I’m afraid we have to break up. I hate the thought of leaving you, of having to learn the layout of a different grocery store, and I will miss the friendly and helpful employees I have come to know over the years. Unfortunately, you have crossed a line I can no longer ignore.
I have loved you for a long time. No one was happier than I when you opened your new store on Montclair Rd. in Birmingham. It was so convenient for the neighborhood. I loved everything about you, your produce, your bakery, the logical way everything is organized and most of all, your employees. They have always been great. I honestly don’t know if you always have the best price on every item and that’s ok because when I am finished shopping at Publix, I don’t walk out of the store hating humanity for the chance to pay a few cents less. Slightly lower prices elsewhere were not enough to lure me away from you, Publix, but now I’m afraid I must leave.
Why? Why you ask? It isn’t any one thing, but many small things that have culminated in final frustration. Let’s start with the organic section in the produce aisle. It has grown, duplicating what is already non organically available, at the expense of other fruit and vegetable varieties. I know, that for the most part, it’s a higher profit per unit rip-off perpetrated on the consumer, and it seems like too trendy a fad for such a stalwart brand of the people such as you.
What would Mr. George think?
Are you trying to compete with Whole Foods? Access to the nearest one is miles away via the nightmarish parking lot known as Alabama Highway 280. Inside of a Whole Foods, I choke on the air of smug emitted by all of the smarmy, self-righteous suburbanites who think they are not only doing their share to save the planet, but somehow miraculously becoming superior beings because they overspend on groceries. Obviously, the
Forget about them.
Let’s talk about the coffee section shall we? The pre-measured/pre mixed coffee pods available for purchase are squeezing the bags of ground or whole bean coffee from the shelf space. It’s beginning to feel like our supplies are now being dispensed to us in carefully measured increments, with no room allowed for the vagaries of taste. What if I like my coffee a little stronger, or weaker? They are convenient I suppose, for people who don’t appreciate real coffee or only make coffee for one person, ever.
What happens when the pod people have a few guests to the house? How efficient are those single cup makers then? By the time pod people fill up the water tank and separately brew each single cup consecutively for 3-4 or more people, it saves little time or energy. When the last person finally gets their coffee, the first person has finished theirs and is ready for their second cup. Everyone is missing out on the experience of waiting for an aromatically satisfying, percolated pot of coffee. The making and drinking of coffee, the ritual surrounding it is a comforting, shared social interaction and the pods are killing it. And you, you Publix, are a co-conspirator in that crime by filling your coffee aisle with pods at the expense of real coffee.
Stop digitizing my coffee. Stay analog! Surely even the hipsters can appreciate that?
Another example? You are doing the same thing in the freezer section. 95% or even more, of what is available in the frozen food aisle is either fully prepared, individual meals for the microwave, breads, pre-seasoned veggies, or individual portion sized, steam in a bag veggies, neatly available for people who don’t know how to cook for themselves. Look, it’s not that I think that having some of these types of products available is bad or wrong, but they are competing for shelf space and squeezing out other items such as regular, large bags of frozen veggies. What’s a family to do? This is a much more economical way to buy healthy vegetables (especially compared to “organic”). What ever happened to “family size”?
I have watched my healthy veggie frozen food section shrink away over the years. I’ve watched it give way and yield space to frozen burritos, frozen pizzas (which to this ex-New Yorker are sacrilege to begin with) frozen, gluten free, artisan baker multigrain bread...And I said nothing.
I said nothing because there still was one small corner remaining, among the multiple, huge freezer compartments where I could still buy large bags of freshly frozen, non seasoned veggies. Various types of peas, beans, broccoli, spinach, corn, even okra, you name it. “Today’s Harvest” was the brand name.
When your cashiers would routinely ask me if I found everything I needed today, I always nodded yes, but inside, I was worried for the future.
And then it happened…
Dearest Publix, the frozen food aisle is where the final transgression occurred and where I feel I must take my stand.
A few weeks ago I needed to restock some vegetables and went directly to my aforementioned little corner.
They. Were. Gone.
My corner. My brand. My veggies. Vanished.
Replaced by some sort of frozen, organic quinoa and kale casserole.
My little happy corner in the frozen food section has been sacrificed. Dare I say, hipsterized?
At checkout that day, when the cashier asked their friendly and familiar question, I choked up.
I nearly wept. “No, I finally managed to say. I’m afraid I’ll never find what I need ever again”.
I will always regret not speaking up sooner.
Please don’t do this to me Publix. I want to stay. I am begging you. I loathe Winn Dixie, I really do. Don’t make me shop there.