Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The Even Older Wal-Mart, West Point, MS (BONUS: Other West Point Retail)

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

If any of you have been following my flickr photostream so far this year, you may have seen my album from the West Point, MS, Wal-Mart, which decidedly still deserves that outdated hyphenated name given that the store itself bears not only that logo on the outside, but also one of the last surviving examples of the matching mid-2000s Pre-Impact décor package on the inside. In case you missed it, or if you'd like to refresh your memory, the completed album is located here; but what I didn't tell any of you back when I was uploading those images is that there's an even older Wal-Mart in town, just about three miles down the highway to the north, in fact. 

The current Supercenter building bears the store number 115-03, which to me indicates it's the third location in town; that would make this other store the second, aka the building Wal-Mart occupied from 1997 -- the original, wherever in town that may be, had opened way back in 1976 -- all the way until the circa 2008 opening of the Supercenter. Perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not, that second store building has sat vacant ever since Wal-Mart's departure, and at one point was even advertised for sale on the city website itself. The building has changed very little in that time, and there are several fun old Wal-Mart sights to see in the images below, procured from the various property listings online relating to the building.

This and all images below courtesy LoopNet and other online property listings

Located off of Alt Hwy 45 at 124 Winchester Drive, the old Wal-Mart is situated fairly far back on the property, and is joined by an accompanying strip center to the left, tenanted by Dirt Cheap, Cato, and It's Fashion, among others. The Wal-Mart building is 58,725 square feet, so the Supercenter was a significant upgrade when it opened. (Also, just out of view to the left in this pic is the old roadside sign for the Wal-Mart, which is still clearly recognizable. You can see that in my flickr teaser image for this blog post here.)

The first image is sadly blurry, but that one as well as each of the following pics shows us some good, full views of the front of the building. Although the architecture isn't noticeably standard, it's still pretty well recognizable as a former Wal-Mart, I'd say. And I'm honestly not even sure if the building was painted out when Wal-Mart left, or if it's been that gray color all along (just minus some red and blue stripes, potentially).

Because the images in this post come from different sources, some of them are of  higher quality than others. Hopefully in the post itself the pixelation isn't too noticeable, but if you try to zoom into some of these or view them full-size, the results unfortunately won't be the best.

The garden center is located at the front left corner of the building, and given the way that it juts out from the building, I'm wondering if perhaps it was a later addition. If not, maybe the design was simply necessitated by the layout of the property.

The very empty parking lot out front. The property flyer makes sure to note that there is "132,500 sf of blacktop parking" and that the property presents "endless possibilities." Is that an old shopping cart off to the far right in the bottom image, or something else?

Heading around back for several views of the loading docks, which are located in the back left corner. In that close-up of the docks, you can make out a black décor era "No Idling" sign.

Coming back around the side of the building, before returning once more to the loading docks in the following photos. The listings really seem to emphasize the loading docks, likely in part because the next logical use for the property would seem to be as a warehouse space. The building itself is well-suited for that, and I would imagine it wouldn't be that awful difficult to add in several more loading docks as needed, either.

Here are those aforementioned views-aplenty of the loading docks. I really don't have a lot to add to these, but for those who are interested in seeing them, I didn't cut a single shot out of this post. (You're welcome, loading dock fans!)

Finally back around front. In several of these images but especially this last one in particular, we can make out several still-surviving labelscars from the Wal-Mart days, which is part of why I suggested above that the building may always have been this color (because how else would the labelscars show through a new coat of paint so well?). From right to left (all left of the main entryway façade), we see "Satisfaction Guaranteed," "We Sell For Less," and "Garden Center." It looks like there may be another labelscar above "Garden Center" as well? My first instinct is to think "Tire & Lube Express," but in all those views of the side and back of the structure, nothing really stood out to me as a tire department... and keep in mind that the quote-unquote "new" Supercenter location does not have a tire center of its own, either.

Aha, now here's where the fun really begins! At least one of the sale listings provided interior photos of the abandoned building, and we find that the interior is very much recognizable as a former Wal-Mart. It may be a little tough to zoom in and see all these small details in these pictures, but I hope you'll give it a shot just for good times' sake. Our first remnant in this pic of the vestibule are the red stickers on the automatic doors. It looks like the one closest to us might read "Please Use Other Door," in which case it would make sense for the opposite one to read something like "Enter Here" (although I can't make either of them out clearly enough to be positive).

Inside, we find that the old tile flooring as well as the apparel departments' carpeting is still totally intact, right down to the (faded) red stripe and the (equally faded) former clothing rack placements. I believe that first pic is looking from immediately inside the entrance doors -- in the front right corner -- across to the back left of the building, while the bottom pic looks straight back, down the right-side perimeter wall.

The top pic here looks across the front end, while the bottom one looks from the rear of the store back up towards the front (the main entrance is where all that sunlight is coming from). Check out the carpeted support poles! And the amazing "Always" logo and slogan still hanging on on that wall on the left side of the bottom pic!!

Some more views from the back wall. I can definitely identify the first one as looking straight up the center of the store towards the front wall, but I can't 100% place the second image within the salesfloor. One thing I will point out is that this store definitely has a very warehouse-like feel, long before I thought Wal-Mart (or really any major retailers, for that matter) decided to adopt large, open warehouse ceilings. Is it possible that this store used to have a drop ceiling, only for that to be removed after the store closed? But if that's the case, why go to that effort without removing any of the other obvious Wal-Mart relics?

This pic gives us a really good, close look at the structure at the center of the front end, clad in that characteristic Wal-Mart blue, but unfortunately it still doesn't provide us with very many clues as to what purpose this structure actually served. Was it customer service? A café of some sort? If you have any idea (or are familiar with old Wal-Mart stores of this era in general and can provide comparisons to other locations), please let me know in the comments!

A couple more pics of the interior, with the bottom one focusing deliberately on the warehouse ceiling. All the carpeting we're seeing would seem to indicate that a good majority of the space was home to apparel, which I suppose makes sense for a general-merchandise Wal-Mart. Surely the variety of goods available in West Point, especially groceries, increased dramatically when this store closed and relocated to the Supercenter down the street.

Our final pic of the old store is one of the best: I'm not sure what exactly the photographer was trying to focus on when taking this pic, but I'm glad s/he took it, because there on the very upper left edge we catch a glimpse of the old "Thank you for shopping your Wal-Mart" sign, albeit with the "Wal-Mart" portion itself whited out (but still visible as a ghost!). I bet it's likely that the phrasing was really "...your West Point Wal-Mart," actually, which is always fun to think about!

So that completes our mini-tour of the former Wal-Mart in town, to complement our much fuller tour of the Supercenter itself over on flickr. (For completeness purposes, two more internet-sourced images of the Supercenter location are presented below, in addition to all of the images of my own in that album.) I hope y'all enjoyed seeing the classic traits of this building as much as I did, and again, if you have anything to add or share about Wal-Mart and/or West Point, please feel free to do so in the comments! 

Courtesy Clark Construction

Courtesy Clark Construction

Blog contributor and West Point native publisher73 has one final thing to add concerning the West Point Wal-Mart saga... in a very fortuitously timed email he sent me yesterday, he let me know that the Supercenter has recently -- and very sadly -- received Walmart's newest blue and gray paint scheme, erasing the nostalgic and rare(ish) green and tan coloring it had before. You can see that in the image below. The old logo is still hanging on for now, but honestly I don't know if I want it to survive long-term, since it definitely doesn't look all that great against the new paint scheme!

Courtesy publisher73

publisher73 writes, "The interior is the same layout and design (so far) and the old signage is still up (another oddity). I'm sure the latter will change soon enough, but they don't appear to be in any hurry." So it would seem that the first-ever (?) remodel for the West Point Wal-Mart may well be imminent... quite a shame, but I suppose it had to happen sometime; and if nothing else, it's an accomplishment that the store survived untouched for as long as it did. And at least I can be happy that I had the opportunity to document the store and share it with you guys, too!


Before concluding this post, I wanted to share just a couple of other fun West Point retail sights. As it turns out, the Wal-Mart(s) aren't the only classic things in town! First of all is the former Kroger, which operated until the Delta Division decided to close it down in August 2015. As you can see in the images below, the store was from the superstore era, and still had classic exterior signage as well as the wannabe neon/grid interior décor. The store had been around for 40+ years, and later became a Save-a-Lot, which didn't do much to the exterior but surely remodeled the interior beyond recognition. Save-a-Lot appears to still be open today, which is nice to see.

Courtesy Internet Archive

Courtesy Mapquest

Courtesy Foursquare. Check out the old diamond-shaped "Delicatessen/Bakery" sign!

Interior pic showing traces of wannabe neon décor in the background. Courtesy Foursquare

VERY faded cube sign! From looking at Street View, it looks like it's still standing today, but with the faces taken out (Save-a-Lot chose not to reuse it). Courtesy LoopNet

Save-a-Lot coming soon banner and sign installation, 2018. Courtesy Google Maps

And finally, a refreshed storefront pic. Courtesy Google Maps

Last but not least, a single Google Maps screenshot of the McDonald's in town to close us out. Not only does this McDonald's still have a mansard roof, it's a copper mansard roof at that... and it comes complete with some golden arches on the patio, to boot! I'd definitely like to check this out if it's still around whenever I may find myself going through West Point again, and I'd probably also be interested in seeing the current state of the Wal-Mart at that time, too.

A reminder that I'm still on hiatus from flickr for another couple weeks or so, but I hope to be back in full force come mid-July. Ideally I'll also have another blog post ready for y'all at some point next month, too, but we'll see. Thanks as always for being patient with me, and for following my content over on flickr and here on the Mid-South Retail Blog! Until next time, then, I hope you have a happy and safe Independence Day weekend, and have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are...

Retail Retell