Sunday, December 30, 2018

Walmart #956 - Indian Harbour Beach, FL

Walmart #956
1001 E. Eau Gallie Boulevard, Indian Harbour Beach, FL - Ocean Springs Shopping Center

     This Walmart store opened in 1986, slightly predating the rest of the accompanying shopping center (which included an Albertsons that is now a Winn-Dixie). The rest of the plaza opened in 1988. This is still a non-super Walmart as of 2019, and it doesn't look like there are any plans to go super here any time soon.

     For today's My Florida Retail post, we're going to take a look at a Walmart relic: a non-super Walmart. Non-super Walmarts are getting rarer and rarer these days, especially ones of this vintage. However, Walmart is essentially stuck as they are here. This store has nowhere to relocate to (there aren't any lots large enough on the beachside or on the other side of the Eau Gallie Causeway for Walmart to build a new Supercenter on), and with Winn-Dixie in the same plaza, they can't expand this location either. Unless the Winn-Dixie closes (which doesn't seem likely, as their IHB store is one of their top performers in the area), this Walmart will likely remain as it is for the time being, which I'm not complaining about! This store is extremely popular with locals and tourists (as this store is located directly across the street from the beach and a few hotels), and people like myself who find this store to be much less chaotic than the local Supercenters (even though this store does get very busy at times).

     Here is a long view across the front of this Walmart store. Other than some new signage and brown paint during the Project Impact era, the exterior design of this store is still very much like it was when this place opened in 1986. There's something about these older, non-super Walmart stores that makes them seem much more pleasant to shop at than a modern supercenter. I can't explain the reason for that, but I miss the days of the old school, pre-Project Impact era Walmart. andsome96 shared the same sentiments: "I miss the non-super Walmarts. They were much more modest and didn't feel as overwhelming as the Supercenters (and attracted less crime). Unfortunately, the last non-super store in the Palm Beaches (Jupiter) just completed the conversion to a Supercenter."

     This photo brings to us a close-up of the entryway. Like most late-80's Walmart stores, the entrance is located in the middle of the building, rather than off to one of the sides like the 90's pylon stores.

     One more look at the entryway before heading inside. Before going in, let me explain the structure of this post. There are two sets of photos in this post. The first block of photos were taken in 2014 and early 2016, showing this store with the earlier version of the Project Impact interior. The second part of this post (which is the longer portion) contains photos of this store from late 2016, after it completed its remodel to the Black Decor 2.0 interior. Anyway, let's head inside now for our quick look at this store from the Project Impact days:

     Lining the right side of the store is the grocery department, which has been heavily expanded in recent years to offer a rather full selection of dry groceries and frozen foods. For a while this store also had a small produce selection (visible behind that shopping cart in the above photo), but the produce was removed from this store sometime prior to 2016.

     Moving to the right just a bit, here is the back aisle of the food department (which bumps up to this store's right side wall). Honestly, even though this store isn't a Supercenter, they seem to carry about the same amount of dry grocery products as a Supercenter would.

     The grocery circle sign, visible over one of the grocery aisles. The circle signs had to be shrunken down here due to this store's low ceilings.

     Another one of the grocery aisles, this one containing chips and snacks.

     A look across the back aisle of the store from the grocery department.

     Going a little bit further down the main aisle for this view across the back of the store. The Pickup sign with the arrow on top was a more recent addition, and resembles the signage more commonly found in Impact-era Walmart Neighborhood Market stores.

     These were two photos taken from different angles of the electronics (aka "Entertainment") department. The strange thing about the Entertainment department here was that this department was kept darker than the rest of the store. In the photo on the right you can see little spotlights shining down over the electronics counter, rather than a continuation of the fluorescent lights. It's a strange effect I've never seen before, but the photos didn't capture the effect well enough as if you were to see it in person. The lighting in this area was replaced during the Black Decor 2.0 remodel.

     The main back aisle of the store, this time from near the clothing and toy departments. On the poles to the left side of the photo, I think those red and blue stripes are a remnant from when this store first opened!

     Another one of the mini Project Impact circle signs, with this one being for the Men's Wear department.

     From the hardware department, here we have a look down the main left side aisle. The left side of the store contains the automotive and seasonal departments.

     The clearance aisle, which was located in the left side of the store along the front wall. The clearance aisle was later moved from this location to an aisle between the automotive and seasonal departments.

     Over in the Lawn & Garden department I spotted this black gooseneck sign with a 2016 copyright date on it. I took a photo of this sign thinking it may have been a part of the new Black 2.0 interior, since it seems to match the new interior. This must have been a sign of things to come, as just a few short months later this store would be getting the full Black 2.0 treatment.

     This is the former Subway restaurant area. This store had an in-store Subway restaurant for much of the 2000's, although it closed sometime prior to 2014. As andsome96 said, "It's pretty rare to find a Walmart that closed its Subway. I can only [imagine] that this started off as one of those "Radio Grills" before it was converted into a Subway." After Subway closed, this area was converted into a small Florida gift shop. In 2016, the gift shop was removed and this space was turned into a Walmart Vision Center (photos of that coming up in the next portion of this post).

     This statue of Gerry "The Tourist" was displayed proudly in front of the old gift shop. This was a neat little display, actually, showcasing Gerry and various local seashells.

     Now that we've said hi to Gerry, we return outside to complete the first portion of this post. With those older photos out of the way, it's time to start our full tour of this Walmart with the Black 2.0 decor...

     Typically with a Black 2.0 remodel, Walmart repaints their stores to a blue and gray color scheme. However, this store never got the exterior repaint for its remodel, instead keeping its Project Impact era brown paint job. Even two years later, the brown paint is still here.

     This photo was taken under the front awning of this Walmart, looking toward the rest of the plaza in the distance.

     Entering this store through the side door of the vestibule, we get ourselves this overview entryway.

     I never noticed this until recently, but the pylons in these 80's stores were actually left open to create this little pocket in each of the front corners of the vestibule. It's a fairly odd shaped space to do anything with, but it seems to work fine as a home to these gumball machines and a key making machine. As Retail Retell commented, "Ha, neat! Come to think of it, I think the Southaven Supercenter has similar "pockets" (good term for 'em!)"

     This is the sight you see upon first walking through the entry doors. I saw online that this store held its grand reopening on June 23, 2016 to celebrate the completion of the Black 2.0 remodel. This store was the first Walmart in Brevard County to get the new interior, with the Vero Beach Walmart Supercenter in neighboring Indian River County being the second Walmart in my area to get this interior. A few other local stores have remodeled too, but the new Black Decor is becoming so common now that I've stopped keeping track of where it's going. When I came to this store for the first time after seeing the grand opening announcement, I was concerned that the remodel was nothing more than moving shelves around, or even worse, that Walmart dug some Cheap Impact out of hiding due to the exterior retaining its original Impact-era paint scheme! Well, I guess the people of the beachside (or the landlord) weren't too keen on the new bright blue and gray exterior for some reason, as like I said before, the brown exterior remains as of the present.

     Closeup of the new Welcome/Thank You for Shopping sign. It's not quite the same as the classic Walmart Thank You sign, but I'll take it. At least it reintroduces the city name to the store again!

     Immediately next to the Welcome/Thank You sign is the store map. If you look closely, you can see the map is actually comprised of two separate panels put together.

     This is the sight down the store's front main aisle after turning to the right after entering. This aisle goes past the housewares and pharmacy/health and beauty departments.

     This store's pharmacy. After walking into the store and turning right, this is the first thing you run into.

     A look at the signage for the health and beauty departments. The grocery department is the the background at the end of the main aisle.

     A look at some of the new wall signs in the Health and Beauty department. In the distance at the end of this aisle is the side wall of the pharmacy box.

     These two cosmetic baskets were shoved into a corner next to an emergency exit. It's hard to see, but like most of these old cosmetics baskets still floating around, they still have the old Wal*Mart logo and the Always slogan on them. From the looks of it, I don't think these baskets are used all too often.

     A look back at the main front aisle, looking from Health and Beauty toward the entrance.

     A similar view of the main aisle, this time from further back near the pet department and the beginning of food.

     The main aisle that runs past the food departments is seen here. The grocery aisle signs look to be the same size as the ones used in typical Supercenters with the high ceiling.

     An example of the new Black 2.0 price scanner signage in the frozen food/wine aisle. Also at the top of the pole is what looks to be a new Spill Station sticker as well.

     From the edge of one of the food aisles, we have this view looking into the neighboring housewares department. As can be seen by the sign, the furniture department lies immediately ahead.

     One of the food aisles, looking very neatly straightened. The grocery aisles in this store are fairly high, probably due to Walmart trying to cram some extra grocery items into this smaller sized store. As l_dawg2000 commented about the high shelves, "They've been putting those upper shelves in all the grocery sections of the Supercenters around here. I really don't care for them, as it makes you feel like you're shopping in a canyon!" That canyon effect is even worse in this store since it doesn't have the higher ceilings!

     This is our view down the right side wall, looking toward the front of the store. The side wall is home to sodas and bottled water. On the top shelf behind the coolers is the Black 2.0 wall signage for the grocery department, which was pretty much limited to the Beverages sign and a few pictures due to this store being a non-Supercenter (which means less space hang the more detailed department signs).

     In the very back of the grocery department is the Grocery rectangle sign. It's nowhere near as grandiose as the old Project Impact style circle sign for this department we saw earlier, and the placement of the new sign isn't very visible from when you enter the store like the old sign was.

     Paper products have their home in the back right corner of the store. They have the packages of paper towels stacked up so high on the top shelf, it's actually pushing the new signs back. Also, gameking3 also saw another important update in this photo, "I see Mr. Smiley Face got his job back at Walmart." You guys got a kick out of that one :)

     The main back aisle of the store. Also in this photo are some examples of the new black directory signs.

     The home department rectangle sign, seen hanging over the furniture department.

     The crafts and sewing department. In this photo is the new hanging department sign and also the fabric cutting counter. Walmart had tried to get rid of their fabric departments a few years back, just to reintroduce them to their stores of late.

     This much larger Crafts & Sewing sign was hanging along the back wall.

     Looking from Crafts and Sewing toward Electronics. The Pick Up counter is located just ahead on the right.

     The Pickup Counter, located behind Electronics. This area also serves as the Layaway counter for the Christmas season, and also a Photo Center (although it didn't look like much of a photo center back there). As l_dawg2000 noticed, "Could they squeeze the Pickup lettering in any tighter!?"

     An example of some of the new category signage in the electronics department. In this store, the Electronics category signs were the only ones to feature pictures or symbols on them along with the product name.

     The video game and video game accessories aisle, along with the 'Entertainment' rectangle sign in the distance. That rectangle sign replaced the large circle sign we saw earlier from the Project Impact era. Also, the old dim lighting in the Electronics department was done away with during the Black 2.0 remodel, making this area feel just as bright as the rest of the store.

     Smile! You're on Candid Camera! Smiley decided to visit us as I was photographing the electronics department. I happened to time this photo just right to capture Smiley when he was on the screen in full size, before he went back into the corner of the screen to show more back to school deals. Anyway, if anyone cares, this photo also happened to be the 2,000th photo I uploaded to flickr (and the I-don't-even-know-how-many-ith photo I've copied over from flickr to My Florida Retail due to said social media site's unfortunate decisions).

     The wall signage for the entertainment department is visible here.

     Returning to the main aisle, here we begin to enter the clothing departments. The big shelving units they put in the middle of the aisle made it feel narrow and cramped back here.

     Going further down the main back aisle, past all of those big shelves, the aisle opens up just a bit. Children's clothing is to the left and toys are to the right.

     The back wall in the Toy department, featuring a look at the new signage in this part of the store.

     The back wall again, this time looking toward sporting goods. Sporting goods is located immediately next to toys.

     One of the aisles in the sporting goods department. The aisles in this part of the store feel narrower compared to the aisles in the rest of the store.

     The sporting goods/hunting and fishing license/guns and ammo counter can be seen in this photo. I'm pretty sure the counter was replaced during the remodel, as it looks pretty new.

     Due to the height of the stockroom door, the sporting goods wall sign had to have a chunk of it taken out so the door wouldn't hit the sign. This has been an issue in other Black 2.0 Walmarts that have been appearing online as well.

     The fishing aisle. Since this store is right across the street from the beach, they offer a very large selection of fishing poles and other fishing accessories. I thought the way the fishing poles towered over the aisle made for an interesting effect. Behind me on the back wall was also a large cooler with frozen and live bait in it - a slightly more unique offering for this store compared to most other Walmarts.

     The paint and hardware department lies just beyond sporting goods in the back left corner of the store.

     Another look down the somewhat busy (merchandise wise) main back aisle, from sporting goods back toward food and electronics.

     Here's my one attempt at doing a before and after side-by-side photo of the old decor with the new, mostly because it's the only vantage point I got a nearly similar viewpoint of both times. This photo shows the new and the old signage in the Men's Wear department.

     Located between the men's and women's clothing departments are the fitting rooms.

     Moving away from clothes to the back left corner of the store, home to this emergency exit. The "Emergency Exit Only" sign looked pretty old, but it's not the classic signage I'm used to seeing (which l_dawg2000 fittingly refers to as the"stick figure in peril" signage).

     In this photo we're looking down the left side wall in the Paint & Hardware department, looking toward automotive.

     During the remodel at this store, the layout from the Project Impact days stayed relatively unchanged. The only major move I noticed was the relocation of the clearance aisle from the front of the store near office supplies to this aisle between automotive and seasonal along the left side of the store. We saw the original location of the clearance merchandise earlier in this post.

      Taking a break from the main store, we're going to venture outside into the garden center for the next few photos. The photo we see above was taken looking down the main front aisle toward the interior entrance to the Garden Center. The seasonal department is to my right, with lawn and garden to my left.

     Jumping outside for a moment to take a quick peek at what the Garden Center looks like from the front of the building. The exterior entrance to the Garden Center is that opening in the chain link fence near the bushes and the palm trees.

     Returning inside for a look at some of the plants for sale. 

     Beyond the plants is this area where Walmart keeps the garden pavers, mulch, bags of dirt, and other large gardening items. This portion of the Garden Center is designed so you can drive through here and load these big items right into your car.

     The outdoor portion of the Garden Center also gives us a good look at Walmart's road sign, which faces SR A1A.

     Back inside the main store, this photo is looking into the Lawn and Garden department, located in the front left corner of the store.

     Seasonal merchandise is located in the left side of the store. When I was here, there were employees working on setting the Halloween merchandise, which is why there are some empty shelves in this aisle. 

     Looking from Lawn and Garden toward the Home Office and Greeting Card/Party Supply departments from along the front wall of the store. You can't tell in the photo, but when I was here in person I was looking at the thickness of the wall signage. I believe that the Black 2.0 stuff may just be a bit thicker than the Cheap Impact signs - I guess Walmart is splurging with this new look then!

     Looking at the main left side aisle of this store from one of the front aisles.

     The Vision Center is a new addition to this store, opening this past spring before the rest of the store was remodeled to Black 2.0. This space was previously home to a Subway which closed in the early 2010s. After Subway, this area was home to the Florida Gift Shop (and Gerry "The Tourist") we saw earlier in this post. Unfortunately, I have no idea what became of Gerry after Walmart turned this space into the Vision Center, but as Retail Retell said, "Poor Gerry :P". Yes, there will never be another giant fiberglass turtle quite like him.

     Another view of the new Vision Center, taken from a different (and much less obstructed) view.

      Now back at the front end of the store, we see the customer service desk (signified by that all blue rectangle services sign, which according to flickr member Just Chilling, has not been seen yet in one of these recent remodels - as of two years ago, that is). Also in this area are the newly installed self checkouts. This store never had self checkouts prior to this remodel. Originally, there were ten regular registers here. Now there are eight regular registers and four self checkouts.

     Looking toward register 8, the last of the regular registers here now. In front of the registers is the new home of the Florida gifts and souvenirs, which were pushed out of their former location with the addition of the vision center.

     This photo was supposed to be my last one for this post, but when I was originally uploading these photos to flickr way back when, Hurricane Matthew passed through the area (grazing Florida's East Coast). So to conclude this post, here are a few photos of how this store weathered the storm:

     Thankfully, Southern Brevard County was spared the major effects of Hurricane Matthew when it passed through the area in October 2016. Even with that being the case, I still decided to go over to the beachside to see how that area fared the storm, and was happy to see not much was damaged. This store escaped the storm without a scratch like most Brevard's beachside, however it looks like they lost power here, leading to the loss of all of the refrigerated and frozen foods. In this photo, you can see all of the cases in the frozen foods aisles are empty. As l_dawg2000 commented, "Ouch! Unless they were insured against that, it must have hurt the bottom line pretty bad. Thankfully though it wasn't as bad as it could have been..." Yes, this had to have cost Walmart $10,000+ easy if they had to throw away all of that frozen food. Publix installed backup generators at all of their Florida stores after the 2004 hurricanes to prevent this from happening again, but as you can see, not everyone did. Hopefully Walmart had insurance to cover the loss of all of that food. However, if this storm was as bad as first thought, this whole store would have been wiped away.

      I was watching the news before the storm, and they were taking about how bottled water was in short supply at most stores. One man they talked to said he was tired of driving around looking for water, so he just bought a bunch of bottles of wine to get him through the storm instead! I guess others caught onto that idea as well (or maybe they just wanted to drink the storm away), as the wine aisle was looking fairly picked over here. As PlazaACME said, "It would probably make the storm pass faster for them!" Probably so!

     Coolers were also in high demand in case the power went out during the storm (in order to save some of the perishables, or keep the stash of wine chilled!), as it looks like they sold out of all but two coolers here.

So with that, I will wrap up our tour of this Walmart. Until the next time,