Columbia | Former Albertsons #2785 - South Mississippi

Columbia

Food Store | Deli

940 High School Avenue

Columbia, MS 39420

A&H Pit Stop | former Amoco Food Shop

Scroll Down for today's MTC post on former Albertsons #2725 in Hattiesburg

 "You know, every now and then
I think you might like to hear something from us
Nice and easy

But there's just one thing
You see, we never ever do nothing nice and easy
We always do it nice and rough

So we're going to take the beginning of this post
And do it easy

Then we're going to do the finish . . . rough"

This is the way we do 'The Sing Oil Blog'.

And we're rollin', rollin', rollin' on Pearl River.  As big wheels keep on turning, I keep on travelin' to new and exotic places for both the blog and for my own personal enjoyment.  

While the Tina Turner song above may have fit the theme of my most recent adventure, we're going to rewind the tape back to an adventure I embarked on to South Mississippi in 2022.  The road trip also included a visit to another Sing Store just downriver from here in Washington Parrish, and boy was that a sight!  Likewise, I knew that the Columbia store was similarly exciting, it's just that I had to put today's post on ice for a bit due to the scare the Sing Oil Sidekick & I had while visiting.

Before I get to that, let's take a look at some background information.

The Sing we'll be exploring today was built in 1985 as Sing's seventh and final outlet in the Magnolia State.  I still have to wonder why Sing picked Columbia, MS, of all places, to build a convenience store; I guess the demographics matched Sing's small town target audience?

The Columbian-Progress (Newspapers.com) - August 29, 1985

Anyhow, this station held its grand opening in August of 1985 and published a full-page ad in The Columbian-Progress to celebrate.  Some of you should recognize the look of the station in the photo since this Sing was essentially a carbon copy of Bradfordville or Jacksonville #3.

The Columbian-Progress (Newspapers.com) - February 20, 1986 - Colorized (2024)

This store seemed to be a darling for the press (or there wasn't much else of interest happening in Columbia) considering how I came across numerous articles mentioning it – many of which included pictures!  The article above mentions how prices in the area have dropped since Sing came to town, but most of that is due to increased oil supply.  The days of the 1970's oil embargo were over!

Thanks to the story on gas prices, we also catch a rare glimpse at Sing's mid-1980's sign design (so rare that I decided to colorize it).  The look reminds me a lot of Sing's mid-1960's design, but only seems to have been used for a short time before the yellow and blue logo was rolled out in 1986.

The Columbian-Progress (Newspapers.com) - May 8, 1986

Our next stop on the publicity train is only several months past the last.  In May of 1986, the convenience store held a drawing for a free trip to Panama City Beach.  I wouldn't be surprised if the lucky winner, Lucille Barnes, stayed in Sing Oil Company's own condo that was typically allocated for store managers to take vacations.  During one of my several conversations with Tom Perry, former Sing VP, he mentioned that this was one of the benefits offered to employees, and it also seems it was an easy way to drum up business in new stores.  It's also worth noting how the new Sing logo is featured on the drawing box while the employees' hats still feature the old one.

In 1986, local high schoolers held car washes:

The Columbian-Progress (Newspapers.com) - September 25, 1986

1986 continued on with more mentions of the gas station as being the site for high school fundraiser car washes, or just a "more than convenient" place to grab a deli sandwich.  

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - August 13, 1987

In 1987, things soured a bit as Marion County endured some severe flash flooding that summer.  The Hattiesburg American interviewed a man who said that water was three feet deep in the parking lot of the Sing.  12.2 inches of rain fell between 1 and 8 AM, with all of that water simply not having anywhere to go. Thankfully, while still rising 4 feet, the Pearl River stayed well below its flood stage which prevented the scene from getting even worse.  The Sing seems to be situated on a small hill, so I would imagine that it fared slightly better than the stores downtown or its own parking lot.

After that, there wasn't much mention of the store other than a 1989 Halloween-themed ad and a 1990 article describing new fuel tank leak testing procedures that were mandated by new federal, state, and local environmental regulations.

Sing, of course, sold to Amoco in October 1990, and it wasn't until April 1993 when the Chicago-based oil company got around to selling this South Mississippi station to an independent operator.  

The Columbian-Progress (Newspapers.com) - June 30, 1994

The old Sing officially reopened as an Amoco Food Shop in June 1994 with all sorts of pomp and circumstance for the upcoming Independence Day holiday.  A different ad touted how "crystal clear Amoco gasoline" was returning to Columbia at the former Sing (as if the gas sold at the station for the last three years wasn't already from Amoco.  Who knew a convenience store grand opening was such a big deal! 

The new Amoco seemingly operated as such for a number of years before becoming the independent Pit Stop it is today.  Let's return to the present and see what else we can learn in Marion County.

 

Since I had time to kill and only one other stop on the agenda, I decided to take a leisurely stroll through downtown Columbia to see what all the town had to offer.

My first stop was the Marion County Historical Society, which I seem to remember as being in the city's old train depot.  It was a neat little museum featuring exhibits on the local rodeo, area veterans, and how life used to be in rural South Mississippi.

Of course, I homed in on the topics I could relate to, one of which was the opening of the local A&P Centennial store.

Photo from the Marion County Historical Society

The top left photo depicts a lot full of 1950's cars in front of a classic example of a Centennial façade, while the remaining pictures show various scenes from inside the store.  The biggest thing that caught my attention was the sign saying, "Do not ride babies in buggies".  While 1950's shopping carts were seemingly not up to the safety standards for holding a human, I at least feel validated that I am not the only one who uses "buggy" as the word for the thing you push around a store!


What's even more interesting, albeit, less surprising, is how the building looks largely the same today as it did when it opened in 1961.  At the time, the state-of-the-art, 9,020 square foot store featured modern amenities such as four fully automatic checkout counters, over 100 feet of refrigerated and frozen food counters, and its own meat department.  The lucky housewives of Columbia could leisurely peruse the seven spacious aisles while enjoying a fully air-conditioned store.  What a thrill!

Heading back downtown, I noticed several interesting buildings, with the first being the Cook & Fortenberry pharmacy.  While the building itself has plenty of charm, the "Walgreen Agency" script on the overhead neon sign immediately caught my attention.  Based on a quick search, it looks like Walgreens set up franchising agreements with local drug stores to sell Walgreens-branded over the counter products in areas that were outside of the pharmacy chain's existing service area.  That program seemingly ran from the late-1920's through the late-1970's.

Surprisingly, the local pharmacy was not required to remove the branded signage following the expiration of the franchising agreement and remains open to this day.  Columbia now even has a modern Walgreens on the south side of town, in addition to this rare piece of advertising history on Main Street.  I wonder if the neon still works.

Also on that block was this mural for the long-gone Walker Brothers Druggists.  The advertisement was uncovered for a short time during a building renovation, but has since been sent back into obscurity, masked behind a white stucco wall (next to the Edward Jones building in the street views).  It's a shame that the vintage look couldn't be preserved; however, at least I managed to photograph it during its short exposure.

Turning to the right 90 degrees, we can see the Marion County Courthouse off in the distance in addition to some tents for a local festival.  I think I remember it being Christmas related, but that seems a little strange for the beginning of October.

 

The county courthouse looked very stately amidst the partially bricked streets – I do appreciate an aesthetically pleasing historic courthouse!

Photo from the Marion County Historical Society

Speaking of aesthetically pleasing historic buildings, we'll take a look at my final find from the Marion County Historical Society.  According to the photo caption, High School Avenue is named for the former Columbia High School that was on the present-day site of Columbia Elementary School.  The high school burned down, as shown in the photo, and was rebuilt several blocks away.  Based on the clothing of the people in the photo, I'd guess that the fire took place in the 1920's or early-1930's.

Courtesy Preservation in Mississippi - Columbia High School

If there is one thing I regret not seeing in the town, it is the "new" Columbia High School.  I am a sucker for International Style architecture, and I just love the geometric design of this building.   

Preservation in Mississippi goes on to describe the photo by saying, "Of course, the International Style didn’t really get to Mississippi much until the 1940s, but we do have a few 1930s buildings that qualify at least as in the International camp, the most famous being the Columbia High School down west of Hattiesburg. Designed by Overstreet & Town, it was built 1937-38 as a PWA project. Looking at it again, I wonder if it is as much Art Moderne as International? It certainly has a weightiness to it that Hitchcock and Johnson might scoff at, although it does seem to emphasize the volumes inside the various masses instead of the mass itself. It’s more on point with the second and third “rules.” What do you think?"

Additional photos of the school can be found here.

Jumping from Modernist to Brutalist architecture, we find ourselves right where we'd expect:  in front of a Sing Store.

 

It wouldn't be the 1980's at Sing Oil without some corduroy concrete exterior walls!  Some particularly interesting things to note from this angle are how you can see the lines for the individual blocks toward the bottom of the wall, and how the two back sides of the building simply received plain cinder blocks.  I suppose the texture was too costly to waste on surfaces where it wouldn't be seen.

Turning our attention down the wall, we find the recently added Krispy Krunchy Chicken sign and a bright red (partially) mansard awning.

 

Oh wait, what do I see?  Why, that looks like some original Sing shingles poking out from behind the metal siding!  Doesn't it look like they were originally a shade of blue?  Regardless, it appears that Amoco didn't bother to remove them when installed the sheet metal we see today.

If you look up under the canopy, you can also see the original recessed florescent light fixtures which would have backlit a small strip of canvas running around the perimeter.

Sorry for the haze, but I was a bit dazed and confused as to what I had just stepped into (or maybe that is just 4/20 getting to me) – the blue and yellow were really throwing me off!  

I know what you may be thinking: did I just walk into another original Sing?  I don't think I'm quite that lucky; however, there is still quite a bit to unpack here.

First off, I instantly recognize the faux brick tiles as being original in addition to the general configuration of the store.  The space still looks similar despite the shelves being rearranged from their original perpendicular orientation.  I do think this change makes the room feel less open, though.

The next thing I see is how the original strip lights were swapped out for drop-in fluorescents.  Also, why is the ceiling grid painted blue?

Bradfordville Sing Store - July, 1984 The right side of the store, from the front door
Bradfordville Sing Store - July 1984
The right side of the store, from the front door

Previously, we would have been looking directly at Sing's garden and hardware departments, with automotive and the seating alcove being just off to my right.

Speaking of the seating alcove, it is still partitioned off from the rest of the store and appears to be used for storage now.  It's only in retrospect that I noticed the original pendant light hanging behind that Styrofoam cooler – darn it!

The rest of the pendants seem to have been removed, and I'm sure the signature orange booths are long gone by now.  At least I know where to find my new wardrobe and everything I need to clean it, burn it, or feed it.  Oh wait, that's a bag of dog food.

As for the restrooms, they still seemed to be right where Sing left them.  I wonder why the current store owners resorted to using plywood partitions here.  Oh well, I didn't dare venture past the burning stick of incense to find out.  I presume the men's room still looked something like this.

1 2 3 4 . . . How many cameras are in this store? . . . I know you're stealing!

Turning around, we also find the cashier counter right where I'd expect it to be.  This picture also makes something else clear:  this store had lots of cameras.  More on that later.

But first, we'll turn on fish mode and swim on over to the seemingly spacious center aisle.  From this angle, it looks like all of the original drink coolers have remained in place.

As has the creepy hallway used to access the back of the drink coolers and back-office space.  (This space is much less creepy in Bradfordville.)

Popping over to the other side, we see that the old wine fridge has given way to a different cold beverage, while the old snack and frozen food nooks are now home to soft drinks and coffee.  The former beverage island has also been removed in favor of space for more cases of beer.

Now, with our second to last interior photo comes story time.  Seconds after I snapped this pic looking toward the old garden center and dining nook, a lady approached me and asked, "Are you with the distributor?" and I replied, "No."  

At this point, I knew I had been busted and had no escape ramp like I did at Nam Dae Muntain, so I did my best to diffuse the situation.

She then asked something along the lines of, "Then why are you taking pictures?" and I quickly thought back to what I did several months earlier to get out of this predicament:  tell the truth.  It worked surprisingly well that time, so why not try it again!

I quickly and calmly replied something along the lines of, "Have you ever heard of Sing Oil Company?  I have a blog online that documents the history of former Sing Stores and explores how they look today.  This happens to be Sing's former location in Columbia and was built in the mid-1980's."

I can't exactly remember what happened after that, but I know she mostly grumbled as she walked back behind the counter and didn't say much else.  The shock value of the sheer randomness of what I had just told her seemed to do the trick!

To add a cherry on top, I walked over to the counter to make my purchase as she stood confused in front of this extensive display of Kratom.  I remember saying, "Ooh, look at that vintage orange tile.  Can I take a picture of it?"  I think she just gave me the side-eye as I raised my phone and snapped this image.

And that was that.  The Sing Oil Sidekick paid for his drink, and the two of us made our way out of the store unharmed and just slightly shaken (not stirred).  The adrenaline definitely kicked in the second she confronted me, but I was somehow able to remain composed while even throwing an extra punch with the photo of the old Sing deli tile.  I'll just say that once we were in the car, neither the S.O.S. nor the S.O.B. wanted to hang around Columbia much longer . . . That's also why this post has sat on ice for a while, and why some of my subsequent convenience store photo journeys have turned out a bit less visually appealing.  But hey, I've only been confronted one time since then when I was being a bit bolder in my documentation of a Winn-Dated.  It's all just part of the game, and thankfully, I don't have to be afraid of telling the truth.

As for the content of the photo itself, we find the transition from the Krispy Krunchy Chicken prep area to the space behind the cashier counter.  While we of course know that the bold orange tile is original, I also see a vintage cutting board (under piles of junk) that is mounted to the orange Formica countertops.  The only other place I've seen one of these was in LaGrange #5, and I didn't even notice this one until I was writing the post!

Despite the unexpected surprise, I'd say that my Fall 2022 trip to South Mississippi was very fruitful with regard to the number of Sing relics I uncovered.  We remember that Bogalusa was likely the best-preserved Sing I've ever seen, while Columbia held its own compared to others like Laurel or LaGrange #4.

Google Street View - April 2009

The only thing that would have made this better is if the store had retained its 1990's Amoco livery long enough for me to witness it in person.  I have no idea when the exterior of this store was remodeled, but I know I was personally shocked when I first found this station during my 2019 research stint. 

Google Street View - January 2008

I'm still just amazed that the Amoco branding lasted long enough for a Google Street View car to capture it in 2009.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any images of this station from the time between 2009 and 2022.  If you uncover any, I'd love for you to send them my way!

Speaking of the '90s lasting longer than they should have, just take a look at this snapshot from the Marion County tax appraiser's office:

I've seen a lot, but I have yet to come across another property sketch that was constructed using colons, periods, and backslashes.  I suppose it works, despite lacking any sort of dimensional accuracy . . .

Let's take a look at some aerial shots before heading east on Highway 98 to our next destination.

Aerial Views

Historic Aerials - 1981
Future site of the Columbia Sing Store

Google Earth - 1996
Amoco station with original Sing canopy

Google Earth - 2019
A&H Pit Stop as it stands today

Additional Resources: 

Historic Aerials

Google Earth Pro

Google Maps

Marion County Property Records

Parcel ID: 164-05-000-02-002

 


 


Le Dirtbertsons

Welcome to the More Than Convenience portion of today's post, sponsored by the Dirt Cheap Chicken.

Courtesy Dirt Cheap

"The DCC wants you to have a cluckin' fun time with the S.O.B., that's why he has sponsored today's post.  Get ready to take flight with today's adventure!  While we may only scratch the surface of this Treasure Hunt, rest assured that somebody will crow about it in much more retail one day 👀.  Now that the easy part is done, let's ruffle some feathers and bark like a dog, because it is about to get rrrrough." 

Dirt Cheap #47

Cloverleaf Center

5912 US Highway 49 S

Hattiesburg, MS 39401

Former Albertsons #2785

Updated: April 26, 2024 | Original Publication: April 20, 2024

Named for the cloverleaf intersection out front, our next destination is Cloverleaf Center (née Cloverleaf Mall) which is situated just to the Southwest of downtown Hattiesburg.  I'd imagine the interchange of US Highways 11 & 49 served as the primary commercial district for the region when the mall was constructed, especially since the I-59 corridor had just been completed and was still several miles out from the city.

I made my trek to the cloverleaf back in October 2022, and have to say that the area has certainly seen better days.  Most of Hattiesburg's commercial district has migrated to US 98 just west of the Interstate, leaving behind a bit of a void that will come into play later.

I also wasn't alone in my desire to visit this former supermarket, as Retail Retell himself traveled to H-burg in July 2022 to document the area.  I graciously appreciate all of the photos he contributed to this post considering how I wasn't compelled to take many of my own.

Another reason I neglected to take pictures was because I didn't think there were many traces of Albertsons left behind; after all, the interior of the building seemed like it had been gutted.  While I did pick up on the scarring from the old Albertsons floor tile patterns, Retail Retell found some vestiges that I had no clue remained!

That's enough fluff, who is ready for some meat (or, more specifically, lobster)?  While exploring the 'burg, I noticed a few other sights of interest, one of which was the local Red Lobster restaurant.

Red Lobster - Hattiesburg, MS - October 2022

I've only dined at The Dead Lobster once in my life, but I quickly noticed how this restaurant had still maintained its circa 1995 logo which was phased out in 2011.  Does anyone agree that this signage looks much classier than the modern version?

Red Lobster - Meridian, MS - April 2022

Probably the only reason I took note of the Hattiesburg location is because I saw signage of the same vintage as it was removed from the Meridian restaurant.  I often don't pay attention to things until I see them disappear, and this Red Lobster sign is the perfect example.  Interestingly, Meridian still has the old logo on the restaurant per this Google Street View.

Amoco sign - Hattiesburg, MS - October 2022

Our last stop on the vintage express is this old Amoco sign still standing proud outside a Texaco on Hattiesburg's north end.  I've only seen one other example of this era of sign remain in place over the last decade, so I figured it was worth noting on an oil company blog! 

The thing I enjoy most about covering small news markets is that they always have extensive coverage of new businesses in town – especially when those businesses are also new to the region.  Albertsons #2785 fit the mold perfectly for The Hattiesburg American, so buckle up folks, because we have a lot of newspapers to read!

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - August 4, 1998

In 1998, the 62,000 sq ft Albertsons opened as the third anchor of Cloverleaf Mall and was joined soon after by JoAnn Fabrics, and a new OfficeMax outparcel.  Across Highway 49, a Super Walmart and new Sonic also opened that summer.

The new stores were part of a revitalization effort to "de-mall" the complex which began when the complex lost three anchors, McRae's, J.C. Penny, and Sears, to US 98's shiny new Turtle Creek Mall in 1994.  Cloverleaf pivoted toward being a discount center, attracting Stein Mart, Hudson’s Treasure Hunt, Big Lots, and Apple Dollar Store before the new grocer signed on.  

Preparations began as an old Jitney Jungle outparcel was torn down to provide better visibility for the new Stein Mart, while Albertsons demolished most of the old Sears building to construct the new supermarket.  Now, only the south façade of the circa 1969 department store remained for several smaller shops.  We can see the piece of the old Sears, which was left behind in the photo above, and the building unsurprisingly looks the same in 2024.  The rest of the mall tenants were less picky and seemingly took up residence in the former palaces of retailers past.

Speaking of Hudson's Treasure Hunt, that chain is now better known as Dirt Cheap, and is one of the few remaining tenants to have stuck around since the revitalization.  The current "regular" Dirt Cheap store (formerly branded as Hudson's Treasure Hunt) at Cloverleaf Mall also serves as the chain's de facto flagship considering how it is likely the oldest and largest store in the chain.  (Just because the store had a few old Publix shopping carts when I visited doesn't mean it was very clean or organized, though.)

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - January 25, 1999

All of the news articles I read mention how Albertsons was bringing a revival to the dying retail corridor since it was pouring a notable investment into the area.  Estimates say that the Idaho grocer spent roughly $3 million on the new building, which brought all sorts of fanfare along with it.

I've also noticed that this newspaper enjoyed publishing unflattering candid photos of the people it interviewed:  just take a look at the picture of Mr. Parker above and Mrs. Harris below.

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - January 25, 1999

The new store offered, "a variety of merchandise – prepared meals, steamed seafood, custom-sliced beef, prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines, books and magazines, videotape rental, pet care products and seasonal merchandise."

"We sell Seiko watches, film developing, videos, tapes.  We'll have an on-duty florist from about 10 o'clock in the morning until 7 at night.  We'll have an on-site cosmetician to explain the different cosmetics we carry.  We even have a cologne bar with a lot of the national brands."  That's quite the assortment of merchandise, and I'm still to this day surprised that a supermarket could be profitable while stocking high-dollar items such as watches and cologne.

With such a large new store, customers needed to be able to navigate their way through the maze of aisles.  To solve that, an Albertsons representative mentioned that “We have what we call destination categories . . . You'll see a big chip bowl hanging from the ceiling and that’s where you'll find all the snacks.  The Pet Center sign is always revolving and we actually have ice cream for dogs."  I'm not sure who bought ice cream for dogs, either, but I guess Rufus would like that better than the bag of "Field Trial" back at the Columbia Sing.

If doggie ice cream isn't your thing, this store still had "Quick Fixing Meal ideas, or QFM, are located near the front of the store.  Created in 1996, QFM features the ingredients for weekly recipe ideas that can be made in 30 minutes or less."  – that sounds a lot like Publix' circa 2001 Aprons Simple Meals to me!

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - January 28, 1999

Albertsons #2785 officially held its grand opening on Wednesday, January 27, 1999, and the first day seemed to be a success.  Noting the grocery palace décor, local clinic manager DeeDee Davis mentioned, "I like the way it's set up . . . For the sodas, they've got the display up top where it’s easy to locate."

Just as this store opened, the rest of the front page of The American was covered with news discussing the President Clinton impeachment trial.   The new developments from day 13 were that the senate voted 56-44 not to dismiss the charges, which also meant it lacked the numbers to remove him from office.  It's also worth noting that the senate subpoenaed three witnesses to testify, one of which was Monica Lewinsky.

Courtesy Retail Retell (Originally from LoopNet) - Aerial view of Cloverleaf Mall circa 2000

Note that the OfficeMax remains open, the new Rite Aid has been constructed, the former Jitney Jungle parcel (between Rite Aid and Stein Mart) is still a patch of dirt, the former Sears Auto Center remains, and that the Sack and Save across the street has already been vacated.

A while back, Retail Retell dug up this neat aerial photo from an old LoopNet listing and shared it on his own page discussing this store.  What he didn't realize, and I didn't catch initially, is that the image shows a small Albertsons Express fuel canopy in the Northwest corner of the parcel.

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - May 3, 2000

The three pump fuel center and 90 square foot payment kiosk opened just over a year after the main supermarket on May 3, 2000.  It's amazing to think that #2785 was already halfway through its short life by the time the miniature gas station opened for business, which goes to show that the Idaho-based chain had not lost all hope on the venture at that point.

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - May 20, 2001

A year later, the only known closeup photo was published in The American as part of an article mentioning how the outlet had some of the cheapest gas in town.  Maybe that was a last-ditch effort to draw in customers?  Regardless, all I know is that the fuel center was so short lived that it had already been demolished by the time Google Earth's next satellite imagery was captured on August 24, 2004.

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - December 7, 2001

Unfortunately, the Albertsons supermarket would only last a hair under three years.  This store’s closure was announced in the summer of 2001 along with that of 164 other locations, with its final day of operation being December 6th; this left eight remaining Albertsons in Mississippi.  The center also lost its OfficeMax store in the same year, and JoAnn Fabrics would close in May 2002.  Mall management went on to claim that the shutterings were simply coincidental and had no reflection on the desirability of the location.  They went on to say that despite the closures, Bruke's Outlet was brought on as a tenant during that same period.  

Courtesy hattiesburmemory (Flickr) - February 21, 2009

More specifically, management said that Albertsons didn't promote the store well enough and that residents weren't familiar with the company.  A University of Southern Mississippi professor went on to say that Hattiesburg's demographics likely made it hard for Albertsons, a mid-tier store, to compete against more budget conscious options.  George Carter said, "What killed that store in my judgement is that very few people shopped there."  I think that may be the ticket.

Despite a lack of foot traffic in Hattiesburg, the larger Albertsons chain was going through financial troubles of its own to start of The New Millennium.  Some of the troubles that aided to expedite this closure are said to be linked to Albertsons' 1999 acquisition of American Stores, which included brands such as Acme and Jewel.  That purchase produced a whole lot of debt, and the company seemingly wasn't prepared to deal with it all.  It wasn't long before the rest of the Mid-South stores went down with this one.

Update: I want to thank Retail Retell for reminding me of some additional information regarding this store in his comment below.  I have since updated the post with a few additional pictures and links, like this one to his own Flickr post on the store.

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - May 3, 2002

"Who says you can’t get a deal at Albertsons even when the store is closed?"  That's how The American approached the subject, saying that despite groceries being taken off the shelf, the site of the old Albertsons still had plenty of savings for area citizens.

Hattiesburg resident Ray Sims purchased the store & parking lot, which were valued at an estimated $7.5 million, for a cool $1 million at auction.  He didn’t know what he intended to do with the space, but the sole bidder figured it would be a wise investment.  The article goes on to mention that the store’s fixtures, freezers, and shelving were also included in the deal – as well as $83,472 in tax debt to local governments.

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - May 3, 2002

In the end, Sims was right, because it turns out that the former Albertsons didn't stay vacant for long.  In November 2002, the University of Southern Mississippi purchased the former Albertsons for $1.2 million in hopes of using the space for new nursing school classrooms.  I'd say that wasn't a bad deal to make 200 grand over the course of six months, would you?

While the school was looking for funding, Hudson's Treasure Hunt on the other side of the mall was looking for space to house a temporary furniture liquidation sale.  The old Albertsons seemed like a natural fit.  In August 2004, Hudson's Treasure Hunt signed a $10,000/month lease with Southern Miss to house the temporary store for two months with the option to extend.  Like we saw before, this move was heavily advertised in the local newspapers.

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - October 27, 2004

But wait, there's more!  At first glance, I saw this ad and thought it looked like one for any other discount furniture store; then I zoomed in.

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - October 27, 2004

Upon closer inspection, I realized that all of the Albertsons décor was still in place!  Even the Albertsons logos!  Right now, we would be standing in the back third of the store looking toward the packaged bread alcove between the bakery counter and the International Deli.  What's even better is how the floor tiles remained in place!

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - October 27, 2004

The next thing that caught my eye was this living room display adorned by a curvy soffit for Fresh Dairy & Frozen Foods.  We can even see the old dairy barn in the distance!  Now that's a furniture store I'd bet even The Albertsons Florida Blogger would walk into!

I guess this all makes sense considering how the lease was only designed to be temporary.  After all, why bother changing things when the lessee will be out of the space in a matter of months?

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - January 9, 2005

Well, they weren't.  By 2005, the furniture prices may have decreased, but the fun sure didn't.  Hudson's decided to continue the fun into the new year and ran new ads in The American which, of course, included plenty of additional pictures.

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - January 9, 2005

How would you like to buy your next piece of office furniture sitting atop confetti adorned flooring and under a giant basket of snacks?

I suppose that the Treasure Hunt furniture sale wrapped up in the months following this ad, but it was still noted in the newspapers how the plans for a new nursing school had yet to materialize by May 2005.  The college needed to raise an additional $6-8 million dollars to renovate the space and wasn't entirely sure of where to pull the funding from. 

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - September 18, 2005

Many of you will also remember another 2005 headline:  Hurricane Katrina.  The super storm cost the Gulf Coast hundreds of billions of dollars in damage and took thousands of lives along its path of destruction.

Since many Dirt Cheap and Treasure Hunt stores were located in the areas hardest hit, several of them had to close for repairs including the flagship Hattiesburg store.  Hudson's didn't want to be without this location while the extensive roof repairs were being performed, so it once again looked across the mall at a familiar site.

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - September 21, 2005

As if things couldn't get any more confusing, Hudson's announced it was moving its main Treasure Hunt store to the old Albertsons space following Hurricane Katrina – temporarily.  It appears that once the building across the mall was spruced up, Hudson's flew back home, and the former supermarket was once again a revolving door for consignment sales (September 2007) and furniture blowouts (December 2008)

I guess the university was never able to secure adequate funding for the nursing school project because the state officially listed the property for sale in March 2008.  CCM Capital Assets, LLC, a subsidiary of Dirt Cheap, purchased the property in October 2010 and continues to own it, along with the other mall store it purchased in January 2006, to this day.  The purchase makes sense considering how the Hudson's family of stores had been the only consistent tenants for the past decade!

The Hattiesburg American (Newspapers.com) - June 24, 2010 - Page 2

With the new location also came some new drama.  Around the time of the Albertsons parcel purchase, Hudson's Treasure Hunt and Hudson's Dirt Cheap decided to drop the surname in attempt to distance the brands from any particular person (presumably some of the founders who were no longer with the company).

Around this time, state senator and former Hudson's Treasure Hunt / Hudson's Dirt Cheap CEO Billy Hudson decided to launch a new, unrelated retail venture called Hudson's Outlet.  Let's just say that Treasure Hunt / Dirt Cheap wasn't thrilled by the move, considering how Billy had sold his shares in the company to Channel Control Merchants, LLC (CCM) all the way back in 1997, and decided to take action against the new competitor. 

The Dirt Cheap parent company sued Hudson's Outlet following the opening of its Hattiesburg location which kicked off a flurry of lawsuits between the two salvage companies.  There was some bad blood.  The article goes on to say that the Hattiesburg Treasure Hunt and Dirt Cheap stores readopted the Hudson's name several months after the initial summer 2010 drop.  That didn't last long!

I didn't have time to follow the whole saga, but it seems that CCM came out on top considering how Hudson's Outlet (now Hudson's Salvage) only has one store remaining despite the website still claiming locations in Magee and Laurel.

CCM also isn't as large as it once was, but continues to operate 7 Dirt Cheap Building Supplies stores (Bossier City & Hammond, LA, Hattiesburg, Lucedale, & Ridgeland, MS, Jacksonville, AR, and Pensacola, FL), one Treasure Hunt (Gulfport, MS), and  66 "regular" Dirt Cheap stores sprinkled across the Southeast.  This is significantly scaled back from the roughly 100 locations it had back in 2021.


Now that we have all of the dirt on this store, let's take a look at what may be left behind . . .

Courtesy Retail Retell

Well, the front of the place certainly still looks like a Grocery Palace Albertsons; it even boasts all of the defining features of the Grocery Palace interior:  flooring, lighting, and paint!

Courtesy Retail Retell

Turning to the right, I'm inclined to believe that this store still has a little bit of Soul despite having Walmart buggies parked in the cart corral.  We can also see a piece of the old Sears building off in the distance.

Courtesy Retail Retell

Is it just me, or does the street number alignment on that window bother anyone else?  It also looks like Dirt Cheap opted to replace Albertsons' old swinging doors with manual ones.

Courtesy Retail Retell

Doesn't this store look rough?  Once inside, we can see that much of the store's front end was ripped out to reveal the old cart vestibule windows.  We previously would have seen the old video rental shop and Trustmark Bank branch off to the left, and the pharmacy box was directly in front of us.

Courtesy Retail Retell

Likewise, the old Albertsons Reading Center appears to just be a shadow of its former shelf.  At least we can see some of the diagonal scarring from the long-gone tile that was in front of the deli!

Does anybody know what those grey banners are that are hanging behind the warehouse shelving?

Refrigerators have taken up residence in what would have been the old Snack Central and seemingly decided to kick out the giant junk food bucket.  At least we get more natural light as a consolation.  I'm not sure that makes up for the scarred, unpolished concrete.

Speaking of scarred concrete, this design can only mean one thing:  we are standing in the midst of the old bakery!  This store's departmental layout may not be as obvious as the Pinson Winn-Thriftie, but at least the ugly concrete helps give a few clues.  Further off in the distance would have been the old meat and seafood counter under the lower ceiling; the only reason that structure was preserved is because it still houses a machine room with all sorts of air conditioner equipment.  Albertsons was a big fan of these mezzanine-level machine rooms because even the older #4413 in Fort Myers had a nearly identical mechanical configuration over the dairy coolers.

Courtesy Retail Retell

While Retail Retell took far more pictures of this place than I did, I find it interesting how neither of us photographed the back left corner of the store (Albertsons' old produce department).  That section either looked extremely boring or had bulk construction crates of items scattered around which weren't very photogenic.

Courtesy Retail Retell

We'll next jump back to the front half of the store and take a look toward the old pet corner.  If this were a Publixsons, we'd be looking down a line of registers toward the freezers, but since it's not, we only see 10¢ caulk tubes and some above-toilet cabinetry.

Some things may change, but others just stay the same.  By the time I made it to the Dirtbertsons in October, the stone countertops were still in place; however, the toilet cabinets had given way to ceiling fans (does that mean the sh*tter hit the fan?) and the void to Retail Retell's right now offers faucet displays for sale.  I know there are buyers for all sorts of things, but I'd earnestly love to know who would buy a faucet shell that is mounted to a piece of plexiglass.

Courtesy Retail Retell

Now we find something that this store needs more of yet lacks a shortage of – flooring.  If only some of this was actually on the floor . . .

This shot also gives us a nice head-on look at the old seafood counter, and how the HVAC unit was either decommissioned or is now just dumping air directly onto the sales floor slab.

Courtesy Retail Retell

Well, at least I can quench AFB's curiosity as to why the Walmart Neighborhood Market in this post retained the old meat counter structure:  Walmart didn't really have a choice.

Courtesy Retail Retell

Flipping back to the front of the store, we find traces of the old dairy tile design on the desolate side of the flooring aisle.  It's also worth noting how the light fixtures on the left side of the ceiling are different than those on the right since this store now lacks a curvy soffit.

Courtesy Retail Retell

It wouldn't be a Dirt Cheap without a testing table!  Granted, I'm not sure how many unboxed, test worthy items a Dirt Cheap Building Supplies offers.  I've certainly taken advantage of one of these in a regular Dirt Cheap, though, because you never know what condition that returned speaker you picked up is going to be in!

Oh, and the reason Retail Retell took this shot is to highlight the old Albertsons paneling which lines the emergency exit hallway in the front right corner.  Don't those dropped ceiling tiles look nice as well?

Courtesy Retail Retell

Even a Dirtbertsons couldn't escape "The Internet's Most Famous Aisle".  I guess it wouldn't be true Dirt Cheap without some half-opened boxes and a true Retail Retell post without an aisle 12 photo!

Turn around, every now and then I get a little bit tired, and I don't know what to say anymore.

Turn around, every now and then I start to quote random songs when I am all out of ideas.

Courtesy Retail Retell

Turn around, Barry.

I finally found the dump bins!

It's honestly surprising to see this many unopened packages in a Dirt Cheap and to see everything this well-organized.  Maybe Anonymous in Houston will be impressed?  (Hah, who am I kidding!)  At least he can still have some solace in the fact that this used to be a Houston Division Albertsons store!

Courtesy Retail Retell

Well, I'd say that the overall feel of this store when it comes to Albertsons relics was . . . yawn . . . boring.  Maybe that's why I only took six pictures?  The thing is . . .

Courtesy Retail Retell

. . . I missed a key find that Retail Retell picked up on:  the bathroom tile.

As you've probably seen, I haven't been afraid to photograph a restroom tile pattern so long as the space was empty, but the thought never even crossed my mind to peep around the corner and see what may have been left behind here.

Courtesy Retail Retell

Thankfully, Retail Retell did and found that the old Albertsons tile remains completely intact in the Men's room . . .

Courtesy Retail Retell

. . . and in the women's room across the hall.  At least that, along with the shards of paneling, can serve as a small reminder of this store's former, much classier, past life (Although, I'm sure it would have been much classier if the school had taken over).

Courtesy Retail Retell

All in all, I think this space would have looked much better if Dirt Cheap had taken the Spirit Halloween approach rather than making the building look dirt cheap by ripping everything out.

At least the "Y" signpost facing Highway 49 stuck around, as shown by my poorly framed shot.

Courtesy Retail Retell

Wow, it's almost as if the Heavens were shining down upon the sign when Retail Retell took his photo – why did my have to turn out so ratty?!

Anyway, that will conclude today's journey through South Mississippi, so I hope you enjoyed the ride.  I'd like to give a big "thanks" to Retail Retell for contributing to this post and to the Sing Oil Sidekick for being with me through the Columbia incident.  Make sure to check back in two weeks to see what else I've gotten myself into and if you want to see more examples of Grocery Palace in full color, check out Mike from HHR's post on a Houston Food Town, or of course one of the several posts on The Albertsons Florida Blog, or the table of Mississippi Albertsons stores he compiled a while back.

Until then,

- The Sing Oil Blogger

Comments

  1. I still am one post behind on your blog, but I'm reading this one first, mostly because I wanted to see how it turned out :P Thanks for all the shout-outs and links -- and thanks to the Dirt Cheap Chicken for sponsoring this post! Glad to be able to contribute all of my pictures, not sure when else they'd have been able to see the light of day otherwise.

    See, I told you it'd be hard to condense the Hudson's/Dirt Cheap story down, haha! The lawsuit was definitely one of the things I remembered from my research -- seems to have been a very big part of the company's story and trajectory -- and I figured you'd end up uncovering a lot of the same stuff I did. Maybe I'll get to my post on Hudson's this year. I'll definitely have to reference this post and your sources, as it feels like you stumbled upon many of the same articles I did, and possibly more with all your Hattiesburg American research.

    Speaking of which -- amazing find with all those photos of the Albertsons post-closure from the newspaper! I knew bits and pieces of the Hattiesburg Albertsons lineage story, as I documented over on flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/130271900@N03/28423051721/in/album-72157670676814892/), but without a newspapers.com subscription, I never found all the articles that you did -- nor did I ever see any pictures of office furniture underneath the Grocery Palace decor (!!). I definitely agree that that would've been a furniture store even AFB would try out, haha!

    Nice puns and descriptions to the photos, lol. Also, I'm a little surprised you didn't see the old tile in the restrooms! Then again, that certainly wouldn't have been something I would explicitly keep an eye out for -- it just happened that the doors were left open to both restrooms on my visit. So it wasn't that I was looking for the tile so much as it just stood out and made itself known.

    I honed in on those banners above the old deli, too. Was hoping you might have known what they were for, lol. They seem like an odd piece to be there. As for the back left corner of the store, if I'm remembering correctly, there were loading docks back there and the area was closed off to customers. Oh, and where the HVAC unit was concerned -- I feel like it was decommissioned, as I remember it being very hot in here!

    Nice photos of the Columbia Sing, too; I enjoyed seeing the blue ceiling and orange tile inside and the old shingles outside, as well as all the newspaper coverage. I hate that y'all were accosted by the employee, but sounds like you handled it well, at least. That's definitely not my forte, but at least in your case being honest has a historical legitimacy behind it (as opposed to, say, "I'm taking pictures because I really like Kroger!").

    It's cool that y'all walked around and explored downtown Columbia as well -- I love exploring old Mississippi downtowns and town squares, especially when they are still active like this one seems to be. I've never been to Columbia before, but maybe I will have to check it out. For that matter, I've only been to Hattiesburg the one time, and need to get back there, too. I've got a really good friend who went to USM, and I know he thinks highly of Hattiesburg, so I hope to get back and explore one day -- both the retail, and the community, haha.

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    1. That’s alright; I’d be inclined to skip ahead if you had a post about my neck of the woods too! You’re welcome and thank you for all of the pictures and information! I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about this store considering how I had only taken six pictures, so I guess everything worked out in the end.

      Yes, you were right! I feel like I only scratched the surface with the Dirt Cheap story while still managing to write close to 1,000 words on that alone. It is sad how the lawsuits (since it seems like there were several) did shape a lot of the modern trajectory of Hudson’s / Dirt Cheap, especially since they seemed to relate to family business. There are still more articles out there as well if you have the time to sift through them!

      I know, I was shocked to find all those post-closure photos! I’m also ashamed that I didn’t think to look back at (and link to) your own posts on the topic, so thanks for reminding me. At least I’ve remedied that now. As for you, that is a very cool aerial image you had in your Mississippi Albertsons post which provided insight into this store that I didn’t even catch. If you look to the left of the old Sears Auto Center, you’ll see what looks like a small gas canopy: that’s the very short lived Albertsons Express. I did a little more digging and found that #2785 had a gas station presumably from May 3, 2000, until the store’s closure in December 2001. I had no clue, especially since the whole kit and kaboodle had been demolished by the time the next Google Earth satellite imagery was taken in 2004! I just added this station’s grand opening ad and an additional photo I dug up in The American.

      Thank you! I had fun with some of these puns. I can’t come up with them all the time, but I know I’ve got some good ones when I’m cracking myself up just writing them! I guess I missed the restroom tile because I was looking straight ahead when I walked in the building and then I only saw the window to that hallway as I was exiting. I feel like I only go looking for the restroom tile when I have to use the restroom!

      According to AFB, it looks like those banners are another relic from Grocery Palace. It’s interesting that Dirt Cheap left them up when they seemingly did a good job of removing everything else. I suppose they do blend in quite well with everything else. That would make sense about the back left corner. I don’t remember the store being particularly hot or cold, but October is a bit more temperate. I wouldn’t want to go shopping there in July if the A/C doesn’t work!

      Thank you! I don’t think the blue ceiling is original to Sing, but it is bizarre how the station still sports colors that resemble Sing’s late-1980’s look. The orange tiles and old shingles were certainly fun finds. While I wasn’t happy with the situation at the moment, at least my encounter with the employee worked out in the end. I also feel like my excuse has much better odds of working out than just saying “I like Kroger’ or “I like gas stations”!

      I also enjoy exploring small towns because you never know what kinds of interesting things you will find. Just this last week I walked around two small towns in Georgia and saw a number of cool old buildings while taking in the beautiful springtime weather. If you end up down that way, you should certainly check Columbia out. Hattiesburg was interesting as well; I'm surprised that I've been there more times than a native Mississippian as well! While I don’t have any photos to share from downtown, I do still have one more stop to share on the blog . . .

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    2. You're welcome! And thanks for adding the additional references too -- it's been a long time since I wrote that blog post; to be honest I only remembered the flickr post off the top of my head XD Definitely wasn't mentioning it with the intent of making you edit your post, but I'm glad you were able to pull some more useful information from it, including that stuff about the Albertsons Express from the aerial image!

      I did see AFB's comment about the awnings being original -- very cool! And ha, I'm definitely trying to do my best to get around my state more :P I'm sure I'll be in Hattiesburg again soon (quite soon, actually), and I look forward to your additional post as well!

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    3. Oh no, I didn't take it that way at all! I always try to include as many outside sources as I can and I totally forgot about your posts. Your mention even sent me down another rabbit hole and provided some extra pictures.

      I hope you enjoy your upcoming trip to Hattiesburg, and thank you!

      Delete
  2. Anonymous in HoustonApril 20, 2024 at 11:47 PM

    Well, there are certainly some unexpected aspects to this post! Sing Oil being confronted by a C-store employee, a retail ad using Comic Sans, and a Monica Lewinsky mention!

    I'm sure telling the C-store employee about your interest in Sing Oil probably caused the employee to think something along the lines of "now I've heard everything!" Oh well, at least you weren't there to take pictures of Field Trial dog food for the purpose of making fun of the odd name...or maybe you were!

    Wow, that Albertsons lasted for even a shorter period of time than most of Houston's Albertsons! That's pretty impressive in many ways! It is interesting to see a furniture store taking a Spirit Halloween approach to leaving up decor, but I guess they had good reason to do so at the time. Even in the modern photos, there's still quite a bit of Grocery Palace lurking in the Dirt Cheap Building Supplies. It's too bad Dirt Cheap didn't take the Albertsons approach to things by hanging oversized models of items for sale from the ceiling. They could have put an oversized toilet model above the plumbing fixtures as a replica of sorts of the snack bowl!

    While the oversized cans of boiled peanuts at the ex-Sing might scream Jimmy Carter, this store seems like competition for Jimmy Carter's favorite store, the Habitat for Humanity ReStores. There is one near me in the former Randall's #25. In some ways, the Dirt Cheap looks a bit nicer than the ReStore. That's pretty hard to believe! The ReStore isn't bad though and being a hardlines thrift store, they do have some neat items you wouldn't ordinarily expect at a store like that. Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/RpqVrDe7zNFuBLUq9

    I didn't know Retail Retell was a bathroom photographer! Oddly enough, when Mike was taking pictures of the Barker Cypress & Clay Rd. Randalbertsons for the guest post I ended up doing about that store at HHR last year (the one where the locals protested the planned Food Lion for that spot so it ended up being an Albertsons instead), he also took pictures of the men's room with the exact same tiling even though I'm quite sure Mike isn't a retail bathroom photographer either! I'm not sure what it is about Grocery Palaces that inspires trips to the bathroom. At least in the case of the Dirt Cheap, perhaps it was the display of toilet bowls along the main actionway!

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    1. You never know what you are going to find on The Sing Oil Blog which is part of the fun of it, right? I’m not surprised in the least that Hudson’s published all of their furniture store ads using Comic Sans, but it is always strange to see somebody use the infamous font in a professional setting. It also couldn’t be a history post about the late-1990’s without a mention of the decade’s hottest love story or a thought on whether or not “the glove” fits.

      “Now I’ve heard everything” is most certainly exactly what she was thinking! I guess that goes to show that the best way to get out of an awkward situation is just to make the other person feel dumbfounded! Honestly, looking back on it, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sing Oil Sidekick said something like, “make sure to get that bag of dog food in your picture.” South Georgia is also known for having hunting dog field trials, but I doubt most of the dog trainers participating in those events would feed their prized companions food that sounds like it is destined for a lab rat! I’m glad the dogs of Columbia can at least test the food before I give it to my dog!

      I know, it’s crazy to find an Albertsons store that beat the record of the Houston locations! I don’t blame Hudson’s Furniture for leaving the grocery palace décor up for the short-term sales, but I really wish they had maintained the Spirit Halloween approach when moving Dirt Cheap Building Supplies into the space. That would also be a sight to see a giant toilet hanging from the ceiling!

      Dang it, I should have included my photo of the smiling peanut in my last post! Oh well, at least we got to see the home of Billy Beer. Anywho, I guess this Dirt Cheap isn’t bad if you compare it to an off-price Lowe’s. I still think your ReStore would have more interesting finds than DCBS; however, at least the items at the latter are (for the most part) new. I’m not sure I’d care to buy a used light bulb from a thrift store.

      What is it with Grocery Palace stores and bathroom pictures?! Maybe I need to check out the restrooms next time I’m in a Publixsons (or maybe not). I guess a display of toilet seats can help do that for you!

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  3. You're all right - that's one furniture store I would have had no trouble going into for some pictures! That's so crazy seeing the pictures of furniture surrounded by the Grocery Palace decor, never would I have thought I'd see Snack Central turned into Sofa Central! Great find with those photos - I had fun looking through those! I wish Dirt Cheap kept the store looking like that all the way to the present, that would have been something, and I may have seriously considered making the drive to Mississippi for that! The store in its current form is kind of depressing with everything unceremoniously ripped out - even the transition between the current gutted space and the untouched restrooms is really rough when you look at the picture looking toward the ladies' room.

    As for those awnings behind the restrooms, those are from the Grocery Palace deli decor! See here: https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEg-QrUHkP27Z5rNOvfoewJT_y_s6k66uN1IFMI57im53_wB49jjF56nXWh3PhfjPHbavsZDsHNfu8L5uqRqEYVzCLEtLGYmeStH6QWuQyWINMwQIrT4zCI_ZOQGHpeSFB6ANjfAlUXUL4lE/s1600/Photo+10.jpg (dark photo, but you can see the tops of the awnings behind Spirit's partition if you look close). Even with the building gutted, it was still fun to see a few Albertsons remnants survived the remodel. I've been to a similar Grocery Palace Albertsons-turned-hardware warehouse, and that remodel I saw was more thorough and more boring than this one. I know this store was a bit anticlimactic for you and Retail Retell when both of you visited, but it was still fun to pick out the few Grocery Palace remnants that survived in this super-short lived Grocery Palace store. Thanks for the insight into the mechanical area over the old seafood counter too, and for showcasing this former Albertsons store (and thank you to the Dirt Cheap chicken as well!)

    Columbia, MS seems like an interesting little town. A few times in the past I've had a little extra time to explore the downtown areas of some small Florida towns while out on retail road trips, and you can find some interesting relics hidden around. That Walgreens sign was a good find - I know people find old Rexall signs quite often, but Walgreens ones like that seem much rarer to spot these days. With Walgreens being such a big company in the US still (unlike Rexall), you'd think they'd be much more upset about something like that still being in the public view! The old Columbia A&P is quite the well-preserved relic in the modern day too.

    At least you were able to get a decent tour of the former Columbia Sing before that lady came up to you. I guess situations like that are another drawback of the bored convenience store employee having nothing else better to do than to watch the few shoppers in the store on the camera monitor. Being a small space with much fewer people going in an out, I can see how situations like that can arise more often when photographing convenience stores, so that's quite impressive that's only happened to you once in that setting! Even if the wall paint isn't original, that's still a decently well-preserved Sing, and the color scheme on the walls is a nice (if inadvertent) nod to the past!

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    1. I figured that would be the case! Even thought this was a furniture store, I’d have to imagine the salesmen were much less pushy than at a typical outlet, though. It took me a few minutes to realize what I was looking at in those furniture ads, but I was astonished when I realized that I was in the midst of Sofa Central. Thank you! And it is finds like that that keep me from canceling my $150/yr Newspapers.com subscription! I really wish the Dirt Cheap Building Supplies even looked remotely similar to those photos when I visited, but unfortunately, all I was left with was some scarred concrete. If a Furniture Palace would make you drive to Mississippi, would a well-preserved Wavy Pastel Publix make you drive to North Georgia or a fairly intact early-1980’s Winn-Dixie make you visit the Central Time Zone? Anyway, the store is a bit depressing nowadays which is probably why I only took six pictures. At least it still has some neat history!

      You’re right, those awnings are original! I’d love to claim that I noticed them while in the store, but it looks like Retail Retell is the only one who can take home those bragging rights. It always bothers me when I spot something in my photos after the fact that I wish I had focused on more in the store! Despite most things being ripped out in here, you are right that at least there wasn’t a thorough remodel which took place after the demolition. Scarred concrete and some bathroom tiles are better than a starched Hobby Lobby! You’re welcome for the tip about the old A/C unit, and we’ll see how many more exotic Grocery Palace stores the Dirt Cheap Chicken and I have up our sleeves . . .

      Just from looking through Andy Callahan’s Flickr page, I know that there are so many neat old Florida towns in your neck of the woods. Small towns always seem to have long-forgotten surprises hanging around, and that Walgreens sign seems to be the perfect example. I’m still surprised that the old neon sign has survived this long (especially with there being a corporate Walgreens in Columbia), but I guess small things like that can still slip by. By this point, I feel like Walgreens could care less about the old sign considering how they have bigger fish to fry. It still amazes me how many well-preserved A&P stores I come across as well.

      Yes, I’m glad that I managed to take so many pictures before she approached me! I’m honestly surprised that I’ve only been confronted once inside a convenience store, but that is probably partially due to the fact that there are fewer things I’m trying to photograph. And yes, the paint on the walls was a nice nod to the past!

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  4. I loved the stuff on Albertsons but I can't tell and it didn't seem to say if it had a mall entrance or not. The building looks like it could've one...

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    1. Thank you! I probably should have mentioned this in the post, but the Albertsons did not ever have a mall entrance (one of the articles I read specifically mentioned that). It would have been neat if it did!

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