Thursday, April 8, 2021

Contributor Photo: Seessel's Express, Truse Pkwy, Memphis, TN

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


Hi everyone! First of all -- I want to give a very big shoutout to my friend, Albertsons Florida Blog, for stepping in last month on my behalf. Have you read his post yet? If not, you absolutely should! It's awesome -- check it out here. And if for some reason you're not a regular reader of his blogs yet, be sure to start following those as well. He runs both his namesake Albertsons Florida Blog as well as My Florida Retail (where I've also written a post or two!).

I'm glad AFB was able to keep our quarterly Fred's series rolling, also. I'll be back in June with my own next entry to that series. And I hope to be back, finally!, with a nice big lost histories post next month -- something I've been itching to get back in the saddle with. In the meantime, though, I am still quite busy with other matters, so this month's posts are going to remain on the shorter side. I hope to get one written at the end of the month, too, but for now, tonight I get to share with you something amazingly cool that popped into my inbox this week courtesy of our Nashville friend and contributor Mike B....

Courtesy Mike B.

...a vintage photo of a Seessel's Express gas station/convenience store! How cool is that?! Photos of Seessel's seem to be pretty rare on the internet, so this is a real treat. (And on that note: if you have any Seessel's photos hanging around, please feel free to email them to us at midsouthretailblog [at] gmail [dot] com! I'd love to see them...) Here we're looking at the Seessel's Express in the parking lot of the Truse Parkway Seessel's store, built by Albertsons in 1999. This station faces Poplar Avenue and the very prominent i-Bank Tower across the street.

Mike says the photo paper indicates this film was printed in May of 2002 -- so, not too long after the Truse store opened, and in fact right about the exact time that the Seessel's name was to disappear entirely! If you're unfamiliar with the whole Seessel's story, I encourage you to check out my past entries on the subject here. Long story short, Seessel's was owned by Albertsons for a few years, but then Albertsons realized their buyout of the previously family-owned chain wasn't leading to a whole lot of success in the Mid-South, so they exited the market, selling all of the Seessel's stores to Schnucks. Schnucks would rebrand them to their own name, before ultimately also exiting the Mid-South in 2011, selling out to Kroger. The Truse Parkway store has survived through all of those ownership changes, and remains operational today as a Kroger store.

Courtesy LoopNet

Prior to Albertsons' ownership, Seessel's didn't have any fuel centers of its own; once Albertsons took over, the new stores they built in the Memphis metro area were basically full-blown Albertsons in all but the name, such that Albertsons introduced its own store models, décor packages, etc. to the region. Alongside all of that, Albertsons also brought in its Albertsons Express fuel center/convenience store concept, resulting in the Seessel's Express gas stations like the one from Mike's photo above.

When Schnucks took over the Seessel's chain from Albertsons, they had no past experience with operating fuel centers or convenience stores, but instead of closing the Albertsons-built fuel centers, they decided to tackle them as a new challenge, and converted them over to the brand-new (and copycat-named) Schnucks Express concept. In the LoopNet photo above, we can see what this same Truse Parkway Seessel's Express station looked like during the Schnucks days -- not very different, haha! In fact, everything looks identical, aside from the signage on the wall of the convenience store having been swapped out for new "Schnucks Express" lettering. Before I saw Mike's photo, I was actually under the impression that Schnucks even reused the old Albertsons-era "Express" lettering, simply swapping out the Seessel's wordmark for their own; but we can see from his pic that in fact the Seessel's "Express" letters matched the font of the Seessel's logo, so Schnucks's "Express" lettering was indeed brand-new.

Courtesy Yelp

Here's a closer look under the canopy at one of the entrances to the convenience store. The way this particular station is structured is with the convenience store in the middle of the property, with the canopy stretching off to either side of it, effectively creating double the fueling bays. The blue awnings above the doors and windows are original from the Seessel's/Albertsons days. Schnucks did not alter them in any way -- and in fact, I'd be curious to know if they remodeled the interior any, either.

Courtesy Google Maps

In contrast, once the store was sold to Kroger, the convenience store was rebranded under Kroger's KwikShop banner -- remodeling the interior and removing the old Albertsons awnings, as is shown in the Google Maps photo above. While not all of the former Seessel's stores are still operating as Kroger today, a majority of them are, and I'm pretty certain that every single one of the fuel centers is still under Kroger's ownership -- or, at least, that of KwikShop. While they used to be part of the same company, Kroger actually sold KwikShop off in 2018, so technically they are no longer affiliated with each other.

As a result of that aforementioned sale, the KwikShop-branded fuel centers and C-stores on Kroger properties in the Memphis area -- such as the Truse Pkwy one we've been focusing on in this post -- dropped the KwikShop branding and swapped over to a more generic Kroger branding, to match the stores themselves. The photo above shows the Truse Pkwy KwikShop as it appeared in 2015; the photo below shows it once it had rebranded to a simple Kroger fuel center, in 2018. Both of these images have actually been published before, either on my blog or on my flickr page.

At first I thought that the KwikShops-turned-Kroger Fuel Centers were going to close their C-stores, since it was my impression that the sale of KwikShop and its sister operations across the country represented Kroger's wholesale exit from the C-store business; but it appears that, here in the Mid-South at least, Kroger has continued to operate all of the convenience stores it acquired from Schnucks in the 2011 buyout, so that's good to know. One of these days I'll have to check one or two of them out; I feel like there may even be some old Albertsons interior décor relics to be found hiding away in one of them, if I'm lucky -- wouldn't that be nice! (By the way: for a taste of what the interior of an Albertsons Express would have looked like, check out this post from AFB.)

That will do it for this quick post. I hope you've enjoyed this photographic timeline of the Truse Parkway Seessel's/Schnucks/KwikShop/Kroger fuel center and convenience store. Thanks again to Mike B. for sending in the Seessel's Express photo, and to AFB for filling in for me last month. Please be sure to check back soon for more new posts! Until then, and as always... thanks for reading, and have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are :)

Retail Retell


  1. Interesting stuff, Mike B. and Retail Retell. I notice that there was a large Kroger billboard right there to greet the Seessel's Express customers in the first two photos! I suppose Kroger had their way of getting Memphis customers to keep Kroger in their minds even when they chose the competition!

    Quite a few former Albertsons gas stations locations became Kroger gas stations here in Houston given the number of ex-Albertsons stores that Kroger picked up when Albertsons left town in ~2002. The one that I saw all the time recently closed and was torn down even though the affiliated Kroger supermarket is still very much open. That was strange. It's the only time I can recall Kroger closing a gas station while keeping the main store open.

    Also, I've never seen a big Kroger logo on a gas station like that one in that last photo. Of course, until recently, Kroger seemingly didn't want to put their logo even on the main stores here in Houston. Oh well.

    I'm also not sure if I've ever seen that twin-canopy style roof at an Albertsons/Kroger gas station before, but I must admit that I don't always pay close attention to supermarket gas stations as I rarely use them.

    Here's a look at a Houston Kroger gas station that was an Albertsons gas station. I think that's Albertsons Express signage which is still on the C-store. Link:

    1. Ha, I was hoping someone would notice that and point it out in the comments! Yep, Kroger Pharmacy strategically placed that one right in front of the Seessel's and Schnucks :P

      Yeah, it's definitely unusual for Kroger to ever close a fuel center. A c-store is a different story, but they almost always have a fuel center for a given location.

      Yeah, that was a first for me, too. I mean, I've seen it on the canopy on plenty of occasions, but on the building itself was unusual. Of course, that's probably because most of them don't have attached buildings, though. For those that do, seeing the Kroger logo instead of the KwikShop logo is more common now ever since the KwikShop sell-off.

      It could be that this station was around before the store, and Albertsons simply took it over? I agree that the style is strange, and more like what you'd find from a commercial gas station brand. Maybe someone else would have more insight on that. Absent any other details though, I've always assumed it was built alongside the store itself.

      Yep, that's definitely Albertsons Express signage still on the building! Neat!


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