Saturday, December 28, 2019

Key Food of Winter Garden

It's time to open an old supermarket with a new Key

Key Food
624 S. Dillard St.
Winter Garden, FL

As I was visiting some people down in western Orlando this morning and early afternoon, I decided to do a bit of quick retail photo scavenging afterwords (something I haven't had time to do in  awhile). I decided to scan the area around Ocoee/ Pine Hills and Winter Garden to see if there was anything that popped out to me. I'm pretty bored of Publix stores, and most of Winn-Dixie's stores (especially Post Bankruptcy and Down Down don't hold my interest very long anymore). As I zoomed in on Winter Garden I saw the grocery symbol and the name Key Food. Cool! anything that's not Walmart, Publix, or Winn-Dixie should be interesting enough to visit! I'm committed. Here I come! 

Hmmm..This looks curiously like a mid-1970's Winn-Dixie. Does anyone know (A.F.B. perhaps) if that is the case? I know from news archive photos I've been able to dig up, Winn-Dixie stores of the 70's had a  metal facade that was in that same type of shape, but then again probably a lot of grocery stores looked similar to this back in the 70's. A.F.B. shared with me (earlier this past year) the link to an obscure grocery store in the tiny town of Inglis on Florida's upper west coast on US 19/98 called Food Ranch. That building seems similar to this one. 

Let me stop blabbering and head inside! 

Ok, I really like this! As weird as this sounds I get tired of Publix, simply because they are like cookie cutter grocery stores. They all look the same on the inside with no real pizzazz or zeal. 
Publix absolutely proves the point that you can keep people loyal to shopping your stores even if your decor is boring, monotonous, and uniform, as long as you deliver impeccable customer service and a squeaky clean atmosphere. I like shopping at Publix too (who doesn't)? Their customer service keeps you coming back, even though people like myself are internally fuming about them seemingly erasing all comparable competition in Florida. I have to tell though, it is refreshing to see other small supermarket chains trying to give it a shot for people who may not be able to afford Publix's high prices and also loath the idea of going inside a horribly crowded and unpleasant Walmart Supercenter to buy their food. What you see here is a grocery store chain that is offering shoppers great values on food, all while giving off pleasant vibes with this comforting decor while catering to the local shoppers needs or wants. 

The right front corner and right side of the store is where Fresh Produce can be found. I turned to the right to snap this photo after walking in. 

I then turned back to my right facing the front right corner. This area is specifically the location for fruits (Cut Fruits). 


It was pretty doggone busy when I got here, so I skipped over to the back aisle after leaving produce. Along the back wall I found Fresh packaged Meats. 

I decided to head a bit further down the back aisle and was able to catch a break in the traffic to snap this photo looking to the right down the back aisle toward the back right corner.

Down at the left end of the back aisle on the back wall were freezers containing frozen Seafood. 

Here is one of the grocery aisles containing canned goods

And another aisle  containing pots, pans, and other kitchenware on the right (if facing the back of the store) and toiletries on the left.

Moving further to the left down the back wall is the selection of cold beer. I like the decor prop used with the glasses of beer. It sure makes the cold beer look all the more refreshing! 

A bit of a crummy attempt at the Dairy section on the back wall (the next section to the left of Cold Beer). 

Along the far left side aisle is the Dairy department and Frozen Foods. Something located directly ahead on the front wall looks very interesting to me, Hot Bread! I love bakery stuff, especially hot bread! But it gets even greater than this as you'll see in my next photo....

On a front end cap between the dry grocery items and snacks is a free standing oven where you can fetch hot bread to take with just before checkout, so you can indulge in it while you're sitting in your car perhaps. 

This store gets even better in the next photos.

The Bakery was the only thing I was a bit disappointed about. It was actually very tiny, and just thrown in next to Deli meats. The Cafe seen below looks pretty amazing though!

Had it been the case that I had not eaten lunch just 20 minutes prior to arriving here, I would have totally bought lunch here. Let's see; a couple of beef empanadas and some yellow rice would have suited me just fine. I will have to come back here for lunch the next time I'm in Orlando.

Up on the wall above beverages on the right side of the Cafe was this mural of the 'Last Supper'. This was quite an amazing religious display placed inside a supermarket. However, many Hispanic people I know and have known in the past are very religious (and of many different Christian faiths). It was also neat how they placed a couple of presents on the little ledge just below the mural. 

Here's a look at the checkout lanes across the front aisle of the store. On the wall above checkout is something common to all grocery stores; thanking the shoppers for 'Shopping with (fill in the blank). 

Haha! My camera wasn't quite fast enough for this man with the basket to pass in front of me on his way to the last checkout lane. Overall, I was impressed with the food selection and the cleanliness of this store. Sure the Publix snobs wouldn't like this place, but I like it! 

Here's one last photo I took inside right after checking out. Those checkout stands look new. That is a lot more creative than what Save-A-Lot did with their 'big' remodel, only repainting those check stands white. 

As I was just getting into my car, I saw this opportunity to capture the Winter Garden water tower (which looks ancient), as well as the sign for West Orange Shopping Center. This is a store I'd like to come back to for some of the delicious looking Latin/Hispanic food seen the Cafe. I wish I had gotten some food at the Sedano's on S. Orange Blossom Trail (ex-Albertsons #4462). That place was amazing! 

Hope you all enjoyed this post!
Till next time,


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Official KSears Christmas Carol

It's beginning to look a lot like a store closing...

Everywhere you go...

Take a look at the five and ten, it's liquidating once again...

With tacky signs and shouting lines that show...

It's beginning to look a lot like a store closing...

Toys in every corner...

But the saddest sight to see are the shoes that will be...

Thrown on the floor...

It's beginning to look a lot like a store closing...

Soon the clean-out will start...

And the thing that will make you cringe is the empty shell that used to be...

Your local store...

But soon it will be a new store once more.

     A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us at My Florida Retail, a Christmas season that may be Kmart and Sears's very last. I know people have been saying that for years, but with only 180 stores left between both brands, I feel that fact holds up better this season than any year in the past. With Eddie running the show, who knows what will happen, but here at MFR we have plenty of coverage of Sears and Kmart stores of past and present to bring to you in the new year. The photos above are a small preview of some Sears and Kmart related pictures in my archives, some of which will hopefully make it to MFR for full posts in the coming year. Anyway, have a great Christmas everyone!

Until the next post,


Thursday, December 19, 2019

Drive-Thru Royalty - Former Burger King - Cocoa, FL

Dual "Burger King" panels would fit in the rectangle spot carved into the roof.
Among all the fast food concepts fed nearly wholesale into the incinerator of obscurity, there are few so thoroughly as forgotten as the purely drive-through fast food joint. Minimal footprint, a simple menu, some drive thrus, and a couple tables outside if you felt like splurging. Some chains built entire empires in this sector- from the cheerful Central Park to the angular, efficiency driven Hot n' Now, and many national chains, such as McDonald's and even Chick-Fil-A, had experiments in this market as well.

Welcome to Burger King, home of the Whopper, may I take your order sir?
Evidently Burger King also threw their hat into this ultra competitive ring, opening this location as the first drive-thru Burger King in 1992, before closing at an undisclosed date sometime before 2007 (since it was already closed by that Google Streetview image). So suffice to say it wasn't a roaring success. It's current state is actually somewhat improved from a few years ago, the result of exhaustive work with a chainsaw and a hedge trimmer, keeping the aggressive plant life from swallowing it whole.

However, despite the foliage cutback and a shiny new for lease sign facing the road, this building continues to waste away. It's colors faded, it's drive-thrus coated in acorns that crunch like gravel when walked on. Despite it's proximity to EFSC and several other schools, this strip of Clearlake Road isn't home to much. Some gas stations, a combination Domino's/Boost Mobile in what looks to have once been another convenience store, an abandoned bank.

This shot, while awkwardly framed, does better show the small brick platform out in front of the building, which I presume would have held just a few tables and chairs, likely removed officially when it closed, or unofficially shortly thereafter. And note the customary palm tree, that I'm beginning to suspect is required by law.

Amazingly, for a well-weathered and several years abandoned building, nearly adjacent to a college, in Cocoa of all places, this building had almost no graffiti, except for this one simple piece on the old HVAC block(?). I don't remember any doors on this to indicate they were walk in freezers.

To end off this post, I'll add a newspaper clipping from the September 12th, 1992 issue of Florida Today, discussing this location's opening. Massive thanks to cflretail for digging this up for me.

That's all for now!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Double-Vision and a Difficult Entrance - Anytime Fitness/Vacant (former Publix) - Titusville, FL

It's not exactly uncommon for a Publix to relocate. Publix maintains a (decently) high standard for their stores, and tends to update them with a fair regularity. If the situation is dire and other options sparse, they'll flatten the original store and a couple neighboring storefronts in the center, and build a new one on top. A lot of times, they'll build a new one in a shinier plaza, or jump ship to a former location of whatever supermarket chain they gutted like a fish earlier that week.

However, in Titusville's St John's Plaza, Publix took a different turn. Instead of expanding their existing store, nestled near the shopping strip's "corner", they abandoned their previous store and built a brand-spanking-new one further down the plaza, nuking whatever was there previously from orbit. 

The store remained vacant for a while, even keeping a glaringly obvious Publix labelscar until it was painted over. In 2018, a gym, "24/7 Workout Anytime" took over the lion's share of the store. All they left was an awkward slice, frozen in time.

Now, unfortunately, like most places I photographed, the doors here were sealed tight. However there wasn't much store left to photograph, so what I could get through the windows was basically all there was to see. Ugly shelving scars, an aging ceiling, and lots of Classy Market (likely 2.0 likely 1.0, thanks AFB) wall paint, scarred by paint blotches

Now, while I did mention the doors were locked, even if they were wide open I probably wouldn't have gotten very far.

....I think you all can piece together why.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Roadside Blight - Former Hale Groves - Wabasso, FL

Look! Look at.... absolutely nothing
Driving home from an outing to Vero Beach, we passed this amazing empty sign. Despite being painted out and peeling away from it's frame, this sign still catches a lot of attention sitting on the side of the road. Initially, me and my parents thought it was some sort of drive-in establishment. The sign's about the right size and looks about the right era, and the arrow fit thematically too. However, checking the much smaller and less impressive secondary sign, we can see that it was actually a showroom or store for Hale Groves.

Informative and unimpressive, like a typical public school system.
Despite serious effort put into blanking out the large sign, this smaller sign had it's logo left intact. Though in recent years, it seems the paint's started trying to escape on it's own.

Vintage awnings oversee a parking lot of faded asphalt, increasingly consumed by plant life run amok. If one wanted to sum up the probably hundreds of former roadside delights throughout Florida, that would be a pretty good start. I love the architecture here, even for a rather simple building built out of what was once just a packing house.

Getting ourselves closer to the main building, we can't see too much, save for the large amount of plant life that has begun to spring up in the cracks even after a relatively short period of abandonment.

Not much here of note except a decent amount of plywood nailed to the front of the building. This must have had plenty of doors/big windows in it's day, part of me wonders if the other panels next to them might have once been windows as well. The bricking up of extraneous, large windows in department stores and other commercial architecture of the 50s and 60s seems ironic, considering the money-demanding feature it has become in houses decades later.

A nice shot of the end of the building, transitioning into the covered parking area. Notice that massive pile of plant matter there, I'm really not sure what's caused it to take off like it has. Proximity to the ocean? Decades of spilled oranges rotting into the soil making the world's greatest fertilizer? Who knows. All I can say is that in a few decades if this building hasn't collapsed under it's own weight or into the sea, it's gonna look like a giant hedge with some roofing poking out. 

This is the last time you'll see plywood prominently in a photo here, I swear. We reach the end of the building, with a small unknown window covered with more of the USA's favorite budget wood sheeting. Alas, even in abandonment, we cannot escape the reign of the crappy free newspaper/circular either. Actually, let's get a little closer to take a look around the corner....

and look down the hallway of darkness. Despite a sunny day, overgrowth has shaded this hallway in such a way as to make it quite eerie. I considered going down here, but the feeling of weird unease I got just looking at it prevented me from exploring it any further. 99% chance I would have been fine, but you know, sometimes you just don't have a great feeling.

Albeit slightly blurry, this photo illustrates very well how the plant growth has taken over this ramp. Whether this was a disabled access ramp, a loading ramp, or possibly both, I do not know. The railings are still in good shape though.

This shot came out pretty well I think, showing the small shaded area next to what I believe was parking. I really like the architecture on this little canopy, even if it's not that fancy. How this chunk of concrete has escaped any large amounts of overgrowth is beyond me, I can't imagine just being shaded has been that effective.

Here's a shot from underneath the little vintage canopy. I wonder if there was ever anything under here, as it seems a decent sized space to be completely empty.

Reminds you a little bit of a book cover doesn't it? It's not perfectly frame, but I still do like this shot.

To round off our post, we'll end with this quick photo of the side of the building- which makes the structure's packing house origins a lot more obvious.

Florida, despite it's nearly nationwide fame for citrus, doesn't have a great citrus industry anymore. Least not in this part of the state. Up and down Brevard and Indian River counties there lays a string of abandoned packing houses- Old Victory Groves, Oslo Growers Association, Quality Fruit Packers, Greene River Packing, and Nevins Fruit Company, just to name a few. Retail outlets, too. In recent years Harvey's Groves closed it's two retail locations in Rockledge and West Melbourne, and Policicchio Groves in Merritt Island. All shuttered. The one in West Melbourne is now a vape shop, the newest addition to the list of common low-end tenants.