My husband and I just moved to Charlotte, NC, and we chose our new apartment because it's a five-minute walk to Publix. I mean, there were other reasons too, of course — like the layout, the price, and the well-managed building — but really Publix was a pretty big factor.
That's because for this girl from the Northeast, Publix was a magical wonderland only visited when on vacation in Florida. It became even more so when I moved to New York City and my grocery store options were limited to narrow aisles, overpriced products, and anxious shoppers. So yes, being near the Publix was important.
If you've never been to one (and you really should make a point to get there!), here are a few things you should know.
1. The staff is ridiculously nice (and helpful)!
During our first visit after our move, we were so in awe of a real grocery store with wide aisles and all the choices that we spent a solid 10 minutes just ogling the ice cream case. When an employee asked if we needed any help, I said "No, we're just admiring everything." He smiled and remarked, "Well, welcome to Publix!" Then, at least three other employees stopped to say hello and ask if we needed any help during our visit.
Publix has a reputation for friendly employees, and it's not based on nothing! At first it confused me, given that we came from a city where helpfulness can be hard to come by, but now I find it a sheer pleasure. There's always someone on hand to help you find something or simply ask how your day is going.
2. There's no loyalty card, but there are tons of seriously great deals.
I expected to add another card to my already-jammed wallet during my first visit. It turns out Publix doesn't have a loyalty program. Instead, the grocer is all about great weekly deals and BOGO (buy one, get one free) offers. Both are clearly marked in the store and online. Or you can download the app to see them. On the app, you can even add deals to your shopping list and it will tell you what aisle to find the item in the store.
And then there are the coupons — so many coupons! You can "clip" and save them on the app, then redeem them at the register. Publix also accepts manufacturer's coupons, internet coupons, and coupons from nearby competitors. They'll even allow you to "stack" your coupons, so you can use a bunch of coupons on one item.
3. You might walk out of the store with some free stuff.
When the cashier rang in my box of organic strawberries and it came up as the regular price instead of the sale price, I politely questioned it and ended up getting the box for free. I thought it was my lucky day, but it turns out it's just the Publix Promise.
Publix guarantees that if during checkout, the scanned price of an item is higher than the shelf or advertised price, the cashier will give you that item free. If you have multiples of that item, you'll get the first for free and the lower price for the remaining items. How nice is that?
4. The flowers are super fresh.
I know we've sung the praises of flowers from Trader Joe's here at Kitchn, and they truly are fresh and cheap — but so are the flowers at Publix! My husband has surprised me a couple of times with bouquets that he's picked up on his way home from work and they've all lasted a solid 10 days, if not 12. Since Publix is much closer to our new apartment than TJ's and I love to have flowers around, it's quickly becoming a staple purchase.
5. You can return anything.
In addition to the Publix Promise, the chain has the Publix Guarantee. It goes like this: "We will never knowingly disappoint you. If for any reason your purchase does not give you complete satisfaction, the full purchase price will be cheerfully refunded immediately upon request."
It doesn't matter whether you bought too many bags of chips for your party and need to return the extra ones or you opened a gallon a of milk and it spoiled the next day — unopened or opened, Publix will take it back and give you a full refund.
6. There are a few things you can't go wrong with.
That return policy is nice and all, but there are some things you won't regret buying. For starters, the cakes in the bakery department are wedding-worthy (in fact, lots of Southern couples turn to the grocery store for their big day!). I also strongly recommend Publix's private-label brand, their fried chicken, and the sandwiches (affectionately called Pub Subs).
More on Publix
Do you shop at Publix? Anything to add to this list?