Monday, August 5, 2013

Skaggs Albertsons / Skaggs Alpha Beta / Jewel-Osco / Albertsons

January 2011. The Albertsons had been closed for about 13 years by this point.

301 South College Avenue

Rhetorical Question: Why am I re-posting this, when I have had it since 2011?

Originally discussed on the University Square article, the old Albertsons that once anchored the center confused and perplexed many Aggies that have been here over the years, so here's the story. While scanning items for Project HOLD a few summers ago, I found that it opened as a Skaggs-Albertsons, with the center being (apparently named) the Skaggs Shopping Center. This was in 1971. I thought that the Skaggs name was dropped later, but what actually happened was a complicated brand name swap: Skaggs was a drug company, and Albertsons was grocery, so Skaggs Albertsons was a chain that had one of the first now-standard food and drug operations. Here's a picture of a Skaggs Albertsons in Florida. The Skaggs Albertsons would remain until late 1979, at which point Skaggs acquired American Stores, thus renaming itself as American Stores, and turned the store into what many people would know it by: "Skaggs Alpha Beta" in fall 1979.

Now, I do have an ad from that era but it's in such unbelievably low quality (for the microfilms, of course) that I'm ashamed to show it to you. Can it be cleaned up with a photo-editing program? Sure. Will I do it? Probably not, especially given at the rate that pictures are ripped off of here on a high basis without "real" visitors. This isn't other people's faults entirely: the new way that Google Image Search works now is rip the image out of context, which is unfortunate.

The new "American Stores" company continued to manage this store until it rebranded it as Jewel-Osco in 1991. Shortly after, Albertsons came back and bought the entire market off of American Stores (they would later come back and buy the rest of the company), and rebranded the store as Albertsons.

And so from about 1992 to 1997, Albertsons managed a store on the corner of College and University. However, Randalls, an upscale supermarket further down University, sold its store to Albertsons, causing the small supermarket to quickly be abandoned (it closed in November 1997, according to Wikimapia), and it continued stand for nearly another 15 years, longer than it had been any name.

Of course, a vacant building won't last forever, and in 2012, it finally began to come down, with demolition halting for months but continuing about a year later. Not much more than the east wall remains as of this writing.

An ad from the brief Jewel-Osco days. Note the "Special Supplement to The Eagle" to the left.

There's even a shot of a Sunny Delight bottle as I remember it, before they changed it to "Sunny D" (and later "SunnyD"). Tangy Original was called "Florida Style" and "Smooth" was "California Style".

Other shots, taken January 2011...

Regrettably, I couldn't get any of the interior on that shot, or any other time: the windows were painted over, and my one shot of the interiors was kind of messed up by the flash, and while it did capture some of the interior in a blurry configuration that revealed rows of fluorescents and columns, it mostly created a reflection of me, which I didn't like.

Whoa, Albertsons was open 24 hours! Must have been super-convenient, relatively rare (I don't think even H-E-B did when it first opened), and must have been fun to see at night when the bars had closed for the night.

What was left of Albertsons after the first major demo.

The first Christmas at the store.

Albertsons interior. (Official Stalworth Picture)

From The Eagle, shortly after the demo began.

The real fun thing that no one really knows about the store is that there were some real plans to actually reopen the store under the Albertsons name!

From the city's archives. Click for full size.

In May 2000, Albertsons filed plans with the city to reopen the store as Albertsons #2797. This time around, the Albertsons would have gained a fancy "Albertsons University Market" branding and come complete with a Starbucks and "J.A.'s Kitchen", a deli concept (JA stood for Joe Albertson) that Albertsons played around with for a short while in some stores (from what I can tell, it was just the regular deli usually placed in smaller stores or drug stores). The main reason this never happened was probably because of the issues the company was having at the time, trying to integrate American Stores into the company (which it bought) and fighting a losing battle in the main Houston grocery market (which the 27xx series were part of).

Too bad that was never the case, and the site is now a fenced-off grassy area, returned to simply potential.

Crossposted with some edits from Safeway and Albertsons in Texas. Post updated May 2019.