in downtown Orlando
A new Publix store opened last weekend, which is hardly occasion to break out the confetti. But this was different from any other Publix in the area, or any other supermarket for that matter. And it could turn out to be an important component in downtown’s survival.
This Publix is on the ground floor of a newly constructed condominium building across from Lake Eola. It’s the first in a high-rise, and, as far as I know, the first to be constructed as part of a residential tower.
It’s smaller than an average Publix, but this is hardly a boutique store. It appeared to me to be a bit larger than the other downtown Publix on Shine Avenue at Colonial Drive.
Parking for the store is in an underground garage. There’s an elevator to take you from the garage to the store (although, honestly, couldn’t they have put some stairs nearby to encourage walking?). The elevators are spacious enough to allow people to roll on their shopping carts (which are smaller than those in a regular store). The neat thing about the underground garage is that if it’s raining you can go from your car to the store and back without getting wet.
On opening weekend the store was sampling items left and right. There were boiled shrimp, trail mix, sushi (not very good sushi), sweet rolls and myriad other stuff. There were lots of workers, too, but a good deal of them were brought in for the opening and to help train the store’s staff.
I was able to find most of the things I’m familiar with in my Publix. Most important was the discovery of the rotisserie chicken cooker. Publix’s chickens are a terrific deal (although, in truth, the rotisserie chickens from Costco are bigger and cheaper). I think I might have made room for more prepared deli meals — this is targeted at working class urbanites, after all.
I thought the produce section looked better stocked than the Shine/Colonial store, but it may just have been the newness.
The aisles are spacious enough, and the ceilings are high — you never get the sensation that you’re on the ground floor of a tall condominium complex.
I stopped in to do my grocery shopping because, in case you haven’t heard, I have to buy all my own food these days. (Oh, how I miss that expense account!) I was going down the aisles and every time I grabbed at something on a shelf I got an electrical shock. A friend nearby was having the same experience, so I know it wasn’t just something odd about the way I’m grounded, although I must say the topic has come up before.
I’m thinking there’s something horribly wrong with the wiring in the store, perhaps something worthy of a lawsuit (reference the lamented lost expense account above). So I mention it to a passing manager.
And he says it’s something that happens with every new store. It seems that when they finally turn on the air-conditioning system it goes into overdrive to draw out the excess moisture. The result is static electricity. I call it an alternative power source.
But that’s not how this new Publix is going to figure into downtown’s survival. It’s proximity to the many newly constructed condos in the area is going to be a big selling point — as though bargain-basement prices on the once-overpriced units isn’t enough.
This store makes downtown living much more palatable. For those who also work downtown, it’s now possible to park the car and forget about it for days at a time.
Little Orlando is growing up. And who would have guessed a Publix would be one of its rites of passage?