Sunday, June 9, 2024

Kash n' Karry - Fresh, Fast, n' From the Farm

Kash n' Karry #1746 / Sweetbay Supermarket #1746 / Detwiler's Farm Market #3
6100 N. Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota, FL - Parkway Collections

Today's post is a presentation of Sarasota County retail

     With the Albertsons store across the street not being the most exciting former supermarket in the world, why not dedicate today's MFR post to the most interesting of the 3 former supermarkets located at the intersection of University Parkway and Lockwood Ridge Road? For today's AFB/MFR double shot, we're going to jump across the road (and the county line) from the old Albertsons to the former Kash n' Karry store that once called this intersection home. Kash n' Karry (and its later incarnation, Sweetbay Supermarket) overlapped with Albertsons for 9 years before this store called it quits, with the building sitting empty for a while until the two current tenants made a home in this space. Some fun stuff to see over here today, so let's get things started and learn a little more about this building's history:

     Kash n' Karry opened this location in 1990 as the second supermarket at the corner of University Parkway and Lockwood Ridge Road, two years after the opening of Publix #358 across the street in the Walmart plaza. With its 1990 opening, this would have been one of the first few Kash n' Karry stores to use the design we see here, a futuristic take on supermarket design (at least for the early 1990's) that was supposed to get Kash n' Karry out of its slump.

     After Lucky California sold off its Kash n Karry stores in a leveraged buyout in 1988, the company was riddled with debt during a time when the competition on Florida's west coast was pretty intense. Kash n' Karry had a reputation for running small, old, and somewhat dumpy stores at the time, so to boost sales and modernize the company, the prototype we see here was introduced. With its smooth, rounded exterior, windowed facade, and unusual orange interior, Kash n' Karry wanted to make a bold statement for the 1990's with these new stores. A number of these buildings were constructed throughout western Florida in the early 1990's, with older stores being remodeled to the orange interior debuted in the new prototype as well. Even with the work that was being done to modernize the chain, Kash n' Karry could never shake the financial damage that was done in the leverage buyout, with the company eventually selling to Food Lion's parent company Delhaize America in 1996 as yet another effort to help the struggling grocer. Delhaize retired the design we see here with one of their own following the sale, with Kash n' Karry using that Delhaize design until the brand was retired in 2004.

     The Lockwood Ridge Kash n' Karry was converted to a Sweetbay in the mid-2000's, but this ended up being one of Sweetbay's shorter-lived locations, closing in 2009. The building sat vacant until 2015, when local upcoming grocery chain Detwiler's Farm Market took over half the space, with a furniture store taking over the remainder of the old Sweetbay. This Detwiler's location, the 3rd in the chain, was the company's first true "supermarket" location, with a complete selection of grocery items and service departments you'd find in a store like Publix or Winn-Dixie. The first two Detwiler's stores (the original on Palmer Parkway in Sarasota and the 2nd in Venice) were closer to that of a farmer's market with a primary focus on produce, and other services being an afterthought. The Lockwood Ridge location laid the ground for Detwiler's future, taking the chain to its current position of being a "farmer's market and so much more".

     I really like Detwiler's stores, especially the supermarket sized locations like this one and the Palmetto location I linked to before. The prices are fair, the product selection is different, and the bakery is really good too. Detwiler's has created a really strong following for themselves, and as of June 2024 has 6 stores throughout Sarasota and Manatee Counties, with the most recent store in Bradenton having opened in December 2023. In May 2024, Detwiler's announced the construction of a new headquarters and warehouse in Palmetto, while also hinting at future expansions into areas like Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Charlotte Counties toward the end of the 2020's. Things are looking good for this up-and-coming Floridian grocery chain, so let's head inside and see more of what Detwiler's is all about!

     Detwiler's occupies the right half of this former Kash n' Karry/Sweetbay building. Stepping through the front doors, you enter the large produce department - the store's centerpiece, as Detwiler's started out as a roadside produce stand in Eastern Sarasota County in 2002. Detwiler's first true store, the Palmer Parkway location in Sarasota, didn't open until 2009.

     Detwiler's stores, even the newer locations, still maintain the farmer's market aesthetic with a decor comprising of hand-painted murals on the walls and handwritten posters with prices and product descriptions. The murals are different between stores too, but they're all tied together with various farm themes.

     The produce department is located in the front right corner of the building, located in the same location where Sweetbay and Kash n' Karry used to have their produce department. For an idea of what this store used to look like during the Sweetbay and Kash n' Karry days, this Publix in a similarly designed building still has the original layout.

     The original Kash n' Karry produce department would have had more of an alcove feel, with Detwiler's opening up the corner a bit during their remodel.

     A lot of detail was put into the mural, with its depictions of a cartoon Detwiler's store nestled among Floridian farm scenes.

     Who says in-store barn props are only a Grocery Palace Albertsons thing? Detwiler's has their own in-store barn decor, although over the produce department instead of dairy like Albertsons had.

     From produce, here's a look across the store's front end, looking over toward the furniture store half of the building.

     In addition to the farm aesthetic, Detwiler's also added some other rustic style decor pieces throughout the store, like the vintage Enco oil sign hanging above the front end. Looking at the sign and the way the one side of it is a bit rusty, I think that may be a real Enco sign from the 1960's and not a reproduction too.

     Where the produce alcove ends and angles inward, we would have originally found Kash n' Karry and Sweetbay's floral department. Detwiler's doesn't sell much (if any) floral items, so this space was absorbed into the produce department as a prep area.

     Following the produce department is Detwiler's Sub Shop, which is part of the store's deli...

     …with the main deli counter following the sub shop. The space where the deli is now would have been Kash n' Karry's pharmacy. Surprisingly, besides the conversion of the pharmacy box into a deli counter, comparing the scene in Detwiler's to the same area in that Pub n' Karry, there are still a decent number of Kash n' Karry leftovers in the design of the back right corner (such as the location of the seafood counter and the stockroom door, as well as the stepped wall above the stockroom door).

     Kash n' Karry's meat and seafood departments lined up perfectly with the placement of Detwiler's. Detwiler's completely overhauled both of these departments with new fixtures and decor though, and expanded the space into a much longer counter for Detwiler's much larger meat and seafood offerings.

     Most of Detwiler's back wall is home to the service meat and seafood counter, which you can see in more detail here. What's now the Seafood counter was the only portion where this store had a service counter when Kash n' Karry and Sweetbay were here, with the remaining space to the left home to prepackaged meats in those days.

     Following meat and seafood, the remaining back wall space is home to the store's bakery department. Kash n' Karry's original deli and bakery were located in the half of the building that's now the furniture store, leading to creative placements of these departments in the right half of the building. What's now the bakery was home to more prepackaged meat cases in the Kash n' Karry and Sweetbay days.

     This store has 4 grocery aisles total, which is about average for most of Detwiler's stores - even the larger, newer locations that push 50,000 square feet. Detwiler's is very much a perimeter-focused store, and the larger locations push a wider variety of perimeter service departments than a larger center store selection.

     While there are two different stores operating out of this former Kash n' Karry building, the building was never truly "subdivided". A three-quarter height wall was built down the center of the building to partition the supermarket from the furniture store, but the utilities and building features were never truly separated from each other - the building can be opened back up to its original size without much effort.

     The back portion of the grocery aisles contained a small health and beauty department, mostly filled with vitamins and other natural remedies.

     There is a center cut through that separates all the grocery aisles in half. The photo above was taken looking down the cut through toward dairy, mostly to profile the vintage Shell Oil sign above the dairy coolers.

     "Health and Wellness" had its own hanging sign over the back portion of aisle 3, only steps away from the temptation of the bakery - the antithesis of "Heath and Wellness" in most grocery stores!

     Detwiler's grocery aisles contained a little bit of everything, with a skew toward healthier and organic brands in most categories.

     Like I said before, Detwiler's has a really good bakery, with all of the products made in-store from my understanding. The donuts are really good... were the giant soft pretzels on that table. You guys probably know 90% of my judgement of a grocery store comes from my thoughts on the bakery products, and Detwiler's got high marks from me in that area!

     Anyway, the last grocery aisle in this store is aisle 4, which is home to the dairy department on the partition wall.

      Near the check lanes was a drink cooler, and in it I spotted birch beer! Birch beer is a popular drink typically associated with the Pennsylvania Dutch, and is not easy to find in Florida (where most people don't even know what birch beer is, at least from my experience). I'm not a big soda drinker, but I've always liked an occasional birch beer while spending time up in the Northeast, so I had to take a bottle of this home with me.

     I spy some intriguing things over on the furniture side of this building (thanks to the short wall), so why not head over there for a quick peek after running through the check lanes with my purchases?

     In front of Detwiler's check lanes, there's actually a pass-though between the furniture store and Detwiler's, so people shopping in both stores can roam back and forth between the two. In case you're wondering why the odd setup with this subdivision, the Miller family (who owns the furniture store) and the Detwiler family are good friends. When Detwiler's took over this building, Mr. Detwiler approached Mr. Miller about occupying the space he didn't need for his new supermarket, and the pairing has worked out quite well for both families.

     Miller's Dutch Haus Furniture opened in 2015 alongside Detwiler's store, and probably benefits from people wandering in here from the supermarket next door. Miller's specializes in selling traditional Amish furniture made in Ohio and Indiana, offering everything from tables and chairs to couches and credenzas. One of Miller's specialties is actually Murphy beds, which according to that linked article, they sell quite a lot of.

     While Detwiler's did a bit of work to their half of the building, Miller's just rolled out some carpeting and began placing furniture wherever they could. This half of the building is really just a Kash n' Karry with all of the supermarket fixtures removed.

     While they were removed on the Detwiler's side, Miller's left the original points on the lower ceiling in their half of the building, where Kash n' Karry's aisle markers from the orange decor would have been mounted.

     Kash n' Karry's deli and bakery were located in the front left corner of the building, in the area where the ceiling lowers just ahead.

     The Adirondack chairs and porch swings line the area where the deli and bakery cases would have been, with the prep area now home to more furniture accessories. The backroom area behind the wall was now home to offices for Miller's.

     While I'm typically not crazy about photographing furniture stores due to all the pushy salespeople you usually encounter in those types of stores, the one employee I saw inside Miller's just sat at her desk and looked like she didn't want to be bothered, which worked in my favor (especially when compared to a different experience I had at a Kash n' Karry-turned-furniture store, where I couldn't lose that saleslady for anything!).

     Back outside, to truly complete the full farm experience we got from this building, there was a full-size antique tractor parked on the front walkway just outside of Miller's entrance. It's not a farm market without a tractor parked out front!

     Back outside, here are a few final exterior photos of this former Kash n' Karry. I've always liked this particular Kash n' Karry store design, with its modernist facade.

     Even though the former Albertsons store across the street wasn't super exciting, hopefully this store made up for that! Detwiler's is a fun grocery store to visit, and the Kash n' Karry remnants made this particular location a bit more interesting. Anyway, while the main AFB site is going on summer break for the next few weeks, I'll have to see what happens as far as posting here on MFR is concerned. A post from me is always possible, but we'll have to see what happens. If nothing else, I'll see everyone back on AFB on August 18th!

So until the next post,



  1. Anonymous in HoustonJune 9, 2024 at 2:15 AM

    It is quite strange seeing that very contemporary looking (well, by the standards of 1990 at least) facade with a barn front attached to it! The style of that facade (minus the barn) looks quite European which is quite ironic given the fate of what would happen to Kash-n-Karry. There are some elements of that design which remind me of Houston's STØR location. STØR wasn't European, but they were trying to copy Ikea until they became Ikea so I guess they were kind of European! Maybe Kash-n-Karry had that same 'fake it until you become European' attitude as well!

    Seeing Dutch products at a former Delhaize store is a bit strange! Maybe not since I reckon Delhaize was from a French-speaking part of Belgium rather than a Dutch-speaking one. I'm not sure if that matters now with Ahold's Dutch involvement! Of course, my understanding is that the Pennsylvania Dutch were more German than Dutch. Don't let Aldi know about that!

    I've seen photos of Targets from around 1990 which have some similarity to the facade used here. I don't think we had any Targets like that in Houston. If we did, I didn't see them when they were around. If this part of Florida had those Targets, maybe these Kash-n-Karry stores didn't seem so unique.

    This Detwiler's experience is a bit different than what we saw a few years ago, but there are a lot of Sprouts-like similarities. Well, maybe not with Florida's Sprouts, but with our older Sprouts at least. The Enco and Shell signs are an interesting touch! I'm not sure why petroleum products inspires thoughts of farm fresh produce, but I guess it kind of does! It is interesting to see Detwiler's having some success in the land of Publix. I wonder if Publix will get concerned about this and will sharpen their knives like they did when Lucky's Market came around.

    It is certainly strange to see items from another store which are visible inside a supermarket especially when the other items are furniture! I'm surprised you had a pretty easy time touring Miller's. Furniture salesmen are notoriously pushy, but maybe Miller's is used to having 'retail tourists' inspecting their store, lol. I'd really like to tour the Nebraska Furniture Mart in The Colony, TX (Dallas) because that store is a beast. Who can argue against a furniture store which sells high-end Hi-Fi here in the 2020s?! Miller's isn't quite that, but it is pretty neat.

    1. The barn does make for a strange juxtaposition with the rest of the facade! (Guess we'll call it "Farmhouse Modern"!) These early 1990's Kash n' Karry stores do have some similarity with the later 1990's designs that came from Delhaize, so maybe there was some European influence on the design of these buildings. One of the owners of the private equity firm that bought Kash n' Karry from Lucky California was Dutch, so maybe he had some influence on the design of the stores! It's a shame that Ikea rebuilt the Houston STØR building, as that looked much more interesting than the normal 2000's Ikea building!

      Even with the Dutch ownership, I doubt Kash n' Karry would have had as many Pennsylvania Dutch items for sale as Detwiler's!

      Those rounded-design Target stores were built in Florida, and one of Sarasota's Target stores (the on on Fruitville Road) is of that design. Kash n' Karry's rounded front facades have a little more character (and windows) than Target's design, so I think they still would have come across as being more unique.

      I've heard Sprout's older stores were much more interesting to shop at, as I find the Florida ones pretty boring and nothing too special since they're all newer (Lucky's was a much better organic store, I feel). Since Detwiler's isn't officially an "organic" store they do have more mainstream stuff thrown into their selection too, which I liked, and kept the variety interesting. With Detwiler's being a family-run operation concentrated to one area of the state, opening new stores only every so often, I don't think Publix finds them to be much of a threat. I do hope Detwiler's continues to have good success and can expand more into neighboring areas, as I like their stores!

      Since Miller's has a passthrough with Detwiler's, I'm sure they get lots of people who just wander over from the grocery store on their way in or out, to the point where the salespeople only pounce if you linger too long. Thankfully they didn't bother with me, as pushy salespeople are something I don't like to deal with in general (not just when trying to be a "retail tourist"!). The Nebraska Furniture Mart is quite the impressive store. With how big the place is, you could probably spend all day in there!

  2. These old KnK buildings do look futuristic, in addition to reminding me of a 1990's Target! On the inside, it is strange to see exposed air ducts and suspended lighting below a dropped ceiling. I guess this is original? The Enco sign was also an interesting addition considering how the name was controversial when it was around because it allegedly meant something along the lines of "stop" in Spanish which didn't bode well. Esso, which could only be used in states where S.O. of NY owned rights to the Standard name, was much catcher. Eventually, the oil giant compromised with Exxon and rolled out the name to all stations.

    I'm shocked to see AFB inside a furniture store! I'm glad that the saleslady was not pushy because that side of the building still has a number of KnK architectural remnants. The angled walls which were used for aisle markers were also very clever (I'm glad you pointed that out).

    Anyway, it's nice to see that independent grocers can still survive I'm Florida while finding their own niche. Fun post!

    1. The exposed air ducts around the perimeter are for sure original, as all of the Kash n' Karry stores of this design I've been to have those. The suspended lighting you see in this store is typically used in the later version of this design that actually had an exposed warehouse-style perimeter ceiling, like the Auburndale Publix I linked to in the post. That said, I think the lighting may be original, just with this being an early prototype, the ceiling material just hadn't been switched yet.

      I know Standard Oil of New Jersey had a mess of a time when it came to branding and national expansion, as there were lots of controversies where various names were used (as I know Sohio sued over the use of the Enco name in Ohio because Sohio claimed the logos were too similar). I believe Enco was the name S.O. of NJ used in Florida before the Exxon rebrand. However, I have no idea if this sign was acquired locally, or was just a random antique store purchase Mr. Detwiler made when trying to acquire decor for the new store.

      If it wasn't for that very inviting passthrough from the grocery side of the building, I probably wouldn't have wandered into the furniture store! Thankfully the saleslady wanted to anything but sell when I was in there, as there were lots of KnK remnants to see on that side of the building (more so than the Detwiler's side too).

      Detwiler's seems to do really well and has a strong following. Their stores are much different than what Publix is doing, which helps. Still nice to have variety and hopefully the Detwiler's expansion efforts pan out!

  3. Pretty wild to see the three-quarters partition wall, let alone an entire pass-through! Makes sense though once you said the two families are friends, and that's actually a cool story.

    1. The way the building was subdivided was weird to see in person, but knowing the two families are friends explains it. It's much easier to have the two stores semi-integrated like that when the owners know each other personally!