Monday, September 4, 2017

Cordova Walmart and Arby's

Today's post highlights Shelby County, TN, retail.

Happy Labor Day, folks! I hope you've enjoyed your day off. I was initially planning to do a more in-depth post today featuring a nice surprise I've got waiting off in the wings, but wanting to ensure that I give that post the time that it's worth, I've ultimately decided to hold off on it until a later date. So instead, today we'll be taking a quick peek at some long overdue photos taken in Cordova, TN!


We're beginning at the Cordova Walmart, which I visited way back when on June 4th, 2016. In essence, nothing looks all that special about this Walmart to those of you reading this post right now, over one year later. But at the time, it was (if I remember correctly) the very first Walmart in the Memphis metro to sport the chain's new blue and gray exterior color scheme, so naturally, it required a stop by to check things out!


The first store in the Memphis metro to feature both this exterior color scheme and the new "black décor 2.0" interior design wound up actually being a new-build Supercenter, which would open only weeks later, on June 22nd, 2016. As it was, this store, despite receiving the new exterior paint scheme, did not receive an interior remodel at the same time. In fact...


...the décor inside was still its original generation Project Impact, complete with cut-out spark logos! For some background on this: at least as far as the Mid-South is concerned, four variations of Project Impact have been used... first, you've got the décor seen in this store, with cut-out spark logos on the signage. Second, this exact same package (with three-dimensional, "pillow style" signs), just with the spark logos now printed on the signs rather than cut-out. Third, a cheapened version of the décor, which flattened all of the signs but kept the dimensions intact. And fourth and finally, what has (for better or for worse) become known as "Cheap Impact," the last iteration of the décor that simplified it as far as it could go. I have a photo on flickr with some visuals that might help you understand that explanation; you can check it out here.


Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised at the time about the décor not being changed over yet. After all, I suppose it's not unusual for a store to be repainted on the outside first, and the interior remodel to follow. But strangely enough, based on Google user photos, it appears that this Cordova Walmart still has yet to remodel! In doing so, it joins a number of Supercenters around the country that seemingly have repainted their exteriors to reflect the new color scheme simply because they are in high-traffic areas. The Oxford, MS, store was the same way at first, but finally remodeled just shy of a year after its initial repaint. I have a flickr album on that store, with remodel pictures waiting in my archives that I hope to post sometime in the near(-ish) future.


Surely, then, this Cordova store will be remodeled sooner rather than later. A few other Mid-South Walmarts have done so since I took these photos, including the aforementioned Oxford store; the Hernando, MS, store; the Senatobia, MS, store (which previously had the same cut-out Impact décor as this Cordova store); and the Bartlett, TN, store. But for now, I suppose that my few quick photos I got of the interior still serve as a current representation of what the inside looks like, rather than "before" shots.


Saw this "store use ladder" sign in the home living department (whose overhead circle sign was pictured a couple of shots above), and couldn't resist a photo. Although the blue color definitely matches Project Impact, the Futura font on this sign indicates that it's a holdover from the previous décor package that this store must have had.


Over in the grocery department now, I specifically made sure to photograph the seafood sign because not all Supercenters have a seafood section (or at least the signage to go with it). What with how this sign has a cut-out spark logo, I wonder if it's fairly rare.


This bakery department shot has to serve as an example of the first-gen Impact service department décor. Just like the cut-out spark logos on the main signage, these "awnings" also changed slightly as the décor evolved. Most notably, they lost the painted-on spark logos and Plexiglas hanging signs (i.e. "Cakes," in this photo). By the final, cheaper iterations of the package, the awnings were replaced altogether by flat hanging signs.


Finally from the interior, I dared not leave the store without getting this shot of the in-store McDonald's restaurant. These days and around these parts, it's rare enough to find a McDonald's inside a Walmart rather than a Subway. This mural above the ordering counter, featuring both an old-school McDonald's and Wal-Mart, was a special treat!


Heading back outside, here's a look at the grocery-side entrance vestibule. Unlike many Walmarts in the Mid-South, the Cordova store has groceries on the left-hand side. Additionally, it appears the pharmacy is on the left side as well: another signal that this store was a very early Project Impact remodel. Walmart soon decided to keep their pharmacies intact near the front of the store in later Impact remodels, rather than moving them to the center/rear of the store adjacent to the grocery department.


I thought it was cool to see both old and new together in this view! If only the security camera sign would also have had the old Wal-Mart star logo...

 
Last up, a parting shot of the Cordova Walmart, focusing on the centermost portion of the façade and its new paint scheme. Note how the coverings of the "A"s in "Walmart" (if not the rest of the sign as well) had to be replaced to reflect the new blue background.


Next up, we're moving on down the road to the Cordova Arby's! My pictures of this restaurant were taken three months to the day of those Walmart photos, September 4th, 2016 (so in fact, one year ago today!). But I'm beginning with this April 2015 Google Street View capture instead, so that it can serve as a "before" photo for what I'm about to show you...


Indeed, the Cordova Arby's remodeled between April 2015 and September 2016. (As a matter of fact, it looks like the construction took place in May 2016, based on another Street View capture for the site.) Now, the building reflects Arby's latest exterior style - and more than likely its newest interior style as well, although I didn't go inside to check.


This design is considerably more modern and boxy than the previous look this building had, and saw the introduction of the chain's new logo to the building, including the replacement of the road sign to boot. Luckily, it appears that this location's old "enter" and "exit" signs, seen on the right of the photo above, got to stay, at least!


I was particularly eager to get photos of this restaurant as I drove past it last year not because it featured a new exterior design per se, but more specifically because a local Arby's of mine, in Horn Lake, MS, featured the same exterior design as this Cordova one previously had - that is, that 90s look with the rounded red overhang/awning - and I figured that it, too, may be up for a remodel to this new look soon enough. As a result, I went and got photos of that location soon after I got these pics. I'm glad I did: my prediction came true a mere matter of months later. I've delayed posting those photos to flickr for several months now, but they will finally make it up next month (another reason I've decided to do this blog post today!).


If you're impatient and would rather not wait to see my before-and-after remodel photos of that Horn Lake Arby's, I don't blame you, haha! Thankfully, l_dawg2000 uploaded his own photos of the situation in a much more timely fashion as it was occurring; you can view his album on flickr here. For now, I leave you with the above parting shot of the remodeled Cordova Arby's.

That will do it for my Labor Day 2017, Cordova-centric blog post. Again, I hope that you had a nice holiday today, and thank you for checking out the Mid-South Retail Blog, as always! I hope to see you again this November, when I return with new posts (unless something else blogworthy happens in the interim period, of course). Until then, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Albertsons Chattanooga Area Complete Store List (1998-2000)

This is an auxiliary post of the full Albertsons Mid-South Division (4700 Series) Complete Store List. For more information on that, and to view the table in its entirety, please click this link.

The image shown below is an excerpt from the full Albertsons 4700 Series table featuring exclusively the Chattanooga area Albertsons stores that the company operated between 1998 and 2000. Albertsons entered the Chattanooga metropolitan area (as well as that of Nashville) in August 1998 with the purchase of 15 stores from supermarket operator Bruno's. In the Chattanooga area, this included four FoodMax stores: two in Chattanooga proper, and two in surrounding suburbs (including one in Georgia, which would wind up being Albertsons's only store ever to operate in that state). Albertsons converted each of the stores to their own nameplate, resetting and remodeling them. But if Albertsons was hoping to use the Bruno's purchase as a catalyst to opening even more new stores in the market, they would quickly find themselves disappointed. Albertsons never built a ground-up store of their own in the Chattanooga area during their tenure there.

Bruno's agreed to sell the 15 stores to Albertsons in conjunction with their 1998 bankruptcy filing. Unfortunately, as it turned out, Albertsons wasn't doing all that much better themselves at that point in time. In what can perhaps be seen as a prelude to 2001's closure of some 165 underperforming stores, Albertsons announced the summer prior that they would be exiting the Chattanooga market, closing all four area stores. After August 3rd, 2000, Albertsons in Chattanooga was no more, and the former stores were left to seek new operators. Not much later, Albertsons in 2002 shuttered the remainder of their Mid-South division.

Again, below is a screenshot of the full Albertsons Mid-South Division table compiled by Albertsons Florida Blog and myself, edited to include only the Chattanooga area stores. Information on each store includes its store number, its address, and a detailed history of the location. Click the image to enlarge, and be sure to view the full table and its accompanying blog post at the link provided at the top of this post.

If you are on the desktop version of the MSRB, you may wish to open the image in a new tab instead in order to enlarge it.

To view the Memphis (Seessel's) excerpt of the full table, please click here. To view the Nashville excerpt of the full table, please click here. To view the full table over at the Albertsons Florida Blog, please click here.

If you have any information you'd like to share on the history of these stores, please feel free to do so in the comments below or by email at midsouthretailblog [at] gmail [dot] com!

Have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell

Albertsons Nashville Area Complete Store List (1998-2002)

This is an auxiliary post of the full Albertsons Mid-South Division (4700 Series) Complete Store List. For more information on that, and to view the table in its entirety, please click this link.

The image shown below is an excerpt from the full Albertsons 4700 Series table featuring exclusively the Nashville area Albertsons stores that the company operated between 1998 and 2002. Albertsons entered the Nashville metropolitan area (as well as that of Chattanooga) in August 1998 with the purchase of 15 stores from supermarket operator Bruno's (several of which were operated as FoodMax stores rather than Bruno's, and one of which was still under construction at the time). Albertsons converted each of the existing stores to their own nameplate, resetting and remodeling them. But if Albertsons was hoping to use the Bruno's purchase as a catalyst to opening even more new stores in the market, they would quickly find themselves disappointed. Besides seeing out the completion of that one partially-constructed store, Albertsons went on to build only one new store in the Nashville area during their tenure there.

Bruno's agreed to sell the 15 stores to Albertsons in conjunction with their 1998 bankruptcy filing. Unfortunately, as it turned out, Albertsons wasn't doing all that much better themselves at that point in time. In 2001, under new leadership, Albertsons quickly shed 165 underperforming stores. Not much later, the exodus hit the Mid-South. Albertsons announced in April 2002 that they would soon close down their entire Mid-South division, including all of the Nashville stores. By June of that same year, Albertsons in Nashville was no more, and the former stores were left to seek new operators. Eight of the stores wound up being sold to rival supermarket chain Publix, marking their entrance into the Nashville area.

Again, below is a screenshot of the full Albertsons Mid-South Division table compiled by Albertsons Florida Blog and myself, edited to include only the Nashville area stores. Information on each store includes its store number, its address, and a detailed history of the location. Click the image to enlarge, and be sure to view the full table and its accompanying blog post at the link provided at the top of this post.

If you are on the desktop version of the MSRB, you may wish to open the image in a new tab instead in order to enlarge it.

To view the Memphis (Seessel's) excerpt of the full table, please click here. To view the Chattanooga excerpt of the full table, please click here. To view the full table over at the Albertsons Florida Blog, please click here.

If you have any information you'd like to share on the history of these stores, please feel free to do so in the comments below or by email at midsouthretailblog [at] gmail [dot] com!

Have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell

Seessel's by Albertsons Complete Store List (1998-2002)

This is an auxiliary post of the full Albertsons Mid-South Division (4700 Series) Complete Store List. For more information on that, and to view the table in its entirety, please click this link.

The image shown below is an excerpt from the full Albertsons 4700 Series table featuring exclusively the Seessel's by Albertsons stores that the company operated between 1998 and 2002. Seessel's was a family-owned, locally-run Memphis grocery chain that was in operation as early as 1858. In the modern era, its oldest building dated to 1965, located along Union Avenue in Midtown Memphis. It continued to grow in both number of stores and popularity among Memphians and Mid-Southerners until the mid-1990s, when the chain left the hands of its family and was sold to supermarket operator Bruno's. Soon after, Albertsons bought the ten-store Seessel's chain from Bruno's in 1998, and subsequently used it as a catalyst to enter the Memphis area grocery market. All told, Albertsons invested heavily in resetting and remodeling the existing Seessel's stores, but also pruned some out by closing them (they also closed Seessel's beloved central bakery and commissary just one year after the purchase), and opened many more new stores in the area which were essentially carbon copies of regular Albertsons stores of the time, just with the Seessel's nameplate on them instead. In other words, what made Seessel's special was arguably removed under Albertsons's ownership.

Even larger than the problem of the changes Seessel's was experiencing were the problems plaguing parent company Albertsons themselves. In 2001, under new leadership, Albertsons quickly shed 165 underperforming stores. Not much later, the exodus hit the Mid-South. Albertsons announced in April 2002 that they would soon close down their entire Mid-South division, including all of the Seessel's stores. By June of that same year, Seessel's was no more, and a majority of the stores were operating as newly-minted Schnucks locations.

At least as far as this blog is concerned, Memphis and its metropolitan area represent the heart of the Mid-South, so regardless of the fact that Albertsons also included Nashville and Chattanooga in their Mid-South division, their Memphis-area stores are my primary focus. Not to mention that I've also been dedicated to Seessel's research: for a much more detailed history on their history from the late 1990s to present-day, please check out my essay, The Aftermath of Seessel's. Hence, I'm happy that AFB's 4700 Series table, by default, also acts as a complete listing of Seessel's stores during the era of Albertsons ownership, from 1998 to 2002.

Interestingly, the Seessel's portion of the division provided Albertsons with both their longest- and shortest-lasting Mid-South stores. The aforementioned Union Avenue store, for example, was among the first in the division: Albertsons assumed operations of Seessel's in January 1998, and as such, the eight stores of the initial ten that made it through to the end of Albertsons's reign survived all four years of the short-lived division. In contrast, the Whitehaven store, which Albertsons built new and opened in February 2002, lasted not even four months under their ownership.

Again, below is a screenshot of the full Albertsons Mid-South Division table compiled by Albertsons Florida Blog and myself, edited to include only the Seessel's stores. Information on each store includes its store number under Albertsons, its address, and a detailed history of the location. Click the image to enlarge, and be sure to view the full table and its accompanying blog post at the link provided at the top of this post.

If you are on the desktop version of the MSRB, you may wish to open the image in a new tab instead in order to enlarge it.

To view the Nashville excerpt of the full table, please click here. To view the Chattanooga excerpt of the full table, please click here. To view the full table over at the Albertsons Florida Blog, please click here.

If you have any information you'd like to share on the history of these stores, please feel free to do so in the comments below or by email at midsouthretailblog [at] gmail [dot] com!

Have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell

Albertsons Mid-South Division Stores (4700 Series - Complete List)


The month of August is now here, and with it comes my final post of the summer to the Mid-South Retail Blog. Why is that special? Well, normally, it's not: I strive to post quality content all throughout the year, even though I do end up getting more things posted in total during the summer months than the other seasons. But this post in particular is one I think you'll all agree is well worth the excitement!

In case you missed it, at the start of the summer I posted a complete list of Albertsons stores ever to operate in the state of Mississippi, compiled by my good friend Albertsons Florida Blog. (You may visit that post at this link.) At the time, I promised that AFB had another great contribution waiting to be posted. Well, today's the day, folks! Courtesy of Albertsons Florida Blog, I am very happy to present to you the complete listing of Albertsons stores ever to operate in the entire Mid-South. Albertsons's definition of the Mid-South, as you'll see, is slightly different than the Mid-South Retail Blog's own (as seen in our logo); it encompasses the metropolitan areas of Nashville and Chattanooga, TN, for example, and not just that of Memphis. But Mid-South is what Albertsons called its division of stores in this region regardless, with all store numbers in the 4700s (hence the title of this post and the table mentioning the "4700 series"), so Mid-South it will remain.

Although we both worked together on it, as with the Albertsons in MS table, this table is mainly AFB's grand work; to be sure, he is the one who researched all of the stores, their store numbers, and their locations, and compiled them in this table. I am happy to say that I provided the detailed store history/info for all of the Memphis-area Seessel's stores therein, but once again, that column for the rest of the stores in the table was filled by AFB. Anyway, yes, you read that right: this table includes an extremely detailed history/info description for every single store! Anything you could possibly want to know about Albertsons's operations of these stores (and, in many cases, even more info about what has happened to them post-Albertsons) is in this table!

First, for those of you who are unfamiliar on the matter or simply would like a quick summary to refresh your memory, here is a brief history of Albertsons's operations in the Mid-South, taken from the chain's own 75th anniversary special publication:

"In the mid- to late '90s, Albertsons history is a mix of accomplishments and challenges. ... On the accomplishment side, in January 1998 Albertsons purchased Seessel Holdings Inc., the Memphis, Tenn.-based subsidiary of Bruno's Inc., operating 10 stores. Albertsons also purchased Seessel's central bakery and commissary that supplied the stores. Chairman and CEO Gary Michael called the deal 'a significant market entry opportunity for Albertsons....This transaction accelerates our entry into that marketplace by several years.' He added that the acquisition provided a foundation for Albertsons to grow in Memphis and surrounding areas. ...
"In July [1998], Albertsons agreed to acquire 14 operating stores and one under construction from Bruno's Inc. in connection with Bruno's bankruptcy filing. The stores were in Nashville and Chattanooga, Tenn., where Albertsons did not have stores. ...
"In January 2001, Albertsons eliminated its regional structure, moving to a divisional model, with 19 divisions. ... In April of 2001, Lawrence R. Johnston joined Albertsons as chairman and CEO. ... He oversaw a restructuring that during which 165 stores were closed in just a little more than a year. ... Soon after, [in 2002] Albertsons completely exited the New England market, as well as the Memphis and Nashville, Tenn., and Houston and San Antonio, Texas, areas. Capital raised from the sales was used to upgrade existing stores."

In essence, then, Albertsons regards their entire tenure in the Mid-South - which was no small operation, mind you; it encompassed a total of 38 stores throughout five states, one bakery/commissary, and several additional stores which were planned but never built - as worthy of only a few paragraphs in their entire corporate history. The 2000 closure of the Chattanooga-area stores doesn't even garner a mention, while the 2002 closure of the remainder of the 4700 division is spun into a positive as providing "capital [for the] upgrade [of] existing stores," without so much as blinking an eye at the devastation their departure caused the former employees and shoppers they left behind.

In other words, it's about time that Albertsons's Mid-South stores got some more attention. And Albertsons Florida Blog and I are proud to give them just that.

I've copied this next paragraph pretty much verbatim from the Albertsons in MS post because its message stands here as well: It is AFB's and my hope that this table will serve as a valuable, accurate, and composite resource for anyone interested in Albertsons's history in the Mid-South, whether they are former employees of the stores or just fans of retail. If you have any additional information, memories, or other comments regarding these stores that you'd like to share, please feel free to leave them in the designated area below this post! Or, alternatively (especially if you have photos or longer stories of your own that you'd like to share), you can always email me at midsouthretailblog [at] gmail [dot] com with those, as well as how you would like to be credited, and I will happily post them here on the blog. (You could even write your own contributor post, if you wish!)

So, here it is: please click this link to access the full Albertsons Mid-South Division Store List! As with last time, AFB and I have packed so much information into the table that it wouldn't fit properly on my blog template, haha, so he was kind enough to host it over at his blog (which you ought to check out while you're there, if you haven't already!). If, for whatever reason, that link doesn't work for you, and/or you'd rather view the table in image format, I have split the table into screenshots by division for your browsing pleasure. You may check out the separate screenshots (and posts, where applicable) for the Memphis-area Seessel's by Albertsons stores here; the Nashville-area Albertsons stores here; the Chattanooga-area Albertsons stores here; and the remaining three "outlier" Mid-South stores below.

Click image to enlarge. Note that the Cape Girardeau store was the only Albertsons-branded store ever to operate in the state of Missouri. (Albertsons's other operations in that state were under the Smitty's by Albertsons banner, another acquired chain.) Additionally, the Hot Springs store was one of only two Albertsons stores ever to operate in Arkansas, and the Tupelo store was one of only ten Albertsons stores ever to operate in Mississippi. In both of those states, they were each the only Mid-South (4700) division stores.

In initially sharing this project with me, Albertsons Florida Blog also provided some additional information about the division which did not wind up in the table itself, including a breakdown of Albertsons's numbering system for its Mid-South stores which you may find helpful. All of that is printed below.

"The Mid-South division was run out of Memphis (from Seessel's headquarters), and later opened a branch divisional office in Nashville. Most of the Mid-South division was built up through acquisitions (28 out of the 38 stores were acquired from others), which is a bit unusual for an Albertsons branded division. Anyway, here's a breakdown of the 4700 series:

4700 – Never existed (Albertsons never used the XX00 store numbers for some reason)
4701-4710 – The original batch of 10 Seessel’s stores when Albertsons acquired the chain in 1998
4711-4716 – Added/Replacement stores for Seessel’s during Albertsons’ ownership (with the exception of 4714, Tupelo)
4717-4719 – The three Memphis Jitney Jungle stores Albertsons purchased in 2000
4720-4723 – The Chattanooga area stores (all purchased from Bruno’s in 1998)
4724-4734 – The Nashville area stores. These were all former Bruno’s stores Albertsons purchased in 1998.
4735-4739 – Added/Replacement stores built by Albertsons around Memphis and Nashville
4740 – The Cape Girardeau, MO store
4741-4753 – Never used, as far as I know. This probably would have been for more stores throughout the division had it not been dissolved in 2002.
4754 – The Hot Springs, AR store."

To build off of what AFB wrote, I'll say that having the majority of the Mid-South Albertsons portfolio made up of acquired stores may well have accelerated the entire division's demise, unfortunately. And I agree with him in that "it's quite sad what happened to them" all, especially the Seessel's stores, since "Albertsons really invested a lot of money into [these stores]...only to give up on them after a few short years." My post from last summer, The Aftermath of Seessel's, details more about how Albertsons's sale of those stores was just one in a string of many unfortunate events to plague the once-beloved locally-owned Memphis grocer. Please feel free to visit that post at this link if you're interested in reading more about that topic.

Additionally, if you're interested in learning more about Albertsons in general, let me remind you that Albertsons Florida Blog is no stranger to compiling in-depth tables like this! As I noted in that Albertsons in MS post, he has a similar table to this Mid-South one covering the Florida Division stores that you can check out here. Also, blogger Psuedo3D's page here has even more information on several other Albertsons divisions.

I'm sure most of you stopped reading after I gave you the link to the table, lol, so I might as well wrap up this post now. Again, many, many thanks are in order to my friend Albertsons Florida Blog for creating, allowing me to edit and otherwise help in the production of, gifting to the Mid-South Retail Blog, and hosting on your own blog, this awesome table. It's an honor! From originally hoping to one day have simply a complete listing of all of the Seessel's stores (which, by the way, this table doubles as, at least from the years 1998 to 2002!), I've been met with so much more, and it was a great surprise at that. And for you, the readers: as I've said already, I sincerely hope that, whether you're a regular visitor of this blog or this table brought you here (and if it did, let me know, I'll be glad to hear it!), you'll enjoy the table's contents! It's my absolute pleasure to be able to share it with each and every one of you. :)

Okay, that's enough waxing poetic from me, haha! Be sure to check out the MSRB's newest sidebar tab (on the site's desktop version), titled "Tables," from here on out for quick access to this and all of the other tables I've had the privilege of posting (several more are to follow in the coming months, so stay tuned!). And as always, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

JCPenney Closing (Oxford Mall), Oxford, MS

Today's post highlights Lafayette County, MS, retail.
 
Hi all! For this post, we're taking a look at the first of three closing JCPenney stores to make it to the Mid-South Retail Blog. (The other two, of course, will be posted in the future.) All three stores are a part of the 138 JCPenney locations closing nationwide in 2017, and if they are any indication, many of the selected JCPs are smaller stores, in smaller communities, or both. All of the affected stores are scheduled to close at the end of this month - Monday, July 31st, 2017 - if not earlier, so there's still a little bit of time to get out to your local store if it's one of the ones closing.
  


Today's featured JCPenney is the Oxford, MS, store, at 1111 Jackson Avenue W. That's right - this is one of the anchors of the now-former Oxford Mall, making this post a continuation of sorts of my original one on the Oxford Mall from just a couple of weeks ago! As mentioned in that post, the Oxford Mall only had two anchor stores, Wal-Mart Discount City and JCPenney; when Wal-Mart moved out to a Supercenter down the road, the mall slowly died, leaving JCPenney and a 2005-opened Malco Cinema the only retail operating at the mall today. As a result, the fact that this store made JCP's corporate closing list early this year was not surprising. The University of Mississippi, located directly across the street, has slowly been converting the dead mall space on the former Wal-Mart end of the Oxford Mall into various college uses, so it's very likely that the same fate awaits this JCPenney once it bites the dust in the coming weeks.


Photo courtesy

All of my pictures of this store were taken on Thursday, April 13th, 2017. You can see that the store's exterior color scheme changed to red-on-tan soon after Ole Miss purchased the Oxford Mall, better reflecting the lighter wall paint the university applied to the property than JCPenney's original white-on-black look (as seen here in 2015 courtesy flickr user Mike Kalasnik). In my previous post on the Oxford Mall, I featured a photo from another flickr user which shows the original JCP paint scheme coupled with the mall's original design; click here to see that picture full-size.


That's enough background on this store - let's head inside!


Here's a shot to the right upon entering. We'll mostly be making a counterclockwise circuit around the store's racetrack before returning over to this side for a few extra photos at the very end of the post.


In the background of the previous photo, as well as closer-up and straight-on in the one directly above this comment, you can see the store's former entrance into the Oxford Mall inline corridor. I naturally gravitated toward this space, hoping to find the view into the mall open (if not the doors themselves, of course), but sadly the windows were covered up.


A look at the men's clearance department. I did a little bit of shopping here, and actually scored some really good, cheap deals. Funnily enough, though, this is before the liquidation even began! I was here just four days before the closing sale for all affected JCPenney stores was set to begin, April 13th as compared to the 17th. I wasn't necessarily expecting to see the closing signs hanging up yet, but you'll see them plastered all over the ceiling throughout this post. At the time, I just assumed that the store was already preparing for the liquidation which would begin in a few days' time. However...


...I came home to find out that the very next day, it was announced that all affected JCPenney stores had had their closing sales delayed; they were now to begin liquidating on May 22nd, 2017, with the closures pushed back from June 18th to July 31st. So I guess all these closing signs you're seeing here in Oxford must have been left hanging - literally and figuratively, haha - until the sale began!


The previous shot looked from the men's department clearance section back up toward the store's front entrance; here, that same front entrance is still visible in the background, but the focus has shifted backwards some in order to encompass the customer service desk set within the men's department. This checkout faces the store's former mall entrance.


The tiled portion of the walkway leading to said mall entrance was now home to additional merchandise (and likely had been ever since the interior of the Oxford Mall was closed to the public). On my visit, it was home to a few Disney toys. Word from my fellow flickrer and blogger Random Retail is that JCPenney will soon begin stocking a full toy department in its non-closing stores.


Headed toward the back right corner now, where we find an odd yet super-retro and cool-looking mirrored wall behind the children's department. If there was anything in here that undoubtedly pointed to this store opening in the 1980s, this was it for sure!


A look back toward the front, with more of the kids' department merchandise visible in the foreground here. This area housed clothes for boys, girls, and infants/toddlers.


This shot looks back along the racetrack toward the now-closed mall entrance. Tasteful way of covering it up, sure, but I was pretty disappointed to see this, especially for reasons I'll reveal later on in the post...


For now, we're continuing onward on our trek. Here's a closer look at the mirrored wall, which we see also contains an entrance into some fitting rooms. Totally 80s vibe! The fitting rooms signage looks like it hadn't been updated, either.


As we walk along the rear actionway, we enter the children's shoe (on the left) and women's lingerie/sleepwear (on the right) departments.


Further down the actionway (past additional women's clothing), a fork in the road arises! We will hang that left momentarily, but first we're going to keep going straight...


...after a quick shot looking down that fork in the actionway off to the left towards the front of the store...


...and another view back behind us across the rear actionway we just walked down, where some of that aforementioned women's clothing can be seen.


Finally making it to the back left corner of the store, we (sadly) find no matching mirrored wall over here, although that same dated tile and brown carpet are repeated. This area was home to bath...


...bedding (where we also see a tiled path to a presumed emergency exit carved into the carpet)...


...and luggage (whose display looks to have been in a rather sad shape, even before the liquidation began).


So here we are back at that fork in the road racetrack, where we again see a section of women's clothing. As is typical with a department store, a majority of the salesfloor seemed to be dedicated to women's clothing, but I didn't pay enough attention to the layout of the store to be able to tell you which section was juniors, which was plus size, petite, maternity, sportswear, etc.


The women's shoe department was located along the middle of the left-side wall of the store, separate from that of the children's shoe section which was closer to the back right corner. I don't recall seeing a dedicated men's shoe department, although it's possible the store carried some men's shoes somewhere.


A shot down the center actionway, which slices the store in half horizontally. As a matter of fact, there was another center actionway which divides the store vertically as well; at the intersection of both was the jewelry counter, seen here from afar.


Looking toward the back wall of the store from near women's shoes. The collective home department is visible in the background on the left.


The remainder of the women's department could be found occupying the front left corner of the store, which we're just stepping into in this photo. Looks like I found sportswear, at least: see the shelving on the wall on the left of the shot!


Here's a look over toward the front entrance and the customer service desk directly inside of it. This was probably the best shot I got of either, since these were the only registers open and most of the activity in the store was subsequently concentrated in this area.


From deeper in the women's department at the front left corner of the store, here's another shot looking back toward the front entrance. This wasn't the most modern-looking store, obviously, but it had a nice old-school charm to it.


To my surprise, women's clothing racks continued even beyond the designated carpeted area into this small hallway leading toward an exit on the left side of the store. Judging by the signage, JCPenney used this area to house their Red Zone Clearance merchandise...


...but its original purpose was to serve as the store's catalog package pick-up area! Here you can see the likely-original wooden desk setup still intact, albeit devoid of computers or employees. There was one employee in the room visible through that cubbyhole in the wall, however.


An old wooden door on the left side of the hallway denotes additional offices. The restrooms and water fountains were located on this side of the hallway, too.


Another look at the wooden desk. I was fascinated by this area, as you can probably tell. I love finding retail relics, after all! Note the phones on the wall and the lightboxes housing JCP.com posters (not their original advertisements, of course).


One last view down the catalog package pick-up corridor. I liked this shot in particular, what with the natural light streaming in from the exterior entrance illuminating all the old-school goodies like that desk and the tube TV/security camera in the top right.


Back out of that hallway and reentering the higher-ceilinged main salesfloor now, where we're looking toward the women's fitting rooms in the front left corner. These appear to have gotten an updated sign in recent years, unlike the fitting rooms back in the children's department.


Speaking of the children's department, its mirrored wall is visible once more in the back right of this pic, as we take a look from the front of the store toward the aforementioned jewelry counter at the intersection of the two cross-floor actionways.


Here's a shot of a purse display diagonal from the jewelry counter. Purses and additional accessories were housed immediately around the jewelry counter, near the center of the store.  I like how the tall, built-in white shelving units are shaped to mimic the angled design of the jewelry counter.


A blurry view from that same vantage point, turned around and facing the front of the store. As you can well see, we've made it back over to the men's department...


...and the front right corner of the store for a few additional views we didn't see our first time around, including this one looking down the front actionway toward the store's main entrance.

 
A similar photo to the previous, this time just including the liquidation signage hanging from the ceiling. As I said earlier, putting these signs up was premature on JCPenney's part, but may well have been a marketing ploy whereby JCP corporate or this location's managers (whichever party made the decision) assumed hanging these signs prior to the closure would drive up sales in the interim before the true sale began. I'll give credit where credit's due, that's smart thinking - and, assuming it was indeed something done chainwide, it must have been effective, too, since increased sales at its 138 affected locations following the initial closing announcement is what drove JCPenney to delay the liquidation dates for those stores!
 
 
Angled slightly more to the right for this shot, which is otherwise admittedly not much different from the previous two. Though the store wasn't that busy on my visit regardless, I appear to have been taking advantage of the people-free situation around me at this point, haha!
 
 
Finally shifting completely to the right for this picture, where we can see back into the mirrored-wall children's department and the former mall entrance in front of that. Looks like I've also managed to locate the store's selection of men's shoes after all!


Given that I found some clothes to purchase (as mentioned earlier in the post), I had to try them on - and, naturally, figured why not take some photos of the fitting rooms? The men's fitting rooms were located in the front right corner of the store - just like women's were in the front left, and children's in the back right.

 
More or less a random shot here, but I decided not to cut it anyway. You're looking at one of the pin holders in one of the individual dressing rooms. No explicit JCPenney branding here, but it still looks like their font. I'm unsure if this would've been original to the store, though.
 

As a matter of fact, I'm unsure if anything about these fitting rooms were original to the store per se, but they sure look it! The simplicity and really plain colors, as well as wooden doors and hanging racks, certainly don't match the more modern materials and colors used in stores these days.

 
Outside of the fitting rooms and looking straight down the store's right-side wall: another shot similar to one shown earlier in this post. Can't believe I didn't notice that small area of mirrored wall (just to the right of the mall entrance) here in the men's department any earlier! I wonder if the entire store was paneled like that once upon a time - boy, that would've been something else, I bet!
 

For this photo we've moved into the center horizontal actionway, and are looking straight-on at the former mall entrance one last time. There's definitely a light source out there, illuminating the frosted glass window panels, so I moved a little closer to see if I could get any peeks through the glass before leaving the store altogether. And thankfully...


...getting so close allowed me to notice a slight crack between the panels where two of them weren't completely connected to each other, which in turn let me capture this brief glimpse into the former mall corridor! It's not much, but it's enough to see a whole lot of boxes stacked immediately in front of the former mall entrance. You can also see the inside of the same fence visible in this photo, taken through the Oxford Mall's shuttered left-side entrance right beside this store.

Photo courtesy
 
For an idea of what this corridor looked like before it was covered up, it's Mike Kalasnik again to the rescue! As with before, this photo comes from April 2015, so the work done to hide this view into the mall corridor must've been carried out fairly recently, and almost certainly by Ole Miss rather than JCPenney judging by the fact that the latter seemed content with leaving this view visible (if not accessible) to the public for a number of years after the mall itself closed up shop. I'd be interested to know if the mall interior's JCPenney sign is still hanging up above this entrance!
 

Returning our focus to what we can see with no effort (as opposed to that inline mall corridor!), here we've turned around and are looking once more at the customer service counter facing the former mall entrance. I liked how this shot turned out as well. Makes a lot of difference not having the signage blurred by extreme glare from a spotlight, lol!


Back at the front for a couple more photos while I checked out and prepared to leave. Above, as well as below, we're looking into the women's department at the front left corner of the store one final time, with the catalog package pick-up hallway visible in each picture.


Another reason JCPenney may have decided to hang these store closing signs all across the salesfloor earlier than the liquidation sale truly began might be because they were looking to capitalize on the crowds liquidations tend to bring in. Yes, that argument sounds very similar to what I posited earlier, but what I'm trying to say here is, I believe how store closures work is that all of the store's merchandise becomes property of the liquidator on the day the sale begins, and as a result, all profits made during the liquidation go not to the store but instead to the party overseeing its closure. By hanging these signs up early (and then delaying the sales, of course), JCPenney may have been looking to earn some of those profits for itself before turning everything over to their liquidators. But again, I'm not 100% sure if that's how things work; I've just heard or read that somewhere in the past.


Finally from the interior, our parting view is (ironically) what others see first when entering the store's vestibule, a three-tiered promotional sign holder stand now displaying three of those infamous red and yellow liquidation posters. On the plus side (or, more accurately, "the bright side"), the natural light that this many-windowed vestibule let into the store was very neat!


Back outside again for several more exterior shots. This first one attempts to take a straight-on look at the entryway façade, but I screwed it up with that tree on the left... :/



Here are a couple of better shots, angled from some different directions. There was an interesting mix of mature shrubbery and... well... dead nothingness over here. I imagine the former dates back to the Oxford Mall days, while the latter is a result of Ole Miss likely not wanting to pay exorbitant landscaping expenses on this property since they're using it as a commuter parking lot.


 
Speaking of which: here are a couple of shots of how the parking lot is divided between the university's Park-N-Ride system and regular mall customers, dubbed "commercial parking" here. The white spaces - which take up the majority of the parking lot, of course - belong to the former party, while the comparatively few yellow spaces belong to customers of the Malco and soon-to-be-former JCPenney.

 
 
 
With this 33,796 square foot space now set to become empty in a matter of weeks, it'll be interesting to see how it is utilized in the future. As mentioned before, a very good possibility is that Ole Miss will absorb the space into its "Jackson Avenue Center," the collective name it has given to its operations out of the former Wal-Mart building and mall corridor at the other end of the complex (again, more on that in my original Oxford Mall blog post at this link). My personal theory on how this space could be better reused and remain in the retail realm, however, is that Target could move in. These days they seem to be focusing on their "flex" stores anyway (for those who are unfamiliar with the concept, this mainly involves renovating existing structures into smaller-format Target stores rather than building their heretofore traditional brand-new, large-format stores), and a Target store in Oxford would almost certainly perform well, given the college crowd composed of students from all over the country who likely are used to having, and shopping at, Target stores near them. In fact, there are several posts online from people begging for a Target in Oxford, and this location right across from the university is definitely a prime spot. But then again, the Oxford Mall surely thought the same thing and wound up failing, and given the retail expansion all along Jackson Avenue in recent years, if Target really wanted to open a store in Oxford, they've already had several chances in which they could've feasibly done so. But it's worth throwing out there as an idea nonetheless. If you know me, you know I'm always speculating about how to recycle shuttered stores into new ones, regardless of whether it actually comes true, haha!
 



Along the side of the building (after rounding that front left corner seen in the previous set of photos) is JCP's auxiliary entrance (into that little hallway shown earlier), complete with seemingly-miniature versions of the façade overhang and building signage as seen on the front of the store (although the latter is not set onto the former over on this side, as opposed to the setup on the true storefront itself).



At the very back of the JCPenney, I grabbed these two photos. The first shows one of two old package pick-up signs on this side of the store, as well as a view into the property in the background. There's a rather severe dip in elevation back there, but it appears that some developers might be trying to make something of it - or at least, there was definitely some work taking place there on my April 13th visit. Then, the second shot looks into the small parking lot along the side of the JCPenney building. As I recall, this lot looked mostly untouched by Ole Miss, as opposed to the main mall parking lot in front of the complex. This may have been exclusively reserved for commercial parking, in fact, although if it turned out that there were also Park-N-Ride spaces over here it wouldn't surprise me.




A few shots looking back up along the store's left-side wall as we move on over that way again, including the last one zoomed-in to show the Ole Miss water tower in the background.



Here's a close-up of the surviving JCPenney Catalog Package Pick-up sign beside its designated entrance on this side of the store, as well as the second of those two street signs advertising the same thing.

 
I was pretty proud of this shot, showing a close-up of the smaller JCPenney sign with the clouds reflecting on it :)  I definitely like the red logo and tan paint better on this building than that white logo/black paint scheme shown at the top of this post...


 
Some final, drawn-back exterior shots encompassing the entire store as viewed from the parking lot...


 ...and last but not least, the top of my receipt from this visit, for posterity. (Again - yes, those prices were prior to the liquidation!)

Well, sayonara to the Oxford JCPenney; I sincerely hope that all of the store's employees are able to find work elsewhere soon, or else receive generous retirement packages. This post also marks the conclusion of my two-part series on the Oxford Mall, which I suppose we can also say "sayonara" to with this store's closure given that it was the last original store from the mall remaining in operation... :(

...A sad ending to this post for sure, but to put you in higher spirits: until next time (which I promise to be a really great post!), have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell