Friday, July 3, 2020

Contributor Post: Kroger Remodel(s) in Madison, MS


This July, I'm happy to be sharing with you all some images kindly sent in to our MSRB inbox by friend of the blog, publisher73. publisher73 is a frequent reader and commenter from Mississippi who is also a self-described "Kroger loyalist/nut," which means he's in very good company here!

It's been quite some time since I've shared much in the way of image-based Kroger content with y'all, so it's probably about time that I got around to doing so again. I have a confession to make, though: I'm not the biggest fan of my "O Kroger, Where Art Thou?" décor directory posts; those were among my earliest publications on the blog, and I like to think that my writing style has improved significantly since that time. By the same token, however, because of their inseparability from this blog's origins, I recognize the importance of those posts to the blog; and I also, of course, am more invested than ever in keeping track of Kroger's décor packages. Which, again, is why I'm happy that publisher73's photos -- and, by extension, today's post -- provide critical updates in that arena.

At the time I shared those original Kroger décor directory posts five years ago, the current package was, without a doubt, Bountiful -- what you're more apt to see referred to as "2012 décor." The package garnered the 2012 moniker from the Mid-South flickr gang, who dubbed it as such upon first encountering it in our region in that same year... but in fact, the package debuted as early as 2009, meaning it had a good, long lifespan until its retirement sometime in the mid-2010s.

Bountiful/2012 Décor

One reason I dislike a lot of my earlier writings on Kroger is that I slammed the Bountiful/2012 décor package quite a bit. In reality, I think it's actually a very nicely-designed, cohesive look; I love its attention to detail, and honestly I think it's Kroger's best design in modern history (even if it's not my personal favorite -- I'm not sure which décor gets that honor, actually. It seems to vary daily!). Truthfully, the only reason I hated on it so much is because so many Kroger stores locally seemed to be remodeling to it at an unbelievably fast speed; in effect, I was mad not at 2012 itself, but rather the fact that its rollout was, on the flip side of the coin, eliminating so many other, older décor packages that had had the good luck to survive up to that point. (The Southaven Bauhaus Kroger and Horn Lake Neon Kroger both come to mind.) publisher73 agrees: "I remember thinking that every store in the company was going to end up with that package since it seemed so prevalent." Now, sadly, nearly all of those older décor packages were simply and unceremoniously being wiped away in favor of achieving a largely homogeneous store base.

As I said, though, Bountiful was finally retired not too long into my stay on flickr; if I'm not mistaken, the Truse Parkway Kroger, which held its grand reopening in January 2016, was the last store in the Memphis metro area to remodel to 2012 décor. A few short months later in 2016, a new package popped up on the RetailWatchers radar: internally known as "Neighborhood," but what we now like to call "Fresh and Local." After its major remodel spree in the years prior, Kroger Delta Division understandably seemed to take a break from remodels for a span, meaning it took a little while before Fresh and Local appeared here in the Mid-South... but finally the Memphis metro got its first F&L remodel in the summer of 2017, with the Millington Kroger. Additional remodels took place in the months and years to follow.

Fresh and Local Décor

Then, curiously, in the winter of 2017 (carrying over into 2018), another décor package was introduced to the mix when the Trinity Commons store adopted the Marketplace décor during its remodel. That décor, too, has had quite the lifespan, dating back at least to, incidentally, the year 2012 (if not a while even before that; I honestly have no clue when it debuted). It is known officially as "Banner" décor, but we prefer to call it "Marketplace" simply because it was reserved for use only in Kroger Marketplace stores. Until, that is, the Trinity Commons remodel evidently proved otherwise! Thus far, only one other non-Marketplace Kroger in the Memphis area has remodeled to Marketplace décor, but Kroger Delta Division has used the package in many other "regular" Kroger stores throughout its region, namely a number of stores in central Mississippi. (Likewise, Fresh and Local seems to have more prevalence in Kroger Delta's Arkansas stores, although it is growing in number in and around Memphis, too.)

Marketplace Décor

Remodels featuring both the Fresh and Local and Marketplace décor packages (to non-Marketplace stores) continue as we speak; in fact, I've found evidence that two Kroger Delta store remodels scheduled for later in 2020 will, respectively, feature those two designs. After historically having one (and only one) current interior décor design, you may think it strange for Kroger to be using two simultaneously. But here's the kicker: it's not just two. Indeed, as a matter of fact Kroger -- at the time of this writing -- has no fewer than five current décor packages. All going on at once, and with little to no obvious indications as to how which stores are selected to receive which package. It's a lot to try to keep up with, and certainly a lot more complicated than the days when every remodel was infallibly known to lead to Bountiful!

It may not be a traditional "décor directory" post, but I'll be sure to cover all of Kroger's current, myriad looks before the end of today's entry. First, though, we need to jump into the store publisher73 aims to shed a light on... and to do that, we need to briefly travel back in time all the way to the beginnings of Bountiful décor.

--------------------------------------------------

The store publisher73 has sent in images of is Kroger V-492, located at 1070 Hwy 51 in Madison, MS, just north of the state capital of Jackson. Perhaps fortuitously, this is the exact same Kroger that I got a handful of photos at earlier this year; so since I have some pre-remodel pics, I thought I would go ahead and share those first so that we would have a basis for comparison.




When I say "a handful of photos," be warned that I really do mean only five or six; and more than half of those, you'll see, are solely of the store's exterior. There are two reasons for this: one, the store was insanely busy, and I hate trying to get interior pictures when a place is so crowded. And two, the primary reason: just look at this store's architecture!! The Madison Hwy 51 Kroger is like a legitimate castle. It's mind-blowing.

To be honest, I don't think I would like seeing this every day if this were to become my "regular" Kroger, but I've got to admit that its unusual look is definitely unique and fun to experience in person at least once. The massive façade here actually reminded me a bit of the eccentric buildings and architectural styles famously found in touristy places like Branson, MO. Madison's buildings aren't quite on that level of eccentricity, but they do all feature very fancy, often custom designs. More examples can be seen via a quick Google Images search.



By comparison, the interior of the store was significantly less over-the-top, although that doesn't mean it wasn't special. Clearly, since I've been alluding to it so much, there must be something worth discussing here! And hopefully the above two pictures, the lone interior shots I got of this store, are enough to help you realize the significance.

Figured it out yet? Pay close attention to the department signs. There are two major aspects that are different from what we normally see. First, the colors: usually meat & fish gets the darker basket sign, and bakery a lighter one. Here, they're swapped. (Probably for good reason, too -- a darker sign for the bakery might give the impression of burnt bread, and that's never good.)

Second, look at the size of the signs themselves: the "basket lids," as I like to call them, are significantly longer than what we're used to seeing. That is, the upper parts of the signs stretch out from the wall much further than is typical in most Bountiful/2012 décor remodels. The longer basket signs, my friends, are a hallmark of what I call "Early 2012" décor. From what I've been able to ascertain, only the earliest installations of this design used such department signs. Below, you'll find a side-by-side comparison of the Madison store's deli sign (sourced from Google Maps) and a typical later 2012 décor deli sign (sourced from SeekingAlpha).

I tried to find two shots that match up as evenly as possible. You can see from the blue lines at the bottom that the bases of the basket signs are in the same position in both photos. Up top, the two pairs of lines show the distance from the top of the leftmost protrusion of the "basket lid" to the bottom of the rightmost one for each deli sign. On the left (the outer lines, in red) is the "Early Bountiful" sign, and on the right (the inner lines, in gold) is the regular Bountiful sign. Hopefully, even without the lines, you're able to tell just from looking at both pics side-by-side that the "basket lid" is much longer on the sign on the left.

I'm not sure how long, exactly, this early variation of Bountiful décor was in use; for all I know, it could have been used for a number of years, seeing as how (as I mentioned) the package existed for several years before it was discovered in the Memphis area, and the "2012" name took off. In any case, here in the Memphis area, there seems to be only one store with this version of the décor -- located on Stage Road, in Bartlett -- and I have to imagine that that was the first location locally to receive this package. This Madison store opened with this look in 2011 (more on that later), and by the 2013 opening of the Poplar Plaza store in Memphis, the design had been revised to the typical, shorter basket signs we all know and love. (Of note, there are also many additional elements that have changed in this package over the years -- such as décor-specific gooseneck signs, and hanging lanterns to match the light boxes on the walls -- but that's too much both to delve into here and to keep track of in general!)

One more parting shot of the Madison Hwy 51 Kroger, pre-remodel, for good measure. Incidentally, this photo shows the exact same two signs seen in my images -- meat & fish, and bakery, both off in the background. Courtesy Google Maps

--------------------------------------------------

I've been eager to talk about Early Bountiful/2012 for quite some time (likely exacerbated since this pandemic is preventing me from visiting that Bartlett store, which I've wanted to do for a while), so I thank you for indulging me there. But you and I both know that that's not what you came to read this post for. You're here to see publisher73's remodel images, and to learn more about one of Kroger's newest, current décor packages, not some obscure early variation of a now-former one. I hear you. So without any further delay, let's jump right in to publisher73's pics.


These first two pictures come from early March 2020, very shortly after my most recent visit to this store, in fact. publisher73 writes, This was taken after the walls had been painted and was the first hint of what the new package would look like. Be sure to note that this store's solution to providing temporary department signage during the remodel was to take the existing hanging curved rails from the basket signs and suspend them from the ceiling (see the tail end of "bakery," top left of the image). Very resourceful!


This wood paneling effect had just been finished; prior to this that area and the space above luncheon meats had been painted a deep blue, which is what originally led me to suspect the Marketplace package was going to be used (that and that the fact it has appeared at three other metro area stores in the couple of years.) I hated to see the mosaic pattern in the bakery and meat departments disappear; I thought it was really cool. The back wall of the meat area is now a vivid blue brick pattern, evident in an upcoming photo.

The deep blue paint color publisher73 is referring to ought still to be present above the Choice Cuts department nearby.


We move to June 2020 for this and all but one of the remaining photos. You can see the dairy department signage in this pic. publisher73 says, I'm ambivalent about this new design in general, but this particular area just says "1980" to me. Undeniably the store's color scheme inside is much brighter.

I have to agree; even when I had little evidence to go off of, what I saw made me feel that Artisan wasn't going to be a décor package I particularly cared for. At least the dairy department here in this Madison store looks better than it does in some others I've seen online. In those other stores, the dairy sign doesn't have that herringbone pattern wood background element at all; instead, the "DAIRY" letters are simply stuck on the empty wall space. Which brings us to the next couple of pictures...



...lots and lots of empty wall space. The top image takes a look at the lunch meats department, while the bottom one is from the back wall in dairy (separate from the department sign we've seen already). I found it very surprising that so much of this package is simply a bland-colored, off-white, empty wall with a black stripe above it. Very boring, in my opinion. Especially compared to plenty of Kroger's other décor packages that seem to have put in much more effort to occupy the sometimes vast stretches between primary department signs.

What's more is that those silhouettes you see filling up the otherwise-empty space aren't even an official part of the Artisan décor package. Here's what publisher73 had to say about them: This is part of the package that I really don't care for. The random silhouettes would make more sense to me if they were somehow specific to Madison County or Mississippi in general. As they are here, they just look kind of chintzy and say "Piggly Wiggly" to me for some reason. Honestly, the dog is the only one I can say I truly like. 

His sentence about how the silhouettes aren't specific to Madison was probably more spot-on than he realized. You see, back in March, I had the opportunity to visit the Kroger at Houston Levee and Winchester in Collierville, TN, and photographed the results of its recent remodel to Urban Mix décor (which, by the way, makes four out of the five current décor packages!). While there, I (and l_dawg2000, before me) discovered these same silhouettes in the dairy department. Not just "the same" as in "the same in concept"... "the same" as in "the exact same." See below.


The above two images (with the yellow walls) come from a Collierville, TN, Kroger, not the Madison store.

As you can see, the Collierville store features the exact same symphony, train, house, and lightpost silhouettes. (It looks like Madison switched out Collierville's gazebo for the dog and his/her human.) When I first encountered these in the Collierville store, I knew that the silhouettes, as with Artisan, were not an official part of the Urban Mix décor package... but I at least assumed that their inclusion meant that the figures had been chosen because they have some relevance or significance to Collierville. Helping that assumption was the fact that, next to the symphony silhouette, the word collage background (which actually is truly customized for Collierville) does indeed reference a local symphony (see the top left of the image).

However, seeing publisher73's images proved once and for all that, in fact, the silhouettes are not chosen due to having any local significance. Rather, the Kroger Delta Division has simply been placing them in some of their recent remodels regardless of their relevance. In response to hearing this news, publisher73 wrote back, Thanks for sending these images. Very interesting. I hope I warm to the silhouettes; I guess I just don't like the ones they chose. The symphony, in particular, feels like something in a school auditorium or community music hall. ... I think they look better in the Collierville store, frankly.

I tend to agree with publisher73 here. Not only is it disheartening to see that the silhouettes are generic, but like him I also find them a bit tacky in design. Similarly, I agree that they look better in the Collierville store. That said, though, remember what I said earlier about the Artisan décor package having a lot of plain, empty wall space? It's worth noting that if the silhouettes were not installed in the Madison store, those two images that publisher73 provided would feature nothing but blank space between the vertical-oriented wayfinder signs. So, perhaps it's better to have the silhouettes present after all.

I'm ambivalent about the markers for yogurt here, as well as for eggs, butter, etc. elsewhere, publisher73 opined. But, yeah, that wall would be extremely dull in white with only the vertical signage. 


Thankfully, the décor starts to pick up a bit more in the next images. In this image of the meat and seafood department, publisher73 writes, you can see the blue brick pattern. I think it's attractive, but I also think I like the grey brick pattern above the frozen seafood cases more. But, no question the blue gives the area some much needed depth of color to contrast all the white and wood paneling in the rest of the store.


Indeed, the Artisan décor package is very heavy on its wood paneling. Yet more of this can be seen in publisher73's photo of the neighboring bakery and deli departments, shown above. Something else to note here is that the trusses (?) to/from which the department names are affixed are all installed in different arrangements -- compare the bakery, to the deli, to meat and seafood. At least that gives the package some visual interestingness here in the service department area of the salesfloor.

The Oxford, MS, Kroger is also currently remodeling to this package, simultaneous with a store expansion. Unfortunately, the deli, bakery, and meat and seafood department signs are significantly more curtailed in design in that store, even though (for all intents and purposes) those departments are in a new-build Kroger.


Health and beauty presents us with Another trip to 1980, according to publisher73. Yeah... I definitely have to concur on that one! Between the blank walls in over half of the salesfloor to the... interesting... sign you see here, Artisan certainly has some unusual color choices.

As always, I'm curious to hear your opinion on the design of this new décor package. If you've got any thoughts, please drop them in the comments below.


Up next is a view of the pet section, where we also get a look at the signage used for all interior departments. Aisle markers, I believe, are redressed but physically same from prior packages. publisher73 is correct about the aisle markers -- at least reusing the existing aisle markers, just with new skins, is a good way not to waste materials during a remodel.

Note that the style of these signs is, like the ones we've seen on the perimeter walls, funky, wood-laden, and fairly reminiscent of the 80s. The picture inserts are a new and unusual element, too. (Perhaps a callback to the days of photo-insert aisle markers? Having Artisan take inspiration from the 80s would be an interesting parallel to the way Bountiful quite obviously seemed to pay homage to the "superstore" décor of the 70s...)


publisher73 wraps up his June 2020 photos with this shot of the beverages department. I may be wrong, but this department seems larger than before and takes up no fewer than four complete aisles right at the front. Another look at the department signage and aisle markers, as well as the very white front wall.

In the distance, you can see a square green sign with the text "MADISON MISSISSIPPI," which is cool. Also, in the pets picture shown previously, if you zoom in you can make out the "Thank you for shopping MADISON Kroger" sign. Note that the Kroger logo there is the chain's new logo, which has very quickly begun rolling out to stores chainwide (especially those being remodeled).


Last but not least, publisher73 shares with us a pic of the store's pharmacy department, taken in July (so, just a few days ago!). As you can see, it uses a gray paneling (or bead board) type design with blue (and black) lettering.

As I shared earlier, not to put words in his mouth, but publisher73's consensus seems to be a lot like mine... that this new décor package falls flat in some areas. Speaking of the meat and seafood counter, he writes, I do like the blue tile because it's really the one true "burst of color" in the store. As we've seen, so much else in this package is either empty or almost even dated-feeling.

So that you can get a better feel for just how much of this décor is based on a minimal use of color, below I've included the interior décor elevations for this store's remodel. Again, note that the silhouettes are not included, as they are not an official element of Artisan décor.





The final image you see above -- the nighttime exterior shot -- is one last image that I took of the Madison Hwy 51 Kroger. But it's not this post's last nighttime exterior shot of this site...

--------------------------------------------------


Remember how, much earlier in this post, I mentioned that the Madison Hwy 51 Kroger opened with its Early Bountiful décor in 2011, then promised that I'd give more details later? Well, here are those details. While the specific castle-looking store you just saw did indeed open in 2011, it was not, in fact, the first Kroger store to stand on that property. Previously, there was an existing, smaller Kroger building, that was torn down and then rebuilt into the store that stands on the site today. Thanks again to publisher73, we're now getting a brief look at that old store, just shy of a decade after its demolition.


publisher73 wrote of the current (2020) remodel, Actually, I'm surprised that our Kroger was redesigned now; it still seems "new" to me. It was built in '11 after they tore down the original Kroger here that was built in the early 90s. It was originally true Neon, but was Millennium by the time I moved to town in 06. I've attached a couple of low-rez (sad) photos I captured on my last night to shop in the store (January 4, 2011) before it closed. I then shopped across town at the Kroger at Colony Crossing for a year while they rebuilt this one. 

This WLBT story also has some details on the replacement store, which opened in October 2011. At the time, it was the largest Kroger in Mississippi!


I'm very grateful to be seeing these photos, and I'm sure you guys are, too! So thanks again to publisher73 for sharing this great content with us today.

As I said, publisher73 has commented here on the blog before, and has mentioned that he lived in Olive Branch (and shopped almost exclusively at that Kroger) for a couple of years before moving to Madison. So, in regards to the store pictured: My store in Madison, while Millennium when I arrived, was laid out almost to the exact same specs as the store in Olive Branch, which was true Neon at the time. So when I moved here, even the merchandise was in the same general spots. So it just looked like "my" store had been redecorated. Pretty fun coincidence!


The Olive Branch store that publisher73 mentions started out, like Madison, with Neon décor, but skipped over a Millennium décor remodel in favor of Script décor a little later on in the 2000s. Then, in late 2012/early 2013, it was remodeled to Bountiful décor (and I think it was this particular remodel that gave that package its "2012 décor" nickname, even). As of last year, it has finally been remodeled again, this time to Fresh and Local décor. Both l_dawg2000 and I have albums of the Olive Branch Kroger on flickr; you can view his here, and mine here. (I'll get to posting my Fresh and Local post-remodel pics soon enough...)

The Horn Lake Neon store, which publisher73 also mentioned in our emails (as both OB and HL started out as identical twins), retained its Neon décor all the way up until its own Bountiful décor remodel in late 2014/early 2015. And most of the other Neon-build Krogers in Memphis seem to have skipped over Millennium and remodeled straight to Script décor. So, about the only Neon-turned-Millennium stores that I personally am familiar with are the stores on Barnes Crossing in Tupelo, and in Starkville. (And of course, having been all around Mississippi, publisher73 said he's had experience with that Starkville Kroger as well!)


Finally, here's one more pic of the former Neon-turned-Millennium, original Madison Kroger, on one of its final days in operation before being demolished and replaced with the current, much grander Hwy 51 store. In the photos you've seen above, we've toured the produce department and perishables grand aisle (with the bakery and deli service departments, leading to meat and seafood in the back right corner); the first inner aisle of the store (which curiously appears to have been signed as Aisle 2); and the rear wall, not to mention the classy exterior as well (in the very first photo). Now, in the last pic above, is an overview of the left half of the store as viewed from near the pharmacy in the front left corner. The floral island can also be seen.

--------------------------------------------------

You might think that this post would stop there, but nope, we're gonna keep on chugging! You may have caught a brief mention of a second Kroger store in Madison earlier, when publisher73 said that, during the Hwy 51 Kroger's rebuild, he shopped across town at the Colony Crossing Kroger. Seeing as how Hwy 51 was rebuilt, Colony Crossing is now technically the older of the two buildings, but as far as the properties themselves go, Kroger has occupied the Hwy 51 site for longer. Colony Crossing had Script décor as of earlier this year, and I assume it opened with that package as well. Below, you'll find a handful of photos of that store, a mix of my own and of some sourced from Google Maps (which are credited accordingly).

As I said earlier, all buildings in Madison have fancy architecture; that holds true at the Colony Crossing Kroger, even if it's nowhere near as over-the-top as the Hwy 51 Kroger. Courtesy Google Maps

Unlike Hwy 51, Colony Crossing's Kroger is a "reversed" store, meaning produce and deli/bakery are on the left. I entered on the right, to frozen and pharmacy.

This has nothing to do with this image, but while I was at this store, I saw Barbie Bassett. (Something that actually does have to do with this image: somehow, this store actually managed to keep the little dot over the "i" in "Dairy"!)

Note the aisle markers hailing from Marketplace décor, obviously installed more recently than the wall graphics.

I always love seeing local flair on the walls!

The grand aisle of the store was busy on my visit here, so I didn't get any photos of my own. But these ones I found on Google are thankfully very nice! Courtesy Google Maps

Note how, in addition to the primary "Bakery & Deli" sign seen in the previous image, there are also two secondary, separate "Bakery" (previous image) and "Delicatessen" (above) signs. Courtesy Google Maps

Produce has two signs as well -- "Fresh Produce" (primary) and simply "Produce" (secondary). Courtesy Google Maps

The reason I bring up this other Madison Kroger -- besides using this post as a conduit to share my own photos of the place, like I did the Hwy 51 store! -- is because it, too, is scheduled to be remodeled in the future. In fact, its remodel will coincide with a brief expansion, to boot. Below you can see the site plan (with the expansion areas circled), as well as architectural renderings of the new exterior design. Kroger is accomplishing this expansion by taking over space previously occupied by some neighboring strip center tenants, which have since vacated.




I don't think the colors in this rendering are entirely accurate, but you get the gist.


The above schematic shows what will be the store's new layout post-remodel and expansion. Obviously, it's difficult to point out what will be different without having the ability to truly show its current layout, but perhaps the biggest change that should be easily evident is the relocation of the produce department away from the front left corner, to a spot that's approximately straight ahead when you enter the store through its main (left-side) vestibule. If you divide the above image into fourths, a majority of the leftmost one-fourth will be entirely new square footage gained from the expansion.





Last but not least from this store, as I did with the Hwy 51 remodel, above you'll find that I've shared the Colony Crossing Kroger's interior décor elevations. And like Hwy 51, this store, too, will be getting Artisan décor. I'm sure publisher73 will be on the lookout for the upcoming changes to this Kroger!

--------------------------------------------------

For the final section of this post, it's time, as promised, to recap the five décor packages Kroger has going on concurrently right now. I already showed y'all the "trading cards" for both Fresh and Local and Marketplace décor at the top of this post. We've seen enough of Artisan that I can share that one without any further explanation, too.

Artisan Décor

Unlike all the other ones, of the images in this collage, only one is mine; two more are publisher73's, and the final two are sourced from flickr. In the dairy department photo at the bottom left, note the lack of a herringbone pattern wood background, which I referenced earlier in this post.

Urban Mix Décor

Next up is Urban Mix, which I've also already mentioned in this post. Note that I put that little ampersand symbol as the image in the center. The ampersand hails from Kroger's failed Main & Vine experiment up in Washington state, and, interestingly, can be found in both Artisan and Urban Mix. Because of this, I kept confusing the two whenever I saw photos of them, at first. But now, knowing that Urban Mix is considerably more colorful (even if the colors are on the darker range of the spectrum) than Artisan, I won't be making that mistake again!

Thankfully, my pal Northwest Retail documented Main & Vine on his blog before the concept went away; you can check out his coverage at this link. To make matters even more confusing, the décor in that store looks a lot like a combination of elements that later were allocated without overlap between Urban Mix and Artisan!

2012: The Remix Décor

The fifth and final décor package that Kroger is using currently might look very familiar in a lot of ways... it's just a Remix on Bountiful! Seriously -- all it involves is removing the existing décor lettering, and repainting the walls. Even the bones of the basket signs remain. You can also see that the radiating elements of the produce department sign remain, while the circular "the garden" sign itself is removed and replaced. The product images and light boxes are similarly reskinned, but otherwise left alone.

It's a very confusing décor package, in the sense that I don't understand why so much effort had to be made to keep the Bountiful stuff partially intact. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments, but to me, this looks cheap. And if it was going to look cheap anyway, I don't see why the basket signs had to remain. Honestly, I feel that the basket signs remaining makes the "package" look even cheaper than it would with the new letters just stuck straight on the wall instead. Especially when the sign installation crews often get the letters horrendously off-center on the basket signs! (I've spared you images of that in the collage, but trust me, it's very common.)

Now, in fairness, I do think that the actual design here has promise. But the execution simply falls flat. From what I've found, Kroger internally calls this look a "paint and putty update" to Bountiful, meaning all that's required to complete the remodel are, well, paint and putty. If that doesn't say "economical," I don't know what does. That all but confirms that even Kroger sees this package as cheap, in my mind.

But, hey -- with five décor packages going on all at once, no wonder one of them is cheap; I certainly can't blame them for that! In truth, every one of the décor packages Kroger is currently using seems to be on a different level of "prestige," so to speak, although I honestly have no clue if Kroger sees it that way or, even if they do, if that plays a role in how they choose which décor package to remodel a store with. In fact, my friend Albertsons Florida Blog has suggested that "giving the store manager a series of pictures and asking him to pick the décor he likes best" might be the main method of decision making! Again, a far cry from the days of the Bountiful/2012 décor remodel rampage... even if it makes me sad now to see that package on its way out the door. But whatever the criteria are, having five décor packages at once certainly is good for one thing -- keeping things interesting!

--------------------------------------------------

That'll do it for this hybrid contributor/feature post. I hope you enjoyed going with me on a long and winding ride exploring lots of different Kroger décors, and thanks again to publisher73 for sending in his images of the Hwy 51 Kroger in Madison under remodel! Further posts on the blog this month will be on the sparser side, but I do hope I'll have the chance to get at least one more entry published before the end of the month rolls around. So until then and as always, thanks for reading, and have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell