Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Publix Decor Packages, Reviewed and Ranked

 ...and again, welcome back to the Shoppes of Battery Mill, where (yet again) blogging is a pleasure!

As they say... and now, for something completely different. What you are seeing here is the first edition of my Retail Ranking series, where I count down and review elements of retail design and business, from worst to best! I have started this series as it gives me a chance to examine these characteristics and determine what sticks, what doesn't and why, as well as to reflect on retail memories. For the inaugural installment, I will be taking a look at Florida's crown jewel, Publix Super Markets and examining its interior decor packages. 

Why Publix, exactly? Before I answer the question, I will admit I have little history with this chain, as it thus far exists only on the fringes of the Washington, D.C. area, this blog's main region of coverage. This reason is actually a contributing factor as to why - rumors have been swirling over the past several years, and the existence of Publixes in peripheral cities Fredericksburg and Stafford, as well as the rest of Virginia only adds to the winds of speculation. I would be excited to see how the chain adapts to Northern Virginia, Maryland, and the District in terms of design. Moreover, I have also been captivated by the work of Albertsons Florida Blog, My Florida Retail and Sing Oil Blog, among others, in documenting Publix. If you like retail history, or want to check out something new, definitely visit their blogs! Therefore I thought Publix would be a great choice, as their decor packages have all had their strengths and I am ready to check them out in detail. As for chains with an existing presence on here, such as Giant, Shoppers, and any national retailers: They will be on the way soon, so keep on the lookout!

Before I begin, I have a few other disclaimers about this list. The first is that I will remain constructive in my criticisms; I respect the designers behind these efforts. Another is that you are free to write such a ranking for your own blog, whether from Publix or from any other retailer. I am open to your own interpretations! Lastly, I am going to keep it simple for this one. That means no scoring or tier systems.


  • While I will be focusing on decor packages, I will not be detailing their corresponding layouts for new-builds, except for how they adapt to those as compared to older packages.
  • This list will not take into account mid-cycle revisions and other minor alterations made to the packages over the course of their run.
  • While numerous photos have surfaced, I do not plan on adding pre-1990 Publix interiors (sometimes known as "Florida's Market") to the roster, as their histories are not complete enough yet.
  • Neither will I be including one-time decors or those from Publix spin-offs such Sabor and GreenWise Market, as I want to keep the analysis strictly to the main brand.

Now, with all that being said, let's start with my least favorite:

#7: Evergreen (2019-present)

Evergreen is Publix's current decor package, featuring polished accents, textured walls, and an overall gray theme across the store.

If you've been keeping up with the retail industry lately, you know gray paints and wooden accents have been showing up on every street corner like Mattress Firms or Kelpshake cafés. I'm certainly not a fan of that, and this is the primary reason why I've ranked this package so low. To me, it feels like Publix is latching on to industry trends, and this package just does not feel very personal, rather corporate and overly-millennialized. It's strange why Publix has decided to go this route after making timeless decors beforehand. 

Evergreen especially comes off as mediocre in remodeled stores. The specific textures new-builds have are not present in older locations, and the color palette clashes with the multi-colored appliances and light ceilings of past packages. Simply put, it does not adapt as good as its predecessor in Sienna, as you will see later.

However, not everything I will say about the package is negative. The green accents add a little pop, and the wall textures, as well as posters, contain the grayness somewhat. Thanks to the strategic lighting and lighter-overall walls/wood accents, Evergreen also has a slight warmth to it that its contemporaries across retail might not be able to attest to.

#6: Kiwi/"Classy Market 1.0" (2001-2009)

Credit: Brian Kirsten (Flickr)

Credit: R M. (Yelp)
Kiwi, the first installment in the unofficial "Classy Market" saga, is a pivot from the wild and wacky decors that came before it towards a relaxed 2000s feel.

In new stores, Publix did a great job contorting the walls to induce scale and give off a feeling that you are at an open-air market. The crown mouldings, arches, and shutters help to elevate luxury status at any Publix with this design.

Kiwi does not look impressive in older stores, where Kiwi's colonial facades were typically not optioned. This is why I have ranked the package so low. Nevertheless, its friendly nature creates an appetizing environment, with the tones and tints bleeding Publix green.

#5: "Wavy Pastel" (1990-2005)
Credit: The Miami Herald

For the '90s, Publix debuted a Floridian-inspired decor package, featuring extensive shutters, teal awnings, and funky department signage. Those who shopped Publix during that decade will likely have fond memories of this interior theme.

This package, to me, is certainly a treat; nostalgic, yet ahead of its time and promising for the future. What this package has over its predecessors is that it is a tad more colorful and has bolder signage. It also tends to be better composed in remodeled stores compared to Kiwi.

I feel that Wavy Pastel gives off too much of an empty feeling at times, with its expansive stretches of white walls just above perimeter coolers. Granted, retail design has advanced since the 1990s, but it still drags the package down my list slightly. I would have also included a tad more green, so that this package would have been even more memorable.

#4: "Metallic Marketplace" (1999-2005)

Credit: kaytee17 (Flickr)
After nine years of Wavy Pastel accompanying new Publixes, a retooling for the new millennium was in order, giving us none other than the sleeker Metallic Marketplace.

In my opinion, Metallic Marketplace is a testament to graciously improving upon a prior concept. What I like was the corrugated metal textures, strong use of overhead elements and neon, and the modernized signage that carried the successful Wavy Pastel philosophy into the next decade. Some of these are quite a rare sight in present-day grocery design! What drags this package down are some of the traits it shares in common with its predecessor, though such is made up for in the final three packages on my list.

#3: Bamboo/"Classy Market 2.5" (2009-2015)

Credit: Sing Oil Blog for Albertsons Florida Blog (Blogger)

This major update to the previous Invigorate refined department signage, keeping it up to date with the minimalism of the 2010s.

What I appreciate about this package, that places it among my top 3, is that it is perhaps the most colorful design of anything that comes before on this ranking. This is certainly what helps Publix compete with other grocery retailers that have had less constrictive personas, and brought upon a special touch to each department rather than uniformity. Not to mention, it fit well into any stores it was remodeled with, moreso than the past 4 packages.

#2: Invigorate/"Classy Market 2.0" (2006-2010)

Credit: The Stewart/Perry Companies (Flickr)

Credit: Albertsons Florida Blog (Blogger)

A return to colorful vibes following the more upscale 1.0 version, the second installment of Classy Market brought about number of signage pieces of all shapes and sizes.

What places this package over its successor to me is that departmental signage is more detailed, and that other elements are simply more down-to-earth, with lighter colors and a more consistent framing of each department (including that customer service desk on the left!). Otherwise, I would say just about the same things.

#1: Sienna/"Classy Market 3.0" (2010-2021) 

Credit: Sing Oil Blog (Blogger)
First launching as a hybrid between the previous editions of Classy Market and Publix's GreenWise natural foods concept, the best of both worlds came alive in this dynamic, prepared foods-focused concept that elevated prior philosophies while keeping the chain up to date in an Amazon world.

What can I say except this is my favorite era of Publix? The continued "dynamic department" approach gives off just the right vibe for each section of the store. Specialized pieces, such as the swooping produce sign, sprinkles of bright green, and polished stone, metal and wood (although in moderation) only helps to show Publix's committment to their design philosophy. The walls pop with their colorful, yet simple blocks of department signage. Textures such as the wine canvas and pharmacy tile are small details, but add a new space of depth to each department. Not to mention, these balances make this package quite easy to adapt to Publix stores of any vintage, which can appear colorful and modern without needing to send in the carpentry crews too often.

The only flaw I see is that it appears a tad dark at times - otherwise the color makes up for that.


Thank you for following along with this ranking! I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it. More will be on the way, so stay tuned!


Sunday, September 10, 2023

Shoppers - Charlotte Hall, MD

Attention Shoppes of Battery Mill shoppers! This edition is something special, that being our very first guest contributor post. Featured here today is n0ah (also on YouTube and on Flickr), who will be covering one of Shoppers Food's latest expeditions. More contributor posts will be on the way in the future, so stay tuned! Now back to our regularly-scheduled blogging activity.


Hello everyone & welcome back to the Shoppes of Battery Mill blog. It's been how long we've posted anything... But here I am! Anyways, this post will cover on one of the newest Shoppers locations somewhere in the middle of nowhere southern tip of Maryland.

Shoppers - Charlotte Hall, MD

Store Info

  • Location: 37670 Mohawk Dr, Charlotte Hall, MD 20622
  • Opened: 2023
  • Decor package: UNFI Silver package
  • Features: Deli, Seafood, Shoppers Café, Salad Bar, Bakery/Colossal Donuts, International, Health & Beauty
Now let's seek some new looks here, shall we? When you continue reading!

Let's start with some 80's stuff that has been borrowed from McKays, the previous & first anchor of this exact store.

This payphone that still operates can be seen on the exterior entrance walls. I didn't actually use it but from what I've known, it's still in operation.
Also this retro Chevrolet Belaire that fits very well as a setting with this façade.

One of the newest stores to add a entrance logo is this place.

This is the produce section. It looks mediocre from all of the Shoppers locations, also the only one to have a Floral section inside. The short ceiling, coming from the McKays architecture, makes this store look more smaller yet the location is pretty big from the looks of the exterior.

Also the Café still behind the Saving Zone, it still gives the strong McKays retro feel. You can tell by the old TV on the roof. Let's wish they get a TV service for it.

Also this typeface error, 'Lunch' has Arial instead of Gotham.

Also this former liquor area from when it was a McKays location. Shoppers for some reason doesn't sell liquor here.


My opinions? This store is extremely amazing and cozy, but needs to undergo 1 decor package fix.
I guess that's all I have to say for now.

Monday, October 10, 2022

The NARDI Construction Archives: Everything Else

Once again, hello and welcome to the Shoppes of Battery Mill once again!

On our last visit, I dug through the treasure troves of the internet to present to you an archive of Shoppers Food archives, all from their working partner NARDI Construction. I promised to excavate more hidden gems from other NARDI clients as well, and today I shall deliver on this pledge.

So what other retail projects did NARDI embark on? While the firm has contributed to Shoppers, they have also pitched in on a number of other sites across the East Coast, including such notable malls as Potomac Mills and Johnson City, as well as at a variety of commercial centers, including airports, downtowns and big-box centers.

With all that being said and done, let's take a tour of their numerous other projects. I may also note that some stores and locations have an undetermined name/location, so if anyone can sleuth these out, any such comments would be gladly appreciated. Let's step back in time now!

Potomac Mills

Located in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Woodbridge, Virginia, Potomac Mills was the first Mills mall and changed the game upon its opening in 1985, combining the savings of outlet stores with the immersive shopping experience of traditional centers. Numerous other Mills (and clones) were constructed nationwide in the decades following, and I bet NARDI was fortunate to be a part of their early history. 

Nevertheless, here is a look into the firm's gallery of retro PMills photos, coupled with some mysteries to be solved.

To start things off right, here is a view of an entrance basking in the evening glow, all the while radiating its own light onto a colorful set of icons. This image is located at the eastern entrance to Neighborhood 1, next door to present-day Buy Buy Baby. Unfortunately, this artwork has been dismantled in favor of a plain look, though the brick and lattice walls on either side remain.

We enter the center with a look at a stately Eddie Bauer outlet shop. The chain remained a fixture of the mall for many years, and is now no longer present. I believe it may have relocated elsewhere, but I cannot exactly confirm this.

The lattice ceiling fixture seen in this photo, among others, was an architectural signature and noise-cancelling item of Potomac Mills until the mall underwent a major remodel in 2005. Presently, the mall uses "sails" under the ceilings as an accent, with spotlights operating independently of these hanging fixtures.

To my best knowledge, this storefront would have been located in Neighborhood 1 (dubbed the "Fashion District"), across from the present-day Round 1 arcade and bowling alley. As of 2022, said space is home to an Ann Taylor Factory Outlet.

This is the next store we'll be passing by, known as the "He-Ro Group". One of the hundreds of shops that have come and gone from Potomac over the years, this one looks to have sold the work of famed designer Oleg Cassini. Little is known on what the history of the brand was, or where in the mall did the He-Ro Group set up shop.

We round the bend that leads to another mystery location at the mall. There are elements which can be easily identifiable, such as the shop with the neon-lit sign in the background, or the furniture store to the right. 
What complicates the search for this one, however, is that there are several points of the mall that look like this. Regardless, you can see the old-school tile floor and a car on display to the left. 
As a bonus, can anyone tell which model is standing there?

As we go on, we arrive at an Oriental Weavers rug store, flanked by a sign reading "URT" to the left and a cinnamon bakery on the right. This location appears to be more easily identifiable than the latter two, as this one appears to be on a diagonal portion of the mall's corridor, and adjacent to downward flights of stairs.
Before we leave this mall I'll share interior photos of an store under construction. Again, this is another mystery to be solved, though the service "boat" may be easy to identify and this most likely belonged to an in-line shop as opposed to an anchor.

Smoketown Stations

This power center, situated on the Prince William Parkway east of Smoketown Road in Woodbridge, Virginia, was developed circa 1993-1995 as a big-box complement to Potomac Mills. Utilizing the then-new cross-county thoroughfare as a clean starting pad, Smoketown Stations was able to attract numerous tenants such as Best Buy, Petstuff, Lowe's, Kids R Us, and the previously seen Shoppers grocery store. The center is divided into five different blocks/sections, some of which will be explored below.

Now that we have arrived for some extra errands, let's go get some lunch at Boston... Chicken?! Well, if you didn't know before, this was what Boston Market used to go by. Regardless, it shouldn't be too far off from today's restaurant, so let's go in and eat.

On the technical side of things, this photo is most likely dated 1994. I inferred such as this was prior to Boston Chicken's renaming, but also the rest of this phase would open the next year and was still early on in taking shape. What is also noteworthy here is that Boston Market is still open as well.

Lunch is over, and that can only mean one thing: making plans for the rest of the day. How about some, uh, what's it called...  Netflix with physical movies or something? Or at least that's what I saw when I went through those doors at this "Hollywood Video" place. 

All jokes aside, here is the video-rental standby in the Smoketown Stations habitat, manifesting the golden age of this retail format. Being early on in the center's existence, it seems to have been next door to a couple of empty spaces. The rest of Block IV is to the right, with a couple more places we'll be checking into shortly.

Upon closing, circa 2008, the HV space would be subdivided with a Panda Express, a Sears Appliance Showroom, and an additional tenant slot. The latter two are now home to a spa and realtors' office.

Continuing on with our dinner plans, we zoom over to the eastern end of Block IV. Perhaps we might dine at Old Country Buffet, finish the living room with a La-Z-Boy chair, or get something to drink at Total... Beverage, right? Looks like the store operating in the bronze-clad building is yet another ghost of retail past. But what exactly was it, anyway?

Total Beverage was another local chain in the extensive portfolio of Herbert Haft, alongside Trak Auto, Crown Books, and Shoppers Food (all of which had made their way into Smoketown Stations!). Total Beverage was acquired by upstart Liquor World in 1998, and the parent company eventually assumed the Total Wine name and logo inspired by Beverage. However, this location already was long-gone by then, having closed in April 1996 after only a year in operation. Borders would eventually find their way in, before closing with the rest of the chain as part of their 2011 bankruptcy and becoming 2nd and Charles.

We can't forget about Zany Brainy while we're here, too. The educational toy and game seller, meanwhile, became home to Ulta, which jumped ship to the upstart Stonebridge Town Center (alongside the likes of Wegmans, REI and the Apple Store), and now features a Tuesday Morning.

Perhaps if all those fancy-schmancy shops aren't up to our liking, maybe we could just unwind with some arcade games and pizza at Chuck E. Cheese's (Pizza). Another signage change to add to the list... oh joy.
This restaurant is in Block II. This phase was anchored by a Lowe's in its early years, before relocating in 2003 and ceding space to Dick's Sporting Goods and LA Fitness. This one is another lucky tenant that remains open today, even after a fire ravaged the building in 2018 and a remodel was conducted.

What do we have here? A store with the word "mobile" on the building, that I know. Perhaps we'll check out all the latest iPhone 14 Pro Max Giga Folds... wait, what are these brick phones with tiny green screens doing here? Oh, I forgot, we're in 1995 or something.

Also in Block II, this storefront continues to sell cell phones under the Verizon brand. Regardless of what's sold inside, I must admit, a lot of retail renaming has happened in the center's lifetime!
After all these peculiar retail sights of old, let's go to a place that remains rather unchanged... Best Buy. Let's perhaps get our hands on a huge TV, or all the latest albums on "compact disc" or whatever it's called.

Best Buy is the sole anchor of Smoketown Stations' Block V, but it's accompanied by a decent amount of strip shops to the side, some of which could be considered junior anchors. That interpretation is up to you, the reader though.

As for any remodels of the sort... I take that statement back, it was indeed remodeled in 2012 to feature the "Connected Store" concept, and now features a metallic sheet facade. What I find interesting here, though, are the old-school teal lamp covers on the walls.

The Mall at Johnson City

And now for something completely different, as they say. Previously dubbed the "Miracle Mall", the center has been a mainstay in the Tri-Cities area of southeastern Virginia and northeastern Tennessee since opening in 1971. NARDI participated in the mall's early-1990s remodel. 

Full disclosure, I am not very familiar with this area, so if anyone has some interesting comments or can identify the mall's layout, keep me informed.

We enter the mall with a rather modern (for the time) entrance area. To the left is a Ruby Tuesday, which eventually moved to a standalone space nearby and closing with the pandemic in 2020. I will admit, both facades still look quite good today!

Our first look inside will be at the Belk department store. You may have noticed the "Parks" byline here, but what does it stand for exactly? The southern retailer was known for acquiring local brands and attaching their names to that of Belk. Over 100 examples existed, so there sure must have been something going on with all those banners they had to track. This Belk stands today, but with just the "Belk" name itself.
Here is a view of Parks Belk from further away. A bit dark of a corridor here I will say, but I hope it looked better in person.
We thumb over to the Johnson City JCPenney's entrance, embracing the wall of black glass and an interior dotted with light fixtures. This one is also still open in the same spot it was, even as Penney's has struggled in the past decade or so.

This is what looks to be the mall's food court. Seems to be a rather stately affair, given the formal attire and a piano man at the helm!

Here are some escalators, in a quieter part of the mall. This aesthetic doesn't seem to match up to that of the previous photo, so I would have to say this was pre-remodel, though I am entirely guessing.

A nice place for a round of indoor mini-golf. I'm not sure what happened to this place, but I don't think there are any such inside Johnson City Mall today.

This is a view at this ornate combination of columns and mega crown moulding. This would likely be mid-construction, seeing the scaffolding and temporary wall installations blocking off portions of the mall.

We close this set off with a look at the end result, featuring a kiosk store selling sunglasses.



We return to the Clopper Mill Village Center, home of the Germantown Shoppers, to rewind back to the center's early year. Here is a space for what looks to be a Glory Days Grill, an American-themed restaurant chain with locations from here to Florida.

We catch up with (augmented-reality Netflix, in 2022 terms) Hollywood Video here at this center. At present, the space is split between T-Mobile, Subway, and a dance studio.

Speaking of this "video rental" thing, here is the interior of Giant Depot Video in the King Farm district of nearby Rockville. See if you can identify some of these posters!

We finish the post as a whole in a rather unusual place, the Baltimore-Washington International Airport. NARDI worked on the food court for its 2005 remodel, and strung together a number of fast food tenants, including Quizno's. Interestingly this one has braved mass closures, and has been remodeled over the years too!

Here is Villa Pizza, which also remains open, although with a slightly different name, again.

Thank you for choosing the Shoppes of Battery Mill! All I can say, it's been a wild ride back in time through these NARDI Construction PDFs. Remember: be kind, rewind! (if only I could figure how to work that darn "rewind" key on my computer...)