Sunday, January 25, 2009

Watching Orlando Unravel 4

Circuit City Going Out Of BusinessI lead off this time with the sign of the times, a going-out-of-business sign for Circuit City. I shot this on the way home from the airport on MLK Day. It's now been a week since they declared liquidation, and during that period I've managed to visit the three remaining locations in Orlando that I'm aware of (downtown Colonial Drive, Mall at Millenia, and across from Florida Mall, where this was taken).

The store at Florida Mall is the oldest I know of. It was in business when I used to take the then-little girls to eat at Olive Garden, some 18 years ago. I remember the interior was low-key and aimed at selling luxury electronic systems at prices I could ill afford at the time. My taste in gear ran more towards what I could afford at Sears, K-Mart, and Walmart. Circut City was just way out of my league.

But as time passed I gained in earning power and Circuit City transformed itself from a high-end retailer to yet another big-box mover of electronic goods. That's when BestBuy began to move into Orlando, and my three low-end electronic retailers were moving up-scale to better quality gear.

And I think that's what really did Circuit City in. Some point to when Circuit City fired it's best-paid salespeople, and I'm sure that contributed to the decline and fall of Circuit City. But the growing competition and overall decline were already evident when that disastrous decision was made. Firing the really help only hastened the eventual demise of Circuit City.

Circuit City Florida Mall
Not much traffic fills the Florida Mall Circuit City parking lot. Probably because the prices within are a joke compared to what you can get elsewhere, even at 30% off.

As Judy and I drove through the parking lot I discovered more empty store fronts
Empty Store Fronts Florida Mall
A strip mall across the street from Florida Mall in the same complex with Circuit City. The store on the left was an Allstate. Whether it was for insurance or something else I don't know; the only reason I know it was an Allstate is because the company logo was still up on the wall inside. The store on the right was once a Big and Tall Men's shop.

Empty Store Front Florida Mall
Same strip mall, corner store. It was a former Chicken Kitchen.

Sound Advice Gone
This Sound Advice is empty and locked and also located across the street from Florida Mall. Sound Advice was once owned by the same owners of HiFi Buys, Tweeter Home Entertainment Group.

Volvo Truck Sales Gone
This was across the street from Sound Advice and next to Florida Mall. This former dealership covers 4.5 acres and was closed some time in July 2008.

17-92, where Florida Mall is located, runs parallel to John Young Parkway. These next few pictures are from John Young.
Another Empty Office Park
This office park was on John Young Parkway, across the street from a Super Walmart. I have no idea how long it's been finished and sitting empty, but it was started January 2008. This was the first of two. I choose not to shoot the second because it would be pointless.

And finally, something much closer to home. Located at the T-junction of Wallace Road and Turkey Lake, across from Universal Studios.

Sign of the times
Another empty office complex
An interior view on the first floor.

And then just down the road on Turkey Lake next to the latest Walmart to be thrown up.

More empty buildings
More empty buildings

I'll probably continue to document (shoot) and post on Flickr. But unless something really interesting/spectacularly horrible happens this will be the last of this type of article for a while. I need to focus on the bigger picture, the people. These out-of-business/empty buildings underscore all the people who don't have a job, or those particular jobs. What's happened to them? What are they doing? How are they making a living/

I ask this question because of the following personal observation from my daily work commute. To get to work I drive up I-4 and then take the 408 east to the UCF/Research Park area. I used to hate driving up I-4 because of the really heavy stop-and-go morning traffic. But since December, and especially since school started back, the traffic has been much thinner, and as a consequence, much faster. The only time in the past it got that thin was during holidays and the summer break. Where are the extra people now? Are they out of work and staying at home collecting unemployment? Or did they move out of Orlando? Or some combination there-of?

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