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Thomaston - Thomaston, GA

 

Thomaston

Sing Food Store

316 South Church Street

Thomaston, GA 30286

Scroll Down for my More Than Convenience post on Harveys #1697

Hey y'all, welcome back to The Sing Oil Blog!  I'm going to apologize in advance to the residents of Thomaston for not giving them a proper More Than Convenience post; the topic of that portion happens to be just over an hour drive from Thomaston.  However, I wanted to go ahead and share my findings in Americus while they were still fresh on my mind.

With that out of the way, let's address the elephant in the room:  you better not confuse this town with Sing Oil Company's hometown of Thomasville!  As a Georgian, you wouldn't guess how many times I've heard people confuse Thomasville (Thomas County, South Georgia), Thomaston (Upson County, Middle Georgia), and Thomson (McDuffie County, East Georgia) much to the chagrin of the natives.  All of these municipalities are indeed similar in name, but vastly different in geographic location!

Whew, now that we've addressed that issue, let's move on to the Sing at hand.  I haven't been able to locate any historic newspapers for Thomaston or Upson County, but I do have a picture in my collection which could be the store we are touring today.  The photo at hand graces the top of this post and was developed in October 1971 according to the back of the photo.  I'm not convinced this photo is a total match, but I haven't been able to find another Sing open in 1971 which would also fit the surroundings we see.

Anyway, let's play a little devil's advocate and pretend I was 100% sure the photo above was taken in Thomaston.  The Upson County tax records say this station was built in 1969, and I'm fine calling the two-year difference between these two sources a clerical error:  neither of them are a guarantee.  I'm certain that the photo above was taken shortly after the grand opening of said Sing, considering all of the banners hanging out front.  This station also doesn't appear to have any gas pumps, and it doesn't look like there is room for a pump island between the store and the road.  Thomaston is unique due to the fact that the pumps are offset to the left of the store so they can be accessed from a side street; South Church Street (US 19 South) is only a one-way road and Sing wanted drivers on North Center Street (US 19 North) to be able to access the station via Thomas Street.  This photo could have been taken before the pumps were built, as it looks like there is a concrete pipe parked next to that 1970 4-door Impala (car experts, please feel free to berate me in the comments if I'm wrong).  That pipe would imply that construction was not complete and the dirt patch on the left could be primed for gas pumps.  The pictured store is also reminiscent of Thomasville #5 (1971), and Columbus #2 (post-remodel) which makes me believe this was Sing's third awning design following the backlit Stop 'N Shop style from the mid-1960's and the hybrid wood-panel style from the late-1960's (Tallahassee #3 & #4 were just different).

That's enough grasping at straws, let's take a look at the solid facts of the present!  I know for a fact that this station was sold for $450,000 on April 5, 1994, which was likely when Amoco divested this asset from their balance sheet.

The Store

Pulling up to the old Thomaston Sing Store, we can get a better look at the odd placement of the gas pumps compared to the convenience store.  The road on the right is South Church Street, and we are currently looking North toward the Upson County Courthouse.

I'd like to point out the current sign hardware, which I'd normally chalk up as an Amoco relic:  it actually dates back to a more-recent Sunoco branding.  This station was also a BP station at some point in the 1990's, but I'll explain the likely reasoning behind that a bit later.  I do, however, see a concrete foundation (surrounded by the patch of grass) that could be a remnant of a Sing sign or light post.

Behind the pumps was this small building featuring none other than an awning reminiscent of a 1970's Sing.  Don't get me wrong, other brands like Gulf also used these faux shingles on their canopies as well, but it helps to reinforce my case for this ex-Sing.  I suppose this building could have predated Sing's standardized vacuum station design?

One thing that is definitely a relic of the past is the attendant booth we see here.  I'm just not sure why this station bothered to paint the entire structure grey (at least they didn't butcher it like Perry #1 did).  In actuality, this is the only former Sing I can think of which still has the attendant booth intact!  The lining of the canopy above does appear to be newer, but I'm a bit thrown off by the strips of florescent lights lining the edges.

I'd also like to point out the BP station we see in the background of this picture as it will come into play later on . . .

Since the pumps are located to the side of the station, our first look at the actual building will be, well, from the side!  I remember a number of people were loitering around the front of the store, so I didn't want draw attention to my photography by getting a better angle of the front of the store.

Stepping inside, I guess I snapped my first quick pic angled toward the right to avoid the prying eyes of the cashier to my left.


Here's what the store looked like straight in front of the doors (I ended up taking this picture later).  Let's continue down the aisle we saw above for my next shot.

This picture may not be great, but it shows the front right corner of the space and some drink coolers which appear to be old enough to potentially date back to Sing.

I've never seen drink coolers over on this side of a 1970's Sing, but I'm realizing that most of the other stores of this prototype fall into two categories:  I've seen them and they were heavily modified, or I haven't seen them!  Maybe I need to revisit the idea of photographing Memorial Drive, Rockbridge, or Albany #3?  We'll just have to see how ambitious (or desperate) I get!  I don't know, something tells me that those stones may remain unturned so that I will remain unharmed.

There we go!  Now, we'll take a look down the second aisle back toward the cashier island.  From what I've heard, the cashier island was a common feature in Sing Stores and locations like Thomasville #5 probably retained this feature until they were remodeled by subsequent tenants.

The rear aisle of the store was home to soft drinks and a few portable coolers along part of the back wall of the store.  I'd like to note that the floor tiles we see likely date back to Sing based on their similarly to the ones we saw in LaGrange #2 and Columbus #4.

We'll take one last look along the right wall of the store back toward the front.  Now I'm curious to see if I can find another former Sing with this cooler configuration!

The coolers along the right wall of the store may have been unfamiliar, but the drink alcove in the left-half of the back wall was very characteristic of a 1970's-style Sing.  You can see this feature in LaGrange #2 here.

I'm pretty confident this section of the store has remained unaltered since Sing left.

Next, we'll turn around and turn our attention back toward the doors and the cashier island (I promise there is a register somewhere behind all of those sunglasses, Red Bull, wine, and "gambling machines").  It looks like the flooring has been replaced directly in front of the door, so I wonder if the island was moved at some point or if many frantic customers simply wore down the flooring.

Over on the front side of the island, there was a small corridor featuring ice cream bars, coffee, and soft drinks.  As you should know by now, those cabinets are 100% a remnant from Sing and therefore are at least 35 years old.

Something about the paint in this store looks oddly familiar, yet I don't actually know if this was a paint scheme Sing ever used.  Regardless, the placement of those "gambling machines" is pretty convenient if you get thirsty while playing and want a Pepsi (who drinks Pepsi in Georgia?!).

We'll close out our indoor tour with a look across the front end of the store.  Just for reference, the cashier island is the red counter just to my left, while the coolers we saw at the beginning are off in the distance.

For being such an old Sing (this station is over 50-years-old at this point) that has seemingly undergone little remodel, I wish I knew if more of what we saw today was original to the Thomasville-based company.  Oh well, at least I got plenty of pictures and maybe that will be enough to jog somebody else's memory!

I managed to get a slightly different angle of the outbuilding before I left . . .

and a shot from the other side of the gas canopy to show the other side of the attendant booth.

Now, let's discuss the BP station across the street that I mentioned earlier.  From my conversation with Tom Perry a while back, I remember hearing mention that Amoco built a corporate station just across the street from the Thomaston Sing.  This would happen to be that station, and it appears that it was built in 1993 according to the Upson County property records – three years after Amoco acquired Sing.  I find it odd that Amoco would want to build a new station across the street from one they already own, but the likely wanted to dump the 20-year-old store on South Church Street in favor of a shiny new one.  The BP-Amoco is located between South Church Street and North Center Street so it could have easy access to traffic from both directions of US 19 rather than just the southbound lanes.  The fact that the Sing was sold in 1994 helps to reinforce the idea that Amoco just wanted a slightly better location across the street.

When I driving through Thomaston, I also noticed this interesting Piggly Wiggly sign and a well-preserved old Burger Chef nearby.  Maybe these can be topics of a future post, but we're heading down south to explore an interesting Harveys Supermarket I stopped by for this weeks More Than Convenience section. 

 Street Views

Google Street View - January 2008

Thomaston's former BP Station

Google Street View - June 2013 

Thomaston's Sunoco station 

Aerial Views

Historic Aerials - 1969
Future site of Thomaston Sing Store

Historic Aerials - 1981
Thomaston Sing Store and gas canopy 

Google Earth - January 1993
Former Thomaston Sing Store and future site of new Thomaston Amoco

Google Earth - January 1999
Former Sing (likely current BP) and new Thomaston Amoco

Google Earth - December 2021
Former Thomaston Sing and current Thomaston BP

 


 


A Twist[er] on a Transformed Store

Harveys #1697

Market Place of Americus

1208 Crawford Street

Americus, GA 31709

Former Winn-Dixie #545

Okay kiddos, I have some required reading for you!  If you haven't done your homework already, please make sure you read my post on Winn-Dixie #435 before class (or before you read this post) since you will be tested on your knowledge today.

There are times when I feel it is best to introduce all of my background research before I present the tour of a store; however, today I want to build some suspense as to what "twist" this location had in its past.  This Harveys certainly wasn't just black and white yellow, but it has a much richer history than I realized when I planned my trip.  I even debated whether I should take the detour to stop in, but boy am I glad that I did!

Ever since I found myself in this supermarket research hobby, I've tried to discover peculiarities in the industry and figure out why things turned out the way they did.   One such case presented itself in the form of the Americus, GA Harveys store; shortly after Delhaize finished converting the Harveys stores they bought from Southeastern Grocers in 2020 was when I became curious as to the what happened to the few remaining SEG Harveys stores.  I've discussed this in other posts, but Harveys' locations were a bit of a fruit-basket turnover regarding their condition and origin.  The chain wound up with some stores which were very nice and well kept, some, like this old Colonial Store, which looked like they were straight out of the 1950's, and some that were just in the middle.  That being said, I thought the store in Americus was especially odd considering it was one of only 3-4 Harveys to remain in Middle Georgia (their former stronghold), didn't match any other location, and also had a Winn-Dixie pin on Google Maps.  I wasn't quite sure if this store remained or what its deal was; regardless, I quickly shrugged it off and added it to my list of places to visit next time I was in the area.

That time finally presented itself a few months ago when I made my way to the Thomaston Sing. 

Other than being blinded by the light yellow, I was really thrown off by the layout I was presented upon walking into this Harveys.

Oh well, let me just grab a buggy and ponder what I'm going to purchase.  These Technibilts don't look like spring chickens, but I suppose they could date all the way back to this store's conversion to a Harveys (I can't quite read the date code on the sticker in my picture).

Turning toward the grand aisle, this space looks surprisingly premium for a Harveys.  If it wasn't for the atrocious Yellow Down Down décor on the walls, I'd say this store would give #1671 a run for its money!

The floral department was located in a small alcove just to the right of the door but seems oddly large for a "discount" grocery store.

The modern light fixtures we saw over the entrance bled into the produce department and deli area, in addition to a combination of at least three styles of fixture in this part of the store.

Vinyl wood flooring seems to be an underappreciated option in the grocery industry, but it makes this store look much more premium than white vinyl tiles or (gasp) scarred concrete floors.

This location also had a surprising number of windows surrounding the doors which let in a nice amount of natural light.  You better hope that nobody needs to take shelter during a storm in here though!

For some reason, the grand aisle configuration in this store looks a bit familiar.  Maybe that is pure coincidence?

As you could sort of see in my earlier picture, the bakery was located just beyond the deli in this store's "grand isle". 

Oddly large beer and wine departments were located in the back right corner of the store just beyond the bakery.  While it may not be a Winn-Dixie in name, you know Southeastern Grocers still loves to put their Styrofoam coolers on top of the beer fridge!

We'll take one last look over the grand aisle before we continue with our tour.  It wasn't until I stopped to take this picture when I realized I was standing in what looked like a Winn-Dixie Transformational Store.  How in the world could that be?  Was this just a coincidence?  Why would one be in Americus of all places – far from any recent Winn-Dixie strongholds?

I do know that all of the pallet drops make this section of the store a bit cluttered, yet it still feels much nicer than any Harveys should.

Bread was oddly found in the beer and wine corner (I guess you can choose between solid bread or liquid bread?).


Taking a closer look at the wine department, do those category signs (chardonnay, pinot grigio, etc.) look familiar?  They do to me.

Next, we'll turn our attention toward the seafood and meat departments along the rear actionway.  Harveys doesn't typically offer a staffed seafood department, but I don't remember if the fruits de mer were all prepackaged or not at this location (it looks like they may not have been).  If any Harveys were to have a service meat or seafood department, it would either be in here or at #1671 in Lake City!

I wonder why the panels on those coffin coolers are red?  (I'm being facetious.)

Well, I guess one of the primary indicators that we are in a Harveys, other than the hideous color palette, is the presence of an enlarged Dollar Zone.  Winn-Dixie has rolled out the Dollar Zone format to many of their own stores, but it typically occupies half of a standard grocery aisle.  This store happened to reserve a double-wide aisle solely for that purpose.

Conversely, aisle 2 (which I believe is technically aisle 3, not counting the grand aisle) is home to a plethora of Chek Cola and other soft drinks and snacks.

Up next is aisle 4, which featured rice, dry beans, and soups.

Let's pop our head out of the grocery aisles for a quick look at the checkout lanes.  Although they still feature the old Harveys logo, those checkout cubes were seemingly installed by SEG, which makes me wonder what décor package this Harveys opened with (surely it wasn't Yellow Down Down).

If we turn a bit to the right, we can see a few short HBA aisles (along with a SEG standard "Beauty" sign) with the old pharmacy box off in the distance.

SEG likely closed this store's pharmacy during their big pharmacy closure push several years back.  It seems like such a waste of space for a department that other Floridian chains (cough cough, Publix) will fight tooth and nail to have.

We'll take one final look across the front end before we continue our zig-zag through the grocery aisles.

That looks like an oddly wide section of shelving to be devoted to bleach, yet it feels a bit more like this store had to do some creative stocking to fill in all of that space . . .

Our last aisle will be dairy and frozen which runs along the left side of the store.

Nothing too spectacular here:  just some refrigerators and freezers.

I don't know why, but I feel like I'm a bit lacking on my usual puns today; regardless, keep on reading to learn the dark secrets of this store (if you haven't done so already).

I was looking through this store's reusable bag collection (since I've found those to be a good-sized souvenir from the various supermarkets I've visited), when I noticed a lonely bag I had not seen before stuffed to the side.  I pulled it out only to realize it was covered in dust bunnies and grime – but bore the old Harveys wordmark.  

How long had this been sitting there?  Had it fallen under a shelf, and somebody recently found it?  Oh well, I certainly didn't care!  I snatched that thing right off the shelf and made my way to the checkout!

I handed it, along with the other items I bought, to the cashier.  She scanned the small barcode on the tag and made an apathetic face as her computer did not recognize the item.  She then quickly passed the bag down the line and proceeded to load my groceries into it.  The thing had to be from the early SEG days in this store, so I'm sure that barcode was long-gone from the system; not only did I find a relic of the past, but I also seemingly got it for free!

We can also see a partially-obstructed view of SEG's new checkout line digital signage, courtesy of Grocery TV.  I'm not really sure how showing ads at the checkout will upsell many products, but maybe it was a lucrative deal.

Anyway, I made my way out of the store with my new-old bag and headed on down the road, not thinking anything else about this store's oddities.

Well, not before I snapped a picture of my new bag in front of its home for the last eight years or so!

Anyhow, I decided to research this store a few weeks later when I came across a recent post on Google Maps.  At first, I thought the image was just spam, until I realized something about the parking lot looked familiar.  I then got to thinking how the car in the picture lined up with the mid-2000's timeframe of the current store's likely construction, and then dove down the research rabbit hole. 

It looks like Harveys moved to this location from an old Food Lion (which ironically converted back to Food Lion when Harveys left) closer to downtown around 2014.  The store we toured today appears to have been built in 2008 as a Winn-Dixie and featured a WD-operated pharmacy in the parking lot during construction.  Winn-Dixie remained in the building until they consolidated their Americus operations into this building around 2014.  Why did Winn-Dixie build a new store here in 2008?  They were only two-years removed from bankruptcy and the country was in the early stages of a recession.

Courtesy Thomas Clark (Google Maps) - Former Winn-Dixie #545 - March 2007

After seeing this photo on Google, I wondered if severe weather or a tornado had hit Americus and if this tattered building happened to be the reason why Winn-Dixie would build a new store in 2008.

Bingo.  

One quick search of "Winn-Dixie Americus, GA" brought up another picture, and a search of "Americus Tornado Winn-Dixie" brought up the motherload.  Now stuff is beginning to make sense!

Courtesy WALB - Former Winn-Dixie #545 - March 2007

Americus, GA, was hit by an EF3 tornado on March 1, 2007, as part of a deadly severe weather outbreak which spawned 14 tornadoes across the state.  Sumter County was reportedly the hardest-hit area from these storms, with most of the damage centered around the Sumter County hospital.

Courtesy weather.gov - Aerial view of tornado damage to former Winn-Dixie #545 - March 2007

I found tons of information on this tornado outbreak, with much of that covering this specific Winn-Dixie.  I also found numerous videos online, other aerial perspectives, and several blog posts.

Courtesy weather.gov - Former Winn-Dixie #545 - March 2007

The National Weather Service posted a bunch of photos of the damage left by this storm, but this one in particular shows the remnants of this store's edition of pink and teal Marketplace décor.  We are currently looking toward the old produce department and can see a floral sign along with the pink trim lining the ceiling above the check lanes. 

Courtesy FEMA - America's Supermarket - Tornado damage at Winn-Dixie #545 - March 2007

It turns out the pharmacy trailer that I saw in the 2008 Google Street View was set up in the parking lot the week following the tornado.  Winn-Dixie offered prescriptions and over-the-counter medications to the local residents, much like they did in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina.

If you want to check out some other shots of the damage done to local businesses, this website has a few, as does this Flickr page.

Courtesy Americus Georgia Blog - Winn-Dixie #545 - 2010

Thanks to an article from WALB, it looks like the new Winn-Dixie reopened on June 4, 2008:  fifteen months after the tornado hit.  According to WALB, "Rebuild they did, store number 545 is a blueprint of what other Winn-Dixie stores will look like . . . A new layout, more energy efficient lighting, and color coded sections are just a few of the updated features in this new Winn-Dixie in Americus that replaces the store destroyed last year."  

Those lines may sound like typical PR buzzwords, but I think they provide some real insight into this odd Winn-Dixie.  It looks to me like my intuition of this store being a Transformational prototype could be true; I mentioned how AFB said the first Transformational Store opened in February 2010 in Covington, Louisiana, but I'm inclined to say that Americus actually received the first Transformational Store back in June 2008.

Courtesy Americus Georgia Blog - Winn-Dixie #545 - 2011

To make matters more interesting, it appears that this store opened with the "color coded" Post-Bankruptcy décor package (look familiar?).  That would explain the Post-Bankruptcy style signs I noticed in the Harveys wine department!  Winn-Dixie's Transformational package may not have rolled out until two-years after this store opened, but I'm convinced that this store served as the model for all 30-or-so Transformational Stores – all because of a tornado.

I found another photo on Flickr of the old Winn-Dixie from 2011, but I wasn't sure where to add it; here it is!

Anyway, I hope you found that nugget of information as interesting as I did!  Americus' current Harveys may not show many traces of the Marketplace which proceeded it, but the sign post out front serves as a subtle reminder of days gone by.  If you didn't notice, the truss accent adoring the top matches the design The Beef People used atop their mid-1990's Marketplace stores.

We also don't have to look far to find the store which the tornado-damaged Marketplace replaced: it was just across the road in the form of a Save-A-Lot. This 1980's-style Winn-Dixie still retains its iconic façade in 2022 but doesn't seem to have many relics remaining on the inside.

According to Henry H., the AutoZone next door to the Save-A-Lot was originally an Eckerd Pharmacy, which then moved to a standalone building just behind Eastgate Plaza (you can see the blue roof next to the McDonald's sign).  Unsurprisingly, the store was then sold to Rite Aid and operated under said brand until Walgreens closed it in 2018.

Once again, make sure to read over my post covering the Transformational Winn-Dixie #435 if you haven't had the chance to compare these two similar stores.

That will wrap up this post on The Sing Oil Blog, but make sure to check back to see what I have in store for Tuesday, December 6th; I promise that you'll be in for a treat!

Until then,

- The Sing Oil Blogger