Monday, February 15, 2021

I Love My Eckerd! - I Love My Island Thrift Store (Former Goodwill, nee-Eckerd #62) - Merritt Island, FL

 I Love My Island is an organization in Merritt Island that does all sorts of great things- it provides for seniors, it organizes youth activities, and helps with crisis relief. And finally, and most interesting to us, is they run a thrift store!

Florida Today, November 9, 1983

This particular thrift store is located at 245 Crockett Blvd, inside a shopping center called Merritt Crossings. Eckerd would open here on November 9th, 1983, likely alongside the Publix that then anchored the center. It would follow the standard trajectory for Eckerd stores of it's age- that is, to last until the late 90s when it was replaced by a freestanding store nearby.

The closest freestanding store in this case would be a pretty early build in 1996, across Crockett Blvd in the parking lot of a Target. The location disappears from newspaper ads by 1993, so it makes sense that the store closed in 1996 if not earlier.

Goodwill would move in come early 1999, after renovating the space the previous year. I don't have a definite date for when they closed, but they're last mentioned at that spot in 2010, and honestly, for Goodwill in this area, that's a long time to stick to one space. I Love My Island shows up by 2015, and so it's likely they opened not long after the organization was founded in 2014.

I don't have a photo of the exterior- but it's not awful much to miss. The facade is simple and themed to fit the plaza, and the sign is just "THRIFT STORE", in block letters. (Not even reused from Goodwill, which I thought at first)

The entryway appears pretty unchanged from the Eckerd days, and as such is pleasingly vintage.

The baskets are unfortunately generic, but are fairly weather beaten to compensate. I'm not sure what the "NOW OPEN" sign is for- the store's been open for several years now.

The bulk of the sales floor is taken up by clothes and a smaller section of furniture, and the whole store, despite a past life as Goodwill, still feels a lot like an old drug store.

What makes it *really* feel like an Eckerd however, is this! The upper wall for what was the pharmacy counter survives, a feature sadly destroyed in so many remodels.

To round off our post, I'd like to showcase some of the retail relics I discovered on this thrift outing.

First up is this pack of Ritz Camera-branded photo paper. 

More modern here, with a Kenmore "intelligent shopper". With how few Sears are left, you probably do need an AI to find a Sears with your product available.

The biggest and most impressive find is this- a boxed JCPenney film-to-tape converter.

There's two cool things about it- first, it appears to be almost brand new and virtually unused.

And second of all, while it's damaged, still has a JCPenney catalog order tag attached to the outside!

With that, it's been Cape Kennedy Retail. Until next time.


  1. There is a lot of neat stuff here. The first obvious neat thing is that this is a former shopping center Eckerd! We had lots of these in Houston back in the 1970s and 1980s. Most of them were in Safeway shopping centers, but a few Eckerd locations ended up in shopping centers anchored by other grocers (most of whom had pharmacies themselves). As you mentioned, this former Eckerd retains more Eckerd features than a lot of repurpose jobs I've seen.

    This location kind of reminds me of the former Goodwill on 249 and Louetta Rd. here in Houston. I mentioned this location recently in an AFB post about a boomerang Winn-Dixie. The back of the former Goodwill in Houston didn't have the pharmacy department wall like this one, but the view from the back to the front of the store looked a lot like what the Goodwill here looked like. Unfortunately, that Goodwill closed sometime in very early 2020. Goodwill opened many locations in that same area in the early 2010s and so it was inevitable that some would close eventually due to them over-expanding. That shopping center is certainly hurting right now. In just a matter of a few months, it lost the Goodwill, Stein Mart, and an indoor jumping center for kids. It seems the P17 Target at that shopping center isn't really helping drive traffic.

    Another strange thing is that I'm not sure if I can remember a thrift store opening up in a former thrift store location. That's very strange, but neat in a way.

    That Kenmore Alfie is quite hilarious. It was Eddie Lampert's way of competing with Amazon. Yeah, don't laugh too hard, lol. This thrift store would be wise to pay someone $10 to take it off their hands, it's useless! I do remember Ritz Camera though. Speaking of cameras, that film to tape converter is totally neat, JCPenney or otherwise! I believe the way those things worked is that one could play a Super 8 film reel on it and then it would project the image onto a lens that one could focus their camcorder on and then tape the image. That would be perfect for anyone who has vintage retail footage on Super 8 film!

    It looks like this thrift store might have had an interesting selection of vintage electronics. If nothing else, I think I see a Polk Audio subwoofer sitting on the shelf there. That would be a pretty good pickup if it works and is priced right. I see some other speakers there which may or may not be any good. If I'm ever in Brevard County again and have a way of taking large items back with me, I might have to stop at this thrift store. Since Eckerd owned the VideoConcepts electronics store chain before they sold it to Tandy/Radio Shack, I wonder if there are any old electronics in here that would have been originally sold at a VideoConcepts store.

    I'm guessing most of Florida is staying warm, but most of the rest of the south is under ice and snow right now! Houston is certainly one of the areas dealing with snow, ice, and very low temperatures. There are probably some palm trees with icicles around here, lol. This type of historic weather would be worth filming on Super 8 film and also snapping pictures and having the photos developed at Eckerd or printed on Ritz paper!

    1. @Anonymous from Houston: Somewhat relating to those old electronics stores you mention, the Goodwill that used to be located here moved across the street to the former McDuff I posted about a few months ago:

    2. Interesting, thanks for the information. I suppose the move led to a larger store. The showroom itself doesn't look a lot bigger, but some Goodwills have a large warehouse/donation center which may or may not be visible to store shoppers. Both stores have bright colors (the I Love My Island might be using Goodwill's paint job), but the vinyl floor at the I Love My Island store makes it look a little more cheerful even though the floor looks pretty well worn.

      I would say there's a good chance this I Love My Island store has some former McDuff electronics. Somehow I didn't think about this when I made my initial reply, but, of course, JCPenney did own Eckerd for a while. That said, Eckerd might have moved out of here before JCP took over. Still, it's interesting to see JCP branded electronics at a former Eckerd even if that electronic item certainly pre-dates JCP's takeover of Eckerd.