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


Comments

  1. Yellow Down Down! Oh, my eyes! I'm surprised you were able to see anything here and weren't temporarily blinded by the decor! I can only give these photos brief looks without being blinded, but by the looks of things, this looks much nicer than the Birmingham Winn-Dixie you posted over at MFR! The flooring, both the fake wood and the white vinyl tiles, are probably the reasons for the better look.

    Another retail enthusiast recently shared some photos with a small number of us of the Barton Creek Square mall in Austin, TX. The mall has some new carpeting in the corridors with blue, grey, and orange carpeting. The grey looks like fake concrete and the orange looks like fake wood. I don't know if that was the intent or not, but if so, fake wood carpeting is certainly a new one to me! Here's a photo from Google Maps kind of showing what I'm talking about: https://goo.gl/maps/nfSQiZsobWvVWejR8

    Those are some interesting, and unfortunate, photos showing that tornado damage. It's interesting reading about a tornado here on your blog today because I just watched a documentary a couple days ago on TV about the Southern Airways Flight 242 crash that happened in New Hope, GA in 1977. I had known about that crash for decades, but it was interesting seeing the documentary. The flight flew into some severe weather that covered the south that day (North Birmingham, AL was hit with an F5 tornado) and the plane was sadly a victim of the storm along with many others. The plane lost power due to ingesting hail and tried to land on a rural Georgia highway, but it hit a gas station, killing a family of 7 at the gas station, and then crashed. That was a sad situation. The damaged Winn-Dixie perhaps wasn't quite the same disaster, but still a bad situation obviously.

    Anyway, I know this Harvey's and the Winn-Dixie you posted about on MFR are in different areas, but if I had to pick between the two, I'd pick the Harvey's! It looks more upscale to me if that can be believed...I'd just have to be sure to wear sunglasses while shopping! Granted, I suppose Harvey's doesn't have a pharmacy, but that wouldn't be a big deal to me. It's kind of sad that SEG allowed their discount banner to have a nicer looking store than the main banner store! All that Harvey's needs is a reasonable paint job and I think it would look quite nice.

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    Replies
    1. Haha, the yellow is pretty terrible! I still wonder who thought that color choice was a good idea! With that being said, I still think the Birmingham store may have a slight advantage over this one due to the paint colors alone; however, if this store was repainted it would beat its 9-year older sibling by a Longshot based on the floors alone.

      Fake wood carpeting is a new one for me too! I guess they've got to try everything though.

      What a coincidence with you learning so much about severe weather outbreaks in Georgia! I had not heard about that plane crash before, but it sounds like a really sad situation, indeed. I know Alabama and Mississippi had some severe weather a few days ago, so I guess it is that time of year again.

      I agree that I wouldn't have an issue shopping at this Harveys. I am surprised that Winn-Dixie bothered to rebrand such a new store of theirs into a Harvey's, but I suppose they brand had more recognition in the area (and the store must've done well to warrant a complete rebuild so soon after the bankruptcy). I wouldn't be surprised if this location ends up back as a Winn-Dixie, but only tile will tell (Winn-Win would be a winner in this store)

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    2. On second thought, maybe you are right! I stopped in a Kroger after I wrote my last comment and those scarred concrete floors really detract from the entire shopping experience. It has recently been remodeled to Neighborhood, but something about the combination just made the store feel unpolished and chaotic.

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    3. Anonymous in HoustonDecember 2, 2022 at 10:48 PM

      Unpolished and chaotic does explain a lot of things about Kroger, lol. Maybe things are different in Georgia, but actually Krogers here probably seem less chaotic if only they are a lot less busy than two of their biggest competitors, HEB and Walmart. Unpolished does absolutely apply to Kroger though!

      Krogers are as plentiful to me as Publixes are to Floridians and so I have plenty of Kroger options if I want to shop near where I live. That said, only one of those Krogers near me has Neighborhood. It's actually a Krogertsons that was in a Blue & Grey Market Albertsons from around 1997. The Kroger used to have Bountiful and it still had the Albertsons floor, but it got flooded during Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and re-opened with Neighborhood and tile scarred concrete floors. It's not the best looking Kroger for sure, but one positive I will say about it is that it is smaller than most 1990s+ Krogers without really sacrificing anything and the store is laid out well enough (it still has Albertsons' layout) not to get congested. The store is probably close enough to Publix size that it does have that comfortable feeling that I'm sure Publix fans are used to. Publix fans aren't used to the tile scar and lack of manned registers that this store has, unfortunately. Link: https://goo.gl/maps/FcSZCXmSCAwWUg878

      So, yeah, long story short, I can see how a visit to a tile scarred Kroger might lead people to reassess various SEG stores, lol.

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    4. Maybe chaotic isn't the best word to describe entire experience at a Georgia Kroger and maybe apathetic is a better adjective? All I know is that I have a feeling that Publix is eating their lunch on the upper end, and Walmart on the lower end!

      Publixes are very plentiful throughout the Southeast, but people in the Atlanta area still seem to have plenty of Kroger options too. I haven't been to enough Krogers to have an accurate judgement as to their current décors, but it seems like Neighborhood is the only current package I've seen in stores (plenty still have Bountiful, and a select few still have Flagship Script or something else). Those Blue & Gray Market Albertsons have a decent layout themselves, and I have a feeling that we will be taking a look at a few of those in the near future . . . Surprisingly, the B&G Albertsons are a bit large for Publix's preferences despite being roughly 54,000 sq. ft. I also see where Kroger decided to follow the same route as Publix typically does and move the pharmacy to gain an aisle 17.

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    5. Anonymous in HoustonDecember 5, 2022 at 12:43 AM

      Apathetic is a good adjective to describe Kroger. Perhaps 'Apatheticer than Apathetic' ought to be a good slogan for Kroger, lol.

      The Houston Division of Kroger was pretty quick to renovate their stores in the 2000s and so the Script logo has been long gone from here for quite a while. Some East Texas stores held on to it til about 2019-20, but I think all Houston Division stores have Bountiful or something newer (I'm less sure about Louisiana stores in the Houston Division). All of Kroger's current and recent past national decor packages are in Houston, but some of the newer 'upscale' ones like Artisan are less common. Remix is starting to become somewhat popular here for remodels. Bountiful is still by far the most popular decor package here with Banner being the second most common package. By my count, there are seven decor packages in use in the Houston Division right now with Bountiful and Food 4 Less being the oldest of the bunch.

      With 2023 being the 30th anniversary of the launch of Kroger Signature stores in Houston, I would anticipate increased coverage of Kroger on Houston Historic Retail in 2023 as the Kroger Signature stores were, and still are, a landmark aspect of Houston grocery history. I can't guarantee what will be on the blog, but keep an eye out for some Kroger stuff in the coming months if you're interested in learning about Kroger. The Kroger Signature stores certainly come from a time when Kroger was not apathetic. It was quite the opposite really.

      As much as I dislike some of Kroger's tile scarred floors, I will say that HEB does an even worse job. Check out how terrible this HEB in an old Greenhouse Kroger in San Antonio looks: https://goo.gl/maps/QW82CXRJTjDNUNmx6

      This photo pretty much sums up my thoughts about HEB! This makes whatever SEG and Kroger are doing looks wonderful in comparison! Hopefully you don't lose your lunch looking at this sad scene! Link: https://goo.gl/maps/gjCwPRJb1mYeZLwt8

      Publix and HEB so often gets lumped together. They are both very popular local chains in their home areas (and somewhat outside of their home area in the case of Publix), but the two chains could not be further apart in operations and philosophy!

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    6. Haha, that's a ever catchphrase!

      I need to find some more time to explore the depths of HHR, and I will certainly be on the lookout for the Kroger Signature series. I still haven't had time to finish Mike's Auchan series either!

      That HEB does look rough, especially all of the painted over décor remnants in conjunction with the scared floors and strip lights. I thought HEB was supposed to be a fancy store with a cult following?!?! I think I'll take a Winn-Dixie or Publix any day over that!

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    7. Be sure to stay tuned to HHR in 2023. After talking to Mike, we've determined that we should do a yearlong series about Kroger stores in Houston. We'll probably spotlight one historically special Houston area Kroger store each month. I've already drafted one post about a Kroger store I've mentioned to you before with Colorful Value decor. I actually have a link to this very post on your blog to compare the good looking Kroger/Food 4 Less Colorful Value decor to another discount grocer, the Harveys, with poor looking decor. Of course, we'll discuss the Kroger Signature stores at some point during the year.

      HEB does have a cult following here, that is for sure! It is not for the same reasons why Publix has a cult following in Florida (and in Georgia presumably). To be honest, the reason why HEB is so popular here is A) they make everything about Texas and subtly imply that shopping anywhere else is anti-Texan. Although HEB does have a number of stores in Mexico, you can see why this strategy would not work in other states so that is why HEB has not tried opening stores outside of Texas (they did briefly have an HEB Pantry Foods store in Lake Charles, LA, but it seems that was a failure). Also, reason B) is that HEB is very much a discount supermarket. Unlike Publix and most other mid-tier supermarkets, HEB uses the 'stack it high and sell it cheap' model of retailing ala Costco and Sam's Club, but without the bulk items and memberships. HEB's prices are known to be very low...often lower than Walmart especially in modern times where Walmart is not as cheap as they used to be. Granted, like an Aldi, HEB sells a lot of their own brand products. The quality is good, similar to Kroger's own brand products which I also deem to be pretty good, but unlike Kroger who also stocks many national brands, the number of national brands at HEB can be shocking low given how big their stores are. Sometimes you're forced to buy their own brand items. C) Unlike Walmart, HEB does actually have some level of customer service. In fact, although they do have self-checkouts, they still man most of their manned checkouts and are known for speedy service even with very packed stores. D) Unlike Publix, who seemingly tries to put a store on every corner, HEB believes in the regional store model. The stores are much bigger (though not the small town stores which are even smaller and more basic) and more crowded than Publixes and often one has to drive a fair bit to get to one due to the regional store concept, but it probably does help to keep prices down.

      So, yeah, HEB feels like the kind of store where they would drive forklifts through the store with pallets of items. That's not actually what happens, of course, but it feels like that kind of store. Fancy decor or store features is not part of the equation. The reason why people love HEB is probably because of the Walmart level prices with far better customer service than Walmart. Unlike Floridians, Texans, especially outside of Dallas, are notoriously cheap and so that's why 'pragmatic' grocers dominate over nice, higher-end grocers like something like a Publix.

      It's not that nice grocers similar to Publix have not had success in Houston before. We once had Weingarten's and Randall's, the latter is still around under Safeway/Albertsons ownership (both chains used to exist here under their own names and the Albertsons name is still around in Dallas and in West Texas), but since 1992 when Food Lion and HEB Pantry Foods brought discount supermarkets to Houston in modern times (and later Walmart Supercenters, of course), the supermarket game has been quite different here. Needless to say, it wasn't Food Lion that was the game changer out of those two, lol.

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    8. I will have to stay on the lookout!

      Texas people just love their independence, and I guess HEB found their niche in that market! It doesn’t make much sense to box themselves in like that, but I’m not a Texan after all. I didn’t realize that HEB operated as a “discount” grocery a la Aldi. Aldi certainly has a cult following of its own, so I could only imagine adding the Texas aspect to it. It also would help if HEB actually has customer service unlike Walmart or some Krogers, as of late. Like Buc-ee’s, “the wow” factor of large, regional stores probably helps with the allure.

      Plenty of Floridians are cheap, but it must be the Publix level of service that keeps people coming back. I know that, along with the consistency of stores, is one of the main reasons I enjoy shopping there.

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  2. That building design is (unsurprisingly) similar to former SEG sibling Bi-Lo...specifically many of the large format Super Bi-Lo stores built around the same time.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@34.8205402,-82.3387948,3a,49y,73.71h,87.36t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sA4rjA4G5CdvGkA1hQanmgQ!2e0!5s20120601T000000!7i13312!8i6656

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    1. Lol, I love how you linked to the only BI-LO I've ever been to! I do see some similarities, but I think they are all purely coincidental since Winn-Dixie and BI-LO didn't merge until 2012 (4 years after this store was built)

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  3. I forgot to add - the Piggly Wiggly was previously a regional grocery chain called Lewis Jones. At their peak in the 1990s, they had stores in Thomaston, Manchester, and maybe 5-6 stores in Columbus. They were ultimately purchased by JTM who operated one store as Lewis Jones until maybe around 2010 when they finally rebranded it as a Piggly Wiggly.

    Lewis Jones was *beloved* by locals.

    Also, based on some old interior decor I've seen, the Thomaston store *may* have been a Food Giant prior to Lewis Jones. Not 100% sure on that, though.

    (Food Giant was sort of like an indirect ancestor to Food Lion. It used the same Delhaize Lion logo. But I am seriously digressing here...)

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    1. Interesting history about the Piggly Wiggly / Lewis Jones, too. I'll have to add that to the post! It would also be crazy if that store started off as a Delhaize!

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  4. It seems like gas station casinos are a popular thing in Georgia! I remember when I was younger one of the sketchier convenience stores in my neighborhood had gambling machines inside like this, but I haven't seen any in years down here (not that I frequent shady convenience stores often to check on that, but I know Florida changed the gambling laws about 10 years ago after the "arcade" debacle which could have caused the removal of these machines here). Cool historic Sing photo too!

    Those are some crazy photos of the Winn-Dixie following the tornado. I never knew about this store or its 2008 build date, but this very much was the blueprint for the upcoming Transformational design. The first ground-up Transformational store also got the "color coded" Post-Bankruptcy decor too. The Post-Bankruptcy decor was already in use by the time this store opened, but the layout was very much new. Post-Banruptcy looks really good in one of these buildings, but I guess the updated Transformational decor comes off as being a bit more modern. Down Down actually looks pretty good in the remodeled Transformational stores too - just not so much in its yellow form!

    I do know Winn-Dixie heavily remodeled two Marketplace stores that were damaged by the 2004/2005 Florida hurricanes, but those stores just got odd remodels to Deluxe Purple/Maroon since that damage happened earlier in the bankruptcy period. The mid-2000's was a strange time for Winn-Dixie, and there were apparently some rare prototypes WD tried rolling out around the time they ended up being stymied by the bankruptcy.

    I'm glad Winn-Dixie held onto this location, as it's a nice store, and certainly one of the nicest Harvey's out there (if you can look past the color of the walls!). I don't know what SEG's long term plans for the Harvey's brand entails, but this place would look really good with Winn Win...

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    1. I know, I'm surprised at how many stores I see those gambling machines in. Even some chains like Circle K have them! I was talking about them a few months ago with a friend who found where they are actually playing "bingo" rather than slots. You are allegedly assigned a bingo card when you start to play and then are plying bingo against other "gambling machines" all while it looks like you are playing slots. I'm not sure how that works, but it also appears that these "skill" machines are what are used in casinos in Alabama. I've never even looked at one of these machines for more than 5 seconds so I really don't know. I remember when all of the Internet Cafés in Florida were outlawed roughly 10 years ago, so I'd imagine that's what you are talking about.

      I figured you didn't know about this store! Like I mentioned in the post, I surprised myself when I realized what I was looking at. Afterward, the tornado added an even crazier twist to the plot! Other than the façade, this store was very much so a ground-up Transformational store since one article said they had to start from scratch and bulldoze the old Marketplace. I wish this store would get Winn-Win as I think it would restore it to the premium look that it deserves. I'll be curious to see how similar (or different) it is from the new store scheduled to open in two weeks.

      I guess Americus was lucky to get an entirely new prototype rather than a Purple/Maroon store. I'm still curious as to what décor this store had when it first converted to Harveys since I don't think Yellow Down Down was around in 2013. Did it keep Post-Bankruptcy?

      I'm glad this store had hung around too!

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  5. Another great post (which I'm sadly awfully behind at reading)! The one-way street and subsequent Amoco relocation add a lot of interest to the Sing station story, and it's extremely cool also to learn of what may very well have been the first Transformational layout Winn-Dixie. Congrats on scoring that vintage Harveys reusable bag, too!

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    1. Thank you! It's also better late than never (and it doesn't help that I've added in some extra posts over the last few weeks).

      I'm glad I was able to get that detail about the one-way street which led to the non-conventional layout and subsequent Amoco relocation because it makes much mores sense knowing that.

      Thanks, and it is always fun to explore some of the niche prototypes companies test (and the reasoning behind them).

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