The Publix Supermarket is very much a part of Florida history. If you are a Floridian and shop at Publix, you will feel at home in any of their hundreds of stores located across the state.
When I first came to Florida in 1960, most stores looked like the one above. They were always identifiable by the large V that framed the entrance.
In more recent years the architecture has been modernized, but the excellent service and high quality food still remain the same.
George Washington Jenkins started the chain back in 1930 in Winter Haven, Florida with one store. He then built another in 1935, also in Winter Haven.
Business was great, so in 1940 Mr. Jenkins combined the two Winter Haven stores into one. It was trend setting for its time, with air conditioning, fluorescent lighting, self opening electric eye doors, and shiny terrazzo floors.
For many years, Publix stores were primarily located in Central Florida, but over the years they began to open stores in South Florida and other locations along both coasts.
They finally had most of Florida covered by the time Mr. George, as his employees affectionately called him, passed away in 1996 at the age of 88. Publix is still controlled by the descendants of George Jenkins. His grandson was until recently the Chief Executive Officer.
Another unique feature of the company is that it is largely owned by its employees. Chances are your checkout clerk and bag boy are stockholders.
During your Florida travels you can always count on Publix to have clean restrooms, a great deli with meals and sandwiches, fresh produce and seafood and just about any thing else you need.
Publix now has more than 1,000 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee. The corporate headquarters is in Lakeland, Florida.
If you would like to learn more about Publix, they published a book in 1980 titled "Fifty Years of Pleasure" written by Pat Watters. My copy is autographed by Mr. George himself:
"Thanking you for helping make it possible. Best Regards, George Jenkins."