Saturday, February 24, 2024

Former Winn-Dixie #416 - Pinson, AL


King's Home Thrift | Former Winn-Dixie #416

Pinson Valley Shopping Center

4496 Center Point Road

Pinson, AL 35126

Marketplace Madness 2024:  Something Old

A Diamond in the Rough: A Companion to my post covering Winn-Dixie #500

Welcome back to My Florida Retail Blog!  It's been a hot minute since you've seen me here, but I suppose what better way to return from my hiatus than to kick off this year's edition of Marketplace Madness.  

The first two chronicles will be served up here on MFR while the last two will find themselves right at home over on The Sing Oil Blog.  As you may have seen mentioned elsewhere, this mini-series will consist of four beefy posts involving "Something Old", "Something New", "Something Borrowed", and "Something Blue".  I'll leave you to marinate on what I mean by the latter three categories, but the first one should become obvious pretty dern quick.

We kicked off last year's festivities by experiencing the wonders of the Winn-Dixie Marketplace & Food Pavilion concept with a textbook example from Pensacola and a modern adaptation in Columbus; this was followed by a tour through a rare Pub-Dixie in Chattanooga which left little to be desired.  This year, I decided to up the ante with four posts covering a diverse subset of both current and former Winn-Dixies.  All four of these stores have taught me a great deal about the journey of the Floridian grocer as it rose to the title of "America's Supermarket", descended to the depths of a dated discount grocer, and reemerged as a formidable competitor to Publix (only to send shockwaves with the news of German retailer, Aldi, acquiring the storied supermarket).

The store we will explore today was brought to my attention following an impulsive road trip to document Pinson, AL's current WD nearly two years ago.  After recognizing the building from the street, I didn't think to stop in until I reviewed some Google Maps photos back at home.  I knew I had to return.

So, what do you say, how about we open up our winn-dow to the past and reflect on what old #416 has to show us.

According to the Jefferson County Property Appraiser, the original Pinson Winn-Dixie structure has a completion date of 1985, which roughly lines up with this store's February 1986 grand opening.

The Birmingham Post Herald ( - February 28, 1986

This comes as The Beef People were just beginning to roll out the Marketplace format but weren't entirely sold on the concept for every market.  Instead of getting a flashy new combination store, Pinson received a smaller "Superstore" designed to fit the needs of rural areas, adjoined by a Harco pharmacy next door.

Furthermore, this location never received the Marketplace designation over its tenure as a supermarket, but instead was replaced by Winn-Dixie Marketplace #500 just across the road in 2001.

What's even more surprising is that 15-years was a long time for The Beef People to stick around in a location back in the day.  I've seen stores that barely lasted a decade before they were replaced, or at a minimum, expanded to a full Marketplace.  Rather than tacking on more square footage, though, this location remained largely untouched for its entire life . . .

We'll begin our tour of this "Winn-Thriftie" with a look at the King's Home Thrift vestibule and checkout counter.  The vinyl wood floors may not be original, but the cashier island stands roughly where Winn-Dixie's old check stands were.

I'm inclined to say that the customer service counter would have been off to my left (similar to most 1990's stores), but there's still a chance that it was situated in the center of the vestibule like most 1970's stores.  My hesitation with the latter positioning is because this store doesn't have the signature transom windows that would have accented this space.

Continuing on to the furniture department, we find the reason why we are here (and it's not to listen to some old school R.E.M.):  it's the chrome.

Several months after my visit to WD #500, I was finally vindicated, and my trip back was not for naught.

Now, let's address the elephant in the room:  the suspended chrome structure seen here previously promoted the "produce patch" and provided some eye-popping visuals for shoppers as they entered the store.

Complimenting this structure were some of the original avocado-green floor tiles.  This store may have lacked any of its proper department signage, but it will become very clear that it didn't need any . . .

Courtesy Winn-Dixie (Facebook)

Likewise, Winn-Dixie shared this photo of the department adornments in a similar store so we can see how it was originally configured.  I'd like to point out the banners hanging in the space behind the "produce patch" lettering, which would explain the curtain rod holders still in place in Pinson.  The walls are also noticeably bare in this shot, which makes me think the package designers felt the remaining shiny objects were sufficient enough.

W...W...Why is everything chrome?

We'll take another wide-angle shot of the clothing corner and shoe section before progressing on.  Isn't it nice how this thrift store matched its clothing racks to the existing d├ęcor?

Everything is chrome in the future!

Jumping to the other side, we get a better perspective of the odd structure hanging above my head (and the strange flooring transition the thrift store decided on).  I'd say the patch of modern faux wood doesn't quite mesh with boldly muted 1980's vinyl.  Then again, did avocado green ever pair well with mustard yellow?

Winn-Dixie Chrome Interior Department Decoration - Reflected Ceiling Plan

It's a bit hard to tell how the department decoration is shaped, so I tried to mock it up with a reflected ceiling plan (picture yourself standing on a mirrored floor that reflects the above ceiling) in Paint. I neglected to add the pendant light in the middle and the old banners, but you can nonetheless get the picture.  The top of this graphic faced the checkout lines and featured the "Produce Patch" neon, while the left side faced the front wall, and the right side faced the rear.

He's lying!

Turning along the right wall of the store, we are greeted by many more clothes and many more fun tile colors.

He's right!

The transition to the rosy-brown tile indicates that we have now entered the old floral department.  I'd have to imagine that the opposite side of the angled department decoration previously stated such as well.

In the back right corner, we find our next tile design which originally graced either the seafood counter or the breakfast & luncheon meat cases. 

The reason why I'm unsure is because I've seen similar stores place their seafood counter here and I know this location had a "Fisherman's Wharf" based on several newspaper ads.  On the other hand, this tile doesn't stick out much farther than an old meat case would, and the ceiling and walls don't appear to have been patched by the thrift store.

The strip of orange tiles also looks like something that would line the rear raceway to guide shoppers around the store; I could be wrong though.

The final thing that brings me pause is this section of flooring/ceiling that obviously served as a service department at one point.  I'm not sure whether The Beef People had a butcher counter in this store, whether it was combined with the seafood counter, or whether there was only a seafood counter, but regardless, I'd guess this is where the sausage was made, so to speak.  From bouncing babies to reclining retirees, this store can meet all your needs from cradle to grave!

If you still can't figure out how this store was laid out, make sure to reflect back on my tour of Winn-Dixie #168 in Chiefland while I reflect on the produce department chrome.

Continuing on, we find more of the reddish/orange tile beyond the mystery service department to accentuate this wonderful display of window blinds and wine racks.

Turning back toward the front, we find a mysterious blue section of flooring that can only mean one thing:  frozen foods. 

I suppose this former Winn-Dixie is "frozen" in time – all we need is a line of coffin coolers running down the middle and we'd be in business!

In case you are interested in a decade-old copy of Good Housekeeping, you can save 15% on it every Thursday if you are over the age of 65 or save 15% any day if you bring in your church bulletin!  Now I just wonder how that works for churches that don't print bulletins anymore . . . or if the discounts stack.

Why don't you take a seat while you meat your brand new (at least to you) floral-patterned sofa!

Those chairs are perfectly placed in case you need to wait for somebody to use the restroom; unsurprisingly, these are also unchanged from how WD left them (as are the chrome cart bumpers protecting the corners; how befitting).

Future!  Future!  Future!  Future!

Our next department decoration appears in the back left corner of the store above what was previously the dairy area.  Now it may not have any milk, but still has plenty of space for your derriere.

Rounding the corner is some nice orange tile outlining the space, reinforcing the theme that dairy departments weren't always born to be blue . . .

I don't belong here . . . this is all a horrible mistake!

Retail Retell, don't be dismayed, though, despite the orange dairy corner, you could still find a pattern for a full family of Raggedy Ann outfits.  If this doesn't fit the template for today's fun featured product, then I don't know what would!

I've gotta get home – to my own time period!

Tuning around, we see where the orange accents gave way to mustard colored tiles bordered by some quaint brown trim.  The 1980's were quite the time for experimentation for The Beef People.

I'll admit that I wanted to hang out in this store for a while because those chrome accents are so cool!  We can also see where the banners would have been mounted between the two portions of the department decorations.

The time machine is down the hall to the left.

The secondairy portion of the department (okay, I totally had to steal AFB's line there) was situated closer to the old deli / bakery and featured another angled accent mirroring the one over floral.  I presume said sign previously advertised "cheese world", but now simply provides a shattered refraction of the ground we've already covered.

Ah, haha.
Winn-Dixie #168 - 1989 - Chiefland, FL - December 2021

Had this store remodeled to the now infamous Rose & Teal package, here's how it would have been configured.  I'd especially like to point out the distinctly angled soffit over the bakery which was popular in these 1980's stores.  Isn't it crazy how similar my framing is despite these pictures being taken over two years and four-hundred miles apart?!

Regardless, the Chiefland store I toured back in 2022 also would have sported the Chrome interior when it opened in 1989, and it's neat to now have a direct comparison for some of the finishes.

Oops, that one's just the can opener.

If anything, at least this shot gives us a better perspective as to how that chrome thing hanging from the ceiling is shaped!

For being the lamp department, this section of the store was awfully dark!  It also doesn't feel very warm despite being the old bakery department.  I suppose in the 1980's, orange was the new black.

Wow, I wouldn't have chosen this interior.

At least the illuminated tile helped warm up the old deli.  I'm honestly shocked at how well this part of the store cleaned up after all of the nasty supermarket auctions I've seen.

Oh, what's this?

Probably the coolest part of this corner, however, was the old tile pattern pointing shoppers toward these departments.  If this doesn't draw your attention, I don't know what would!

Well, if lamps exist in the future . . .

We'll take one last "behind the scenes" look at the old bakery area . . .

. . . I better go to the past!

. . . followed by another look at the deli . . .

. . . well, we'll just say I thought this part of the store had a number of things worth photographing.  

Also, doesn't the reflection of that "toys" sign in the old cheese mirror make it look like a cartoon grandmother?

This photo of the deli art department is also the perfect time to point out how even the columns in this store were covered in chrome.  THE FUTURE!

The fact that this store was never seemingly designated as a Marketplace leads me to believe that all of the remaining supermarket fixtures are original to this store's 1986 construction.  I guess Winn-Dixie had discontinued the wooden interior by that point, rather than keeping it alive for non-Marketplace outlets like this.

I do have to wonder why there are still cabinets placed where the old deli and bakery cases would have been.  Are these left over fixtures from the old WD?  Did the thrift store just place these to cover up old floor drains, etc.?

That will just have to remain a mystery as we move on to our final department.  The former H&BA aisles featured their own banded grey tile pattern; I'm just not sure whether the old gondola shelves were arranged where the clothing racks are today or whether they were on top of the lighter colored tiles.

I don't believe this location ever had a pharmacy, considering the Harco next door, but these aisles still lined up with where the pharmacy counter would have been.

That will conclude this chapter of Marketplace Madness, but make sure to check back soon for episode 2 – Attack of the Clones Something New.

I'd like to thank The Albertsons Florida Blogger for helping me with some of the information in this post.  After all, he was the one who (somehow) dug up the long lost store number in some old property records and affirmed my assumptions about the tile flooring.

Until next time,

- The Sing Oil Blogger

P.S. If you were completely lost with the photo captions, this video should help.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

A Publix Rodeo at the Town Corral

Publix #136 (the first) / Food World #721 / Publix #282 (the first)
1202 Bermuda Avenue (now John Young Parkway) -
Town Corral Shopping Center - Kissimmee, FL

Today's post is a presentation of Osceola County retail

     Howdy y'all, it's time for us to wrangle up some former Publix stores down at the ol' Town Corral! After recently finishing my posting series to celebrate the 10th anniversary of AFB, I want to dive just a little bit deeper into a former supermarket located next door to one of the former Albertsons stores I profiled during the celebration series. Located just steps away from former Albertsons #4410, another former supermarket hides within the walls of Kissimmee's Town Corral Shopping Center, that being a former Publix. I had originally thought about including today's photos as part of my post where we toured the auction of the former Albertsons a few hundred feet away, but that post was pretty long as it was, so I figured I could pull out this portion for a separate MFR feature of its own. While my tour of the former Albertsons in its abandoned state proved to be quite the interesting experience, the former Publix proved to be pretty interesting too. It wasn't to the level of that old Albertsons (which will certainly be hard to beat), but for a building that hasn't housed a supermarket since the late 1980's, I was quite impressed with what relics could still be found on the premises. We'll get to see those relics in just a moment, but first, here's a quick recap of this shopping center's history:

     Town Corral Shopping Center was originally constructed in 1967, with the center's grand opening celebrations happening that May. The original section of Town Corral Shopping center was the long strip facing Bermuda Avenue (now John Young Parkway), containing anchor stores TG&Y, Publix, and Eckerd Drugs. The new shopping center was one of Kissimmee's earliest, located just north of downtown in the city's original retail strip along US 192/Vine Street. Bermuda Avenue/John Young Parkway and US 192 comprise Kissimmee's primary north-south and east-west arterials, so this was a prime location for the construction of a new shopping center. A few years after the center's original construction, a Zayre Discount Store was added as a 4th anchor to the plaza, built at the plaza's south side facing US 192. The Zayre building was demolished in the early 1990's after Ames, who purchased Zayre in 1988, pulled out of Florida in 1990 and vacated the building. The demolition of the former Zayre made room for the construction of the new Albertsons in 1993, with Albertsons' parking lot taking the place of the former Zayre building.

     A while back I happened to come across an old Kissimmee-area newspaper at an estate sale. After flipping though it, I came across an ad featuring a photograph of the original Town Corral Shopping Center as it looked in 1971. The photograph gives us a nice overview of the entire shopping center pre-Zayre, as the photographer would have been standing where the Zayre building was later constructed to take this photo. All 3 of the center's original anchors are visible above, with Publix's distinctive Wing facade standing out from the rest of the building.

     For completeness, here's the rest of the ad the photograph came from, which lists the name of the plaza's other tenants at the time, in addition to TG&Y, Publix, and Eckerd. Town Corral was never a large shopping center, but it had a fairly well-rounded collection of tenants in its early days.

      That same newspaper also contained the Publix ad above, listing all the specials one could find at the Town Corral Publix on the week of October 1, 1971. The Town Corral Publix was Kissimmee's first Publix store, and the town's only namesake Publix until the opening of store #228 at Mill Creek Mall in 1980. However, prior to the opening of store #228 on Kissimmee's eastern side, Publix had felt they'd outgrown the tiny Wing Store at Town Corral. After 11 years at Town Corral, Publix made the decision to move store #136 one mile to the west in 1978, relocating to a much larger building next door to Kissimmee's new Kmart. Following Publix's move, the company didn't abandon Town Corral completely - after a brief conversion period, Publix transformed their old space at Town Corral into one of the company's Food World stores in early 1979.

Photo courtesy of the Publix Archives

     I've mentioned Food World in passing a few times, and eventually I'll have a post on AFB with a more in-depth discussion into Food World at some point, but for now let me give everyone a brief explanation of the chain today. Launched in 1970, Food World was Publix's "discount" grocery concept. Discount banners were a popular new concept for supermarket chains in the 1970's, a time when other chains like Jewel (Jewel-T), Food Fair (Pantry Pride), and A&P (WEO) were experimenting with similar concepts due to the economic turmoil at the time. Food World began as a store a little more bare-bones than the typical Publix, featuring discounted prices, a blue color scheme, and did not issue trading stamps like the regular Publix stores of the time. Food World stores were rounded out by the brand's famous rotating globe that graced the exterior of all of Food World's stores. The photo above is of an unknown Food World location, but the famous globe can be seen rotating proudly over the facade.

     Kissimmee's Food World was one of the last few Food World stores to be opened by Publix with its 1979 opening date. The last new Food World opened in 1980, and the concept began its retirement in the mid-1980's. Publix also opened some interesting Food World prototypes in the late 1970's that were quite grandiose and not really something you would expect out of a discount format store, but I don't want to get too deep into the quirks of Food World today - I have another tour where that discussion will be much more appropriate!

     Kissimmee's Food World store, location #721, operated for 6 years until it was converted back into a regular Publix on March 23, 1985, the same day the 6 other remaining Orlando-area Food World stores converted back to the parent brand. The reborn Town Corral Publix, the original store #282, lasted until May 17, 1989. The following day, store #378 at South John Young Parkway and Pleasant Hill Road opened to replace #282. With its close proximity right between the relocated #136 and #228 at Mill Creek Mall, the late 1980's incarnation of the Town Corral Publix was a bit redundant (in addition to being in a small and outdated building), so I'm not surprised Publix chose to relocate this location 3 miles to the south to a part of town without a Publix of its own. Much like this location, the other 6 of the converted Orlando-area Food World stores didn't last very long, and were gone by the turn of the 1990's (either closing outright or being replaced by a modern Publix nearby).

*Thanks to the Sing Oil Blogger and duckman66 for clarification on the history of store #282 above

     The turn of the 1990's was a rough period for Town Corral, with the closure of Publix, TG&Y, and Ames all happening within close succession. The arrival of Albertsons in 1993 brought a little bit of life back to the shopping center, with the construction of the Albertsons completely transforming the southern end of Town Corral where the vacant Zayre and TG&Y stores were located. While the old Zayre and the majority of the TG&Y building were demolished to make room for the new Albertsons, the old Publix and Eckerd spaces survive to this day. Today, the former Publix is divided between Once Upon A Child, Dollar General, and Chamberlin's Natural Foods, with an Aaron's Rent-to-Own store occupying the former Eckerd.

    The last two photos show the former Publix space as it looked in 2015 and 2023. In the time between me taking those two photos, Chamberlin's and Dollar General updated their logos, and Once Upon A Child took over the former La Familia Pawn Shop.

     Stepping onto the plaza's front walkway, we see Publix's original windows and marble trim still survive today. I noticed these original remnants hanging around during my original visit to Town Corral in 2015, but it took me until early 2023 to investigate this building further...

     …and by investigate further, I was specifically intrigued by the Dollar General space. I'm not super sure about the lineage of this building's tenants between Publix's 1989 closure and the early 2000's, but I do know Dollar General opened in this space in April 2001, 12 years following Publix's departure. There's a chance this space, the former center slice of the Publix building, sat empty between Publix's closure and Dollar General's opening, because... still feels a lot like Publix in here! While the Once Upon a Child and Chamberlain's spaces were pretty well rebuilt, Dollar General didn't to much to their sliver of the old Publix building. The original 1960's Wing Store striped terrazzo still shines strong in here to this day, contrasting quite a bit with Dollar General's bright yellow walls.

     The terrazzo surviving is one thing (and pretty easy for any new tenant to preserve), but even better yet is the store's back wall - it still features some of Publix's original wall texturing 34 years later! Being the middle slice of the old Publix, the back wall was the only portion where any of Publix's original decor would have survived (as the front wall is all windows) - wouldn't it have been interesting if Dollar General had taken either the left or right sides of the building after seeing this? Publix (and Food World's) meat department would have been back here, that linked photo showing what this store would have looked like back in its early Wing Store days. Most likely the meat coolers or a service counter would have been located in the area where the terrazzo switches to the white vinyl, and the paneling above was probably some kind of remnant from Food World's decor (as I doubt the 1985 rebrand was super thorough outside of some new paint and hanging signs).

     Seeing the original terrazzo exposed was exciting enough for me, but the paneling on the back wall was a fun bonus! I wish I had thought to pop into this Dollar General during my original visit, but better late than never I suppose. Unfortunately, in true Dollar General style, the back aisle of the store was jam-packed with pallets of merchandise waiting to be put out that I couldn't navigate around, so I wasn't able to see much more of what was back there while I was in here. Oh well, at least we have the original Wing Store terrazzo to entertain us through the rest of the store!

     With the publication of this post coinciding with the post-Christmas clearance shopping season, I guess it's fitting to display some of this store's clearance merchandise left over from the 2022 season. I visited this store well into January too, so the Christmas clearance that was left had been sitting around for a little while by this point too. I'm not surprised Twinkie-flavored candy canes were sitting around that long though - those just seem weird!

     This Dollar General isn't very wide, but it goes back pretty far. The entire store was 5-6 aisles wide, but each aisle was broken into 3 segments, with two sets of center dividing aisles in the store.

     Here's a look down the store's left side wall, with Chamberlin's Natural Foods on the other side of that partition. Chamberlin's tiled over the original Publix terrazzo in their sliver of the former Publix building, with Once Upon a Child opting for faux wood flooring to cover the old terrazzo in their portion.

     Our final interior photo showcases the change in direction of the terrazzo stripes, which would happen in the center of the salesfloor in these older Publix stores. Dollar General's shelving blocks most of the transition, although the V-shaped change in direction did pop out through one of the center cut-through aisles.

     Since the original Publix relocated to a new building in 1978 after only 11 years here, this store was never expanded, with Food World and the 2nd incarnation of Publix all occupying the original approx. 25,000 square foot Wing Store space. While the size of the building hasn't changed, the facade certainly has, although I'm not sure when the building's facade was redone to bring it to its current look. The current facade may have been added as part of a remodel that coincided with the construction of the new Albertsons store in 1993, after Publix closed, but I'm not sure if that was the case or if Food World/Publix Part 2 was responsible for the new facade.

     To complete our look at the remaining relics of retail past here at Town Corral, here's a look at the center's former Eckerd store. Eckerd remained at Town Corral until 1999, when the company constructed a new freestanding store across the street. Aaron's Rent to Own currently occupies the former Eckerd space at Town Corral, with Eckerd's oval still lingering behind Aaron's logo in my 2015 photo. Unfortunately, Aaron's updated the facade recently, which resulted in the loss of the oval.

     With this short look at the rest of the Town Corral Shopping Center, I'm glad to have tied up my few remaining loose ends at this shopping center. I know my posting to MFR is sporadic at best, as I tend to put most of my efforts into writing posts for AFB to keep that schedule on track, but I just wanted to remind everyone that I haven't forgotten about this blog! I have plenty for to write for MFR in the future, it's just a matter of me finding the time to do just that between AFB posts. Anyway, AFB will return in the new year on January 21st, and hopefully you'll be seeing more from me here on MFR before long!

Anyway, I wish everyone a Happy New Year, and until the next post,