Sunday, September 6, 2015

It's Been Their Pleasure for 85 Years - Happy 85th Publix!


     On this day 85 years ago, George Jenkins opened the first Publix store opened at 58 4th St. SW in downtown Winter Haven, FL. George Jenkins was a man who held various odd jobs in his younger days before finding his place in the supermarket world. Before Publix, George Jenkins found himself working at various Piggly Wiggly stores in West and Central Florida as a manager in the late 20's. After many of the unfortunate events in Florida and the US in the late 20's (the Florida Real estate bubble of 1925, direct hits by two hurricanes, and the stock market crash of 1929), the owner of the Piggly Wiggly stores in Florida was forced to sell his stores to a new owner. After the new owner purchased the Florida stores, he decided he didn't want to make the trip to Florida to visit his new acquisitions. When George Jenkins heard this, he decided he should make a trip to the new owner's office in Atlanta to introduce himself and discuss what the future would hold for the Piggly Wiggly stores in Florida. When George Jenkins arrived in Atlanta, he arrived at the new owner's office and asked his secretary if he could speak with him. His secretary replied that the new owner was in an important business meeting at the moment. However, George Jenkins could overhear in the other room that the new owner was on the phone with someone, discussing his recent golf game. This absolutely enraged George Jenkins. He returned to Florida and decided to quit his job as manager of the Piggly Wiggly after the incident in Atlanta, and decided he would open his own grocery store right next door to the Winter Haven Piggly Wiggly he formerly worked at. Jenkin's new store, named Publix after an old movie theater chain on the brink of failure named Paramount-Publix (Jenkins once said he chose that name because he liked the sound of it), opened on September 6, 1930. Jenkins declared war on the neighboring Piggly Wiggly with various rival sales and one-upsmanships. After a year or so of battling, the Piggly Wiggly conceded and closed up shop, while Publix continued to prosper, relocating to a new state-of-the-art store in 1940, dubbed a "food palace" by George Jenkins. That new store would have looked just like the drawing on the bag in the photo above, called the "Art Deco" style Publix. Publix continued to open stores of this style into the 1950's all across Florida, until their famous wing stores made their debut later that decade. And Publix is still growing today. Publix currently has 1,103 stores in 6 states (Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, and North Carolina), and supposedly Mississippi is somewhere on the horizon, although nothing official has been announced yet. Of Publix's 1,103 stores, 760 of them are located in Florida alone, where Publix enjoy's a nearly 50% market share and title of #1 supermarket chain, that is, after chasing off or nearly killing practically every other mid-range supermarket competitor in the state over the last two decades. Who would have thought that a supermarket founded out of spite and named after a dying movie theater could have turned into such a success? Publix has become a Florida icon, and they'll probably be around for another 85 years since they have yet to find rival who could really challenge them in their home state. 

Signs like this just appeared within the last week at Publix's stores. This is one of three different sayings featured on these signs. 
Anyway, more Albertsons coming on the 20th...

Until then,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

10 comments:

  1. What a cool story!

    And I sure do hope they come around to my market... but Kroger would definitely put up a fight!

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    1. The story of Publix's founding is one of the more interesting ones out there. One thing Pubix is not afraid of is a fight. In Atlanta, Kroger and Publix compete head to head. Kroger dominated Atlanta in the 90's when Publix first entered there during a time when other new entries to that market were failing fast. In 2010, Publix surpassed Kroger for the first time as Atlanta's #1 grocery chain, and they continue to hold that title to this day, with Kroger at #2 now. Publix has no fear of Kroger or Walmart. Those two fear Publix much more! Publix has been opening a few stores near the AL/MS border. This was Publix's same tactic before they entered NC, by opening stores in SC really close to the border. Memphis is also the only major market in TN where Publix doesn't have a presence. There was even a Facebook page out there called 'Bring Publix to Memphis' (or something like that). Publix will enter your area eventually, it's only a matter of when.

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    2. Oh yeah, I remember that Facebook page! That was a phase when everyone was excited about it, and that rapidly spread - it was even on the news a lot, continually with Publix denying they had plans to come to the area. I think the people still generally want Publix to come, but they've been kinda appeased in the meantime by Whole Foods, Fresh Market, the rumor of Trader Joe's, all those other chains coming in.

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    3. I think Publix will start with the Gulf Coast of Mississippi as their next new market, followed by Memphis/Northern MS shortly after. The MS Gulf Coast has Winn-Dixie and a handful of Rouses as the main competition outside of Walmart. Publix doesn't consider Winn-Dixie much of a threat, and both Publix and Rouses seem to coexist in Mobile, where they both are recent entrants to that market. I believe Rouses tends to swing more to the upscale side, but I don't know much about them to know for sure. They're a fairly small chain with only a hundred or so stores whose following is primarily concentrated in New Orleans, so I'm sure Publix wouldn't find them much of a threat either in the MS Gulf Coast. Memphis will be a bit tougher for Publix as they need to try to win Kroger shoppers in that area over, but if they were able to win over shoppers in Kroger stronghold Atlanta, I think they could pull off a Memphis division. And Publix likes to make a big deal when they enter a market, so their entrance will probably be even bigger than anything Whole Foods could come up with.

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    4. I don't think they'll have to do too much coaxing with all the interest for them around here, lol!

      And I've never heard of Rouses, that's interesting. I look forward to seeing wheverer Publix goes next!

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  2. Replies
    1. Wegmans is a nice store. I think they might actually be a bit nicer than Publix, actually, but their stores seem very chaotic to me. Their stores are definitely much larger in size than any Publix and they have a wider variety of products. It would be interesting to see what would happen if Publix and Wegmans were to ever overlap territory, although I'm not sure if that will ever happen. I can't speak for Tops since I've never been in one, but their stores look pretty nice from the photos you've uploaded of them!

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  3. So that's the bag you were talking about a few months ago! Very cool :)

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    1. Yep, that's it. I figured this would be a good time to feature it.

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  4. Eighty-five years of business and 1,103 stores strong, Publix has done very well. Its success will continue through growth in its Charlotte Divison (North Carolina and South Carolina) and nonperishables distribution center in McCalla, Alabama.

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