Cookies and cakes, chicken fingers, “pub subs,” friendly employees, clean atmosphere – if you’re a Floridian, chances are good you’ve either been to or enjoyed food from a Publix Supermarket.
George Jenkins, founder of Publix, grew up in the grocery business working for his father’s general store, but that’s not where his future plans started. He moved to Tampa, Florida at the age of 17 to try to cash in on the Florida real estate boom. When he arrived he took a job as a store clerk at the local Piggly Wiggly. He soon moved up the ladder to become manager, and then became manager of the largest store in the chain in Winter Haven. Jenkins decided to get the most out of his business skills by starting his own store. He opened the Publix Food Store on September 6, 1930, followed by another store in 1935. Yet, Jenkins’ dreams were bigger than a run-of-the-mill grocery. He wanted a store that focused on the customer, with clean, beautiful spaces, helpful service, air conditioning, and all the latest innovations. He closed his first two stores and on November 8, 1940 made his dream a reality by opening the first Publix Supermarket in Winter Haven.
Publix still calls Florida home, with its headquarters in Lakeland, but there are now over 1,000 Publix Supermarkets in six states, and “Mr. George’s” dream lives on!
Find more photos of Publix and other Florida businesses by searching the Florida Photographic Collection.