Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sprouts Coming to East Memphis

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

Because my other post for this month was fairly short, I've decided to supplement it today with this other, equally short post. It's got some big news inside of it, though: Sprouts Farmers Market is officially confirmed to be taking over the lease at 576 S Perkins! As you might recall, this East Memphis space is near both Oak Court Mall and the now-demolished-Sears-turning-Nordstrom Rack, and formerly housed a Kroger that closed in early 2016 due to the presence of two other, larger Kroger stores within a mile. The store held an auction in June, which I attended and featured photos of on the blog at the time. Now, fellow blogger and flickr-er l_dawg2000 has sent me a few quick photos of construction already taking place at the site to turn it into a Sprouts store. (He didn't have the time to write the post himself, so he sends his apologies!)

Here l_dawg is approaching the store. As you can see, it's pretty small! The 28,000 square foot size kinda cramped Kroger's style, but should work just fine for Sprouts Farmers Market, which is more of a specialty organic/gourmet grocer than a traditional one. In fact, their own website touts the chain as a seller of "fresh, natural and organic groceries at incredible prices – and in an approachable setting that feels like an old-fashioned farmers market," hence the name. There's also a really cool interactive tour of a Sprouts store interior at that link, if you're interested!

A close-up shot of the store. Note how there already appears to be some construction work taking place on the roof just to the left of the main entrance façade. The Kroger sign is long gone, but the sign box for the Western Union sign remains. (For a picture - multiple pictures, in fact! - of how this store looked previously, both inside and out, please check out my flickr album here.) The overhang above the doors themselves looks to have been freshly removed - more on that later.

This view looks down the store's right-side wall, and shows how the property is situated right along some railroad tracks. The store is admittedly cut off here, but both l_dawg and I like this shot, haha! You can see the iBank-signed White Station Tower off in the background. I used that as a reference point in my blog post documenting the other two nearby Krogers that assumed this store's customer base after its closure, which you can visit here.

Finally, this last picture l_dawg sent in shows the store front-on, where we can see the lot is closed off by fencing. Some construction debris are already littering the parking lot, with Dumpsters located beside the store's entry doors as well. Somehow, though, the construction that was taking place on the roof has vanished from view, lol! I imagine the interior is being gutted also - and since all of the old Albertsons Industrial Circus décor from the Seessel's days (that survived during both Schnucks's and Kroger's respective reigns at this property) sold off during the auction, I don't feel as bad about that :P

It was rumored as early as September that this former Kroger, on the market for only three and a half months at the time, was a potential site for a new Sprouts store, which would become their third store in the area but first in Memphis proper. (Hat tip to blog commenter and guest contributor 11110 for first alerting me to that rumor, actually.) The rumor began to become reality as construction permits were filed in November and again in late December, as uncovered by the Memphis Business Journal, but Sprouts continued to deny (well, more like "neither confirm nor deny") that they were assuming the lease at the spot. I've still yet to see any confirmation from the chain itself, come to think of it, but the article I linked to at the top of the post (also shown at the bottom of this post for quick access) pretty well removes any doubt!

Speaking of the MBJ... not to call them out or anything, but I did want to feature this gaffe from a recent post of theirs regarding this store that I found humorous. The screenshot above is from an article published on December 29th, 2016, and as you can see, the caption to the picture notes that "[t]he blank green sign [above the doors] was recently added." The article itself goes further into detail, describing the recent installation of "what appears to be a future sign in a shade of Sprouts’ green — sans actually [sic] lettering — on the building." The trouble is, that's erroneous detail: that green curved overhang has been there for many, many years, likely ever since the current façade was installed on the building back in 1999! (As a matter of fact, the façade could potentially be even older than Albertsons' ownership of Seessel's, but I haven't been able to find anything definitive on that, and either way I digress...) Moreover, as was shown and mentioned earlier, Sprouts has already removed said green sign/overhang since the MBJ published that article. I don't doubt that a green sign will go on the building eventually... but that one certainly wasn't it! ;P

Screenshot of the leasing announcement, just for posterity. Courtesy

Anyway... that's what's happening at 576 S Perkins. l_dawg2000 has been keeping track of the nearby Sears saga, and suggested that he may get some more pictures of this store as construction progresses when checking up on the former, so keep an eye out for those to go up on the blog in the future as he gets them. And as always, until next time, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell

A Quick Tour of IKEA Memphis

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

Happy 2017, everyone! It's been almost a month now since the occurrence of arguably the biggest retail event in the metropolitan area last year - the opening of IKEA Memphis! So, if it's such a big deal as I claim it is, then why on earth hasn't it been featured on the Mid-South Retail Blog yet?! In this post, I attempt to rectify that... albeit quickly, through a very short photographic tour. I visited the megastore for the first time last week, and let me tell you, it was definitely an experience! I was able to get only a few photos, though. Nevertheless, those are all featured below...

The store's front façade. If it looks big in this view, you should realize this picture conveys nothing close to the entire size of the building! The store is HUGE.

The floorplan of the store is laid out in numbered sections, so that you can follow them through in order all the way to the exit. (More on that later.) Up first are the showrooms, where you can browse through furniture laid out in displays either akin to the one pictured above or more tastefully organized into examples of how rooms could be decorated with IKEA merchandise.

Beyond the showrooms is the IKEA café, which serves some pretty good food cheap! Naturally, I tried the famed Swedish Meatballs :P  Shown here is the "pay here" sign for the small grocery section adjoining the café. (Yes, you read that right: there's even a small grocery section here!!) I thought this sign in particular was interesting because it reminded me - being a retail geek, of course - of Walmart's latest décor package. See for yourself.

Past the café, you enter the self-serve furniture area. As you're walking the showrooms, you're invited to take down item numbers and such, and then (after a pit stop at the café, haha!) you're encouraged to track them down in this department, hence the phrase "You're about to have your hands full" printed on the wall here! I was especially pleased with how this photo turned out.

And here it is: a glimpse into said self-serve furniture department. It is nothing but massive! There are 40-something aisles; this shot takes a look from near the end back down to where we saw that cartwell, just around the corner in the background to the right in this view. Major warehouse feel here - a stark contrast from the showrooms!

At the checkouts, I decided to snap a pic of one of the register lights - one that wasn't open, so that I wouldn't look suspicious, of course. Equally naturally, I chose to photograph register 12! Though I didn't upload this photo to my flickr account, it joins my album of 12s in spirit :P

You can see earlier in the post we entered here in the daytime, but by the time we had left, it was night! This shot is of the exit - located right next to the entrance - and features a billboard sized advertisement for those aforementioned Swedish Meatballs, too.

A nighttime neon shot of the store's signage as we take one last look at its exterior. I was also proud of how this photo turned out, especially since my phone rarely likes to cooperate with nighttime shots!

Before leaving, I made sure to grab a pamphlet to showcase on the blog also. These are readily available throughout the showroom portion of the store - along with those branded golf pencils - and allow you to make notes regarding item numbers (as mentioned earlier) with dedicated spaces on the back of the pamphlet.

Inside the pamphlet is this flap showing a store overview of IKEA Memphis. This should give you some idea as to how the store is laid out. Once you enter, you kind of snake through the entire right side of the store to the back, and then return again to the front by traversing the store's left side. This explains why the entrance and exit are so close together! (Apologies for the crooked picture here.)

Despite how open the floorplan might appear in the diagram shown previously, it's actually fairly difficult to navigate, at least on your first visit. As long as you follow the arrowed paths, though, you'll be okay. The folded-out full interior of the pamphlet, shown here, also helps guide you through all the numbered sections to find what you're looking for.

So I hope you enjoyed that quick little tour. It wasn't much, but rest assured there's much more to see (and then some!) if you actually visit this store in person!! IKEA was definitely a major "get" for Memphis, and I know Memphians are proud to host the store, the Swedish chain's first in the state of Tennessee.

If you can remember back to my previous post (the last one of 2016), I mentioned how I hoped that this month I would be showcasing fellow flickr member Memphis Retail's photos of IKEA Memphis in the making. Obviously, as you can see, that wasn't the case. That's because Memphis Retail has graciously agreed to write his own post featuring his pictures of the store, both under construction and past the grand opening! That'll definitely be a cool post to read, and I invite you back to see it once it's posted in the future. :)

In the meantime, if you'd like a more extensive tour of this store's interior, there are some online slideshows you can check out, such as those posted on the respective websites of the Memphis Business Journal and WMC Action News 5.

That's what's going on at IKEA Memphis... until next time, be sure to check out today's other blog post, and have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell