Friday, March 17, 2017

Fred's, Hernando, MS

Today's post highlights DeSoto County, MS, retail.

Back in December, I shared the news that Fred's has entered a deal whereby they will come to operate (at least) 865 in-need-of-divesting Rite Aid stores should that chain's merger with Walgreens go through. Since Fred's is a Memphis-based company, I'm sure many of my readers who are actually from the Mid-South are at least familiar with their name, if not their stores, too. But for those who live out of the area, such as my friend styertowne over on flickr who asked me what a Fred's store is like, this post's for you!

The store we'll be touring in this post is the Fred's in Hernando, MS. I do want to point out before the post gets majorly underway that this store probably isn't indicative of your typical, more modern Fred's store. Fred's was founded just south of here in Coldwater, MS, in 1947, and it's quite obvious that this is one of their older stores. I wasn't able to find an exact opening date, but the earliest deed I could find online for this store was dated 1979/1980, and the next-door shopping center opened in the mid-1960s, so keep that in mind as we go along!

Stepping inside, though, we see that just because it's old doesn't mean that it can't be well-kept! This is the view from just inside the entrance, complete with an impulse-buy Christmas toy display in the foreground. (These pictures were taken on December 22nd, 2016, so that explains that!)

Looking over to the right from that same vantage point. Mostly seasonal here.

I hadn't been in this store for a few years prior to my visit last December to get these photos, but I always remember thinking that this was the coolest feature of the store! The grocery department here, on the right side of the store, is in an alcove of sorts a few feet above the rest of the salesfloor, accessible by that ramp. We'll explore it more in-depth later in the post...

...but first, let's head onward through the salesfloor. Here we're looking from the clothing department, also on the right side of the store, back toward the front.

Good to know, Fred!

Looking across the rear wall towards the back left corner of the store here. The department I'm standing in is home décor. More home items such as rugs and vacuums are along the wall itself.

Here's a shot of the pet supplies department, looking toward the same spot I was standing in to take the previous photo. Notice how the department is branded "super discount." That's the essence of what Fred's is: a discount chain, not unlike Dollar General or Family Dollar. (It's worth mentioning that a Family Dollar store in the next-door shopping center closed down a few years back, maybe from competition from this Fred's store.) Lately, however, they've been focusing more and more on their pharmacy operations, and certainly plan on keeping that up with the whole Rite Aid deal. But beyond the pharmacy, the rest of the affected Rite Aid stores' product offerings might be gearing a little more toward this sort of stuff if and when Fred's takes over.

Examples of some aisles and products in the store. On top is the electronics section, and on bottom, As Seen on TV. Fairly typical for what you'd expect from a discount store, and on the plus side, of better quality than you'd probably find in a true dollar store. The middle photo was just me validating my use of the word "logo'd" in the past here and on flickr XD

Looking across the center aisle of the store, from the left side to the right. You can see where the wall extends backwards, creating the grocery alcove.

And here's a similar look from left to right, except this time across the rear aisle of the store. The back wall is sorta hidden from view here by the display table with furniture on it on the left of the shot. This is the opposite angle of a picture featured a bit earlier in the post.

Here we have two looks down the left-side wall of the store, headed toward the front. This area is primarily home to health and beauty aids, especially as you get closer to the pharmacy, but also features greeting cards and other items, as you can see.

The pharmacy occupies the front left corner of the store, and is viewed here with the store's checkouts in the foreground. The pharmacy was the busiest part of the store at the time of my visit, so I wasn't able to get a closer photo of it.

This shot is pretty similar to the last one, except that it was taken from higher up, it seems: yep, you guessed it, we're in the raised-up grocery section now! Below is a similar look "from above" across the rest of the salesfloor.

I can't get over this view down the grocery ramp, haha! It's probably second nature to those who shop here regularly, but I've always found it quirky and unique. I have no clue why this section is like this, or what purpose it might have served originally. Rest assured that most other Fred's stores probably have smooth elevations across their salesfloors :P

A close-up of the grocery signage before we exit the store. The only other major sign I recall seeing in here was the home décor sign in the back right corner, although as I also showed you previously, the pharmacy and pet departments were clearly marked. Underneath the grocery sign here are some coolers; to my right from this vantage point are dry pantry goods, and to my left, cleaning supplies.

Headed back outside now, here's a look at the pharmacy drive-thru window. It's weird to see one of these on the front wall of the store like this! Almost certainly this was a later addition to the store. In the background is the rear lot of the next-door shopping center, home to a very old car wash that is somewhat visible here.

Last but not least, a close-up of the Fred's (Super Dollar) signage above the storefront. You can also see the separate entrance and exit doors here. Note the older logo on the stickers on said doors. I believe this store has had every iteration of Fred's logo there has been thus far!

Google Street View capture of the store with its old logo back in September 2007. Per Hernando building codes, the tall road sign was replaced with a low-rise (monument) one when the store was remodeled. Next door on the left is a Post Office, and on the right, a former Big Star grocery store-turned-Minor Bros. Hardware-turned-Complete Home Center.

I don't think I did the best job of showing the product mix here, but it's your typical stuff, such as groceries, clothing, home décor, pet supplies, health and beauty aids (all of which you did see: guess I did a better job than I thought, lol), toys, cleaning supplies, party supplies, baby items, office/school supplies, etc. - just general merchandise, plus the pharmacy. So that's more or less what you out-of-area folks can expect to find inside a Fred's store if one winds up opening near you, and for those of you who do live in the Mid-South, hope you enjoyed my tour around this neat old Fred's store, which should hopefully have been at least a little different than what you normally see when shopping Fred's!

Until next time, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell

Celebrating Two Years of The Mid-South Retail Blog!

It's March 17th again, and you know what that means... well, okay, yes, it means that it's St. Patrick's Day, sure. But more importantly (at least as far as this website is concerned), it's the blog's anniversary! Today marks two years that the Mid-South Retail Blog has been up and running. It's not the most frequently updated site by any means, but I enjoy operating this outlet for retail news, photographs, and stories (in 2016, I was especially proud of my Aftermath of Seessel's essay), and I hope you guys enjoy reading and commenting on my posts, too. (The fact that you keep doing both of those things at least implies to me that you do, haha!)

As with last year, here are a few statistics to mark the occasion. We are inching closer to the milestone of 50,000 visitors (!), sitting at 39,592 right now. December 2016 has been our most popular month so far, receiving 7,549 pageviews in those 31 days alone. We also had over 7,000 pageviews in January of this year; currently, halfway through March we're at 2,500 or so, which is still well above our highest point prior to late last year, which was March 2016 at 1,221 pageviews. I'm not sure what brought on that huge spike of visitors, but it's certainly a welcome sight! And as far as individual posts go, here are the top five as measured by pageviews:

1. Mid-South Kroger Marketplace Expansion; February 2016; 1,098
2. BREAKING: East Memphis Kroger Closure, Target Remodels (UPDATE: and Sears Replacement); March 2016; 1,047
3. Kmart Memphis (Bonus: Sears Poplar Avenue); March 2016; 928
4. Closings and Openings in Memphis and the Mid-South; January 2016; 911
5. Olive Branch Crossing Construction; September 2015; 877

Speaking of Olive Branch Crossing... the blog's second-anniversary special treat comes not from me this year, but instead, WMC Action News 5! As they reported earlier this month, the aforementioned shopping center's highly-anticipated Fresh Market store has unfortunately suffered a setback: due to the chain switching owners, its opening date of spring 2017 has been pushed back to summer 2018. The Commercial Appeal reports that the store itself is an empty shell, completely finished on the outside but nothing but dirt on the inside. They chose to use a recent picture of the store to illustrate that fact, while WMC Action News 5 decided to use a picture taken earlier in the construction of the store. And as it turns out, that picture came from this blog post! As you can see in the screenshot from their mobile app above, they even credited the blog, though I did have to contact them to make that happen. I also sent them a more updated picture, but looks like they were fine sticking with that one. In any case, it made my day to see my photo featured on my favorite local news station's website, and I'm very happy that the MSRB was credited in the end! Now we're famous XD

One final statistic: the blog's first full-fledged contributor post, featuring a project created by blog commenter 11110, fittingly holds the record for the post with the most comments thus far, at 21. And speaking of contributions, yours are always welcome! I know I plug the blog's email address, midsouthretailblog [at] gmail [dot] com, incessantly, but more than ever I find it worth mentioning in this post, since it has seen a pretty good amount of activity all its own since its inception back in July 2015, not long after the blog itself was founded. It's open not only to your Mid-South retail photos and stories so that they may be featured on the site, but also to simple retail conversations, a string of which I have indeed held with readers of the blog as of late.

In theory, I have two contributors with future posts in the works, although I'm not faulting them if those don't become reality because I've learned firsthand how hard it is to develop content for a blog! For what it's worth, despite the fact that I only hold myself to posting once monthly for only ten months out of the year, I'm doing my best to come up with new content to feature soon. Specifically, I'm trying to branch out into other counties besides just DeSoto and Shelby, so that the blog might become at least slightly closer to covering the whole Mid-South as its name implies and not just the Memphis metropolitan area! Of course, it goes without saying that I'll still have plenty of material from those two counties as well, including my feature post for this month, which should hopefully be posted tomorrow unless something else comes up. Bottom line: I'm excited for what I've got planned for the blog as its third year in operation begins, and I hope you are, too!

Until next time, and as always, thank you for your support, and have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell

Thursday, March 9, 2017

From Seessel's to Sprouts: 576 S Perkins Update

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

For not having had a February post, boy do I have a big month planned for March here on the blog! Two posts should hopefully go up next week, and we're kicking things off today with another check up of the secret Sprouts store in East Memphis. Why do I say "secret"? I did a post on this back in January, with photos from l_dawg2000: the chain had yet to be confirmed as opening in that spot, even though I found a leasing notice saying they will be the new tenant. Fast-forward through to present-day (March 9th, 2017), and they still have not given official confirmation. Out of an abundance of caution, local news websites such as the MBJ are consequently not confirming Sprouts as the tenant, either. But I'm okay with calling it like I see it :P  Well - as l_dawg sees it, anyway! He has once again supplied the photos for this post, which follow below...

Our first two images are from February 4th: sure, more than a month old now, but still valuable nonetheless for seeing the construction progress. Here, we can see that the centerpiece of the façade, the main entrance gable (if it can even be called a true gable!), has been removed from the exterior.

The building looks like it's been stripped down considerably just beside the site of the former entrance as well. Notice also that the tower of sorts that used to adorn the right side of the structure's front face is also missing in this image. Again, compare to the store's previous look in my flickr album here.

l_dawg also sent in three more updated pics, taken just this last Sunday. This first one may look a little rainy, but it actually shows the sunniest news so far: a "coming soon" sign for Sprouts! The sign is placed prominently at the corner of Poplar and S Perkins, yet still it's technically a mystery as to who is moving in... (yeah, right!) :P

This March 5th front view shows that the exterior work has progressed over to the left of the S Perkins-facing portion of the building as well, where it appears very obvious that the tall entrance piece, or at least something similar in the same location, will not be returning (however, an image later in the post might dispel that notion). Thus far, the road sign frame that dates back to the 90s (if not earlier; see right side of the picture) remains - I wonder if it will survive the construction going on here...

l_dawg's final picture shows that, for all the other work going on in the attempt to alter the outward (and inward, to be sure!) appearance of this store, the tower that we saw deconstructed back in the February pictures has been suddenly reconstructed, and appears virtually identical to its previous counterpart. Nice to know that element at least will be remaining in place here!

(In that last picture, on the left you can also see a building with Meritan signage in the background. I saw it lurking behind this store in one of the photos of the previous post and, due to the wood appearance of the building, mistakenly said that it looked like there was some sort of roof work taking place here XD )

Screenshot courtesy Shelby County Office of Code Enforcement website document

So what all is taking place inside this store? According to a document I found on the Shelby County Office of Code Enforcement website (it won't let you link to individual documents, unfortunately, as your session will time out losing the validity of the link) and screenshotted above, work includes interior décor, electrical, HVAC, lighting, refrigeration, new offices, and new restrooms. Perhaps most exciting are the "[n]ew kitchen prep and service areas with walk-in coolers and freezers"! Unsurprisingly, the interior sounds like it's being completely gutted and redone, something which the previous two tenants, Schnucks and Kroger, never bothered to do. I'm sure this will be a treat for East Memphis grocery shoppers! ...that is, if it's ever confirmed ;)

Courtesy The Commercial Appeal by way of the Shelby County Office of Code Enforcement

The Commercial Appeal, for one, seems to be willing to point out the obvious, or at least allude to it! For what it's worth, they, too, refrain from officially stating Sprouts is moving in, but they do include a lot of evidence implying they will in this recent article, including the above image taken from a document recently filed with the aforementioned Office of Code Enforcement seeking approval for these signs on the Poplar-facing wall of the building. Here we get our first glimpse at what this place might look like once construction is complete. Sure seems like they're going for a more modern look, although some of the old brick remains off to the left, where a mural will reportedly be placed. Knowing the location, and as I noted last time, this building could just as easily have been demolished and rebuilt, so it's nice to know that it will continue to survive, albeit with this latest series of cosmetic adjustments since its original construction back in (what I believe to be) the 1960s!

Courtesy The Commercial Appeal

The CA's article also had this picture, which I've included here to show the removal of the entrance gable, an event which evidently took place between the time l_dawg2000 took the pictures featured in the previous post and those featured in this one. The gloomy day adds to the sad atmosphere of this shot :(  If only we had a look at this same corner back in happier times...

Super editing job done by l_dawg2000!

Well wouldja look at that: turns out, we do!! East Memphis can keep Sprouts as their treat: I'm content with this XD  I'm not quite sure when this picture would have been taken, but it very obviously was during the time this store spent as a Seessel's by Albertsons. After seeing the CA's mention of the Office of Code Enforcement document regarding Sprouts's planned signage for this store, I searched out that website and tried digging that up; unfortunately, I couldn't find it, but more than made up for my disappointment in discovering this! Again, though, as with the majority of the other pictures in this post, credit for this one has to go out to l_dawg2000, who made this look so presentable for the blog. As you can see below...

Screenshot courtesy Shelby County Office of Code Enforcement website document

...the original image in the document I found had an abomination of pen marks across the storefront, including that giant X over the main Seessel's logo, which l_dawg skillfully removed for us (in addition to other tweaks and tune-ups)! The reason those marks were there in the first place is because this image and the document it is a part of acted as Schnucks's way of showing how they would alter the exterior once they moved in back in 2002. Those two circular signs were beyond saving, but behind the written-in "Schnucks" (or "Shnucks," as one of them misspells it :P ) on both are indeed Seessel's logos. You can see Schnucks's alterations in action in this Google Street View capture I posted on my flickr account last year.

Without a doubt, the store at 576 S Perkins has sure gone through a lot in its lifetime! The look you see above was present for around two decades or so, and lasted through three nameplates: Seessel's, Schnucks, and Kroger, in that order. Now, new life is being breathed into the old building once more, with Sprouts moving in... and even though they're changing everything up, we all know what's underneath.

Watch out for possible additional construction updates on this store from l_dawg2000 to make it up here on the blog in the future; I myself hope to visit the store once it opens and feature those pics here as well. Also be sure to stick around for those two posts I mentioned at the top of this one that will be going up next week, and as always, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell