The Publix at the Southgate Shopping Center reopens tomorrow at 8 a.m. First opened in 1957 and given facelifts over subsequent years, the building was razed to the ground in early 2009 and rebuilt in less than nine months.
Arriving at a slightly larger than average 47,300 square feet, the new store will sport an extra feature or two not found in recently constructed Publix groceries: a “Body Care” aisle and 86 feet of wine and mixers.
On opening day, male store managers will wear old style Publix ties. Female managers will sort the equivalent Publix scarf. All demo station associates will wear black bow ties.
Taking a counterclockwise walk around the perimeter of the store is the quickest method to find the major departments.
Black marble from the old store entrance has been recycled to serve as the lower walls of the store lobby. Stepping through the interior doors reveals a new customer service desk. The half circle desk will handle money orders, stamps, and such typical needs.
Just to the right is the store’s main display. Expect that to change with special events and seasons. Right now it’s a combination of a look back into the store’s 1957 opening and the 2009 fall specials.
The store sports a Blockbuster DVD kiosk. Using a credit or debit card, customers can choose a DVD for $1 a night rental. Note that DVD must be returned before 7 pm the day after rental.
Floral, Bakery, Deli
Traditional floor displays have been replaced with easily arranged nesting tables. Wall colors help customers pick out sections of the bakery to quickly find breads, cakes, and other items.
Those looking for a wake-up before work will find that Publix has introduced a coffee machine (.75 a cup) and self-serve donut and pastry display. On Opening Day, the wall above the coffee machine will sport a pair of 1950s car silhouettes made out of bread.
Using state of the art full rack ovens, Publix bakes bread at 110 degrees with 81 to 85 humidity to keep the crust soft.
The deli occupies much of the North wall of the store. Boar’s Head deli meats are featured at the counter as Publix has exclusive rights to sell the products in Florida.
Cheese affectionados will find a cooler stacked with selections from Italy, France, and other countries that pride themselves on their creations. You might even find one or two cheese products from Wisconsin. Publix suggests talking to the deli manager or assistant manager if you can’t find a favorite flavor or brand. The store will special order if they can get it shipped to the store.
There is an emphasis on presentation. Items are hand stacked in baskets smaller than usually found in a large supermarket.
The Southgate Publix uses the colors and wall signs of other recent stores. However, it includes many photographs and displays that reflect the history of the location. Be sure to look up slightly higher than eye-level as you move through the store.
A cut fruit counter was empty on Wednesday. Publix officials note that fruit is cut several times a day, but the market was waiting as late as possible to prepare for the grand reopening.
Seafood, Meat, and Milk
On the back, West, wall are the seafood, meat, and dairy coolers. The seafood section includes freshly prepared sushi, and a lobster tank (to arrive soon after the grand opening.) Meat is prepared just behind the counters, but out of sight of customers. However, butchers and seafood specialists are visible to take special orders.
The milk and some dairy items are stacked from behind the coolers. A 40-degree walk-in refrigerator opens into the back of the coolers to allow Publix employees to add stock from behind.
In 1957 the Opening Day special for the Southgate Publix was Pork Loin at $0.45 a pound. In 2009, the special is Ribeye Steaks at 5.99 a pound.
Dairy and the Body Care Aisle
Other dairy items are in traditional open coolers on the South wall of the store. Just across the aisle are the store’s special touch — Body Care. Customers can find supplements, special dietary needs, power bars, breakfast drinks and weight control items.
The Southgate Publix employs 120 associates. When the old store closed for renovations, the employees were assigned to other area stores. Approximately 75% returned to Southgate, and the rest are new to the company.
In the Southeast corner of the store is the expanded pharmacy. The clerks from Wolfson’s Drugs have moved from across South Florida to run the department. Wolfson’s was purchased by Publix years ago, but has operated in their separate building until this rebuild. Publix announced that this pharmacy will continue Wolfson’s well-loved delivery program. On the South wall is a display of items from Wolfson’s 50-year-plus history.
Store Hours are 8am to 9pm daily. The pharmacy is open 9 am – 9 pm Monday to Friday, 9 am to 7 pm on Saturday, and 11 am to 6 pm on Sunday. The store phone is (863) 683-9860 and the Pharmacy is at (863) 686-4241 — the number previously used at Wolfson Pharmacy.
There are 16 aisles of traditional inventory – including the Body Care/Dairy aisle on the South wall. Aisles include small rounded sections in each aisle where shoppers can find Greenwise products. Those are the items Publix has determined are natural, organic, or “Earth friendly.”
Though many Publix stores have Greenwise departments, Publix spokesperson Shannon Patton explained that the approach at Southgate was to put the products next to their traditional counterparts.
On Grand Opening day, numerous demo stations will be set throughout the store to allow associates to highlight and promote products. Each station features a large photograph of some aspect of Publix history.
The first few hundred customers Thursday will receive a specially printed reusable grocery bag commemorating the grand opening.
The East wall includes a large display of Publix reusable bags. A monitor displays information on Publix programs to reduce energy. A Wall of Recognition is a display of Publix associates who have earned accolades from managers and customers.
The new manager of the Southgate store is Bill Vollmar. In his 28th year with the company, Vollmar started his career as a bagger at Southgate.