build would have had a drop ceiling over the deli alcove, like this. Even with the expansion, 35,000 square feet was still smaller than the average 1980's Publix store (as those were usually around 40,000 square feet), so all the perimeter departments were crunched down a bit to get everything to fit. With the size constraints (and the presence of the support columns, marking our transition from the expansion into the original building), it appears Publix skipped the lower ceiling over this store's deli.

     As we'll see throughout this post, this will be one of the most well-presented and perfectly stocked stores you'll ever see two days before its closure. Outside of the managers taking down a few displays and some vendor product being picked up (or moved next door), this store looked as it would have during any other day. Even the deli and bakery were operating at full capacity.

     Here's a look across the store's front end, and as you can see, it wasn't a very big store. The front right corner was the emptiest part of the store as preparations to make the move began, and this area seemed to be where most of the managers were hovering around. 

     Also, this store had a random little express lane in the middle of the BOGO area next to the main bank of registers. Not sure what that was about, but I had never seen that before.

     Paper products seen here in aisle 3, at least for the next 2 days.

     While this store was expanded in the 1980's, I feel the floor tiles were redone at some point. The beige and brown tile pattern we see here resembles the common tile pattern Publix installed in the late 2000's in the Publixsons stores. I'm sure the original 1980's flooring was looking pretty rough by that time, so I wouldn't be surprised if Publix swapped out the floors in the late 2000's or when this store remodeled to Classy Market 2.5 around 2012-ish. The tiles we see go throughout the store, covering the terrazzo floors in the original portion of the building for a cohesive look throughout.

     Such perfectly-aligned cans for a store with only 2 more days left in business, but that's Publix for you. Even in the rare cases where Publix closes a store outright with no replacement, the closings are handled in the same manner as we see here, where Publix acts like a closing isn't even happening.

     Following the deli alcove on the back wall, we find the crunched-in meat and seafood departments. The service counters are aligned closer to the deli alcove in this store than produce, which a standard Publix build would have. Instead, the meat coolers extend down to produce, which is located in the back left corner of the store.

     Turning around, we can see the rest of the meat coolers as they extend toward produce.

     The "Let's work together" sign blocks it, but this is the celebrity of all grocery aisles, number 12, home to bread, wine, and popcorn - all the makings for a fancy movie night.

     Next door in aisle 13, we find the beer coolers to my left, with a row of frozen foods to my right.

     Leaving the grocery aisles, here's a look from produce across the store's back wall. All of the decorative signs that came with Classy Market 2.5 seem very crunched together on the wall with how condensed all the departments in this store were.

     The only picture of this store's produce department I got was this one, taken from the back aisle looking into the little alcove along the left wall in which the department was housed. This area must have been crawling with employees, or else I feel like I would have taken another picture or two over here (and trust me, there was no shortage of employees and managers scrambling around this day preparing for the move).

     Aisle 14 was this store's last aisle, and home to the rest of the frozen foods department.

     From frozen foods, here's a look into the front left corner of the building, home to the store's bakery department.

     The bakery displays were looking a bit few and far between on this day, but that's still an impressive amount of baked goods for sale in a store that was two days away from closing for good (and that's not counting the filled service counter out of frame to my right either).

     From the bakery, here's another look across the store's front end, as we prepare to say our final good-byes to Publix #80.

     Between the entry and exit doors was a small alcove Publix was using for their usual array of kiosks, although I wonder of that alcove had a more significant use back when this store originally expanded in the 1980's.

     As I mentioned earlier, when this store's facade was redone in the 1980's expansion, when the new tile murals were installed. While most older Publix stores received either 1 or 2 murals to decorate the facade, Publix #80 actually received 3 tile murals! The extra mural is what really intrigued me about this store. I don't know why Publix sprung for the extra mural here, but the mural series looked really nice running along the store's facade. All 3 murals depict a beach scene, inspired by this store's location along one of the major roads that takes drivers to the beach. The photo above shows the mural on the far-right side of the building, to the right of the entry doors.

     The other two murals, which are much larger than the one we just saw, are located to the left of the doors and spread out along the left side of the building. Mural #2 can be seen above, continuing the beach theme we just saw.

     The beach scene depicted by Pati Mills is much more serene than the crowds and parties typically associated with Miami Beach, probably drawing inspiration from the way the beaches around here looked in the area's early days.

     Here's an overview of the two murals located to the left of the doors. Pati Mills must have had her work cut out when Publix gave her word of this store's mural order! Every one of these tiles was hand painted, and there must be a few thousand tiles between these three murals (each column of tiles appears to contain 20 tiles, times however many comprise a row, times 3 murals - that's a lot of tiles to paint!). It's really a shame all of these tiles just came crumbling down with the rest of the building only a few weeks after this photo was taken.

     Sailboats, seagulls, palm trees - once you drive up toward Martin County about an hour and a half north of here (if traffic cooperates), you'll start to find these off-the-beaten-path rural beaches that more closely resemble the scenes depicted here.

     The final mural at the far left end of the building is seen here, completing our beach picture.

     I'd like to think someone managed to save these murals after the store closed, especially after witnessing the murals at the recently demolished stores #394 and #202 disappearing just before those buildings met the wrecking ball.

     A close-up of a portion of the left-most mural, where you can take in the detail that was put into all of these murals.

     If nothing else, I have these few photos of #80's murals to keep their legacy alive, much like my photos of the rest of the store.

     Reaching the end of the walkway, we find this rather unceremonious scene, a precursor of what was about to come for this building before long. The old Jefferson's/Kmart building was connected to the left side of the Publix store, and when that building was demolished, nothing was done to polish off the destruction marks left on the side of the Publix building since this building was going to be demolished soon anyway. That made for an eerie scene on the left side of the building, where you look through the jagged wall to see the back of the back of the Publix store that would soon be replacing this one.

     Here's a better look at the left side of the Publix building where the old Kmart was ripped away, giving us a strange look back at the murals we just saw at in detail.

     My final photo of Publix #80 shows off the store's entryway, as well as the banner out front announcing this store's upcoming closure in 2 days.

     Before we finish this post, I thought it would be interesting to check out a few aerial images to get a better understanding of old #80. In this Bing Maps Bird's Eye aerial image, you can get a better sense at how small this store was and how it was expanded. The pointed roof portion to the left was the original Wing Store structure (which you can easily pick out by that distinctive roofline - that's a dead sign you've found an old Wing Store if you see that roof in a satellite image). The expansion area begins along the line by that Lowe's Home Improvement icon, your precursor to what's this store's fate was.

     From the back of the building, you get a better view of the distinctive Wing Store roof line.

     Before all the redevelopment happened, this was how the property was originally laid out. As you can see, the old Jefferson's store was a large building with a large parking lot, typical of a 1960's discount store. Publix was the tiny building tucked behind the Jefferson's store, almost looking like an afterthought with the way the property was designed.

     For fun, here's a look at the Publix and Jefferson's building in their original forms, back when Publix still had its wings. The small building to the right of Jefferson's was the Hot Shoppe Restaurant, which was later absorbed into Kmart's garden center.

     Jumping to the present, here's what the site of the Jefferson Super Center looks like now. The new Publix #1715 has a much more prominent placement on the property, a large modern 48M with ample parking. Publix #80 was demolished to make room for a new Lowe's, which opened in July 2023, its opening completing the redevelopment. Even after all the changes, the name of the complex was kept mostly the same, rebranding from "Jefferson Super Center" to "Jefferson Plaza". Even though everything you see in the above image is new, it's nice to see the Jefferson name live on like that, a nice nod to the site's past.

Photo courtesy of Sarah V.
     We'll end this post with a photo of Publix #1715 from its grand opening on June 10, 2021. Publix #1715 looks like most other modern Publix stores, and you can see some additional photos of this store (as well as some additional photos of the original store #80) in its Google listing here. I also stumbled across this Reddit post with a few photos of #80 in the days following its closure, including an interior shot of the emptied-out store preparing to meet its demise.

     As sad as it was to see Publix #80 close, Publix #1715 is a huge improvement over the cramped quarters of the original store. We'll have to see if #1715 can last for another 59 years at this site like its predecessor did, but it seems like the odds of that happening are pretty good right now!

     Anyway, that's all I have for today's post. From old Publix stores we'll transition back to former Albertsons stores next time, so be sure to come back in two weeks for more!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Former Albertsons #4455 - Miami Gardens, FL

Xtra Super Food Center #502 / Albertsons #4455
21401 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami Gardens, FL - County Square Shopping Center

Today's post is a presentation of Miami-Dade County retail.

     While the former Albertsons store we're touring today might not seem like much at first glance, this store actually has an interesting backstory, and even in its current life carried on the tradition of being quite the oddity. Old #4455 is another one of the Albertsons stores I would have loved to see while it was in business, as I feel this location wasn't the most straightforward Grocery Palace-era store to have opened. Every new tenant in this building seemed to have a strange take on what to do with it too, so let's jump right into this and learn a little more on the odd flop of a store #4455 was, and what Xtras it may have been hiding too:

     When County Square Shopping center was first built in 1986, it originally featured an Xtra Super Food Center as its grocery anchor. It's been a while since we've talked about Xtra Super Food Center on the blog, but Xtra was a large-format warehouse-style grocer that traced its origins back to Puerto Rico. Owned by Puerto Rico-based grocery chain Supermercado Pueblo, the Xtra Super Food Centers concept originated in the early 1980's in the island territory, and after seeing exceptional results with the new format in Puerto Rico, Pueblo decided to use the Xtra Super Food Center format to enter the mainland United States. Pueblo chose South Florida to begin its mainland expansion, for reasons including the region's close proximity to Puerto Rico and its heavy concentration of Hispanic shoppers, a demographic Pueblo knew well. Launching in 1983 in Hialeah, Xtra Super Food Centers eventually grew into a small chain of around 10 stores in Florida, primarily located in the three South Florida counties - Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach - with a small expansion around Orlando as well. You can read more about the trials and tribulations of Xtra Super Food Centers in this post of mine from 2017, where we explored a much better preserved former Xtra store.

     As for this particular location, the Miami Gardens Xtra Super Food Center opened in December 1986, located just over the Broward County line on busy US 441. The Miami Gardens Xtra was a 78,000 square foot behemoth, the Jewel-Osco of South Florida (size-wise, anyway - Xtra and Jewel-Osco were two totally different formats, but both were trying to make a statement with the size of their stores in a state where supermarkets always tended to skew on the smaller side).

     During Xtra's run in this building, the company tried some unique ideas to help shoppers, one of which was hiring employees to roller skate around the store's large salesfloor to help shoppers locate items. The article above was written about a group of teenage roller skaters who worked at the Miami Gardens Xtra store, with a photo showing a tiny bit of the store's interior (as well as one of the skaters in action). Seems a bit risky having employees on roller skates navigating through a store filled with shoppers and merchandise displays to crash into (thankfully my old retail job didn't require roller skates, or that would have been me!), but I'm sure these guys had fun skating around the building all day! I'm not sure how long Xtra kept this service going for, but this article was published in 1987, toward the earlier years of the Miami Gardens store's life.

     Also in the late 1980's, Xtra rolled out another unusual idea for a supermarket at the time - charging a 25 cent deposit for shopping carts. Reading what folks interviewed in the article had to say about the concept, I'm surprised much of the comments were praise, especially in the days before Aldi's widespread growth made 25 cent cart deposits a more common sight in the United States. The Miami Gardens Xtra was one of two Xtra stores in Dade County to pilot the cart deposit program, following a spike in cart thefts in the county at the time. The article also mentions how Publix and Winn-Dixie were interested in the concept of cart deposits at the time too - I'm not sure if either of those chains ever tried a pilot of cart deposits back in the late 1980's, but it would have been strange seeing those at a Publix. However, any day now we could be seeing those appear at Winn-Dixie in a more widespread fashion!

     I don't know how well the cart deposits and roller skating employees worked out for Xtra in the short term, but they weren't enough to win over shoppers in the crowded South Florida supermarket scene of the late 1980's and early 1990's. By the early 1990's, Xtra's owner Supermercado Pueblo began to experience financial difficulties, and sold its supermarket holdings to a Venezuelan-based conglomerate in 1993 called Cisneros Group. By 1996, Cisneros Group wanted out of the grocery business to focus on its media holdings, and began selling off its grocery stores to any interested buyers. While a buyer did emerge for Cisneros's Puerto Rico-based supermarkets, no one made any bids for the 8 remaining Xtra stores left in Florida come 1996. With Cisneros wanting to offload those stores, the decision was made to close the remaining Florida Xtra stores that year, with Cisneros then selling all remaining sites to individual parties as they expressed interest in the buildings.

Xtra, Xtra, read all about it, and see a photo of this store as an Xtra too!

     The Miami Gardens Xtra closed in February 1996, leaving a large hole in the County Square Shopping Center. Xtra's departure also left the remaining tenants in the plaza with a 78,000 square foot hole and uncertainly about the futures of their own businesses with the anchor store now gone. However, it wasn't long after Xtra closed that rumors began to swirl about Albertsons expressing interest in the space, as discussed in the second part of the article above. This was a glimmer of hope for the neighboring tenants, but there would still be a small wait before any truth began to show from those rumors.

     Xtra's fixture liquidation took place in August 1996, the ad for which I found in the Miami Herald. In the end, Albertsons did take over this site (as well as a second Xtra location up in Winter Park (#4423), although that Xtra closed in 1994 before the rest of the chain). While Albertsons did pull through in the end to take over this site, it took 4 years before the new Albertsons came to fruition, with Albertsons #4455 not opening until 2000. Unlike the former 80,000 square foot Jewel-Osco stores (which Albertsons took over in their entireties), both Xtra stores of similar size that Albertsons took over were subdivided. In #4423's case, Albertsons took over a roughly 60,000 square foot portion of that building, leaving the rest of the space for Books-A-Million to open up shop in. Here in Miami Gardens though, Albertsons took the renovation to a slightly larger extreme - while Albertsons kept roughly 60,000 square feet of the former Xtra for themselves, the remaining space Albertsons didn't want was torn down to make room for the new liquor store and a few small storefronts. Even with a chunk of the building ripped away, the remaining portion of the building was left mostly as-is as far as the design of the facade was concerned, and retained Xtra's original exterior styling, which is still present to this day.

     While Albertsons pulled out of Miami-Dade County in 2001 after a spectacular failure there, #4455 was spared in the big pullout because of a geographic quirk. As I mentioned before, the northern edge of County Square's property line is Broward County. With this store being so close to Broward County, it was actually grouped in with Albertsons' Broward County stores in terms of managerial structure instead of Miami, letting it press on into the 2000's. Even so, #4455 was no spectacular success, with this store quietly closing sometime in 2007 after only 7 years in business (its last mention of being in business came from a March 2007 advertisement). Ross Dress for Less took over this building shortly after in 2008, carving up this former Xtrabertsons into a Ross and dd's Discounts combo store (in the weirdest way they possibly could have too - more on that in a little bit).

     Ross added the new sign panels to the building's facade during their remodel, but otherwise, the building's facade is exactly the same as it looked when Xtra was here. I've never seen a picture of this store while it was an Albertsons, but it appears Albertsons didn't change much except put their sign on the facade, and install a Grocery Palace-esque style entryway to the building.

     Xtra's facade design was fairly industrial in terms of styling, a small overhang of unfinished block without too much fancy detail. That aesthetic fit with the warehouse concept Xtra was going for in its stores, although inside, Xtra did incorporate some neon into the mix as far as decor (in true late 1980's style). Even though Xtra was a warehouse store, at least they were still able to make the interior of the store look a little interesting! (And you can view the entirety of that Xtra Grand Opening ad with more interior photos here in my new Albertsons Florida Blog 2 flickr account - more on that at the end of this post).

     Approaching the entrance, Ross installed all new doors, replacing the sliding doors Albertsons would have had here. Those windows in the distance have a Grocery Palace-era look to them, although I don't know if Albertsons had a typical Grocery Palace entryway here (the two sets of doors may have been closer together as I look this scene over, positioned where Ross's doors are today, with the window stretching a bit beyond the doors). Never having seen a picture of this store as an Albertsons doesn't help, and the fact this store was a strange conversion of a piece of an existing building means there were lots of opportunities for things to fall out of the norm here in terms of design.

     And as far as things out of the norm in terms of design are concerned, I need to explain the funky subdivision Ross did to this place upon moving in. Ross has taken over many former Albertsons stores where the building was split in half, and dd's was placed in the remaining space that Ross didn't need - usually a very straightforward subdivision with the two right next to each other. However, because nothing about this former Albertsons store makes any sense, here's a diagram of how Ross and dd's were carved out of this old Albertsons, courtesy of the landlord's online listing (as this really needed to be visualized from a plan perspective to be understood, and feel free to click on the photo and zoom in too for a closer look):

Photo courtesy of

     Going through those doors we just saw, you enter into a mall-like lobby space. Ross has its entrance straight ahead, with dd's entrance being to the left, both set-up with entries just like you'd see if both were a junior anchor to a mall. Due to the odd configuration, both stores are oriented horizontally, with Ross positioned behind dd's. With how consistent Ross and dd's typically are with their floorplans and store design, this seemed like a strange way to go about subdividing this space, as there didn't seem to be much in the way to prevent Ross from splitting the building right down the middle like they normally would. Looking at the map above, it appears this arrangement may have had something to do with both Ross and dd's sharing the same loading dock in the back, however, I feel like there are less complicated ways to have subdivided this building even if Ross's main goal was to have a single loading area for both stores. At least with the weird configuration, we'll get to see a Ross and dd's that are just a bit unorthodox compared to the traditional cookie-cutter Ross and dd's stores that pop up on this blog from time to time. With that explanation out of the way, let's head inside and see what that map translates to in reality:

     Stepping through the front doors, here's the lobby area I mentioned. The lobby area really feels like a scene from a semi-dead small-town mall than a busy suburban shopping center in Miami. The lobby was complete with benches too, and an Amazon locker (which seems to be a staple of Ross stores these days). Ross's entrance was straight ahead, with dd's to my left (although I never got a picture of dd's "mall" entrance from the lobby, but thankfully Google comes through for me!). Since we're looking toward Ross (and because dd's wasn't open for the day yet - there was apparently a half-hour difference in the two store's opening times), let's go in there and take a look around:

     Stepping inside Ross you were greeted by the check lanes, followed by women's shoes, which were located in a small alcove near the entrance. Beyond women's shoes the salesfloor opened up and turned to the left, where the traditional Ross store began to greet us:

     Besides the odd placement of the check lanes and women's shoes, the remainder of the store's salesfloor looked like the run-of-the-mill Ross store (even if it was rotated 90 degrees from how you'd think the building would be oriented). The photo above was taken looking down the actionway that runs along the back wall of the building, towards women's clothes and accessories.

     Housewares were located toward the back of Ross's salesfloor, which is officially the left side of the building. Since this Albertsons store was a bit odd, I don't know if it had a traditional Grocery Palace layout or not. If this store was a traditional layout, it appears that it would have had its grand aisle on the right side of the building (by Ross's entrance), with us looking toward dairy and frozen foods from where I was standing to take the image above.

     More housewares in the back of the store, with a narrow corridor behind that wall to allow dd's employees to access the receiving area.

     Looking across the salesfloor, we're looking across the width of the building in the photo above. From this spot, the Ross store doesn't look too different from one of its traditionally-built counterparts.

     Men's clothing is located along the wall that divides Ross from dd's, with the check lanes off in the distance where the wall turns to the right.

     Albertsons' grocery aisles would have run in the orientation we see here, with us looking toward the actual back side of the building, which is now the width of Ross's salesfloor.

     Did you see the news article recently about the Ross employee who got fired for constantly reorganizing all the dresses in the store? Management said they had no choice but to make that decision, as that employee had a hanger management problem.

      Additionally, management at that store was quite upset about having to put all the dresses back in order, now that they were all out of sequins.

     However, we'll have to discuss the new research study I saw linking low-rise pants to a newly discovered recessive jean another day!

     You guys must hate when I run out of things to say about a store! Anyway, that was all I had from inside of Ross, with those last few photos being some random ones I took as I made my way from mens clothing back out into the lobby. With Ross covered, let's jump right into dd's:

     dd's occupies the front portion of Albertsons old salesfloor, and much like Ross on the other side of the wall, there isn't much left to see from Albertsons in here. The above photo was taken from the middle of dd's looking toward the lobby entrance, which is off in the back right of the photo.

     Much like Ross, dd's floorplan is also rotated 90 degrees, with the "back" of dd's also being the left side wall, much like it was inside Ross.

     With the way the subdivision was done, dd's is actually a bit smaller than Ross due to the lobby area, which makes dd's shorter width-wise than Ross. I don't know if dd's stores are typically a bit smaller than the average Ross when the normal floorplans are involved, but since both stores use such a similar floorplan, it's hard to tell.

     Our final photo from inside of dd's looks from the mens' clothing department toward the front end, with the lobby just beyond that through the large picture windows.

     Now that we've explored the funky Ross and dd's space, the last thing we've yet to see is the old Albertsons liquor store. The old liquor store is located just to the right of the combined Ross/dd's, its entrance actually abutting what used to be Albertsons' main entrance.

     #4455's liquor store was built new by Albertsons, part of the small infill of smaller storefronts Albertsons built to fill the gap where they demolished part of the former Xtra building. As you can probably tell by the for lease sign and all those old flyers taped to the windows, the liquor store has been empty for a while...

     …empty since Albertsons closed in 2007, to be exact. Like so many times in the past, even though the main store has been re-tenanted and remodeled with barely a trace of Albertsons left behind, the old liquor store stands as a time capsule into tenants past. Sitting empty since 2007, this is yet another example of a former Albertsons liquor store that's had no luck finding a new tenant.

     With how little documentation there is about #4455 out there, it's nice to see a little hard proof of Albertsons time in this building! The liquor store still contains a number of remnants from the Grocery Palace liquor decor, although I wish I could have found more about what the main store looked like when it was open.

     Even though the Ross/dd's wasn't big on clues to the past, at least we got a nice little glimpse of Albertsons remnants through the liquor store windows. Now that we've seen everything down here, let's fly up high for some satellite imagery, starting off with some Bird's Eye aerial images courtesy of Bing Maps:


Right Side

Right Side

Left Side

     And now the historic aerial images, courtesy of Google Earth and

Former Albertsons #4455 - 2023

Former Albertsons #4455 - 2011

Former Albertsons #4455 - 2007 - This image was captured in November 2007, showing the Albertsons already closed, meaning the store closed sometime between March and November of that year.

Albertsons #4455 - 2006

Albertsons #4455 - 2003 - Maybe these images were taken at odd times of the day, but from what I've seen, this never looked like the most hopping Albertsons store to have existed.

Future Albertsons #4455 - 1999 - The Xtra building fully in-tact still. The Xtra would have most likely looked similar to this in its full form.

Xtra Super Food Center #502 - 1994 - Unlike Albertsons, Xtra seemed to have a bit of a following here!

Future Xtra Super Food Center - 1986 - Preparations for pouring the foundations of the shopping center beginning here.

Future Xtra Super Food Center #502 - 1984 - Nothing here yet.

     I wish I knew more about what this store looked like during its Albertsons days, but otherwise, the story of Albertsons #4455 was one of the more unusual ones in Florida (complete with one of the strangest retail subdivisions I've even seen). Even though this store outlived its Miami-area counterparts by 6 years due to a geographic quirk, I still think this store was another victim of how Albertsons couldn't figure out Miami. Miami is a tough place to be a grocery store, and with Albertsons' poor track record of wooing Hispanic shoppers (both in Florida and elsewhere), Miami wasn't going to be an easy win for Albertsons with Publix, Winn-Dixie, and the numerous Hispanic chains that thrived in this area in the late 1990's and early 2000's. With how fast Albertsons crashed and burned in Miami, this city left us some other unusual Albertsons remnants, and we'll check out more of those another time. For now, be sure to come back in two weeks for more of our Floridian retail adventures!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

P.S. - If you're on flickr, be sure to follow the new Albertsons Florida Blog 2 flickr account! Unlike my original account, I won't be posting regularly on the new account - it will be more for sporadic updates and random photos I want to share about stores that may not need a full AFB or MFR post. However, my primary interactions with everyone will still be through the original AFB on flickr account, so if you need to contact or interact with me through flickr, keep doing that through my original account.