1930 State Route 44, New Smyrna Beach, FL - New Smyrna Beach Regional Shopping Center
To start off this new MFR series, we'll begin with the original Publix store located here on Route 44. Route 44 is the main east-west route through New Smyrna Beach, and also serves as the main connection to the barrier island and the town's famous beaches. On the other side of the causeway you'll find New Smyrna Beach's original Publix in the Indian River Village Shopping Center, which is a store that dates back to 1976. That Publix on the beachside is the store where the company's current CEO, Todd Jones, began his career with Publix as a bag boy in 1980. The beachside store was eventually torn down and replaced with a new building in 2002, which is the same situation we'll be seeing here on the other side of town. With New Smyrna Beach's population growing on the mainland, Publix saw opportunity to open a second location on the Route 44 corridor come the late 1980's. New Smyrna's second Publix store opened in 1987 as part of a new regional shopping center, with Publix joining Walmart and Walgreens as anchors to the new plaza. Publix remained the primary grocery store on the New Smyrna mainland until 1996, when Winn-Dixie relocated from the beachside to a new Marketplace store across the street from this Publix (a store we'll discuss more later in this series).
With the Route 44 corridor experiencing a boom in new residential communities and shopping centers in the late 2010's, including the addition of an Aldi and Walmart Supercenter, Publix felt something needed to be done about their 30 year old store here in New Smyrna. In late 2017, plans were announced that a new Publix was going to be built on the site of the existing store. The new Publix would be the largest Publix in Volusia County, coming in at 54,244 square feet, complete with all of Publix's modern amenities. Construction on the new Publix store was expected to begin in Spring of 2018, however a controversy over the removal of some historic oak trees in the parking lot and some last minute plan changes caused a short delay in the start of construction on the new store. Publix #335 served shoppers for the last time on August 11, 2018. Shortly after #335 closed for good, the heavy machinery was brought in and ol' #335 was obliterated to make room for the shiny new store #1649 that would replace it. In today's post we'll take a look at what was, starting off with a tour of store #335 as it entered its final months in operation.
Publix #335 was a rather average late 80's built Publix store. The brick and stone facade was a bit unusual here compared to the more common stucco designs you commonly see throughout Florida, but a little bit of different is good for a change. The new store did away with the brick design in favor of the more common stucco, although the rest of the plaza still retains the old design.
Stepping onto the front walkway, in we go...
Turning out of the vestibule, as usual, you enter a small area filled with the week's BOGOs and other promotional items. The checkouts are to my right, and the beverage department is to my left.
Panning toward the registers for a moment, here's a quick look across the front end as seen from the right side entryway. The giant light over the front registers takes center stage in this photo!
Tucked into the front right corner of the store is the beverage department, home to this store's selection of water, sodas, and juices. This little alcove is present in most older Publix stores. Many times these alcoves were converted into bank branches during the 1990's, however I believe their original purpose was to serve as a home for greeting cards and the floral department. Over the years as store layouts were tweaked, these alcoves became home to a variety of uses. In addition to beverage departments, I've seen these alcoves used as wine departments, snack food sections, and as a home to new or relocated pharmacy counters.
The low ceilings make for a weird effect in these few short drink aisles.
Snack foods are located on the side wall behind the beverages.
Emerging from the alcove, we enter aisle 1, home to the dairy department as well as the beer coolers. As you can see, this store ended its run with the Classy Market 2.5 decor, probably installed sometime around 2011. Many of these 80's and 90's built stores were left relatively untouched by Publix until the early 2010's, when the last few Wavy Pastel holdouts were remodeled to Classy Market 2.5. Speaking of old Publix decor packages though...
What is that I spy here on the back wall, now painted over in red? Why, it's remnants of Publix's 80's decor, which this store was built with. Publix's 80's decor included colorful (and sometimes shiny) paneling on the walls, with the department names mounted on top of the paneling. Here's a sample of what Publix's 80's decor looked like, with this paneling quite prevalent in that linked image. That image comes from a blog post released by Publix, taking a look back at what Publix was like in the 1980's. You can read the entire post here on the official Publix blog. That post was written by Jennifer Bush, who is Publix's official historian (yes, that's a real job and her full time position at the company too, as well as my dream job). Jennifer Bush has quite a few articles on the official Publix blog that are an interesting read if you wish to peruse them.
We'll be seeing more 80's paneling remnants as we continue our tour of this store. However, we'll take a quick diversion up aisle 2 here...
Taking a look across the busy front end here. Even on weekday mornings, Publix still manages to draw a crowd. From what I read in the articles, people weren't happy this store was going to be closed for 9 months, forcing locals to go over the causeway to shop at the other Publix or drive to the neighboring cities of Port Orange or Edgewater for their Publix run. However, I'm sure that competitor across the street from here was happy to have 9 Publix-free months!
Anyway, back into the grocery aisles we go as we make our way toward the store's deli.
As usual, the deli department in these late 80's stores is located along the back wall in a little alcove.
Also, as usual, the deli was one of the busiest places in the entire store. Here you can see a few people waiting for their Pub subs as the lunch hour was just about to begin.
Stepping out of the alcove, here's a look across the back of the store toward the meat department, which we'll see more of shortly.
The ceiling height begins to transition higher over the center of the sales floor as we move further into this store.
It's hard to see, but the old 80's paneling was still visible on the transition between the lower and higher ceilings. It's relatively common to see that paneling remain, just painted over, in these older Publix stores. Seeing the paneling remain on the back wall like we saw before is much more unusual.
Beyond the deli we find the meat department, with the meat coolers stretching from the deli alcove all the way to the Seafood counter. The old paneling is visible behind the newer signage here too.
Here's a closeup shot of the Classy Market 2.5 meat department sign.
Next, a few more grocery aisles as we continue on through the store...
Between the left side vestibule and the bakery department is the pharmacy counter. While this store did open within a year of the first Publix Pharmacy in Altamonte Springs (which opened in 1986), this store's pharmacy wasn't installed until 2009. Even though this pharmacy was a later addition, it was installed in the same spot where older Publix stores built with a pharmacy would have had one placed. Since the pharmacy was a later addition here, you may also notice something odd about how the pharmacy was constructed...
Turning around, here's a better look at the pharmacy sign. Usually, the pharmacy counter itself would be right in front of me, not a shelf of nutritional supplements. The way the pharmacy was designed in this store, instead of facing the sales floor, the counter instead faced the left side entry vestibule. I had never seen anything like this in a Publix before. We'll see more of how the pharmacy counter is situated toward the end of this post.
This aisle of health and beauty extends out from behind the pharmacy.
Following health and beauty we find the baby supplies and greeting cards.
The last two aisles of this store were home to frozen foods, the aisle pictured being the first of those two aisles, aisle 13. Straight ahead, we can see the seafood counter.
The seafood counter can be seen close up in the above image, as well as more of the old wall paneling.
And here's one last look along the store's back wall toward the deli before we head off into the produce department...
The back left corner of this store was home to the produce department. After looking through these photos, I just now realized that this store was missing its produce department sign. All the produce wall decorations are here, including the decorative leaves, but there was no sign! Here's what the Classy Market 2.5 produce sign looked like. It seems odd to me that Publix would let an entire sign go missing, but with this store expected to close soon anyway, they probably let this occurrence slide.
The produce sign would usually be hung on the wall where those three leaves are. However, I guess those leaves were supposed to get the point across that this was the produce department.
The floral department was tucked into this little spot between produce and frozen foods.
Aisle 14 was the last aisle in this store, containing the remainder of frozen foods. Here's a look toward aisle 14 as seen from the edge of the produce department.
A frozen foods sign is hung on the wall here.
The last department for us to take a look at here is the bakery, which was located in the front left corner of the store.
These older Publix stores featured the bakery in this small alcove, with ice cream located in coolers on the walls behind me.
The large light fixtures over the bakery alcove make this part of the store very bright.
With the bakery now behind us, we'll return to the front end as we begin to exit this store...
That giant light over the front registers is one of the most distinctive features of these late 80's/early 90's Publix stores, and a pretty neat sight too.
Here's a quick look at the Classy Market 2.0/2.5 era classic Publix photo collage that hung along the front end, which was a nice touch.
As we leave, we'll exit on the left side of the building. By going out this door, we'll also get a look at this store's unusual pharmacy counter layout. You can tell the pharmacy was a later addition here as the large overhead light fixture ends abruptly at the pharmacy box's wall, showing the pharmacy was built into some of the extra front end space.
Heading toward the vestibule, here's a look at the pharmacy counter itself.
Here's the pharmacy counter again, as seen from within the vestibule. I don't know if this pharmacy design was experimental or done in order to fit the pharmacy into what space was available, but having the pharmacy counter placed right inside the front door like this does work in terms of convenience.
The pharmacy counter's unusual placement also made for a weird narrow entry corridor, which also included this ice machine.
Stepping outside through the left side doors, here's a look down the plaza toward the former Walgreens space. All of the storefronts between here and the old Walgreens space were removed in order to make room for the new Publix building, which is 15,000 square feet larger than the old store was.
Speaking of that former Walgreens, here it is. This space housed Walgreens #1946 from the plaza's opening in 1987 until 2001, when a new freestanding Walgreens store was built a few hundred feet away at the southwestern corner of SR 44 and Mission Road. After Walgreens left, this space housed a Bealls Outlet, who would later move into a portion of the plaza's former Walmart store in 2012. When this photo was taken, the majority of the former Walgreens space was occupied by MetCare, which is a doctor's office. Once construction on the new Publix began, the far left portion of the old Walgreens (which was unused by the doctor's office) was carved into two smaller storefronts. These two storefronts would become home to Joy Luck Garden Chinese restaurant and Sally Beauty Supply, both of which were tenants that were forced to relocate due to Publix's expansion. We'll see a photo of the old Walgreens space with its new tenants in the next portion of this posting series, where we'll tour the new Publix store.
A few storefronts down on the right from the main Publix store, we find the Publix liquor store. The liquor store is tucked alongside the Pet Supermarket. The Publix Liquors was added to this shopping center in 2014, and as far as I'm aware, remained open throughout the main store's rebuild. Interestingly, this store's pharmacy also remained open during the main store's rebuild, with a temporary stand alone pharmacy opening to the right of the liquor store. Publix owns this shopping center, so that gave them some flexibility with finding a temporary home for the pharmacy while the main store was closed. In most cases when a Publix that has a pharmacy is being rebuilt, the pharmacy records get sent to a nearby store, just to get sent back to the original store when it reopens.
With our tour officially complete, here's one last look at old #335 before it gets obliterated. After skipping through 9 months of construction (some of which you can get a glimpse at here), next time we'll take a tour of the brand new Publix. As you would expect, it's very different from what you just saw today! Stay tuned for that soon!
So until the next post,