Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Winn-Dixie #2304 - New Smyrna Beach, FL (Pre-Remodel)

Winn-Dixie #2304
1835 State Route 44, New Smyrna Beach, FL - Coast Plaza

     With our coverage of the old and new Publix store across the street out of the way, it's time to take a peek at what the competition across the street is up to. On the opposite side of Route 44 we find ourselves a typical mid-90's Winn-Dixie Marketplace store, for the most part still stuck in the mid-90's too. Winn-Dixie never did a lot of upgrading to this store over the years, leaving it to sit in pretty much the same state from its opening in 1996 until its first major overhaul in late 2018. Out here on the exterior, one of the only changes made until this point was switching out the old "Winn-Dixie Marketplace" signage for a generic Winn-Dixie logo, however that change must have happened sometime in the early 2000's, before the 2005 bankruptcy based on the logo used.

     Prior to building this store, Winn-Dixie served the shoppers of New Smyrna Beach with a store over on the beachside. The beachside store, which dated back to 1984, was located about three miles to the east of here at the end of New Smyrna's South Causeway. The beachside Winn-Dixie would be replaced by this new store, featuring Winn-Dixie's more modern Marketplace concept of the time. However, the beachside Winn-Dixie, which I do have photographed, is a really interesting story for another day.

      Thoughts of old Winn-Dixies aside, let's get back to the old but still operational one we'll be taking a tour of today. Probably prompted by the complete tear down and rebuild of the Publix store across the street, this Winn-Dixie received it's first major remodel in 22 years in the fall of 2018. Away would go the neon and pastels of the Marketplace decor in favor of the red, red, and more red of Winn-Dixie's current Down Down decor. Winn-Dixie would complete their remodel of this store on December 13, 2018, just in time for Christmas, and about three months into Publix's rebuild. Had the Publix across the street not gone through its remodel, Winn-Dixie probably would have continued to let this store sit as it was for quite a bit longer.

     But before we take a look at all those fancy new red walls, let's take a peek at the fun, oh-so-90's-Florida Marketplace interior this store had for 22 years. In we go...

     As usual in these Marketplace era Winn-Dixies, we enter behind the front registers. Beyond the registers are bins and displays of the week's promotions, followed by produce (which is located behind me).

     "The Low Price Leader" slogan was placed on this wall near the main entrance, somewhat appropriately near all the promotional merchandise. When this store opened a photo counter would have been located here, but all of those were removed from Winn-Dixie's stores by the 2005 bankruptcy.

     Leaving the old photo alcove, here's a look into the produce department in the front right corner of the store.

     The Winn-Dixie "Wall of Special Values" can be seen in the background here, a common sight in these Marketplace era stores.

     Here's a close-up of the classic Marketplace-era diamond signage for the produce department.

     Winn-Dixie had this fancy wooden display made for the produce department, although the display now houses bags of peanuts. Featuring the 2006-2016 logo, this display was one of the newer additions to the produce department here.

     More modern displays could be found just in front of that wooden one, featuring Winn-Dixie's current logo. While more updated, this display was nothing more than some cardboard trays stacked on top of each other. Still, the bright red does make this display pop out from the pastels in the rest of this department!

     The floral department was housed in an island between the produce department and a few short grocery aisles, behind which was the deli counter.

     Stepping into aisle 1, we find the beer wall. Someone decided to go through the effort to update this particular department sign (probably to update a department name mismatch, however it could also be that the old beer signage just didn't have enough emphasis to it, as you can't say cold beer without an exclamation point after it!)

     In the back right corner we find the deli, complete with a partially working neon sign. Partially and non working neon is a common sight in these remaining Marketplace stores, unfortunately.

     There were a few short aisles of groceries between the deli and floral island. Aisle 2, which was rather wide, was home to the chips.

     While aisles 1-3 were rather short due to the placement of the produce department, aisles 4-15 were all standard length. Here's a look across the remainder of the store, as seen from the front end.

     Here's another look across the front end, this photo taken a few steps further down the front aisle.

     Cookies and cereal could be found in aisle 4.

     Exiting aisle 4 and turning to the left, we find the meat and seafood counter. Unlike the deli, the neon in the meat department sign is either completely burnt out or turned off entirely. The letters would have lit up blue just like the rest of the neon in the 90's Marketplace decor.

     Here's a look straight back at the meat and seafood counter, the old "Fisherman's Wharf" sign is visible in the background.

     Beyond the meat counter, the prepackaged meats continue along the back wall. The prepackaged meats eventually transition into a few coolers of frozen meat, followed by dairy in the back left corner.

     Here's another random grocery aisle view. Turning into the next aisle though, we'll find the frozen foods:

     Between the color scheme of the signs and the floors, in addition to the old looking coolers with pastel trim, the frozen foods department in these Marketplace stores always gives off the strongest 90's vibe of any department in the store (at least to me).

     Those few coolers along the wall were home to frozen meats, with dairy just beyond that. In the center of the aisle are some tiny old coffin coolers, used to house various promotional items from the meat department.

     Leaving frozen foods and the back wall, we enter aisle 9. In this aisle are the greeting cards and magazines. The lighted magazine rack also looks very 90's, and offered a large selection of magazines to choose from.

     The former pharmacy counter was covered over with a few bamboo mats and shelves to create a home for some beach toys and accessories. Route 44 is the main road to New Smyrna's beachside, so most stores on this stretch like to increase their beach offerings to appeal to tourists (and locals) going out for a day at the beach.

     In front of the old pharmacy counter was the health and beauty department. In these mid-90's Marketplace stores, the original layouts had health and beauty aisles that were narrower than the main grocery aisles. The narrower aisles didn't line up exactly with the other aisles behind it, usually leading to an extra aisle in the front half of the store compared to the rest. For that reason, aisle 11A was born, stuffed in between aisles 11 and 12. The situation was weird to see in person, the random aisle 11A sign throwing off the sequential order of the rest of the grocery aisles. It almost made this aisle seem like an afterthought.

      In this photo you can see the hanging health and beauty sign, as well as how the health and beauty aisles don't quite line up right with the main aisles behind them. Before the aisle markers were switched out in this store in the early 2000's (from these to the tri-siders you see here, a common upgrade in these older stores), the old aisle markers in the front were hung to align with the aisles in the back. With that being the case, the markers hung over the shelves in the health and beauty section rather than the aisle, which was also weird to see in person, although eliminating the need to have aisle 11A sign!

     Putting the strange Marketplace era health and beauty section behind us, here's a look down the back half of aisle 11 (where everything lines up right). This half of the aisle is home to office supplies and paper products.

     The frozen meats got their own special signage, which is pictured here.

     Here's another look across the back of the store, looking back toward the meat counter and the deli.

     The front right corner of the store is home to the bakery, complete with a fully-working neon sign. (The only example of such in the entire store). This store had a very nice selection of baked goods too. When you can find a Winn-Dixie with a decent sized bakery, they do put out some good stuff!

     Looking into the bakery counter, some old signage advertising the store's cakes could be found on the wall, as well as the 90's logo etched onto some decorative glass above the cooler.

     My phone did a good job capturing the neon in this shot, with this photo turning out nice and clear too to capture the crispness of the neon!

     This store's last aisle, aisle 15, was home to prepackaged breads and the majority of the dairy department. Some mini coffin coolers could be found in the center of this aisle too that featured the week's promotional dairy offerings.

     This was the dairy sign placed above the milk coolers on the store's back wall, the only portion of the dairy department not contained in aisle 15.

     Here's another look at the main dairy aisle, with the bakery visible in the background.

     Having now covered pretty much everything, it's time to make our way past the old pharmacy and back to the front end...

     At some point the check lane lights here were removed. Like just about all Marketplace stores, the lights here were changed out to the Purple/Maroon style ones in the early 2000's. The original Marketplace style lights looked like this (the pastel pink ones on those really ancient looking self checklanes behind the candy display), although those would be an extremely rare find at an operational Winn-Dixie today.

     Here's a quick peek at the customer service desk as we get ready to head out...

     Thank you for shopping at America's Supermarket! Even though Winn-Dixie never really left the general confines of the Southeast even at their peak, "America's Supermarket" would be even more of a stretch for the company to claim today. I don't have the exact figures, but I do know nearly 400 of Winn-Dixie's remaining 475-ish stores are in Florida alone. And it's not like Winn-Dixie can try to call themselves "Florida's Supermarket" today either, as a certain other supermarket chain and their 800 Florida locations owns that title.

     Stepping back outside, this Winn-Dixie is about to prepare itself to battle a newer, larger Publix about to open across the street. Trying to take on the challenge, a remodel is about to ensue here. While this building won't be leveled like we saw across the street, Winn-Dixie did put more effort into this particular remodel than some of their other recent remodels. So how did the remodel turn out, you ask? Did a lot change compared to what we just saw today? Does the Down Down decor look good in this store? Will the results of Winn-Dixie's remodel be enough to save itself from the Publix across the street? Will AFB stop asking so many questions?! The answers to these questions and possibly more will be revealed next time...

So until the next post,



  1. I'm always a little conflicted when I see this décor, for some reason. I personally like the look of it, and think it would be a cool relic to come across, but the fact that it seems rather outdated and is in so many Winn-Dixies feels unfortunate (just like in other chains that have refused to remodel over the years, like Kmart). Likewise, I love the very wide open feel in this store (or at least, your pictures give off that impression), but that begins to feel less like a luxury and more like a beacon drawing attention to the lack of the customers in the store when paired with the décor. So hopefully the Down Down remodel will be an improvement, even if I'll probably ultimately like this Marketplace décor better!

    Lots of other interesting things here, too, such as that Cold Beer! sign and the 11A aisle marker. Looking forward to the post-remodel photoset!

    1. This decor is a bit outdated, but at least this color scheme is tamer than the crazy pink/teal variant that really looks like a relic of the past. However, I still like this look too, as old as it is. Even for being 25 years old, some stores do a surprising job at keeping this decor looking presentable today. Besides some burnt out neon, this store didn't look all too bad for an older Winn-Dixie. There are some Marketplace stores I've been to that have clearly seen better days, and that wasn't the impression I got my first time here.

      The wide layout isn't an effect - that's just how these Marketplace stores are. These stores were supposed to feel more open than their smaller predecessors. Like you say though, this place wasn't drawing a crowd as large as the Publix across the street was, before or after the Publix's remodel. At the grand opening of the new Publix, people waiting in line were even complaining about this Winn-Dixie too, mostly about prices though. This store got a surprisingly nicer remodel than most other Winn-Dixies have gotten recently, which I was happy to see. It wasn't super fancy, but not horrible either. I'm interested to see what impressions you get of this store after I post the remodel photos.

    2. Oh yeah, the décor definitely looks presentable here! So much better than Kmart (since that was my comparison in the first comment). Most of the stours I've seen of Winn-Dixies with this package have shown it in pristine condition, and this particular store looks super clean, too. I guess in that aspect, it makes me feel like I've taken a timewarp back to the 90s - again, not that that's a bad thing, it just feels like the store has been only "gently used" or something like that.

      Ha, I am, too XD Normally I don't think I'm this articulate, and hopefully what I've written so far doesn't come across as complaining! I guess I just wish the best for this store, like a concerned parent XD