The Shoppes at Boot Ranch started to be constructed around the time I moved into Palm Harbor 19 years ago. The first major tennent was a mid-west food chain named Jewel Osco… The plaza was still under construction and by the time it was finished, there would be a Target and a Eckerd Drug store as well.
By the time I was in middle school — I think seventh grade (circa 1992) — Jewel Osco was being sold to another supermarket chain that had a bigger presence in Florida… Idaho based Albertsons.
And so it went for 17 years. I’ve shopped at this location from time to time, I’ve worked at this location and made a bunch of friends (and lost a few along the way)… There have been highs and lows… But the standard that has been maintained is that Albertsons was around and I had a history there. I have nostalgia hit me often at this location.
But this morning I ventured to Albertsons to do some shopping and what I encountered was just plain sad. Of course, it’s already known that Publix bought Albertsons locations throughout Florida and the new location in Boot Ranch would and will serve Publix well and dandy compared to their antiquated store across the street in East Lake Woodlands…
But to see Albertsons on the way out was painful. 10-20 percent off signs were up on every aisle, the meat racks were bare, and the store was not receiving shipments from certain grocers or companies any more it seemed. I mean, how many supermarkets do you go into and find the Little Debbie snack rack completely empty?
Of course, other racks remained full because of poor decisions by whomever made them initially — why were George Foreman grilles on sale in a supermarket? Or Hummingbird feeders/food? Their boxes were worn down from sitting on racks for extended periods of time with no one actually purchasing the items. This was the case for a lot of things in this store and I would not be surprised if any of these items I am thinking of (mostly small appliances) had been on the shelves since I worked at the store 12 years ago.
Certain bulk racks had been taken down near the entrance and the store seemed void while filled. Yes, it was a Sunday morning at a supermarket but for one reason or another, this location never drew in the teeming masses that Publix draws in across the street and elsewhere in Palm Harbor.
I really wish I had brought my camera when I was at the store. I don’t know what Publix plans for the location. A renovation? Or just a retrofit? I really hope they don’t rebuild the building, but I could honestly see it happening with how aged and infrastructure is.
I ache with nostalgia, thinking of bagging groceries inside that store and hauling shopping carts in the parking lot back into the building from October 1995 until December 1996. There are good and bad memories that come to mind, along with current troubles in my head and heart that also have roots at that store. But in the end, I bow to the hand of commerce and progress. I hope I get to the store again before it closes and changes to Publix… But that remains to be seen if it shall happen.