On Wednesday morning we welcomed the Dwaine Stevens, Publix Jacksonville Division Media & Community Relations Manager, Jay Wilcox, Publix District Manager for our store, and Wistar Lewis, Skidaway Island Village's "landlord," to our breakfast meeting. Between the Publix managers, they gave us a brief history and background of the Publix group of grocery stores. The Publix stores grew from Piggly Wiggly origins and have become a part of many neighborhoods in the Southeastern part of the US. The message is one of neighborhood engagement and of interaction with local concerns and efforts; they told us they will continue, for example, to support our village festivals and fund raisers with the involvement and help from our new store.  After this introduction to Publix our two speakers turned the meeting over to questions from the floor, and there were many.


Responding to these questions, the managers told us that the new Publix will somewhat smaller than the store at Twelve Oaks in size, but the layout will be different with offices on the second floor; it will be bigger than the Smith Brothers store. If there are items which we wish to buy that are not in stock, they will be made available quickly.  The store will have beer and wine, with a distinctive selection of both.  Many ready-prepared dishes will be there, recipe testing is going on now.  There will also be plenty of fresh produce, meats, and vegetables.  All their food is bought from reputable vendors and Publix claims to be one of very few stores which have foodstuffs flown in to their distribution centers; this allows, for example, fruits to ripen on the vine before harvesting.  This system also applies to their seafood and fish.  They buy locally as much as they can but always from reputable vendors; they do not buy "off the back of a truck."  There will be parking for about 100 cars.

Turning to the Village itself, the Managers told us that they will not have a pharmacy in competition with the Village Pharmacy. They expect their customer catchment area to be Skidaway Island, including its residents and those who come to the island to work; it is not expected that customers will be drawn from the larger area of southside Savannah.  Mr. Lewis, whose family owns much of the Village area property, told us that the exterior finish of the Publix building will be compatible with the rest of the village and that there will be extensive plantings of trees and shrubs to decorate and soften the new construction areas.  The current Smith Brothers building will be leased to tenants, not razed.  There may or may not be a post office substation somewhere in the village; this is in the works.  The new Publix is expected to be open in December.  (Smith Brothers is slated to close September 26th, per TLA.)

In concluding, the Managers told us that Publix is known for taking care of its staff and that no store is opened without a full and competent staff in place.  We thanked them for their information and attention, welcomed them to our island and invited them to join our Rotary club. Shown below are (L-R) Jay Wilcox, Wister Lewis, President Darrel and Dwaine Stevens.