It never fails. Oh sure, ask almost anyone about a store chain they grew up with, and you’re likely to get a heartfelt, nostalgic response. This can be seen time and time again in the comments on this site and a multitude of other places. But if you mention the word “Publix” to someone who grew up in Florida and has since moved away, be prepared for a reaction that tops them all, in my experience.
Their eyes glaze over. A beatific smile appears on their face. Sometimes they begin to shake. And then, at twice the volume of their previous conversation, comes the startling litany: “Oh, I loooooved Publix! They had the best stores! And they had the best help! The (insert supermarket name here) stinks compared to them! Man, I’d give anything to be able to shop there again!” Pretty soon, they’re not even looking at me. They’re staring at some non-existent focal point three feet above and to the right of my head. Sometimes things take a bitter turn – “My Aunt Mabel still lives in Pompano and she’s always bragging about ‘her’ Publix. I never could stand her!” Other times, they just break down into incoherent babbling. After several minutes, they snap out of it, and all is normal again.
And you know, after looking through some photos of classic Publix stores, I’m beginning to understand it all. Take this 1972 interior view, for example. Typical of the elegant Publix stores from this period, this store displays a perfect blend of 70’s vibe and color scheme, yet with 60’s-style quality and attention to detail. Just take a look. Notice the appealing earth tones and dark wood grains. The terrazzo flooring, in a world where vinyl tile was (and is) the norm. The wall-length store directory. The shape of the aisle marker signs, adapted from the famous “winged” Publix store facades (a design that was actually no longer being used by this time). “Mr. Peanut” standing jauntily from his perch at the center of the store. The peaceful reflection of the Bundt Cake mix on the chrome cash register shell…
I have to go now…my eyes are starting to glaze over.