When I was growing up, Schwegmann's was the
biggest grocery store chain in the area and had all the biggest stores.
Sadly, some years back the owners decided to buy into a lot of other things.
Well, many of those investments turned out to be really bad ones, and the
chain eventually folded. A lot of those stores now sit abandoned.
While visiting my parents over the holidays,
I decided to look into the one in their neighborhood. Sure enough,
it was busted open in enough places to get in literally on all four sides.
I took a quick tour and came back a few days later with my camera to get
Update: I didn't realize this, but
my friend Syd used to work at this store for four years shortly before
I met him. I knew he worked for another location later on, but he
started out at this one. He happened across this page one day and
provided a number of interesting bits about this abandonment that I threaded
throughout the page.
||For now, this is the best shot I have
of the exterior of the building. I waited until around 4pm to check
out this site, and by then a cold front moved in and everything clouded
||I entered the building on the loading
dock side, which is obscured from view from the rest of the businesses
in the area.
The walls on this side are full of graffiti
for aficionados of the medium.
||This is the wall between the warehouse
portion of the store (left) and the retail section. Up the stairs
are some utility rooms (A/C, etc.). As you will see, punks came in
and smashed up damned near everything, including the utility rooms, bathrooms,
etc. My opinion is that teenagers ought to be on Prozac until they're
out of college.
||All the glass in this area is shattered
and the floor crunches with every step. Straight ahead is the corrdor
to the main store.
On the right a little bit ahead are the
front doors (with a similar set on the far end also straight ahead).
Syd: Schweggmann's had a little
restaurant in the store for both employees to get lunch and for visitors
to eat at when they were impatiently waiting for their wives to read the
label of every item in the store. On the right was the cooking area, a
cold drink cooler, and a long silver-steel counter. On the left were about
9 small tables with chairs. I ate many lunches in there.
||A busted up bathroom on the left in the
Syd: Outside of the restaurant were
the bathrooms. On the other side of the bathrooms was the vault room. It
had 2 or 3 bullet-proof-glass windows where people would cash their paychecks,
buy hunting licenses, etc. And of course, the cashier tills were housed
there over night. The vault room had a big door on the other side of the
windows, with a little inner chamber and another door (double-security).
Since I did not become a cashier (did every damn thing else but that) I
never went into the vault room. Only the managers had a key to the vault
room doors. Everyone else was buzzed in with one of those electric buzzer-lock
things like banks have. I wonder if any vandals managed to crack those
bullet-proof teller windows? Then across for the teller windows was
a glass-doored area that was the Schweggmann pharmacy. For security reasons,
windows were everywhere! Schweggmann figured that if everything was
open to viewers, customers would be less likely to cause trouble, steal,
etc. (Hence the mounds of glass underfoot...)
||Smashed up front doors to the store.
||My flash didn't carry very far (my low
battery indicator was on the whole time), but those are checkout lanes
(minus the cash registers) on the right. The main part of the store
just beyond is completely barren other than some debris.
||Large sections of this partition have
been smashed in, leaving little mystery as to why this property continues
to sit vacant.
Syd: I didn't see the back
produce area pictured on your site, unless it was the area with the remains
of partitions....? Anyway, back there is another red staircase (not
the one in the back warehouse). These stairs lead up to a catwalk where
security would watch the customers through a long section of 2-way-mirrors
(about 2-feet tall) that stretched along the entire back wall of the store,
along the top edge of the ceiling.
||One would think that these doors lead
to cold storage, given the cooler to the right...
||But this area looks to me more like more
office space. I am assuming these are partitions that have been knocked
In general, it was pretty hard to get a
good sense of what I was looking at considering I had a mini-maglight and
such as large area in which to diffuse the beam.
Syd: One set of orange, plastic
double-doors led to the deli cooler, deli supervisor desk, and liquor
warehouse shelves, another set of orange doors led to the meat department
cooler, another set led to the back warehouse, and another set led to the
produce department cooler. The set in your pictures appears to be the set
that led to the deli cooler and liquor shelves, because it had shelves
of cooled deli stuff on the shelves outside the doors.
||Up the stairs (not shown) from the putative
office section is another area with much evidence that is was heavily wired
for computer connections (i.e., pricing databases, cash registers, etc.).
There are a number of places where there
are holes punched in the walls.
Syd: That's where the master
computers were that ran the registers, price-scanning guns, price label
printers, etc. It was quite a high-tech set-up for a grocery store. Also
up there were 2 rooms with 2-way-mirrors that looked out onto that half
of the store, since the catwalk in the back didn't turn the back corner.
The manager or assistant manager often stayed in one of those 2-way rooms
looking out over everything when the Customer Service desk was over there
(eventually it was moved to front-center of the store and tourist t-shirts
stood in it's place on that end).
||As I said at the top of the page, there
is an opening on every side of the building. This is a door in the
back that was opened (You can barely see the light from it in some of the
interior shots). The front glass is all smashed in, so there's no
obstacle there, and there is another door like this that is wide open on
he side opposite where I came in! Good job of patrolling the area,
||Update: Syd sent me this picture
of the outside of the building from early 2007. A furniture store
had taken over at least part of the space, but as you can see, it was going
out of business after probably less than two years. (Admittedly,
this was following Katrina, so I don't know what losses they might have
suffered as a result of that hurricane.)
Additional pics from 2007.