4967 South US Highway 1, Fort Pierce (White City), FL - Towne South Plaza
Oh yes, this store again, the Winn-Dixie I gave the name "The Pastel Wonderland" when we saw it last time on my flickr photostream, where that album of photos still resides. This store contained many interesting and funky examples of the classic rose and teal Marketplace decor package, which gave it a classic charm. While I quite enjoyed the funky interior this store had, that's not the reason we're revisiting this store today. If you haven't already been able to figure it out from the title, we're revisiting this store because...
...yes, because of its recent remodel to the Down Down/Red Interior. While there are still plenty of untouched 90's Marketplace Winn-Dixies out there, SEG was able to do a surprising amount of remodels over the course of 2017 and 2018, when they really cranked up their remodeling initiative. This particular Winn-Dixie was included as part of a remodeling sweep done back in the Spring of 2018. Unlike many Winn-Dixie remodels of late, which have been nothing more than new paint on the walls and rearranged aisles, I was actually a bit surprised to see how much work Winn-Dixie put into this remodel. The remodel here actually included new floors, freezers, and the addition of a second entryway, as well as some ceiling work and relocation of some departments. While this was more work than many other Winn-Dixie stores have been able to get in the latest remodel sweep, this was by no means a super fancy remodel like we saw back in the days of the Transformational stores. However, this store cleaned up nicely, and I have to give Winn-Dixie the credit for putting in the effort where it was needed.
A very large, updated logo graces the repainted exterior. The word "Marketplace" took center stage on the exterior prior to the remodel (as we saw in the first photo of this post). With the Marketplace era gone, Winn-Dixie gets their name up in lights now (about 20 years after the Marketplace era officially ended, but hey, Winn-Dixie is at least trying!).
Something this store got as part of its remodel that I haven't seen in most other basic remodels are new doors. Previously there were two swinging doors here, like you'd see at most 80's built Winn-Dixies, replaced now by this single set of sliding doors. With the addition of the new second entrance (visible on the other side of the vestibule through these doors), Winn-Dixie probably felt it was in their best interest to replace the doors over here too. However, adding a new entrance is also something I've only seen in this remodel too, but more on that in a bit...
Walking in through the original left side entrance, we find this photo collage greeting us as we enter the White City Winn-Dixie. While technically falling in the southern fringes of Fort Pierce, Winn-Dixie chose to honor this small community for its official designation. While not officially a city of its own anymore, White City is a small community located behind this Winn-Dixie, settled in the late 1800's and known locally for is large remaining cluster of old-Florida architecture. This website has some more details about the history of White City if you're interested in learning more.
Another nice touch here is the addition of classic Winn-Dixie photos as part of the collage. None of these photos are specific to this particular location, but it's still a nice touch (especially as a certain other grocery chain in these parts is working to remove their classic photo collages as part of their recent remodeling sweep).
Anyway, stepping through the front doors, here's our first look into the store itself. The produce department lies in the distance ahead where we see that pop of red (previously a pop of pastel). Also, at the right edge of this photo we can see the new right side entryway door. I'm a bit surprised Winn-Dixie went through the effort to add another door here, but clearly they see something in this store to give it a bit more love than some of the others! Here's a look toward the new entryway prior to the remodel.
Here's a look across the vestibule, as seen from the special deals section. Prior to the remodel, most of the windows you see here were blacked out so the vestibule could be used to store promotional merchandise. With the promotional merchandise moved elsewhere now, the light was allowed to shine back it. All the windows make it nice and bright up here, which I like. One thing about this store prior to the remodel was that it always felt dark to me. The newly remodeled store felt much brighter, partially due to the uncovered windows, and probably from some upgraded lighting as well.
Promotional merchandise has been moved to the small area to my left, displaying this week's deals. Previously most of this merchandise was located along the wall to my right (in addition to seasonal merchandise), as well as in the unused portion of the vestibule.
However, the front wall between the entrance and produce had to be cleared out to make way for the relocated Floral department. Floral was previously located in an island between the deli and produce, pictured here, typical of a 90's Marketplace store. Floral was moved to the front wall to make way for an expanded Wine and Beer department in its former location.
Moving into the produce department, everything looks much different (and much more red) than the last time we saw this part of the store.
Gone are the pastels, the angled lighting, and the decorative beams going across the ceiling. In its place we find a whitewashed ceiling with a red perimeter, with new tube lights replacing the angled lighting that was removed. As funky as it looked prior, this part of the store had much more character with the old decor and design.
While the Down Down decor isn't this most visually exciting decor package out there, there are some situations were it doesn't look all too bad, even in these remodeled older stores. For some reason this decor just looks odd in this part of the store, probably due to the contrast from the stark white color of the vaulted ceiling.
Turning the other way, we find the new wine and beer department located between produce and the deli counter. The current wine and beer department is located in what was once the space that housed floral, as well as excess space for overflow promotional merchandise. What's really bad is I can't remember where the beer and wine department was located in this store prior to the remodel. I think the beer was somewhere on the opposite side of the store near dairy and the bakery, but I can't picture the wine anywhere!
The wine and beer department is the only department to get black paint on the walls instead of the usual red for the rest of the departments, at least in these cheaper remodels. In some of the deluxe Down Down remodels, the black (or even wood grain) accenting is used in other departments (such as the bakery, deli, and meat departments). My one main complaint about this decor is that there isn't much variety in the colors used. For the most part, the walls are either bright red or stark white, with not much else to take away from how powerful those two colors are. However, the color situation could be worse...
Aisle 1 bumps up to the produce and wine department, containing mostly packages of water.
New spotlights were installed over the wine department to shine off the bottles, a common sight in most Winn-Dixie stores remodeled since the company's first bankruptcy in 2005.
Here we have a look back at what we just covered. From this angle, the decor actually goes together nicely, however the previous look really went above and beyond with the details.
In the back right corner of the store is the deli. During the remodel, the deli cases were replaced and the prepared foods selection was expanded. While the prepared foods selection at this store is nothing compared to what you'd find at a deluxe Down Down or a Transformational store, Winn-Dixie did add a sandwich counter and a new grab and go case here. It's still more than what was here prior. And speaking of deluxe offerings, a recently remodeled Winn-Dixie in Neptune Beach (which is near Jacksonville) even got itself a taproom! Publix doesn't even offer one of those yet!
Here's a closeup of some of the new prepared foods cases this store has added. Pretty much every Winn-Dixie, be it a fancy Down Down store or a store still stuck in 1994, got the new chicken wing bar in some form. Winn-Dixie has really been pushing the selection of Lip Lickin' Chicken (as they call it), which includes the wing bar, the fried chicken selection, and the rotisserie chickens, running various promotions during the week with their chicken selection. Next to the wing bar is another case of deli prepared foods and the sandwich station, followed by the grab and go case.
Here we have a look across the back of the store, as seen from the edge of the deli department. The majority of the back wall comprises the meat department, with a small meat and seafood counter located in the distance.
Another new addition from Winn-Dixie's recent remodeling spree is the Dollar Shop. Originally intended to be used for the Harvey's and Fresco y Mas stores (which place a heavier emphasis on promoting lower prices), the Dollar Shop has begun appearing at Winn-Dixie as well. This is probably my favorite part of these recent Winn-Dixie remodels, as the dollar shop includes a little bit of everything in it - food, health and beauty, office supplies, party supplies, cleaning products, etc. There are a lot of bargains to be found in this section, and I usually end up finding an impulse buy myself every time I walk through one of these Dollar Shops at Winn-Dixie (curse those bargains!). For the most part, the Winn-Dixie Dollar Shop takes up two aisles (like we see here). Some smaller stores only have one aisle dedicated to the dollar shop, focusing more on food than some of the general merchandise extras.
Peeking out from the Dollar Shop toward floral.
Here's a look across the front of the store, as seen from the Dollar shop.
Here's a closer view of the Dollar Shop sign. Each end of this aisle has one of these large signs hanging over it.
BACON. I find it funny how bacon gets its own billing in giant letters as part of the Down Down decor.
Here's another look down the store's back wall, this time taken closer to the butcher counter.
The grocery aisles are looking nice and neat here.
Here's the butcher counter up close. It's quite the dramatic change back here from the last time we saw the butcher counter.
That black backsplash is another distinctive feature of these Down Down remodels, that backsplash added to the butcher, deli, and bakery departments in all of these remodeled stores. I just don't know if that's real tiling, or some kind of paneling made to imitate tiles.
Only three panels on the aisle signs seems like not many to me, but maybe I've just gotten used to the typical 5-6 panels typically used at other stores (and in past Winn-Dixie remodels).
Here we enter the health and beauty aisles, which are located toward the left side of the store in aisles 13 and 14. The two outer rows of shelving in the health and beauty aisles have lighted toppers, which add a little bit of brightness to this section of the store.
A closeup of the beauty department hanging sign can be seen here.
This new setup is certainly much more modern than the old setup!
More from the back wall...
We are the Beef People. While this sign was added as part of the remodel, most older Winn-Dixie stores are also getting this signage in their meat departments. Winn-Dixie has been doing a good job in recent years of putting their longtime tagline back into the spotlight, after "The Beef People" disappeared for a while during the years following the 2005 bankruptcy.
Beach supplies take up the space that would have once been home to an in-store pharmacy, this little indented spot between the service desk and the bakery. If this store ever had a pharmacy, it's been gone for a long time. Prior to the remodel, this was used as more excess space for promotional items.
Moving on from the beach stuff, we find the bakery department in the front left corner of the store. Again, a big difference from what was here prior.
The department name itself was a bit difficult to photograph, given how it was crammed into a small space where the ceiling height changes, with frozen food cases sticking out behind me.
With the angled light panels removed, yet another new bump in the ceiling has been created. Since the walls over the frozen food department were painted red, this inner wall was painted white. With the way the ceilings transition in this part of the store, the wall above the bakery counter itself just looks really...blank. I really feel there should be a sign or picture or something in that giant expanse of white above the counter!
Turning away from the bakery counter, here's what we see looking in the opposite direction. Frozen foods take up the last three aisles in this store, just like before. However, all the old coffin coolers that comprised most of the frozen department were replaced with new freezers with doors, and the lighting and wall colored changed accordingly from before.
These freezers are brand new, so Winn-Dixie clearly splurged here!
Here's a very pastel look at the scene in the above photo from prior to the remodel.
I guess I shouldn't have complained about the Bakery sign being hard to photograph, as no matter what I did, the Milk sign was always blocked by the aisle 18 sign!
Lastly, aisle 19 is home to the remainder of the dairy department and more frozen foods. From the looks of it, the coolers against the wall (containing the dairy products) look to be the same ones here prior to the remodel, just repainted to match the modern decor in the rest of the store.
Now that we've covered pretty much everything we needed to here, let's had back toward the front end...
The front registers now appear to my right, with the service desk hidden behind those Christmas bread/cake/whatever they are boxes.
The lights glared it, but on the wall above the checkouts it says "Thank you for shopping your White City Winn-Dixie".
Here's another look at the service desk, obstructed once again by more cake!
And at last, a cake-free view of the service desk!
These two express lanes were added as part of the remodel, as this store had eight regular checklanes prior. Strangely enough, prior to the remodel, checklane 8 was closest to the service desk. Usually Winn-Dixie numbers the registers with 1 being closest to the service desk, like they now have the checklanes set up post-remodel. Another thing to point out is that the early Down Down remodels did not include checklane lights. Since then, these rectangular red ones have been used in the more recent remodels.
So now that we've completed our tour of this store, we'll exit through the new right side entryway pictured above...
While it's nice to see Winn-Dixie remodeling their stores to keep them looking fresh, it's kind of sad seeing that funky old Marketplace decor get wiped away at this store. While there are some Marketplace stores out there that look quite rough around the edges, this one was always kept neat and looking good. With the nearest Publix store being about three miles away, this Winn-Dixie has a nice little buffer for it to get a following from the people living nearby in White City and Indian River Estates, both of which are neighborhoods more conveniently located to this Winn-Dixie than any of the nearby Publix stores. And if Winn-Dixie was able to justify a remodel to this store, it must be doing well, as Winn-Dixie isn't in the best financial place to be dumping a lot of money into stores that are doing poorly.
So even though the Pastel Wonderland has been painted over in red, we'll conclude this post with one final look at that sea of pastels that graced this store for a good 25 years. While those pastels were outdated for much of the last 20 of those 25 years, it was still a fun sight to see, and a fun glimpse at the store that was once "America's Supermarket".
So until the next post,