A look at some of the colorful interior scenes (actually from several different locations) that would have greeted shoppers of the Publix stores featured in the previous post. By the time these pictures, from 1956 and 1958 promo pieces, were taken, Publix had a firmly established reputation for attractive decor and well-thought out displays, nearly as elaborate for their realm as the nicer department stores would have put together for theirs. Here we can see some holiday decorations - the first and third scenes sporting brown and gold flower arrangements, presumably for Thanksgiving, and the second and fourth decorated for Easter, with a donkey for Palm Sunday and an Easter Bunny. This was a decade or more before I would have been concerned about such things, but I loved the PAAS Easter egg decorating kits once I was old enough to use them. Maybe it’s just me, but the kits seemed so much better designed in those days, making today’s look boring by comparison.
Visible at the end of the aisles in the first photo are miniature red-and-white striped carousels, leading me to wonder if this may have been the Publix store at the Ringling Shopping Center in Sarasota, Winter Home of the famous Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.
These are some of the last Publix stores to open with tile flooring. Soon, all new Publix stores would have green and white terrazzo floors, a feature that would become one of the company’s most recognizable signatures. Also, Publix’s devotion to S&H Green Stamps is evident – they’re literally “flying the banners”, so to speak.
Another prominent aspect of the interior design was the internally lit strip signage that can be seen around the inside perimeter. Although a number of chains used a version of this, Kroger among them, I believe Publix was unique in their use of pictures interspersed with the signage text. The signage in the third photo, with Libby’s and Del Monte brands clearly visible, underscores Publix’s strongly-enforced policy at the time – to promote strictly national brands. With very few exceptions – coffee, eggs and a few other staples – Publix stayed away from marketing food products under its own private label. This philosophy, which Publix adhered to for decades, stemmed from a perceived need to provide familiar brand-appeal to the throngs of vacationers and families relocating to Florida from the Northeast and Midwest regions. Many years later, Publix would launch its private label program, now one of the most admired in the industry.
One last note – check out the store renderings in the framed picture at the top of the third photo and on the right-hand edge of the illuminated strip sign in the last one. Usually these depicted the facade of that individual store itself. If that’s not endearing, I'm not sure what is.