Publix, a supermarket chain with headquarters in Lakeland, Florida, has become increasingly popular among shoppers in the southeastern United States — and for good reason. The employees are happy and helpful, the store's brand products are on point, and each department goes big when it comes to quality. Did we also mention Pub Subs, Publix's delicious specialty sandwiches? The company's slogan, "Where shopping is a pleasure," was coined in 1954 (via Florida Travel & Life), and it most certainly encompasses the Publix experience.
Where else will you find a supermarket mascot – Plato the Publixaurus, a giant blue dinosaur (via Spoon University) — and The Aprons Cooking School embedded in the grocery store (as seen on Instagram), which offers classes including pasta making and knife skills? Everything at Publix is well-thought out, from the strategic layout right down to the convenience of online ordering and BOGO deals. The supermarket even has a money back guarantee (per the official website), which states that if you are not satisfied with a purchase, your money will be 'cheerfully' refunded. Join us as we take a trip down the aisle and uncover just what all the excitement over Publix is all about.
Publix's rich history provides a strong backbone for the successful business it is today. The chain was founded by George Jenkins, a former Piggly Wiggly manager who opened the first Publix Food Store in 1930 and eventually the first Publix Super Market in 1940, according to Florida Travel & Life. Jenkins saw the name 'Publix' on a movie theater, liked it, and decided to use it on his own store. The new supermarket included features that were then uncommon to many grocery stores, including fancy upgrades like automatic doors, air conditioning, and terrazzo floors. There was even a scale out front — a fixture that remains in the entry of some Publix stores to this day — for guests to weigh themselves.
Jenkins was involved in local charities, and Publix continues to honor his legacy today through partnerships with Habitat for Humanity and March of Dimes. When Jenkins died in 1996, Florida's then-governor Lawton Chiles stated in a New York Times obituary, "George made a tremendous contribution to our business climate, but perhaps more importantly, he was a true civic leader who had a deep dedication to improving our communities" (via Florida Travel & Life).
Like many grocery store chains, Publix has its own in-house brand line, which can be broken down into three sectors. There's the Publix Brand, which offers products similar to their brand-name counterparts; Publix Premium, which has more upscale products such as cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil; and GreenWise, a line that contains many organic and all-natural foods (via the Publix website).
According to Art Plus Marketing, most supermarket chains bring in about 14% of their revenue based on the sales of the store's own line of items; however, Publix makes a whopping 20% off of their brand products. While the packaging — with its notable black and white logo — may appeal to customers and be part of the reason why they're so successful, it's perhaps Publix's attitude toward quality and price that really makes the cash register cha-ching. Publix's philosophy is that consumers should be able to purchase store items that are the same quality as brand-name items for a lower price, or pay the same price for a product that's even better. Sounds like a win-win!
We all know customer service can make or break a shopping experience, and fortunately, Publix gets a gold star for their exceptional employees. Store associates here are notoriously friendly and helpful, and will not only help bag your groceries — but, if asked, they'll also wheel your shopping cart out to your vehicle and help load the goods into your car. Be sure to give them a big thank you, but don't even think about trying to tip; the associates won't accept gratuities (via Florida Travel & Life).
If you do come across a super employee, however, be sure to let their manager know, as the associate may be awarded a free sandwich from the deli as a thanks (via Chowhound). One Southern Living writer was so impressed with the service at Publix, she chronicled her weekly encounter with 'Mr. Peter' from the produce department who she said always treats her son to a balloon. With such helpful and cheerful employees, Publix must be doing something right when it comes to how they treat their staff. In fact, the grocery store chain has been named one of Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For over 24 straight years (via Publix). And it's not hard to see why: Publix associates have access to benefits like tuition reimbursement, mentoring programs, and a library full of materials to help promote personal and professional development (via the official website).
Want free cookies? Just pull your shopping cart up to the bakery counter at Publix and, if your child asks for the treat, they'll be given one, free of charge and with a smile (via Florida Travel & Life). Just as well, Business Insider claims the store's breads are made fresh daily and always from scratch. And, according to the Publix website, the selection might include mini croissants, a great option for breakfast or to complement any meal, as well as gourmet brioche hot dog rolls.
Another big hit at the Publix bakery are the design-your-own, special edition, and theme cakes. Creative options might include the Cookies & Cream Hero cake made from both chocolate and vanilla cakes with cookies and cream mousse, buttercream frosting, and chocolate bars on top. Or, if you're having a birthday party for a little one, opt for the Disney Princess Happily Ever After cake garnished with castle towers and Disney princess statuettes. What's even better, if you order a cake for a child's first birthday party, you'll receive a seven-inch "smash cake" for free (via Sun Sentinel).
Publix also has an onsite pharmacy that makes it easy to keep you and your family healthy. Many common medications are offered in 90-day supplies for only $7.50 (per the official website). It's also noted that the chain will fill your pet prescriptions, and even offers delivery of your medication starting at just $5. Hate having to go to the pharmacy every week because your refills aren't synced? Publix will happily program your refills so they're all ready at the same time each month, and the pharmacy offers a myriad of vaccines including the COVID-19 and flu shots, but also tetanus, shingles, and meningitis.
What's more, some of the locations offer walk-in care for those looking for quick treatment for certain conditions without having to go to the doctor. Finally, Publix's pharmacies are committed to helping you with your bottom line and saving you money. Per the website, they'll always look to see if a less expensive but comparable medication is available or if special manufacturers' coupons might apply to your order.
The store's floral department receives deliveries five to seven days a week, ensuring that, when you make a purchase, you're getting a fresh product. Publix Premium Bouquets, a line of specialty arrangements, for example, are made with flowers sourced from an area near Bogotá, Columbia where the climate and abundant sunshine lend to the highest product standards, according to the official website. Select arrangements, which change based on season and availability, might include bouquets made with lilies from Peru, colorful hydrangeas, or a classic dozen roses. Plants are also available, including a variety of houseplants and orchids, that make for a great gift.
You can even have the floral department put together the flowers for your wedding, including items like bridal bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres, per the website. Fragrant flowers and lively plants can offer a pick-me-up for anyone receiving them as a gift or even buying them for themselves, and customers have increasingly purchased them during the pandemic. "Having fresh botanicals around when people are spending unprecedented amounts of time at home can be an instant mood-lifter," said Maria Brous, director of media and community relations for Publix (via Produce Business).
Publix offers a healthy selection of wine varieties as well, including a line of Publix Premium Limited Edition Wines. The current selections include a 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from Napa Valley, a 2019 Chardonnay made with grapes from Sonoma, and a 2019 Pinot Noir, also sourced from Sonoma (via Publix). According to Sun Sentinel, prices for these top-of-the-line bottles start at just $19.99. Publix also offers a wine discount program, as noted on their website, extending 5% off when you buy four to seven bottles and 10% off when you purchase eight or more; new sales are featured every week.
Having trouble choosing the perfect vino for your occasion? Some of the stores employ Publix Wine Specialists to help you make your choice (via Facebook). Many customers rave about the selection and treatment in the wine department, such as one Yelp user who wrote in a review, "Publix has quite the selection when it comes to needing alcohol. They have decent prices compared to smaller liquor stores which is always a plus."
Head over to Publix's fried chicken page on their website, and you'll find upward of 50 products, depending on which local store you visit. Yes, 50! Options might include traditionally fried chicken tenders, hot and spicy items, and crispy classics. You can even buy individual pieces for under $2 if you're looking for a light lunch. Or, if you need to feed a big group of people, opt for a large family dinner including Hawaiian rolls and three deli sides.
The fried chicken is one of the grocery store's most popular deli items, a southern delight that many Floridians rave about. Take food critic Laura Reiley, for example, who stated upon tasting it, "The breading isn't too salty, and it has a pleasant mix of spices. It doesn't have grease overload like some fried chicken" (via Store Brands). A Southern Living article agreed that Publix's traditional fried chicken is pretty darn tasty. "Each golden piece has a thick coating of seasoned — not spicy — breading. We detected a hint of celery in there. The meat is moist."
One of the most popular items at the deli — really at Publix in general — are the store's sub sandwiches, or, as they're affectionately called, "Pub Subs." According to Southern Living, these custom-made subs allow you to pick your own type of freshly-baked bread, meat, cheese, vegetables, and sauce. Options include cheesy bread, a base of chicken tenders, and toppings like banana peppers and buffalo sauce. "It's a veritable choose-your own-lunchtime-adventure story," the article states.
You can also choose from a menu of signature sandwiches, or opt for a grab-and-go option — depending on the store location you visit, the choices might include the Boar's Head SmokeMaster Black Forest Ham sandwich and the Publix Deli Southwest Chicken Tender Wrap. There's even a creative garlic and herb tofu sub for vegetarians. One Reddit user claims that all the meats behind the deli counter are up for grabs when it comes to creating your dream sandwich, and employees will slice it for you on the spot.
Still not convinced? There are shoppers that love Publix's chicken tenders subs so much they've dedicated a Twitter feed to finding out when they're on sale. If that doesn't have you hopping into the Pub Sub line to try one out, we don't know what will.