850 N. Apollo Boulevard, Melbourne, FL - Apollo Sarno Shopping Center
This Kmart opened in 1978 and closed during Kmart's first round of mass closings in 1994. The fact this store is located a bit off the beaten path from most of the area's other retail districts probably led to its early demise. Currently this building is divided up for smaller tenants, with Planet Fitness taking up the largest space and a thrift store and antique mall in the remaining portions of the building.
After bombarding everyone with a bunch of my old photos from flickr over the last few weeks, it's about time I get around to posting some semi-new content on My Florida Retail for a change! We first saw the old Melbourne Kmart on my flickr account back in my early days. The only photos in this post that I ever posted to flickr are the first four we'll be seeing in this today, taken in February 2014 (5 years ago now!). All the other photos we'll be seeing today were either stuffed in my archives for the last few years, or were just taken in the last few days in order for me to provide you with a comprehensive tour of this former Kmart. (Me posting photos only a few days after they were taken - that's an AFB first!). Anyway, back in 2014, this former Kmart still looked very much like a Kmart. Since this store closed in 1994, Kmart never altered the metal awning above the entryway or bricked in the windows that ran along the front of the store. Also, this store even retained the original entryway setup consisting of three sets of manual doors next to each other. It's vintage 70's Kmart at it's finest, even after being subdivied multiple times!
It was pretty impressive that this place stayed looking so original for over 20 years. There's no denying that a Kmart once operated here!
Here's a closeup of Kmart's original entryway and awning, now used by Planet Fitness. This Planet Fitness draws a good crowd to this plaza, which is filled mostly with thrift stores and a Dollar General these days. While this particular intersection of Apollo Boulevard and Sarno Road has faltered as a retail destination, it has become a hub for thrift stores and other junk shops.
Going around the side of the building, we find the abandoned (at the time I took these photos) Kmart Auto Center, still perfectly preserved with all the old auto bays in-tact.
Peeking through one of the garage door windows, this is what we see. The open door in front of us was the main access from Kmart's salesfloor into the auto bays. The large opening to my right was carved out after Kmart closed so this part of the building could be used as more salesfloor space.
Moving away from the auto center, there was a glass door located next to it. This photo was taken looking through that door into the right side of the old Kmart, where we see not only a trailer, but also a famous Kmart air diffuser. When I took these photos in 2014, this space had most recently been home to Appliance Direct, who as usual did very little to this space after they moved in to removed that Kmart feel.
However, in 2016, much of that original Kmart charm had come to an end here in Melbourne. I was driving by this plaza one day and glanced to my right. What did I see by the Kmart awning had been stripped away! In 2016, Planet Fitness began a remodel to their portion of the old Kmart, which would later involve a complete reconstruction of the entryway and a removal of the old Kmart awning. On an interesting note, I was able to capture a picture of this building with the skeleton of the awning still up - certainly a rare sight to see!
Jumping ahead to 2019, this is what the Kmart building looks like now. While Planet Fitness redid the facade of their portion of the building, the rest of the building remains as it did back in 2014. Kmart's original windows survived Planet Fitness's remodel too, however the doors were replaced and reconfigured during all of the construction.
Unlike the situation in 2014, in 2019 we'll actually be able to go inside of this Kmart for a look around. To begin out interior tour, we'll go into the business occupying the far left side of this Kmart: Village Thrift Store (whose entrance is under that awning on the left side of this photo).
Walking into the Village Thrift Store, this is what we see looking toward the back of the building. Prior to Village Thrift Store opening in this space, this part of the old Kmart was home to an athletic training school. This part of the building still had a slight Kmart feel, although the removal of the large air diffusers in this part of the building really killed off much of the strong Kmart vibe.
Not a whole lot to see in here...
Before we head to the other side of the building, here's a small retail relic I found poking through the board games at Village Thrift Store. The board game in question was Jeopardy! 10th Edition from 1972 (long before Alex Trebek even knew he'd be hosting a version of this game on TV). Anyway, the retail relic pictured on the side of this box - What is a sticker from Venture?! (See, I made sure I remembered to answer in the form of a question!). Those stripes jumped out at me when I first grabbed this box - classic Venture! Venture never had a presence in Florida, so this game probably found its way here when a Midwesterner moved to Florida.
Anyway, leaving the Village Thrift Store, we find ourselves nearing the opposite end of the building and the newly relocated Wildwood Antique Mall.
But before we head inside the antique mall, here's another look across the front of the old Kmart building in its current form. It's just not the same anymore without the awning, but at least we still have the distinctive ribbed concrete up here to show off that Kmart past.
While the Wildwood Antique Mall has an entrance on the front of the building, their main entrance is actually this one on the side of the building next to the old auto center. As you'd expect from an antique mall, they did nothing to cover over the presence of the old auto center. Up until November 2018, the Wildwood Antique Mall was located across the street in the old Melbourne Food Lion store. It was fun walking around the antique mall when it was in that old Food Lion, trying to imagine what that place looked like back in the supermarket days. However, now in the old Kmart, there are some interesting things to be found in here too. Let's go inside and see some of them...
Unlike the old location of the antique mall, which was laid out in mostly neat rows, the odd L-shaped layout of the former Kmart space makes this place a bit of a maze to walk through. The above photo was taken looking in the direction of the antique mall's main entrance (the one on the side of the building).
I don't even remember what direction this photo was taken in. All the rows of booths and random stuff is pretty disorienting looking back at the pictures. It's somewhere on Kmart's old salesfloor though - I believe looking toward the partition wall between the antique mall and Planet Fitness.
Of course I had to get a photo prominently featuring one of the giant air diffusers in it 😀 The diffuers in here were actually quite shiny and polished, so either they're new or someone actually decided to clean them for a change!
This photo was taken near the back of the main salesfloor, looking toward the front of the building.
The back wall of the antique mall can be seen here. Behind this wall was stockroom space when Kmart was here, which the antique mall expanded into as space for more vendor booths.
Popping into the old backroom space, here we find some stairs that lead up to a small (now unused) mezzanine level. I think that mezzanine level was used as storage space when Kmart was here.
One of the receiving doors in the back of the building.
A dark and eerie corridor in the back of the building. It looked like there were offices of some kind back here, and I wouldn't be surprised if this is the corridor where Kmart's layaway counter was located back in the day. Also, above the hallway I spy another Kmart relic. That covered rectangular hole above the hallway was once home to a small window. Behind that window would have been a small platform that store security could use to look out over the store in the days before surveillance cameras. If you go inside a 70's Kmart today, you can usually still spot these windows.
One of the vendor's booths was set up to look like an old-fashioned kitchen from the 1930's or 1940's, complete with a bunch of antique kitchen supplies filling the cabinets. My parents, even to this day, still collect and use antique kitchen kinckknacks, so a lot of the antique kitchen gadgets you see here can be found floating around my house still in use!
Kitchen kinckknacks aside, here's my retail find of the day from the Wildwood Antique Mall to show to everyone. For the Northeasterners in the room, here's a semi-used tube of Pathmark brand Zinc Oxide Ointment. What is this ointment used for, you ask? According to Google, zinc oxide ointment is useful in treating diaper rash, chapped skin, and other minor skin irritations. If you were to use this ointment to treat your rash today, I think it would make you break out in hives since it's probably 30 years old! (At that point, you'd have to go to Walgreens to buy a new bottle of zinc oxide ointment to cure the irritation caused by this really old zinc oxide ointment!). I merely took this photo for documentary purposes, as I didn't want to spend $2 on really old ointment. You have to admit though, that Pathmark logo is timeless.
The most interesting part of walking around the new Wildwood Antique Mall had to be walking around the old Kmart auto center, which is home to more vendor booths now. Here we see inside the old auto center from the large archway that connects it to the main salesfloor.
To my right you can see the old garage doors. The garage doors are still operational, and according to the signs posted on them, vendors are allowed to use the garage doors to bring large items into the antique mall.
Here's one final look at the garage doors from the inside before heading outside once again...
...to see the garage doors one last time, but from the outside. The sign for the antique mall that you see above the garage doors is the exact sign that graced the front of the old store across the street, seen here. Why buy a new sign when you can just transport your perfectly good old one across the street? I like the way the sign is positioned above the auto center doors, reminiscent of how an old "Kmart Auto Center" sign would be been situated.
To the left of the old Kmart building is this space. Located at 800 N. Apollo Boulevard, this was the longtime home to the Melbourne Salvation Army store from 2003 until 2014, when they moved to a more prominent location along US 192. A few other thrift stores tried to open in this space after the Salvation Army moved out, although none of them lasted very long. Originally, this space was home to an Eckerd drugstore, which had to have closed sometime in the 1990's.
Lastly, to conclude this post, we go immediately next door from the Apollo Sarno Shopping Center to find this building. Located at 680 N. Apollo Boulevard, this building was home to the original Melbourne Lowe's store. This Lowe's, which was store #231, opened in 1981 and would later be replaced by the modern sized Lowe's at the corner of Minton Road and US 192 in 1998. This Lowe's was built in the chain's early days, back in simpler times before the era of the "Home Improvement Superstore". While this building isn't very wide, it goes back pretty far. Around back is a separate building that once housed a lumber yard too. While this building looks vacant (considering the lack of cars in the lot and lack of signage on the building), this building is actually occupied. The US Postal Service actually uses this place as a regional sorting facility for mail going into and out of Florida's Space Coast. The lack of cars here is because I took this photo on a Sunday, when the facility is closed. While I'm sure the post office modified the inside of this building, the exterior is original to the Lowe's days. The post office even repainted the building blue too, which makes this place seem even more Lowe's like! (Before the post office took over this building, it was painted all white). These old Lowe's stores are pretty intriguing, and quite a few from this era can still be found floating around Florida in mostly original form.
Anyway, that's all I have for this post. It won't be too much longer now before I can start to bring everyone more new content to My Florida Retail on a regular basis.
So until the next post,