The supermarket. It is a staple in the American culture, with the majority of these supermarkets now carrying everything and anything that you can possibly imagine. While some chains are spread more nationwide, and have a well known reputation, there are other supermarket chains that are more specific to certain regions of the country. One specific chain is that of Publix. Publix supermarkets have been around for many decades, offering their communities some of the best in produce and merchandise for your home. In this article, we are going to reveal to you twenty things that you may or may not have known about the supermarket chain, along with its vast and long history. Let’s get started.
1. Many Years In Business
As we said, there are many different supermarkets and other grocery chains that have made their popularity known, but not many have been in business for as long as Publix. Founded by George W. Jenkins and his family in the fall of 1930, the first location was established and opened for the community of Winter Haven, Florida. That’s almost nine decades in business!
2. Southeastern Splendor
Like we said, many grocery market chains that are in business today only serve specific areas and regions in the country, and Publix is no different. As the first store opened in Florida, it is pretty easy to put together that Publix supermarkets are commonly found and serve in the Southeastern region of the United States. In fact, Publix are only found in seven states (Florida, Tennessee, both of the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama); However, they do have about 1,250 locations open to date.
3. Well Renowned Company
Publix in general has definitely made a name for itself throughout the course of its history. The company has even earned the title as one of the best companies to work for in 2018, and has also made several of Forbes’ and Fortune’s top lists that come out each year. It stands to show that their reputation has improved and grown throughout the course of its long and outstanding history.
4. Limited Stock Supply
The title of this next tidbit is a little misleading, and let us explain why. While the company does have significant stock shares for purchase, the company itself only allows the stock to be purchased by active and/or working employees within Publix, and also to individuals who are members of the Board of Directors within the company as well. Unfortunately, this means that the general public is not able to buy into the company, even with its multitude of success.
5. The “True” First Supermarket
While Publix as a company was opened and established back in the fall of 1930, it wasn’t actually until the 1940’s that the first true supermarket was opened for business. Jenkins actually purchased on orange grove in Florida to have enough space to build his mega store, and the expansion of the company only grew from there. In fact, the expansion led him to also purchase about twenty other small grocery store locations to convert them into Publix locations for those communities.
6. It Took Five Years To Begin Expansion
That’s right. Jenkins managed and owned the first Publix for about five years before taking the plunge to open and set up a second location of Publix. It was in 1935, and it was actually named the Economy Food Store at the time of its establishment. The second store was also opened in the town of Winter Haven, Florida, similar to the first market.
7. Beating The Great Depression
In case you didn’t put two and two together, Jenkins not only opened and began a successful business, but he also did it during one of the most detrimental time periods in our nation’s history. The Great Depression affected all aspects of the economy and social society. However, against all odds, George Jenkins was able to bring in about $120,000 his fourth year in business with the first store. It also allowed him to become successful enough to purchase and run a second store, and the rest is history.
8. Innovations Of A Supermarket
During that time period of the early ’40s, supermarkets were technically like a thing of the future. The amount of innovations that Jenkins put into his supermarket made it a truly one of a kind shopping experience for all of the consumers in the community. His first supermarket included the introduction of built in flower shop and donut shops, automatic doors, actual cold cases for the frozen and refrigerated produce that was available, and even piped in music for everyone to enjoy. It is safe to say that Publix was one of the first chains to become ahead of its time.
9. Continued Growth
It seemed as though each decade continued to bring new and updated innovations and services to the communities that contained a Publix. The late 1950s and early 1960s brought in the services of having a full scale bakery as well as a deli counter in each Publix location that was up and running. This point also showed growth in expansion, as Publix has becoming one of the highest ranked grocery markets throughout the entire state of Florida. By the 1980’s, ATM services had also been introduced, having an ATM machine installed and operational in each Publix branch as well.
10. Completely Family Operated
One of the sweetest facts about this company is that it has been only family or employee owned from the very beginning, starting with the founder, George W. Jenkins. In fact, it wasn’t until the spring of 2016 that the grandson of Jenkins, Ed Crenshaw, announced his retirement at CEO for Publix although he will still remain as Chairman of the Board. The CEO title is now held by Todd Jones, who served as President of the company previously, and who is also an almost forty year Publix veteran. Jones began with the company decades ago as a bagger for one of the stores.
11. School Opportunities
Not only does the Publix company own and operate over 1,000 store locations in the country, but they also operate eleven cooking schools as well. The are operated under the ‘Aprons’ name, and it allows for customers to learn easy to make recipes and other tips and tricks for making meals in their home. The services are available through in store Aprons kiosks, and the items and services they offer can range from pre made meals, to prepackaged products and ingredients, and so on.
12. Greenwise Markets
The late 2000’s also saw an expansion through the company that created growth in a different area. While Publix does offer organic products, they decided to create and establish several locations called Greenwise Markets. These markets were set to offer similar services and produce like that of Whole Foods Markets that were increasing in popularity. The company is still opening and operating these markets today, with their latest opening of a Greenwise Market taking place in 2018 near Florida State University.
13. Publix Sabor
If having cooking school opportunities and wholesome organic markets isn’t enough, Publix also took it upon themselves as a company to open several locations of market, which they called Publix Sabor. These markets cater to the Hispanic American community in the region, and they offer similar services to that of regular Publix supermarkets, including open seating cafes, more bakery and deli items that play to the Spanish flavors of that culture, and they also hire bilingual Spanish and American employees to help make the experience more enjoyable for consumers.
14. The Little Clinic Phase
While Publix locations still have pharmacy services today (just as many other supermarkets do), at one point in 2006, Publix made an agreement with The Little Clinic which allowed for there to be small medical clinics open within the supermarket locations. These clinics were often staffed with nurse practitioners from local hospitals, and operated similarly to that of urgent clinics for ailments and other minor injuries that don’t require an appointment. However, in 2011, Publix decided to discontinue the Little Clinic services, as it was taking away from the grocery business.
15. Publix Liquor
Publix first introduced its liquor shop options inside of its markets in the late ’80s, but inevitably decided to close its test sites for these liquor shops by 1989 due to a lack of success. Liquor shops within Publix locations was not introduced again until 2003, almost fourteen years after its initial shutdown. It, of course, has had success since its reintroduction. Due to local laws in the Southeastern states, the Publix Liquor shops are actually consumer accessed through a separate entrance than the main supermarket entrances, and cannot be accessed through the market.
While the company has had quite little controversy throughout its almost ninety year history, there still have been some legal issues. In 1995, the company was sued by the United Food and Commercial Workers union for sexual discrimination in the job and work environment. The suit was settled for $81.5 million by the end of 1997, although the company did not agree with the allegations that were made.
17. Charitable Work
Publix as a company is known for raising its fair share of charitable donations for several foundations throughout the years. Some foundations they have and continue to work with include March of Dimes, Special Olympics, United Way, Children’s Miracle Network, and several others as well. The company has also made several contributions to local soup kitchens and food banks in their respected areas to help the communities they service as well.
18. Activism Brawl
2018 brought on an all out riot in a local Publix location in Florida. The boycott was led by David Hogg, who was one of the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting. The protests that were planned included a ‘die-in’ protests at several of the supermarket locations. The protests were a stand against the political support that the company was making toward a Republican candidate for Florida governor. Before the protests could begin, Publix announced that they would suspend any funded political contributions in order to reevaluate their political support. However, the protest still took place on May 25th of 2018, and last for 720 seconds, which was the same amount of shootings that have taken place in the nation’s history.
19. Other Legal Disputes
Aside from being sued in ’95 for sexual discrimination, the company has also had their own set of legal disputes throughout the course of their history. Although they have lost a few of their disputes, such as their case in 1995, they have won cases against Visa and MasterCard for unfair business practices back in the early 2000’s. The company has also been fined by the Board of Human Rights for discrimination when they terminated one of the LGBT employees. However, that particular case was dropped for lack of evidence.
20. Discovering Inclusion
Along the same lines as their case they had with the Board of Human Rights and the termination of an LGBT employee back in the 2000’s, Publix made the effort to provides benefits to more of their employees in 2015. At the beginning of that year, the company began offering health coverage to their employees of same sex couples, as long as the couples were legally married. The coverage was also offered regardless of which state the couple was married in the country.
Throughout the course of its long, almost ninety year history, Publix supermarkets have made vast and innovative strives to make their locations the best of the best. We are sure that the company isn’t planning to go anywhere anytime soon, with its plan to continue expansion in the Southeastern United States and throughout the company in general. So, the next time you are visiting one of these States, make sure you plan to make a quick grocery run to a Publix supermarket in the area. You definitely will not be disappointed with all that the store has to offer.