Back in the days when I lived in Erie, PA (from age 10 to 20), I was blessed to have a great grocery store called Wegmans nearby. Despite the poorly planned brick floors in the produce department, I loved Wegmans for the bakery, huge selection of teas and fresh produce, diverse international section, quality generics, good prices and the bulk candy section. Moving to Nashville, TN in 2004 required that we find our new favorite out of the unfamiliar grocery store chains. Which brought us eventually to Publix.
Except for the legendary bulk candy section, my favorite tea and the cart rattling brick floors, Publix has everything that Wegmans had. And actually Publix brand products are even better. The quality seems the same goodness to me but the packaging is beautiful, minimalist, and I believe greatly influenced Target brand’s recent redesign. Publix is quickly making me forget about Wegmans.
I call this blog My Mid-Century Modern Life because there are many aspects of my life that are modern (which I love) and there are many aspects of my life that are reminiscent of my grandparents’ generation (which I love). Sometimes the modern and mid-century collide into a beautiful blend (homes, fashion, graphic design). Publix is an excellent example of the mid-century modern meld.
Publix brand is fresh and clean. It is high tech and modern in every way that a grocery store can be. But it also has the charm and class of a different era. The decor has some vintage mid-century imagery but what I’m really talking about is the employees. From their retro aqua aprons to their exceptional customer service. Publix employees are genuinely friendly and kind. They often ask if we need help finding anything. I have had real conversations with the woman behind the produce counter and the man behind the seafood counter about where I got my hat, our cookout plans for the weekend, the photo shoot I just had with my very pregnant sister-in-law, a hot sauce that goes great with fried catfish. It’s as if they actually take pride in their jobs and truly like people. To top it all off, they always offer to help me out to the car with my groceries which involves a chatty grocery bagger pushing the cart our to my car and loading all the groceries into the trunk for me. I usually decline unless it’s a nice day and I know they’ll enjoy getting some sunshine. Someday when I’m wrangling kids, I’m sure I’ll take advantage of this offer.
Publix exemplifies how mid-century values can set a modern supermarket chain apart from the rest.
What about you? Do you know of any other places with great customer service that reminds you of a simpler time? What’s your favorite grocery store?
We love our community owned coop, Weavers Way. It is fun knowing what farm your fresh local food comes from and knowing our coffee is free-trade.
Publix is my favorite too! I too have had such incredible customer service there and it is a HUGE help with the kiddos to have someone help load the groceries.
I’ve only been to Publix on vacation in Florida, but I did love it! *sigh* We have really bad grocery stores in Pittsburgh. Nothing like Wegmans down here. I really miss that!
Now these aren’t grocery stores but Noshville and Trim are cool places that have good service. When you get very little good service, you almost feel guilty receiving the real deal. There’s a lot of talk about standing out from the crowd but few companies are really doing it. Nice article and way of describing your appreciation for groovy branding and customer service. One thing I don’t like is a store that is FREEZING. I enjoy the local artist tables at Whole Foods & chatting with them about how they make their signature truffle or bread, etc.
“Customers will tell you everything you need to know if you just ask. Most people just don’t ask. They are afraid of hearing negative feedback. You should see negative feedback as a way to improve your business.” Mitchell Harper -Big Commerce
Great quote, Brian!