Sunday, June 9, 2024

Former Albertsons #4465 - Sarasota, FL (Lockwood Ridge Road)

Albertsons #4465
8415 N. Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota, FL - University Square Plaza

Today's post is a presentation of Manatee County retail

     As I've mentioned before, June 9, 2012 was a significant date in Albertsons' Floridian tenure. That was the day Albertsons died to the vast majority of Floridians, when 12 of Albertsons' 17 remaining Florida stores closed for good (an additional store, #4485 in Key West, was part of the same closure batch, but had an accelerated closure due to its direct sale to Publix, closing instead in April 2012). Why Albertsons didn't finish off the Florida division entirely on that day I couldn't tell you, but if Floridian supermarkets made sense, then I wouldn't have much to write about, would I? Anyway, my posting schedule happened to work out that my next feature post would upload on June 9, 2024 - 12 years since that fateful day for Albertsons in Florida. In my archives, it just so happened that I still had one store left to post from the batch of 12 that closed on June 9, 2012. Seeing the alignment of the dates, I figured why not use today to write about that store, a fitting way to complete my coverage of the stores included in that fateful closure wave. After all that talk about closings, let's take a moment to lighten the spirits in the room and spend a little time talking about this store's grand opening. Let's turn the clock back to the start of the new millennium and what seemed like a bright new era for Albertsons, especially with the rollout of the company's new innovative prototype called "Grocery Palace", of which store #4465 was one of:

     Just shy of two years after making its Floridian debut in Sarasota on the south side of town, Albertsons opened a second Grocery Palace store in Sarasota's far northern reaches along University Parkway, near the city's airport and what would become a major retail hub over the span of the next decade. Albertsons #4465 opened for business on October 25, 2000, with the newspaper clipping above giving us a look at the store's exterior as well as its in-store Starbucks kiosk (with Beverage Boulevard photobombing in the background). The article makes this store seem like quite the disruption to the local grocery scene, and I'm sure addition of the dry cleaners, photo kiosk, and discount book center on top of the craziness of the Grocery Palace decor was a shock compared to what Publix and Kash n' Karry had in their stores across the street!

     The article continues to describe the store's innovative new design and some of the other programs Albertsons offered at the time. While #4465's address is listed as being in Sarasota (and in my mind, is grouped with the Sarasota County stores), the store actually falls within Manatee County (home of Sarasota's northern neighbor, Bradenton, and why the article talks about upcoming stores in Manatee County at the end). University Parkway follows the Manatee/Sarasota County line for most of its length, although Sarasota addresses continue north of the county line due to the way the local ZIP code was drawn out.

Photo courtesy of National Properties Trust

     Store #4465 was a typical 61,000 square foot Grocery Palace Albertsons, although it had a slightly modified facade with a smaller archway over the entrance. This variant of the Grocery Palace exterior looks quite nice, and I like the addition of the smaller arches around the entryway area as well.

Photo courtesy of Yelp

     I managed to dig up a few interior photos of #4465 before it closed, although none of the photos were taken at the best angles. The first interior photo I found shows off the large Albertsons logo just inside the vestibule, located near the exit doors. In the background we can see the International Deli sign in the back of the store, with a check lane visible in the background too.

Photo courtesy of Foursquare

     Albertsons #4465 was oriented with the grand aisle on the right side of the building, so the deli was in the front right corner with the bakery in the back right, similar to this. The photo we see above was taken looking down the second to last aisle near frozen foods, looking toward the front left corner of the building where the pet department was located. We get a nice view of the Grocery Palace frozen foods wavy wall here, and the grates underneath the wavy wall are looking pretty good too in this photo taken just days before this store's closure sale was set to begin.

Photo courtesy of Foursquare

     Here's one final exterior photo of Albertsons #4465, showing us a close-up of Albertsons' logo (sans the cover on the 'o') and the exit doors. Where there were still Bonus Buys-a-plenty when the above photo was taken, jumping ahead to April 2012, things were about to change:

Store #4354 on Manatee Avenue West is pictured above.

     The news of Albertsons closing 13 of the company's 17 remaining Floridian stores broke on April 11, 2012, with the article above specifically commenting on the closure of the two Manatee County stores included in the closure round - #4354 in western Bradenton, and #4465. The lone Sarasota County holdout, #4346 in Venice, also closed in the 2012 wave. All of these stores I mentioned closed for good on June 9, 2012 after a roughly 30-day closing sale that began about a month after the article above was published.

     When it came to re-tenanting, Albertsons had no trouble in finding a buyer for #4465's old building. Shortly after Albertsons closed, the up-and-coming national chain Floor & Decor purchased the building. Following the sale, Floor & Decor promptly gutted the old supermarket to convert it into one of their usual warehouse showrooms, which have the same general aesthetic of any other big box home improvement store out there. The Sarasota Floor & Decor opened on November 21, 2013 as the chain's 8th store in Florida, and part of the chain's push to go national that began in the 2010's and continues to this day.

     Floor & Decor is a relatively new chain, founded in 2000 in Atlanta, Georgia (hometown of another famous big box chain known for selling home improvement items). The chain has grown rapidly since then, with over 200 locations in 36 states as of 2024, and has aggressive plans to add more stores nationwide in the coming years. Floor & Decor's original stores tended to locate in industrial parts of town in spaces like this, however, Floor & Decor shifted to opening in big box retail centers as their expansion became more aggressive. Floor & Decor loves repurposing vacated retail buildings, especially old supermarkets (like this one) and old Kmarts, with a smattering of newbuild stores here and there too.

     Upon taking over this building, Floor & Decor merged the former Albertsons liquor store space into that of the main building, creating a small alcove in the front right corner of the store. The photo above looks into the area where the liquor store's exterior entrance was formerly located, just to the right of where the "Stone" sign is now.

     If you look very closely at the bricks to the right of the "Stone" sign, you can tell where new bricks were added to cover up the hole left behind by ripping out the old liquor store facade and entrance.

     Outside of ripping off the liquor store facade and making it look like that never existed, the remainder of Albertsons' facade was kept in-tact by Floor & Decor. Floor & Decor did move their sign to the archway from the panel on the left where Albertsons' had theirs, a more prominent spot for the sign with how Floor & Decor's logo is designed.

     Stepping onto the front walkway, more details of the Grocery Palace-era Albertsons facade come into view, with the original windows and can lights above. The doors were replaced by Floor & Decor with newer versions of the sliding doors Albertsons' would have once had here. Let's take a moment though to admire the Albertsons relics we see here, since once we step inside...

     …we enter a plain warehouse that makes the Hattiesburg, MS Dirt Cheap Building Supplies ex-Grocery Palace featured on The Sing Oil Blog a few weeks ago seem exciting. The localized welcome sign is a nice touch though, but the excitement of the interior ends there.

     Floor & Decor gutted this building to the bare walls, and essentially left it that way. Former Albertsons #4465 is just a large open warehouse filled with flooring now, with the photo above looking toward Albertsons' old front end.

     Much like Home Depot and Lowe's, Floor & Decor operates in the same manner where the salesfloor also acts as the stockroom. When I say the building was gutted of everything to the bare walls here, I really mean it, as all of Albertsons' backroom and storage space was removed in the conversion. The perimeter walls you see here are the actual extents of the building. With no backroom space, excess product is stored on tall steel racks throughout the showroom floor, with forklifts to bring pallets down when one on the floor need to be replenished.

     Venturing further toward the front right corner of the building, formerly home to the Albertsons deli, we now find bathroom displays and lots and lots of wall tile in every pattern, shape, and color you can imagine. Looking further ahead, we can see some red painted poles, which note where the original partition between the main store and the liquor store was.

     Here we're looking into the little alcove created when the liquor store was absorbed into the main store. Looking into this area today, we now see even more kinds of tile. Other than this being a weird little alcove in the present, there isn't anything else distinctive in here from this space's days as the Albertsons liquor store.

     It's not often we get to look from the liquor store into the main salesfloor like this, but when the liquor wall is torn down for the sale of flooring instead, this is the scene we get. The area behind the deli counter would have been right in front of me when Albertsons was still here.

     Some whiskey maple hardwood is the only thing alcohol-related you'll find in this liquor store anymore.

     Leaving the former liquor store and continuing along the right side wall, we enter the former produce department. Getting closer to the back of the store, we find more of the tall steel shelves typically associated with a warehouse-style store.

     Now looking down the back wall, those shelves to my right are actually against the building's exterior back wall. Where I was standing to take this picture was originally backroom space, looking from the produce stockroom toward the back of the bakery department.

     With the aisle along the back wall roped off for stocking activities with the forklift, we'll move out to the store's main back actionway. Out here, it feels a little more open and spacious compared to the aisles of tall steel racking we just saw.

     While Grocery Palace Albertsons stores had a lot of different tile patterns throughout the salesfloor, this Grocery Palace Albertsons takes that to a whole new level!

     I have to say, I was floored by the selection in this store.

     Looking toward the back of the store, the red painted pole we see above marks where the wall separating the salesfloor from the old stockroom used to be, in the general area of where the meat and seafood counter used to be. While Grocery Palace Albertsons stores kept their air compressors above the meat and seafood counter, that didn't bother Floor & Decor, who relocated all of that machinery elsewhere, as the back wall of the building was perfectly flush.

     The left side of the building, previously home to frozen foods, isn't as eye-catching these days with the wavy wall removed.

     The photo above looks into the back left corner of the building. I don't remember what I saw back here that made me take this photo, but a bunch of pallets were stacked on top of each other blocking off this corner of the store from public access. This sight certainly isn't as fun as the milk barn that used to be here though.

     Wood you believe Floor & Decor gutted this store so it could start off on a clean slate? I can't help but to re-carpet-ulate that enough!

     I don't know why I'm making so many puns about flooring, as it's a bad idea to tell jokes to tile - they tend to crack up a lot. My jokes about grout tend to stick better though.

     Even with all the tile, wood and stone Floor & Decor sells, they don't sell carpet to round out the selection of flooring. Seems strange a large store focused on selling flooring would skip carpet, but I guess carpet must be an area other stores have well covered.

     Standing in the front left corner of the building where the pet department used to be, here's a look across the store's front wall. Even the concrete floor in here was ground down and refinished, as I couldn't find any scars on the floor from where any of the old tiles, walls, or departments used to be.

     Floor & Decor has four check lanes, located roughly where Albertsons' check lanes used to be, about the only similarity in layout shared between these two stores.

     Stepping through Albertsons' exit doors, we return to the front sidewalk for another look under the original canopy.

     Since the exterior was the only thing left to see here from Albertsons, I took a good number of photos of it. I really liked this variant of the traditional Grocery Palace design.

     Of the 3 Albertsons stores to have existed in Sarasota, #4465 is actually the best preserved out of the bunch now. #4372 was demolished by Publix a few years ago for a new store, and #4464 was gutted to the shell and looks like any other Kohl's these days. So while there wasn't much to see here inside, at least the facade gave us a little taste of Albertsons's presence (unlike the other two former Albertsons stores in town now).

     Of the 3 supermarkets that once stood at the corner of University Parkway and Lockwood Ridge Road at the turn of the new millennium, none of them remain. We just saw what happened to the Albertsons, the Publix across the street moved one intersection west to a deluxe early 2000's prototype, and the Kash n' Karry on the Sarasota County side of University became a Sweetbay which closed in 2009. Even with the closure of the original grocery stores at this intersection, there are still grocers at this corner today, with the Walmart next door to the old Publix expanding into a Supercenter in the early 2010's, and local chain Detwiler's Farm Market taking over a portion of the old Kash n' Karry in 2015. As part of yet another AFB and MFR double shot posting series, we'll take a quick tour of the (fairly interesting) Detwiler's across the street, which you can see here.

     Exiting the shopping center, here's a look at the plaza's road sign that faces Lockwood Ridge Road. Albertsons' logo would have been where Floor & Decor's logo is now.

     With my photos out of the way, let's finish up this post with a little bit of satellite imagery, starting with some Bird's Eye aerial views courtesy of Bing Maps:


Right Side


Left Side

     And now some historic aerial images, courtesy of Google Earth:

Former Albertsons #4465 - 2022

Former Albertsons #4465 - 2013 - Floor & Decor had yet to move in when this image was taken in January.

Albertsons #4465 - 2012

Albertsons #4465 - 2002 - The strip of stores to the north of the Albertsons building had yet to be built.

Future Albertsons #4465 - 1998

Photo courtesy of National Properties Trust

     We'll end today's post with this Bird's Eye aerial image I found in an old real estate listing, taken when Albertsons was still in business. I thought this image provided a nice overview of the store and its surrounding area.

     With that, there really isn't any more to say about this former Albertsons store, but if you're itching for more, be sure to check out my post about the former Kash n' Karry across the street here on MFR. In other announcements, I would also like to share that AFB's annual summer break will begin following this post, with posting to resume on the blog again on August 18th. I don't have anything super spectacular coming up this summer as far as travel plans or anything else, but the break will give me some time to work on a few long posts I have planned for this fall, and we'll see what happens in between as far as retail adventures go. Additional MFR posts could still pop up during the break time, so I'll see what happens in the coming weeks if I find the motivation to crank out one of those.

Anyway, have a great summer everyone, and until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger


  1. Anonymous in HoustonJune 9, 2024 at 1:47 AM

    It is interesting that you were able to post this on that fateful anniversary for Albertsons in Florida. I honestly can't remember the date that Albertsons pulled the plug in Houston, but I do remember December 28, 2000 very vividly. I can remember where I was when I got the news that Montgomery Ward was finished and I can remember breaking the news to Montgomery Ward-loving family members. I'm guessing the same was probably true for those major moments for Florida Albertsons fans!

    The flamingo exterior design of that Albertsons seems very appropriate! Although I've seen some very Floridian looking older Publix stores before, it seems they don't do as good of a job at making Floridian looking stores now as what Albertsons had here. I suppose we could say that Grocery Palace had a certain Disney-factor inside as well which maybe is part of why you like it so much!

    As for the Floor & Decor, there is nothing Disney about that! It's all Home Depot instead, as you say. It has always seemed rather remarkable to me how a store called Floor & Decor is completely lacking in both flooring and decor at least from a retail fixtures standpoint! You'd think they'd want to put some nice flooring down in order to get people in the flooring buying mood, but I guess the focus here is on warehouse pricing rather than making a case for people to buy expensive flooring.

    The lack of flooring at Floor & Decor is really quite 'flooring' (I saw what you did there, lol) given how spectacular the flooring was at a Grocery Palace store! I know given that my local Krogertsons still has that flooring! It is probably unreasonable to expect a flooring store to keep much of what a Grocery Palace store would have had, but you'd think unique use of flooring cover might have been something they would have been interested in. I guess not though.

    I'll have to check out the companion MFR post, but I hope you enjoy your summer break. I'm sure you'll find something interesting to document this summer. If nothing else, you cane enjoy living in the hot bed for ice hockey that is Central and South Florida! I guess that makes about as much sense as a flooring store with concrete floors!

    1. I only realized about a month ago that my first posting date for June aligned with the 2012 closure wave anniversary. Since I still had this store in my backlog, it made for a fitting store to post on that day. Like you with Montgomery Ward, I remember April 11, 2012 very well. That was the morning the 13 Albertsons closures were made public, and I remember seeing the article on the front page of our morning paper and then running to tell everyone the news since our local store was in that batch.

      A lot of Albertsons' store exteriors weren't too customized for the Florida aesthetic, but this one was a nice change, especially since most of the Grocery Palace-era stores had very similar exteriors. Shame it was just a one-off though. Grocery Palace did have a grandiose Disney-like effect, an attribute most supermarket decor packages lack.

      I know, right? Floor & Decor certainly has access to lots of nice flooring, why not use some of it in the stores! When it comes to home improvement stores, I don't think any of them have ever been known for decor or aesthetic, even going back to some of the earlier chains like Scotty's, Hechinger, HQ, etc. Floor & Decor is just following the trend.

      Thanks! I do have a small trip idea in the works. If I do carry through with that idea, I will be stopping at a store that will very much be of interest to you! (And go Panthers! I can only imagine how the Canadians will feel if us Floridians beat one of their hockey teams for the Stanley Cup!)

  2. Another Floridian Albertsons that I would have really enjoyed. It is so sad seeing what happened to the interior of this place. Although, it really isn't significantly worse than what Walmart did to 4463 in Windermere. That place looks so blah now. If fact I was just in the Orlando area last weekend, passing old 4463, and that whole shopping center seems to be slowly going under. It's so strange because in the year 2000, that was a hopping area with a Perkins in the front, and a busy CVS. The CVS is now closed and completely abandoned. It looks quite depressing around there now. I think when Publix opened their new store (The Grove shopping cneter) diagonally across for The Shoppes at Windermere, that was the beginning of a slow death of that plaza. I remember visiting store 4463 in April of 2011 with my sister, and it being pretty quiet back then. These Grocery Palace stores were quite amazing though. When you consider how Publix-ed out Sarasota County is, Albertsons had a decent run there, especially in the neighboring Manatee County. I love what that one lady in the article said "I believe in competition. We need competition, otherwise Publix can come down and charge whatever they want to." I wish more Floridians thought like this woman did. While Publix has the cleanest stores in Florida, its almost criminal to me that we don't have an equally nice competitor to give us better options. Winn Dixie still doesn't match up (but they have great sales though).

    1. I've been to lots of former Albertsons stores that have been ripped apart and remodeled beyond recognition, and this was up there on the list of saddest conversions to a former Grocery Palace (with its number neighbors #4464 and #4466 right up there with #4463 too). It's been a while since I've been to the part of Orlando where #4463 was. I didn't know the CVS in front of that store closed, but looking on Google Maps, the Publix plaza across the street certainly seems to be the bigger draw. With Windermere being a higher-end area, I'm sure the people living around there would much rather shop at Publix than a Walmart Neighborhood Market. Hopefully Aldi keeps Winn-Dixie mostly in-tact, as without Winn-Dixie, Publix will finally have free-range over the Floridian grocery industry.

  3. Wow, I never thought a former Grocery Palace could be even more bland than Hattiesburg, but I think you found a winner! At least that store still had traces of the past inside rather than being totally whitewashed. You also had some nice puns to make up for the lackluster views.

    Building off of YonWoo's statement, it's no mystery that I am a Publix fan, but I also agree that Florida needs competition to keep Publix from getting complacent. I hope that, at a minimum, Winn-Dixie is able to stick around in some notable form. It may not give Publix a run for its money, but it is better than nothing!

    1. If you're looking for the most bland remodels you could ever imagine to a former retail building, find a Floor & Decor! This place really made the Hattiesburg Dirt Cheap Building Supplies seem interesting!

      Yeah, even with their problems, Winn-Dixie needs to be kept around in some form to keep Publix from having free-reign down here. Hopefully Aldi sees that Winn-Dixie's full-size format is valuable from a competitive standpoint and keeps that going long-term. Since no other mainstream grocers want to come to Florida with how domineering Publix is, we need to support Winn-Dixie!

  4. Pretty neat how the timing worked out for this post! And as always, the puns were great...

    1. Thanks - I couldn't have planned the timing any better!