A number of my posts this year have been about construction projects that have sprung up around the Orlando area. If you were to look at just the construction projects you'd think that the economy had turned a corner in Orlando. And you'd be wrong.
The economy is a lot more complex than a simple boom-and-bust cycle might indicate. While it's true that new projects are going up in transportation, retail and apartment residential, major retail stores are still closing, and many large retail stores that have been shutting down since the early 2000s are still closed. Economic recovery in Orlando is spotty at best.
This used to be a Super Target at Dorscher and West Colonial, a few blocks west of N. Hiawassee and West Colonial. I'd shopped at this particular store last Christmas, and I headed over there today to look for plastic containers for a home project. When I got there my wife and I were both shocked to see the store as you see it now. I stopped, walked around to grab a few shots, and then went inside to look around.
Not much was left inside except for the fixtures, and damn little of those. Just about everything that could be taken out had been taken out, all the way out to the walls. While I was there I ran into a guy who was supervising the final removal of unsold fixtures and hardware. He told me that the store had been closed around the first of February because Target had built a new Super Target west in Winter Garden, and they'd converted the older Target store at Maguire and East Colonial across from Fashion Square Mall into a second Super Target. The guy made the observation that with those two stores nobody wanted to drive to that original Super Target, and the area couldn't support it, so they closed it. Merchandise and a portion of the store staff went to work at the other two stores.
What is sad about this store is that at one time is was the sales leader in the area. It was also one of the first Super Targets to go in, right next door to the original Target. When it converted from Target to Super Target, the Burlington Coat Factory moved into the left half of the Target original store and a furniture store into the right half. The old store was that large.
But the Super Target isn't the only store in that area that will now stand empty. At the far end of the original Target's shopping center are an old Service Merchandise that was closed in the very early 2000s and what started as a super-sized Goodings Grocery store right next to it. The Service Merchandise has never reopened as anything else, while the Gooding's reopened for a few years as an independent food market. It was closed again around 2005, and it's been shuttered ever since.
Combine this will the still-shuttered Circuit City further west, and all the shuttered stores further west in West Oaks Mall (Broders, Chevy's, Toys 'R' Us, and in the future Best Buy) as well as many smaller stores, and you see a continuing economic blight around the section of town all up and down Colonial.
And then, of course, my obligatory weekend gas fillup at the Hess station close to home. Gas prices have been hovering between $3.80 and $3.98/gallon for regular. As soon as Labor Day hits those prices will march well past $4.00. I've read we could see $5.00/gallon gas this year. Will we? I have no idea, but it wouldn't surprise me. My wife and I need to get our next high MPG vehicle as soon as possible to minimize the impact.
Olympus E-P2 with Panasonic 14mm. Post processing done in Lightroom 4.