Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Kroger Neon and Wannabe Neon Décor

Welcome back to the Mid-South Retail Blog, everyone! Oh wait... I suppose you should be welcoming me instead, I'm the one who forgot to post for a whole month!! Oh well, I was quite busy in May anyway. Now that it's summer though, my goal is to get through all of the Kroger décor posts (which I have streamlined into five posts, as compared to whatever number I'd given out before). Whether or not I meet that goal is yet to be determined... but for now, let's try and knock at least this one out of the park!

As you may be able to tell from this example of a typical exterior look of a Kroger of this era, today's post focuses primarily on neon décor, with what we flickrites whose photos are featured in this/these post(s) - that is, kingskip1, Bradley_Memphis, l_dawg2000, and myself - call "wannabe neon" also included as, to borrow a term from Albertsons Florida Blog (and his, well, Albertsons Florida Blog), a "quick glimpse."

Inside the store, as always, is the produce section, dubbed in this incarnation of Kroger décor - preceding millennium, featured in the last post, by the way - "The Kroger Garden." And boy, does the neon live up to its name! If you follow my uploads on flickr you probably know by now that I am a sucker for neon in stores. Sadly, I was unable to get any pictures of a neon Kroger before they all were remodeled or handled otherwise.

Alternatively, the Kroger Garden was sometimes dubbed "Fresh to You," shining bright in blue instead of spectacular green. (Seriously, the neon in that last photo looks awesome!!)

Joining the produce area, as is typical, is the bakery (above) and deli areas... although as you'll see below, Kroger seems to have always had an issue between naming the area in a formal or truncated manner. In the neon era I can see this as having been a spacing issue, but millennium, with standard-sized signs, is a different story...


Accompanying these two departments are bread and rolls (below) as well as other areas which either didn't necessarily always receive neon signage (i.e. donuts) or were located in various places in the neon layout (i.e. cafés).

It appears that in some cases, the bakery area got custom names... not sure how which stores got what neon was determined. In any case, meals to go would be in the general vicinity.

All of that was just (generally, anyway) on the side wall... can you believe it?! Moving to the back of the store, you have more of your usual grocery staples, such as lunchmeat (stylized here as "Luncheon Meat") and milk and/or "The Kroger Dairy."

Along with prepackaged meat, of course, comes real meat! "Choice Cuts" cut the corner below...

...but doesn't always.

Of course, sometimes meat was just "Meat." And if seafood was lucky enough to get its own neon, it typically was marked "Fresh Catch."

Now, down the opposite side of the store with frozen foods! Well, not exactly: frozen foods actually never got a neon sign (at least to my knowledge), as it, while not in the center, did run down some aisles and not along an edge of a store. That other outer wall tended to be reserved for such departments as floral, pharmacy, and ice cream (!).

From there, you're on the front end of the store, which, besides the checkouts, doesn't house much of interest. (Aside, of course, from a potential location for the café, as pictured above - you can also see how the general aisles are marked by a pronounced ceiling, er, thing that, for all intents and purposes, is bigger on the inside ;) ) So take a look down instead, and notice the cool floor tiles that put the finishing touches on the stunning Kroger neon décor package!

But wait, there's more!

We come to the wannabe neon Kroger décor part of the post! In essence, this is just a cheaper, neonless version of the neon package, so I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time on it. After all, a photo is worth a thousand words, right?

Well, some question words could be used to describe (or, well, interrogate) the wannabe neon décor. As you see here, not only does Kroger once again demonstrate naming inconsistencies - "Kroger Garden" versus "PRODUCE" - but some stores with this package got loud, capitalized department names, while others got more relaxed sentence case.

Speaking of "cases" (horrible transition, right?), here's a look at some other wannabe neon departments whose products are shelved in refrigerated cases: deli, meat and seafood, and dairy. Below are other examples of this décor, as found in the bread and rolls and pharmacy areas.

Even the restrooms sign in both types of stores got the wannabe neon treatment! 

And to close, I have to say a big thank you for checking out this second in my series of four Kroger décor posts! The next one will come this summer, I promise - maybe even this month! Until then, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell


  1. I like the sentence case wannabe neon better. The only wannabe-décor store I've been in was Batesville, and it had the all caps version (because it was a bigger store!?)

    Wow, we sure took a lot of neon pictures over the past 2-3 years! All that's left now is the VH Foods on Riverdale. If you ever decide to go there let me know, maybe we can get some of the local flickr gang to go along. It's no longer in the safest part of town! The neon has been hacked up some and rearranged there, but at least some of it was still original last time anyone checked on it (which was ages ago).

    1. I've given up on trying to figure out how Kroger made decisions about décor! Too many questions!!

      Lol... we'd probably be the safest gang to show up there, haha! I'll let you know if I ever get the chance.

      It's gonna be funny, with the new generation of Kroger people on flickr, when they get all confused about the different 2012 décor layouts!

  2. Both styles here I like. Too bad they are pretty much non-existent now.

    1. My sentiments exactly. Though, if you're interested, I did find this oddball of a store poking around the internet last night:

      It's a crazy greenhouse build, with crazy (former Bauhaus?) walls and floors, and a crazy variation on wannabe neon!!

  3. (This is from the previous comment I left on Albertsons Florida Blog)

    Well, I don't know the best way to explain this decor, but I'll try anyway.

    Between the Neon and Millennium eras in the 1990s,Kroger (Particularly the Atlanta KMA) came up with an art deco inspired decor complete with Grid Patterns, Neon Lighting, and corrugated metal. It's been discussed on RetailWathers and Groceteria as the Olympic Spirit decor, but I like to term it as the 'For Goodness Sake' decor after the slogan Kroger Atlanta used during that era.

    From the outside, most of these stores looked similar to stores built during the millennium era.I actually think that millennium exteriors in the Mid-Atlantic and Atlanta KMAs were somewhat inspired by this decor instead of the actual Millennium package.

    Anyway,in this decor package we start off with the Produce department. The Produce department would have a large marquee size neon sign in the center of the produce department while the walls would be painted hunter green. Floral would have a smaller black sign with yellow 'Flower Gallery' neon laid against a grid pattern feature.

    Meat and seafood had seperate signs but I don't recall the meat department having actual neon (I could be wrong, though) The Seafood sign had a picture of a fish that was lit up in neon. Lunch meat had a white Neon 'Meats' sign the same size as the one used in Produce.

    In the Deli and bakery department, you had large props (Kinda like Albertsons uses in the theme park decor) like a giant rotisserie over the rotisserie oven or a stack of donuts over the donut case. both the deli and bakery had neon signage.These and the meat & seafood department would be outfitted with corrugated metal trim.

    The Dairy department would have a neon sign like the two found in meat & Produce, but Kroger would have a large "Kroger milk house" sign over the walk in dairy cooler where milk and yogurt are sold.

    Frozen foods would have a large marquee size neon sign too, but in this department, instead of it being a word, it would be a picture of a penguin with frozen foods letters on the bottom.A separate, more colorful sign for Ice Cream also gets used with this on occasion.

    The Natural Foods section has a small Black and Yellow neon sign and what looks like a millennium era Nature food banner.

    The Pharmacy would be outfitted with purple crown molding and white tiles. The pharmacy sign would be neon as well although unlike the marquee sized signs, this sign is mounted on the wall and not suspended from the ceiling.

    The cases are white with white trim and the checkouts are stock millennium registers (although the store I went in had its checkout lights 2012'd). The aisle signs seemed to vary by store.

    1. I was wondering when you first mentioned it over at AFB's post if it would be that mythical décor! I've seen posts of it tucked away on those forums as well, but never such a detailed description as you've put together - thanks for that! It sounds like this décor package is/was a logical transition between neon and millennium, particularly with the crossover elements, i.e. grids, natural foods signage, penguins in frozen foods, and exterior design (although that millennium exterior look seems to be everywhere across the country EXCEPT here in the Mid-South). It definitely seems like it would be an experience to walk through one of the stores with this décor - perhaps its ambition limited it from being spread to other divisions.

      Thanks as well for the link to the Yelp page for that Smyrna store! If that store still has that décor, I would jump at the chance to see it in person. I know Bradley_Memphis on flickr is from GA, so maybe he could get down that way one of these days...

      Also, thanks for trying again to post this, and for checking the blog out in general! I know Blogger can be a pain :-/

    2. I would take pictures but I'm not authorized to do so. I know about it because Mid Atlantic used it in a store or two as well. It looks kinda dated, tbh but hey.

      I don't think Central,Southwest, or Jay-C had those Millennium Exteriors either so your division isn't alone.
      Anyway, if you are ever in the Research Triangle, the following two stores would have this decor:

    3. Also, no worries about Blogger's mess ups.I've dealt with worse.

    4. I see - that sucks! At least you get to see it frequently (if I'm interpreting that correctly). And yeah, I can see how it's dated. I'm a sucker for neon though, and I like the whimsical stuff too (especially the donut sign in that second link!) - thanks for those links, btw! The first store has a photo of script décor mixed in, but I'm thinking maybe that's a mix-up. Unfortunately, I don't think I'd be in NC anytime. I do go to the capitol region of SC from time to time though to see relatives. (But that's probably irrelevant, haha!)

    5. Columbia?

      The Kroger at Sparkleberry Square in Columbia used to have that theming as well but we all can assume what happened to it. That script picture is definitely another store (A millennium built store that got remodeled in 2006-07)

    6. Yep! Columbia/Lexington (I have some pictures in my flickr photostream of the Books-a-Million and Publix stores in Lexington.)

      2012'd, eh? That's too bad. I can see from street view it has an interesting exterior - looks like some of those moviehouse columnlike elements are present as adornments.

    7. Yep. From what I seen on its Foursquare page.

      Also, pertaining to Kroger and Columbia, I was reading Columbiaclosings and stumbled across a neon prototype that closed (it looks like a mix of Greenhouse and Wedge, but similar to the store at Barnes Crossing in Tupelo). The Atlanta division tended to use this as their neon prototype as opposed to the wedge:

    8. I think I've actually seen that post before, a long time ago! It is an interesting design. I believe there are similar stores that a flickr member has posted pics of up in Ohio - exterior-wise anyway, not sure about interior décor. The stores with neon-like interiors but millennium décor are confusing...

    9. They actually had a few more of them like that in GA (sans Chick-Fil-A), although like the Greenhouses some of them had towers added to them. Between all the divisions, Kroger had many prototypes that it would be hard for me to correlate which era they belong in (There are even a few rare ones). The neon stores that have tray ceilings don't age very well, tbh. I've seen that picture too. Looks like Cincinnati used it a few times.

    10. Assuming the tray ceilings are the really low ones, then I think I'd agree, at least in the sense that the updated 2012/bountiful décor does not look great in it - really, only the neon does, in my opinion. In fact, I'm posting pictures of a neon build store to flickr as a part of my current photoset. Those ceilings are manageable and even a little cozy when the store isn't busy, but create an even more claustrophobic environment when it is.

  4. Here's an example of a For Goodness Sake store even though not all of my description applies to it.

  5. Poking around auctions again (yeah, I'm the guy that gave you those links earlier), I found this odd store, which appears to have some sort of knockoff wannabe neon decor... or maybe some parts of it were from a closed/renovated Kroger... I don't know, it's confusing, but definitely interesting...

    1. Very interesting, thanks again for linking to a cool auction page! I doubt any of the signs are actually from a Kroger, but I will agree that it could be a knockoff of wannabe neon (which itself is a knockoff of the real neon décor, haha!). Of course, it could also be that the two are unrelated, and that the idea of cheap letters stuck on a wall is simply what prompted this décor. I have to say, the font used certainly does look Kroger-esque, though: in fact, I believe it's the old Nickelodeon logo font!

  6. Reading the blog on Kroger Neon and Wannabe Neon Décor was like stepping into a disco inferno with a side of grocery shopping glamour. Who knew the produce aisle needed disco balls? Kroger, you've turned my shopping list into a party playlist, and now I can't decide if I need more kale or confetti cannons!

  7. It's refreshing to dive back into the Mid-South Retail Blog after a hiatus! With summer here, it's time to tackle those Kroger décor posts. Neon takes center stage in this edition, casting a vibrant glow throughout the store. From the lively produce section to the bakery and deli, each department boasts its own unique flair. Even the restrooms get in on the action! Thanks for this insightful glimpse into Kroger's neon era. Looking forward to the next installment!


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