Archive for the ‘Florida’ tag
Well, Happy New Year folks!
When I don't spend the New Year in SC, I like to ring it in in Fernandina Beach, my father's hometown. My own little mini-tradition dating back a decade or so was to hit O'Kane's Irish Pub on Centre Street for the live music and champagne toast at midnight. So, I was rudely surprised when I ambled down from the hotel New Years Eve, and found the storefront dark. The next day, I asked another merchant on Centre Street what had happened, and she indicated that she had heard the owners divorced then couldn't agree on handling the lease. Whatever happened, the place seems to have closed in November.
Here is the place on New Years Eve/New Years Day 2012/2013:
In the event, I ended up next door at The Courtyard which was a smaller, a more sedate venue with an older crowd (ie: my age). I was quite impressed with the music though. Local artist Nora Ricci was performing, and she is quite good, with entertaining stage patter (very important for a small venue) as well as solid singing and playing:
Commenter Terry's remarks on the Hostess bankruptcy, and his list of other vanished American icons brought to mind once more Borders Books. I have posted before about the closed stores I found in Gainesville and Tampa.
Those stores have now been re-purposed. This store which I found in Orlando on Sandlake Road opposite a huge mall, as of August had not been. In fact, all the fixtures and some of the office equipment are still in place just as if the book supply truck could pull up any minute.
The distinctive look of a Borders puts me in a nostalgic mood, as though I might once more spend my Kansas City evenings there, drinking coffee and poring over racks of books I could never find in Columbia, Fayetteville or Aiken, or leafing through low circulation magazines I had known of only by repute until seeing them there.
I wish I had gotten better pictures of this place. Heavens knows I had enough opportunities over the years, but I never thought about it until quite recently, and the last few times I was in the area, it was either evening or heavily overcast, otherwise it might have been a picture on my Roadside Florida calendar.
This fruit stand was on A1A in Yulee Florida between I-95 (exit 373) and US-17. If you look closely on the door, you can see a Master Charge logo which dates the place to before 1979, when Master Charge changed to Master Card.
I like the shape of the building from the sides, and the wood cutout lettering and fruit shapes. It's the type of place that, while you may find its like still in service, is not being built anymore.
The fruit stand and an abandoned service station of the same vintage (about which I may do a closing eventually) stood on adjacent lots. As you can see in the later pictures, both have now been knocked down and the land is for sale (apparently interest is not high, as the price has been reduced).
And not to worry about being able to find Indian River citrus and Florida souveniers in Yulee.. Across the street from this stand's former location, a converted Stuckey's still offers all you could wish for:
I couldn't help but notice this biker friendly bar, the The Ramble Inn, on US-19 just South of Necklace Warbler Road in Hernando County Floridy recently as I drove past.
Well, yesterday I had the good fortune, wholly by accident with no pre-planning whatsoever, to be on the Indian River deck of Captain Katanna's Dockside Restaurant when the Navy launched their latest Mobile User Objective System satellite. Here's another, better video.
It was an impressive moment, and it's always nice to see a little bit of (good) history being made.
You'll recall that we discussed the announcement a few months back about how Sears & Kmart have announced a round of store closings which largely left South Carolina stores (except for Sumter) untouched.
Well, I was recently in Fernandina Beach, and found that their Kmart is one of the ones which got the ax. The store is on Sadler Road, which is the first major connector between 8th Street (the bridge road onto the island) and the beach, an area which is in general doing *quite* well, with lots of new upscale shops (both there and on the other side of the bridge).
When I was growing up, Fernandina was still quite a small town, and this would have been a major blow. Now there is a Wal-Mart a few blocks away, and Target within a mile.
The store is still open for now, and while the inventory is starting to hollow out and the vacant space to spread (as in the Dutch Square Kmart) there is still while until the final days when the fixtures start to go..
UPDATE 10 October 2012 -- As these pictures from 5 August 2012 show, the place is closed and all the logos and branding is gone:
Although there were Waldenbooks in Columbia, I believe the closest that parent company Borders Books ever got to Columbia was Augusta Georgia, where they had a store in a strip off the Bobby Jones Expressway, near the I-20 interchange.
I first encountered Borders in Kansas City Kansas, on Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park. There were actually two stores on Metcalfe, but one of them was almost adjacent to the US Sprint building where I worked a number of projects over the years. (This was also the first place where I encountered Macroni Grill, which to date is the only place I've been where the Matitre-D requested a bribe).
Since I would be staying in a hotel not too far away, I would generally repair to Borders after dinner with local and other visiting co-workers, and it was something of a wonderland for me. First of all, it was big. This was the early to mid 1990s, and there was nothing to compare with a Borders in Columbia, and even less so in Fayetteville NC where I was living at the time. There were rows on rows in the Science Fiction section, with a deep back-list, and books and authors I had only vaguely heard of, including lots of archival small-press selections from NESFA Press and other specialty publishers. The history section was awesome, including even lots of Loeb editions of classics in Latin (no, I don't read Latin [beyond 'cogito ergo sum'], but the English was on facing pages, and these were the *only* editions of a lot of these classical authors). I had been on the Internet, and doing network programming since 1985, but this was the time period when the World Wide Web was just starting to break to a mass audience, and the computer section was huge, with books on all the topics I would never see in Columbia or Fayetteville. I would always come home from Kansas with a suitcase-full of computer books, busting both my back and my budget, but I never regretted it.
Even beyond the books, the magazine section was huge, and had obscure SF magazines that had either never heard or or assumed long defunct, and titles from every dimly-lit corner of popular culture, including film & animation, music and all sorts of unclassifiable little niches. There was also a coffee-shop in the store, which was an innovation I had not seen elsewhere. At the time, I could drink lattes until store closing at 11pm and still be up for work in the morning, and with a table of books and magazines, I often did. (Unfortunately, I can't do that anymore..). Obviously, I wasn't there on a consistent enough basis to see much of the programmed activities apart from the merchandise, but I did get to see a presentation by George R. R. Martin (who I had long known about, but who was just starting to become famous at the time), and speak briefly with him.
In time, the assignments in Kansas got less frequent, but projects in DC got more so, and Borders was there too. In contrast to Kansas, I usually would not have a car in DC, but after work, I would often take the Metro to the Pentagon City stop, have supper at Chevy's Mexican and then spend the rest of the evening until 11pm across the hall at Borders. Once more, I often came home from DC with loads of computer books.
DC was where I first started to get the idea that all was not right in the Borders world. The store, which had always been open until 11pm, started closing at 10pm on week-nights, making it difficult for me to both have supper and visit. It also seemed to me that the quality of the computer section was declining a little bit.
Of course, there were other factors at play as well. At around the same time, Amazon really began to break big, and suddenly, I could have any book I knew about delivered directly to me in just a few days. All at once, I didn't have to visit a big city to get a big-city selection of books.
Borders dealt with the Internet *poorly*. They made their worst decision ever while I was living in Aiken and working in Augusta. At that time, when the local Borders opened, it didn't seem that special. Columbia had Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million by then, and Borders while still my preferred store, was no longer on a different quantum level from everything else I had access to. At the time, all brick-and-mortar stores were trying to figure out how to use the Internet, and Borders' idea (after initially trying an ill-thought-out web site of their own) was to get Amazon.Com to handle their online business. I remember being flabbergasted when I read this bit of news. The proper analogy is hard to come up with, but it's something like Target telling K-Mart: Sure we'll help you out. We'll put a little door on the side of our store over here with your logo on it, and if someone comes into our store by that door, we'll put your name on the register receipt, but our sales staff and stockers will take care of everything.
Needless to say, everybody coming to the Borders online store, and using the Amazon interface, search system, credit card support etc became acclimated to the Amazon environment and just started using the regular Amazon store..
To add to having a stupid Internet strategy, Borders was unable to come up with an e-reader strategy. Amazon, of course, has the Kindle, while B&N (and B-A-M) have the Nook. Borders had.. nothing. I believe that in the end they did latch onto a second-tier (but OK) e-reader, but by then it was way too late. To make matters worse, a large non-book portion of their stores had been devoted to CD's and DVDs, and the complete collapse of the CD market left them with way too much floor-space for the money the stores were bringing in.
It was clear for several years that the chain was on a downward spiral, and that even if they got access to new financing, they had no viable plan to actually use the money to make the stores profitable again. Last year, I believe, they stopped paying their book suppliers. They could sort of do that, as they were still an important market, and the vendors knew that if they pressed the issue too hard and pushed the chain over the brink, their distribution would be drastically cut. In the end though, there was no alternative. Following some last-minute drama about an offer that didn't quite come through, Borders went Chapter 11 on 16 February 2011, with the last gasp in July 2011. They had already been closing stores left and right, but now started closing them all, and plan to have them all shut by the end of this month (September 2011). The web site is still up as of this writing, and claims this is the final week with savings of up to 90% on whatever is left.
The two stores pictured are both in Florida. The first is on Tampa's Dale Mabry Highway, and is a nice location with picturesque moss draped oaks. The second is in Gainesville, just off of I-75 (and not too far from UF), in a larger strip. I'm not sure when these stores closed, but suspect it had already been several months by August. You can see that the second is taking refuge in that cure-all for closed big-box retailers: The Halloween Store.
In the meantime, the fate book retailing is still very much undecided. Both Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million have reduced their hours in Columbia, and I'm not sure that in the end anyone with a physical store can compete with Amazon.
UPDATE 1 December 2012: The Tampa borders above is to become a medical clinic as the pictures below that I took in August 2012 show, and as the linked article provided by commenter Andrew tells: