Monday, February 24, 2020

Don't Be Sad, Be Happy It Happened

Winn-Dixie #2268 / Lucky's Market #31 / Future Winn-Dixie #2???
3170 West New Haven Avenue, West Melbourne, FL - Plaza West

     With Lucky's Market of West Melbourne officially closing on February 21, 2020, I feel there's no better time than now to finish the story of the closing of this store. Like last time, this post will be comprised to two sets of photos taken on two different occasions. Picking up from where we left off last time, we skip ahead three days to February 18, 2020. By this time in the closing, the closing sale had dropped to 75% off all remaining merchandise, the final price cut before the store closed for good a few days later. While the deals sounded good, there really wasn't much merchandise left to stock up on...

     Stepping inside, what little grocery product was left was clustered to the left side of the coffee grinders. The groceries were very slim pickings, with the only food products remaining being some packages of spices and a few barrels of bulk dried black eyed peas. Outside of that, there was still a small selection of apothecary items, and a lot of random store supplies (pictured above).

     While some of these views are similar to what we've seen in the previous post, showcasing all the emptiness in the closed off sections of the store, I still took a few photos out this way.

     Unlike milk, it's OK to cry over spilled wine (and your local Lucky's closing). Besides that sign, behind the flatbed carts we see all the empty grocery aisles, as well as some of the other department signage poking out in the background.

     If you needed a 500-count box of plastic rotisserie chicken containers or a roll of produce bags, this was the time to stock up. The former prepared foods area was piled high with boxes of all kinds of store supplies and containers, primarily the containers used to package items once sold in this department. Unlike the actual merchandise, this stuff didn't seem to be moving very fast.

     Hidden behind all the boxes of supplies was this pole, where Lucky's used to let people write little messages and such on. Peeking out over the boxes was a message that must have been added recently by the family of the store manager, saying "Thank you to our community.", a fitting farewell to the message pole. Along with that heartfelt message, we also know that "Purple squirrel lives on again." I have no idea what that second message means, but at least we are duly informed should that be important 😁.

     While all the pizza may be gone, there were still plenty of pizza boxes to be sold off amongst the random cases of store supplies. However, a stack of empty pizza boxes doesn't do me any good, as it's the stuff that goes inside one of these boxes that I'd want!

     This photo was taken alongside The Kitchen, where The Kitchen joined with the edge of the Apothecary department. As you can tell by the signs, breads (including the sliced kind, which is the greatest thing since...wait...) used to be located along that wall to my left. In the background is the hallway to the restrooms, as well as Lucky's community room (where various classes and meetings would take place).

     Turning away from The Kitchen, here's a look toward the apothecary. All the remaining apothecary merchandise was consolidated onto those black shelves to my right.

     There wasn't much left to see here, so on my way out I took this photo of the hallway in front of the registers. I don't recall getting this view before on my visits here, so here it is. This space is Winn-Dixie's old vestibule area, which is visible in this photo. Looking at the photos from the original Winn-Dixie days and now, it's weird to think those pictures were taken in the same building!

     Here's one final interior photo from February 18, 2020, looking at the area where most of the remaining merchandise had been consolidated.

     Now that we've covered February 18, 2020, let's skip ahead to some photos from February 21, 2020 - Lucky's last day in operation.

     After visiting a few days earlier, I knew the end was going to come sooner than the originally anticipated final day of February 25, 2020. On a whim I decided to pay Lucky's a visit on February 21st to see if the place was still open, and it was - for only another 10 minutes by the time I got here! 

     Usually timing like that doesn't work in my favor, but for once it did! I was actually planning to head over this way later in the day, but I'm glad I changed my mind when I did. Fittingly enough for a final day, the weather outside was cold, gray, and gloomy. While the weather outside could be described that way, the attitude of all the employees inside was surprisingly the opposite. The employees all seemed to be having a party in the cafe when I arrived, and were in really good spirits for being their last day employed. I'm sure on the inside the employees were sad, but they were making the best of their situation.

     Signs were taped to the front door announcing February 21, 2020 as the final day in business. Since we're on a time crunch, I had to make my business inside quick...

     On the last day, what product remained inside was essentially the same we saw a few days prior. The main difference was the last little bits of grocery stuff were gone, with a small amount of apothecary items and cases of supplies floating around. That rack of cards also appeared on this trip too (although it could have been floating around somewhere on my other visits, but I never noticed it).

     Besides one lady combing through the tiny bit of apothecary items remaining and another lady paying for her stuff at the register when I arrived, most of the people in here right before the closure were either employees or family members of the employees. They were all walking around, hanging out in the cafe, taking pictures and videos of the store and each other, and having a good old time as the final minutes neared.

     Empty, empty, empty...

     A parting shot of The Kitchen...

     And my final photo taken inside Lucky's Market of West Melbourne, minutes before Lucky's Florida presence came to an end.

     Lucky's will miss you, states the sign. Not only will Lucky's miss serving the people of West Melbourne, but the people of West Melbourne will miss Lucky's too:

     I pulled all these screengrabs from Lucky's Market of West Melbourne's Facebook page, specifically from the store's final post on February 21, 2020 announcing Lucky's was officially closed. That was just a sampling of the comments too, and not counting the outpouring of sadness on any of the store's previous posts during the closing process. In addition to the outpouring of sadness and well-wishing to the employees, anger toward Winn-Dixie could also be found in the comment section of those Facebook posts:

     Again, that was just a sampling of the anger from locals that Winn-Dixie was coming back to this location, as there are other comments on the Facebook page with similar sentiments toward Winn-Dixie. People I've spoken to about the situation also feel Winn-Dixie pulled a dirty deed buying the West Melbourne store out from under Lucky's, and refuse to support the new store. I'm sure there are still a lot of people out there who are indifferent to the situation or don't care, but I've never seen so much emotion flying around in regard to a closing store/stores before than I've seen with the Lucky's situation (especially West Melbourne's case). It just goes to show that a store really can be thought of as more than a place to buy groceries, but a true asset to the community.

     So folks, that was Lucky's Market of West Melbourne. Even though that finishes my coverage of the closing, that's only half the story. Sometime in the coming months we'll begin to see progress as the new Winn-Dixie begins to take shape. While I don't plan to cover the actual renovation of this building back to Winn-Dixie, I am extremely curious to see what the new store will look like once it's open, and how much of Lucky's layout is kept or changed. Winn-Dixie plans to open this store later in 2020, and I'll be sure to keep everyone updated on an opening date as I learn more.

     However, before I end this post, I do have one more thing to add about Lucky's. I discovered recently that a new locally-owned organic market will be opening in the nearby city of Indialantic sometime in early 2020. The new market, called Djon's Village Market, will be located about 5 miles to the east of here on US 192, the same road Lucky's was located on. Djon's Village Market, which will be owned by local restaurateur Djon Pepaj, is being described as a "food mecca" with three levels and a rooftop bar, amongst other features. The manager of Lucky's announced he would be taking on the position of manager at Djon's Village Market, continuing his journey in the field of organic shopping. As manager of the new market, he plans to reconnect with many of the same local and small vendors who sold their products at Lucky's, so people living in the area could still purchase these harder-to-find items. The manager also extended out an offer to any Lucky's employees who wanted to make the transition to Djon's too, hoping to reunite much of the Lucky's crew at the new store. While Djon's Village Market will be different than Lucky's, at least some parts of Lucky's will continue to live on in Brevard County, even if it is indirectly.

     That being said, to end today's post, I will turn the table to Lucky's themselves to provide us with some final words:

"We are sad to announce that our doors are permanently closed. We’re grateful for the support from this community, since opening our doors in 2017. What we built with you, our loyal customers, was not in vain. You helped contribute to our mission: Good Food For All. We appreciate all of the shopping trips you put in, the community organizations you helped us support and the friendships that we made along the way. We wish you the best, and an abundance of good food in your future."

Lucky's Market of West Melbourne
1/11/2017 - 2/21/2020
"We could have gotten away with this store too, if it weren't for that meddling SEG!"

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Closing Continues - Lucky's Market of West Melbourne

Winn-Dixie #2268 / Lucky's Market #31 / Future Winn-Dixie #2???
3170 West New Haven Avenue, West Melbourne, FL - Plaza West

     As Lucky's Market of West Melbourne enters its final few days in business, it's time I continue my coverage of this store's closure. To start off today's post, we'll be seeing some photos from February 9, 2020 - five days into the closure process. On this day I came by here not expecting to take photos, but so much had changed since my visit a few days prior, I took photos anyway.

     Since it was relatively early in the closure process, all of the store was still accessible during this visit. Most of the change we'll be seeing was the rapid depletion of merchandise, as the first few days of Lucky's closure got people out here in mobs. On February 9, the closing discounts were only at 25% off, as noted on the banner sign out front.

     Heading inside, we'll take a quick spin around the sales floor to see how empty everything was beginning to look. As you can see in the above photo of the produce department, merchandise was going fast here.

     Five days in, frozen foods were practically wiped out, minus a few odds and ends pushed into the coolers at the very front of the aisle.

     The empty coolers continued into the dairy department...

     ...and from the empty coolers we now surround ourselves with empty shelves. On this day, employees were working to consolidate all the remaining merchandise toward the front of the aisles, leaving the backs empty like we see here.

     Leaving the grocery aisles, here's a different angle of the emptying dairy department.

     No more meat to be found here.

     As you can tell, Melbournians love themselves a good sale! In five days the town was able to deplete this store of half its merchandise. Actually, not only were people from Melbourne coming to shop at this store to stock up on deals, but people from out of town too. I overheard one couple talking to an employee during my visit, saying they came here from the Orlando area for their Lucky's fix, thinking this store was still on the go forward list as previously reported. While they weren't angry or anything to find this store closing after driving all the way out here, they were sad to find a closing sale, discovering Lucky's was leaving Florida after all.

     As I mentioned previously, the goal of my visit on this day wasn't originally for photos: it was for pizza. I really wanted to have Lucky's pizza one last time before this place closed, and I was hoping to see some out for sale. Well, I was right, Lucky's still had pizza this day - but the employee in the kitchen had pulled the last few slices from the display and discarded them a few minutes before I got there! (Just my luck!) Now, I don't know if that was the very last pizza batch to come out of this store, but it was the last time I knew it was being made here. By my next visit, the service departments had all been shut down.

     Even if I came out of this visit pizza-less, I did come out of it with 15 photos I wasn't planning on taking. Before we depart for this visit, here's a look at some more empty shelves in the bulk food department.

     Lastly for my February 9, 2020 visit, here's a photo of one of the three signs that employees made and hung by the registers. The posters were signed by all the store's employees, sharing their gratitude and memories with the community for the last three years. While this is a nice tribute, it's certainly sad to read some of the comments, as a lot of the employees were upset to be losing their "work families".

     While that completes my photos from February 9, 2020, that's not the end of my post - the closing continues in the next half of this post, with photos from a week later on February 15, 2020:

     In the span of a week, a lot had changed here at Lucky's. The closing discount had dropped to 50% off the entire store on February 12th, wiping out much of what was left in stock. A lot of the store had been closed off at this point, and the crowds were dying down as there wasn't much left to buy. For the first time in ages, I was able to pull into this parking lot and see it half empty (the way it always was when Winn-Dixie was here).

     With the selection of merchandise shrinking, parts of the store were getting blocked off. Customers were no longer allowed in the left half of the store, including the areas where produce, frozen foods, and the dry grocery aisles were.

     Emptiness was the only thing to be found in the produce department anymore...

     Displays and baskets of what little grocery merchandise was left were being used to block off the empty parts of the store from customers. As you can tell, this place isn't looking so "glorious" anymore!

     During my visit, the Ramen bar was the only service department left open at this point in the closing. The ramen was also the only item excluded from the store's 50% off discount too, marked down from its original $9.99 to $7. $7 still seemed a bit pricey to me for ramen, so I didn't try it (so I guess I'll never know how "gourmet ramen" stacks up against its 39 cent counterpart!).

     Looping around to the back of the ramen bar, here's a look at what grocery merchandise remained. Part of a grocery aisle was left open to house the remaining food items, which were mostly canned goods, jars, and sauces. There was a cooler left running for some leftover Thanksgiving turkeys that must have been pulled from the back, as well as a half aisle of beer and wine next to the cooler.

     Here's a close-up shot of what little dry grocery products remained, with the old rotisserie chicken display being used to block off the rest of the aisle.

     Like the left half of the store, the back right corner (home to all the service departments) was also blocked off from customer access. 

    In bulk foods, the bulk barrels also made for a good secondary use: barricades.

     The Kitchen was all lit up, but there was nothing left to cook.

     Wicker baskets of random merchandise blocked off access to The Kitchen, with the beer corner peeking out in the background.

     Since the kitchen is closed, we'll follow the wicker baskets to the apothecary department...

     The apothecary was the most well-stocked department left in the store, still full of a decent selection of vitamins, supplements, and such. As the closing got further to the end, apothecary items were about all that remained in the store.

     Since there wasn't much left to pick from, we'll finish up this post with a look across the front end as we begin to exit.

     As we head out, we'll also see the cafe had been shut down and roped off by this point in the closing. Sip and stroll is no more here in West Melbourne (unless Winn-Dixie plans to bring that back, as they did experiment with a Sip and Stroll experience of their own at a store up near Jacksonville last year). However, I can't see Winn-Dixie bringing too many fancy extras like Sip and Stroll to West Melbourne, as good of an idea as it may be to win back Lucky's former shoppers (many of which are bitter about Winn-Dixie returning to this location). Who knows though, as I'm not sure how much or how little Winn-Dixie plans to do with the 5 Lucky's stores they purchased. That's one of the big reasons why this whole situation is so intriguing to me, as seeing a new Winn-Dixie is so rare!

     So that's all I have from Lucky's for today, but before we depart, Lucky's themselves has some inspirational words for us taped to the door...

     "Don't be sad. Be happy it happened 💗," reads the handwritten sign taped to the door. I couldn't have phrased that any better myself, and I feel this phrase could apply to so much in life, not just Lucky's closing. While Lucky's wasn't in Florida for long, they were in West Melbourne for three years, three years we'll (hopefully) never forget. While many would have loved to see Lucky's here for much longer than that, we should be grateful for the three years we did get to spend with Lucky's. Instead of dwelling over the closing, we should think about all the good times from the past - the people, the experiences, the pizza, etc. So many times people want to turn to the negative, when really, we should try to find the positives in a situation like this. That's what the West Melbourne Lucky's wants us to do, and do I shall (and hopefully you guys do too).

     While that's all I have for today's post, more coverage from the closing of the West Melbourne Lucky's will be coming shortly. I have at least one more closure photoset to come to MFR, and potentially one more after that if I can time a visit right for the very last day. The last day will more than likely occur before the planned date of February 25th, as there was hardly anything left in here during my last visit. If you're keeping tabs on this store, the actual final day will be posted to the store's Facebook page the morning of when it will occur, so keep an eye out for that in the coming days. (Update - Lucky's Market of West Melbourne closed on February 21, 2020, four days earlier than expected).

Anyway, that's all I have for now. So until the next post,