3003 W. Vine St., Kissimmee, FL
This Target store opened in 1992 as part of one of the earlier batches of new Target stores to open in Florida. Target closed this store on February 2, 2013 due to years of poor performance and declining sales. This store did not sit empty for long, as it was remodeled into a Garden Ridge home decor store as a part of that chain's third attempt to establish stores in Florida (a long story I'm saving for a little later). Garden Ridge opened here on December 7, 2013. Shortly after opening as a Garden Ridge, this store was rebranded into At Home, the new name and branding campaign that Garden Ridge came out with in 2014, which has since been rolled out to all of their stores as they continue to expand across the country.
Before we jump into a full tour of this Target store, here's a video from WFTV Channel 9 news about the closing of this store. That video captures some looks at this building from when it was still a Target, complete with P01 decor, which you can use to compare to what you're all about to see. From what I've read, this store was performing quite poorly for many years, and was rumored to be up for the chopping block for a while until Target officially made the announcement of this store's closure in late 2012. The area this store is in is considered to be a dying area for retail, as many of the stores on US 192 (aka Vine St.) in the central part of Kissimmee have closed, or moved to one of the many newer shopping districts in the northern and western parts of town. This building was very lucky to have been repurposed as fast as it was (and as retail especially), as this area isn't known for that. However, Garden Ridge/At Home seems to like abandoned Targets quite a bit for some reason, as many of their recently opened stores are in repurposed Targets. (Old Kmarts are another favorite of At Home from what I've been seeing too). Flickr member Justin Clark has some really interesting pictures of a former Target in Memphis, TN being transformed into an At Home store, and you can view those pictures in the albums here. At Home did some major renovations to this building after they took it over (especially to the entryway and the interior), but there were still plenty of Target clues lurking around, especially outside.
While Garden Ridge/At Home made some modifications to the entryway setup as we saw in the previous photo, the rest of the building is still original Target, complete with the original Target fire exit decals all over the place! All At Home did over the rest of this store's exterior was repaint it.
A better look at one of the original Target fire door signs on the front of the building.
Over on the right side of the building is the former Target Garden Center, which sits untouched. The old Target garden center has been sitting unused since 2010, when it closed with the rest of the Target garden centers that year. Target began to slowly phase out their garden centers at some stores prior to 2010, however that was the year when Target officially decided that plants weren't their thing.
The lighting wasn't cooperative with this picture, but this was the old Target road sign, which still retains it's Target shape and design, with At Home's logo replacing the red bullseye. Kissimmee still has one other Target store, a Super Target, located about 5 miles west of here on US 192 near the edge of the tourist district. That doesn't sound like too much further away, but with Kissimmee traffic, it could easily take 30 minutes to go that far at peak traffic hours.
Here is a quick look at a map of this store's current layout as At Home. For a home decor store, this place was absolutely massive! (And this is actually one of At Home's smaller locations!)
Before we jump into out interior tour, I might as well use this moment to explain the background on Garden Ridge/At Home's weird experience trying establishing stores in Florida. Garden Ridge originally began opening stores in Florida in the late 90's in South Florida, specifically Broward and Miami-Dade counties. By the early 2000s, Garden Ridge had 3 stores in South Florida. Around that same time, Garden Ridge declared bankruptcy and slowly those three stores closed, with all of them vanishing by 2004. Shortly after the three South Florida stores closed, Garden Ridge returned to Florida by opening a new store in Jacksonville. That store proved to be successful, and Garden Ridge seemed to be happy with only having that one Florida store for the time being. However, in 2011, the landlord of the building Garden Ridge occupied in Jacksonville sold Garden Ridge's lease to the operator of a poker room, which forced Garden Ridge to close that store the same year. Jumping ahead to 2013, and Garden Ridge returns yet again to Florida, this time by opening two new stores near Orlando: one on Orlando's east side, and this store in Kissimmee. In 2014, Garden Ridge, now transitioning to the At Home name, opened a third Florida store in a former Super Target in Orange Park, a suburb of Jacksonville, and has been growing throughout Florida ever since. As of late 2018, At Home has 6 locations in Florida, most of which are clustered around Orlando at this time. I guess the expression "3rd time's the charm" is working out for At Home, and I give them a lot of credit for their effort to not give up on Florida! That's probably because they don't have to worry about competing with Publix...
The first few pictures I took in here came out slightly blurry for some reason, but I guess we'll make due. To start off our interior tour, this is the view you see as you first walk into the store, looking down the main aisle that runs along the left side of the store. At Home ripped out all of the old floor tiles (no marks from Target's old tiles left behind either), and they tried pretty hard to de-Target-ify the interior. However, the lighting looks to be left over from Target, which helps to preserve a small bit of that Target feel.
Here's a look down the main aisle that runs across the front of the store.
Moving back to the left side of the building, here's a look down the left side wall from the front of the store. This area is home to At Home's seasonal department, which was full of summertime and Halloween merchandise when these photos were taken.
More views from the left side wall of the store, but from further down the aisle. At Home made a fairly interesting modification to the building back here, which we'll be looking at closer in the next few pictures:
Well, I guess this old Target's sales floor just wasn't big enough for At Home. In the back left corner of the store, At Home busted right through the wall to expand the sales floor into what used to be a part of Target's back room. This expansion space is now home to a selection of patio furniture and lots and lots of chairs. This is a picture of the ceiling transition between the main sales floor and the expansion area.
Panning the camera a bit more to the left, where we can see more of the former Target backroom section of At Home's sales floor.
Another perspective of the transition between the two sections of the store. Also, this place had every single design of chair ever imagined back here. I've never seen so many different types of chairs in one place before. It was almost a spectacle to behold, really! What you see here was just a small fraction of all of the chairs they sell here, as you can't even see the upholstered ones in this picture!
It's pretty amazing all of the endless possibilities one can do with a former Target building. This large sign is attached to actual back exterior wall of the building.
Looking out from the former backroom space, past Chairland (one of Central Florida's lesser known theme parks), and into the main sales floor. If you haven't been to Chairland before, you really should visit. It's the comfiest place on earth, and home to the famous Pirates of the Chair-ribbean ride! (Yes, Disney is really feeling the pressure from Chairland! As Retail Retell put it, Disney "better step their game up before they're able to sit pretty again... :P")
Emerging from the alcove in the back left corner of the store, here we're looking down the main left side aisle. The store's main entrance is visible off in the distance.
Turning to the left after emerging from the alcove, we have this view looking down the main back aisle of the store. Of all the photos I took inside this place, I think this view has the best Target feel to it.
Going a little further down the main back aisle, we see more of the fabulous wonderland that is Chairland and its "Hall of Barstools" attraction. (I seriously think that chairs make up the largest department in this place, as they took up 2/3rds of the back of the store).
Looking down one of the center aisles in the store, we have this photo which was taken at the approximate dividing line between Target's old hardlines and softlines departments. As l_dawg2000 noted, "With that red in the photo, it definitely has a Target feel to it!"
Going further toward the right side of the store, here we see (what I believe was) the only door that leads into At Home's (rather shrunken) backroom. Since they gave up a portion of Target's old backroom space to convert into more salesfloor, At Home keeps a good chunk of their backstock on the salesfloor in certain departments, thus limiting what stays in the back.
And yes, as you can see in this photo, we still haven't even left the chair department yet! However, we at least made it to the upholstered ones, because it is "An Upholstered World After All"! While we will soon be leaving Chairland behind us, do not fret! As unfortunate at that may sound (especially to Retail Retell, who asked "But what if I never want to leave Chairland? D: It's the comfiest place on Earth!") there are still plenty of attractions to be found here at At Home. We still have yet to visit Chairland's sister attractions, including the Kilimanjaro Safari, the House of Mirrors and The Enchanted Forest!
A little bedroom display in the middle of the store, to make you feel even more at home. However, it's for display only, so no napping allowed after a long day at Chairland!
Yet another center aisle that runs down the middle of the store, however this one is situated just a bit further toward the right side of the building.
Here's a view of the right side wall, looking toward the front of the store from the rug department.
Mirrors, mirrors, in the aisle...yep, this is At Home's House of Mirrors! It really feels weird walking down this aisle and seeing your reflection all over the place, and the mirrors reflecting off of each other making those infinite reflections. If only they threw in a few of those weird mirrors that distort your reflection, this really could have been a Fun House attraction! (Although those mirrors probably wouldn't sell very well, especially the ones that add 20 pounds to your reflection!)
Looking toward the front of the store from the main right side aisle, where Target's seasonal, hardware, and electronics departments were located. Had this store been profitable enough to receive a late 2000's remodel, the food department would have been relocated to this portion of the store, and those departments I just listed would have been pushed to the back. Anyway, that aside, let us take this brief moment to explore the next attraction in this place, the Kilimanjaro Safari. At this attraction, we can pause to watch that group of giraffes grazing upon their natural habitat in the savannas of this building. As PlazaACME said, "Haha! There sure are some weird furnishings out there."
And the fun doesn't stop just yet, as we're just now making our way to the Enchanted Forest! These plants really are magical too - you don't have to water them, and they never die!
As you can tell, we finally made it to At Home's famous fake plant department. Based off of what everyone has said about At Home, I was expecting this department to be the size of Chairland. What you see here was it though. As Retail Retell said, "Glad they've gotten their priorities straight! I'd much rather buy eighteen thousand chairs. :P" Yes, a room full of chairs is much more practical than an indoor forest of fake foliage, however, the leaves on the fake trees would make a great snack for the giraffe statues should you buy both! Retail Retell agreed with that sentiment too, saying "Good point! I can have indoor theatre seating and a replica zoo if I buy it all..." It sure is amazing the great design ideas one can get when they visit At Home!
Here we are looking down the main front aisle of the store, toward the entrance. Target's pharmacy and health and beauty departments would have been to the left, and books and magazines would have been to the right. I probably should have linked to this earlier, but here's a map of how this store was laid out when Target was still open.
The front right corner of the store. The corner itself was curved, which I believe is another remnant from Target.
This is the view down front wall of the store. I'd have to say wall art was the second largest department in this place, because I remember quite a few aisles of the stuff.
This sticker was found on the floor in the Wall Art department. If the walls in this building could talk, this is what they would say: "Target....Target...." (in a low, whispery voice).
This little alcove was in the front of the store, and it may have had something to do with Target's old pharmacy, which used to be located right about here. That door on the right probably leads into more of the old pharmacy space.
Here we have ourselves look across the front of the store, toward the right side wall and the checkouts.
The registers were behind that rather picked through shelf. To get to the registers, you had to walk down a long twisty aisle filled with candies and snacks, all of which happens to be blocked by that shelf.
Lastly, as we conclude our tour of this former Target store, we're back to where we began at the front doors. That will do it for our look at the Kissimmee Target/At Home store. After a long day of visiting all the exciting attractions at At Home, why not end the day on a sweet note with a giant ice cream cone?
And I wasn't kidding when I said giant ice cream cone either! We're going to finish off this post with a cherry on top as we take a quick look at the (new when I took this picture) Kissimmee Twistee Treat ice cream shop, housed in a giant ice cream cone. Located at 2809 W. Vine Street, this site was originally home to a Chevy's Mexican Restaurant. I don't know how long this place was Chevy's, but the building has been here since 1984. Chevy's closed in the mid 2000's, and the building sat empty until 2015. That year the building was stripped to its metal structure and turned into a small shopping center, which included this Twistee Treat Ice Cream shop. Twistee Treat was a chain of Ice Cream shops, located mostly in Florida, and were famous for having their buildings built in the shape of a soft serve ice cream cone. After falling on hard financial times twice, and a few failed attempts at revival, a new corporation took over the Twistee Treat brand in 2010. Up to the present day, Twistee Treat continues to open more locations under the new ownership, in addition to continuing the rehab and relocation (literally picking up and moving) of abandoned and neglected cones. The new company is doing well and currently has around 25 locations around Orlando and Tampa (in addition to a few independent Twistee Treats that broke off from prior ownership that still exist elsewhere around the state and the country). The Kissimmee Twistee Treat location was still in the process of opening while I was here. The chocolate dipped top means this location will be one from the new ownership of the chain. In case you were interested, here's a picture of this location after it opened. The grand opening was October 16, 2015, which was just a few days after I took my pictures here.
Now that we've visited Chairland and the many other exciting attractions inside At Home, as well as had our ice cream, it's time to board the monorail and head back home. With that being said, I will wrap up this post on the former Target store of Kissimmee. So until the next time,