Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Publix Grand Opening

Some people wake up early and stand in line outside a store on Black Friday, or whenever Apple starts selling a new iPhone, or when tickets for the new Star Wars movie go on sale. Me? I'm not interested in any of that...but I am passionate about grocery stores.

Today was a VERY EXCITING DAY! The Triangle's first Publix opened its doors at 7:00 AM this morning. I got there at 6:35 AM, and that was only good enough to be 30th or so in line. One local news team (ABC 11) was on the scene, and the Green Hope High School drum line was performing while everyone waited.

I'd say the majority of the people waiting outside were women, because that's who usually does the grocery shopping in most households? I guess. Not in our household! I actually enjoy grocery shopping. Perhaps that's because I grew up with Publix, "where shopping is a pleasure". (If I grew up in a town where the only options were Winn-Dixie and Walmart, maybe I would hate grocery shopping.) I also gathered that for most of the people waiting in line before 7 AM - well over 100, maybe even 200 - this was not their first Publix experience. Chances are, more than a few of us waiting in line this morning were Florida natives.

Then, at about 6:57 AM - three minutes early! - the first person in line was awarded the privilege of cutting the ceremonial ribbon, and the store was open. Let's GO GO GO!!

By the way, there is nothing like using a brand new grocery cart. This thing practically pushed itself! (Although, if I'm honest...Kroger's shopping carts are a bit bigger. This will be my first of many Publix v. Kroger comparisons, and some of them will actually be pro-Kroger, believe it or not.)

My first stop? The bakery to get some cookies.

In hindsight, I should have used the "theme park" strategy. When a theme park first opens, the most crowded attractions are those near the front entrance, so you're better off starting at the back and then working your way from there to the front, or at the very least turning left and going clockwise instead of going counterclockwise through the park. Same thing happened at Publix this morning: The bakery and the deli - the first stops if one were to turn right upon entering the store - were where most people went first. But the bakery, deli, and other specialty areas - for example, the seafood department - actually stayed pretty busy throughout. The aisles themselves? Not that busy, yet. It seems, of all the people waiting in line this morning, I was only one a few who intended making this early morning stop a regular grocery shopping trip. In fact, I may have been the first person in the history of the Cary Publix to grab a box of cereal off the shelf. (Publix brand Corn Flakes, by the way.)

As with any blog post I write about Publix, here's the obligatory "What's so great about Publix, anyway?" section. As grocery stores go, the service is second to none, the employees are always available to help and are friendly, checkout is fast and enjoyable, and they even offer to take your cart to your car and help you load your groceries. (That's always been a long Publix tradition.) Publix stores are always clean, always have excellent selection, have a deep stock of store brands, occasionally great sales (even if overall their prices are a bit higher than a store like Kroger), and excellent bakery and deli departments. And, of course, they hold sentimental value for me, being a Florida chain that I grew up with. Publix stores all have a similar feel: it's like I'm back home!

As for whether Publix will be successful here...well, I don't see why not! Although not official, they are looking into more Triangle locations, beyond just the North Raleigh one that's been facing local opposition. I'm rooting for Publix all the way, of course...but competition is good, too, so I don't really want them to put Harris Teeter out of business altogether. And that won't happen anyway, given all the equity Harris Teeter has built up with longtime North Carolina residents. Best case scenario, in 20 years, there are just as many Publixes in the Triangle as there are Harris Teeters.

Now...about our neighborhood Kroger. I've been going to the same neighborhood Kroger for nearly 6 years now, and I know that Kroger front to back to front. It's plenty adequate as a grocery store, and it's more convenient (5-10 minutes from home, compared to 15-20 for Publix), a bit cheaper, and the pharmacists know our names. Am I going to give up on all that and start shopping at Publix every week? ... Well, not every week. We'll keep Kroger as our pharmacy of choice, and Kroger will still be the place to stock up on things that are cheaper and/or more widely available at Kroger - namely, snack crackers*, some cereals, and Kroger brand macaroni and cheese. Sorry, Publix, but Kroger's selection of store brand macaroni and cheese is superior. At the same time, there are a lot of things that Publix has in stock that our neighborhood Kroger does not, it turns out - for example, certain flavors of Lean Pockets(TM) and yogurt. Plus, Publix's bakery is a LOT better than Kroger's.

(* - That is, when they're not out of stock. Seems that every time Reduced Fat Cheez-Its are on sale, the shelf is empty.)

Well, we'll see how it goes after the first couple of months. I've only been to the new Publix once so far. Can't wait until we need to go shopping again!

1 comment:

Spartangoogle said...

We always take advantage of the gas card coupon (saw it is offered this week in Cary) Spend $50, get $10 off a $50 gas card. 20% cheaper gas - hooray! Used to get BP but now get Shell or Exxon.