+ We will miss the people at Publix
A letter of condolence for all of Longboat Key:
I regret to inform you of the departure of the cornerstone of this barrier island. It is not just the closing of Publix, but actually the departure of what made our Publix so special … the people, those same people who opened the doors at 7 a.m. so I could buy bagels for our condo meeting, those people who cheerfully refunded money when a charge was disputed. The people who stayed open until procrastinating customers left well after the store hours. Those people who smiled even if they had reason not to.
I’m talking about people who have become more than the slogan “where shopping is a pleasure.” They evoke a sense of family. They indeed make a trip to Publix more comfortable.
I’m talking about Andy, who worked his way up to manager. He didn‘t tell me that, his respectful employees told me. And Jean, who made my wife and I smile as we checked out, he spoke proudly of his dog, Chevy, (Jean was a GM retiree). I know that because I talk to people, and I listen. Jean retired recently. I miss him — and his humor.
I’m talking about Mike, our personal friend in the meat department; he smiles at customers. After more than 30 years he still sincerely smiles. He’s going to another Publix, and I fear he will never return to our island store.
And there’s Pam, who we’ve known through the checkout aisle as well as through our doggie park network. And Vickie, who gives hugs as well as samples; she calls me “sweetie”; I like that. And Dani, who left a few years ago for another Publix closer to home, we still remember Dani. Evan even taught me the proper pronunciation ... long “a” and rhymes with me. Dani, a true people person. Evan works checkout and is well-versed on many subjects.
And Barry, who waves at me and my dog as he drives to work. Barry always gives me a hearty ”hello” with a smile.
And especially Miriam. She is our bakery guru and an ambassador for the whole store. And Mary, a Packer-Backer with socks to prove it. Mary runs a popular department and runs it with quality people producing a quality product. The only time she didn’t have an answer for me was the time I asked her what will happen to her staff after Easter. She turned away ... it was then I realized this group would never be the same.
I didn’t omit the many other friends at our Publix. I just don’t have the room.
I buy gift certificates from Publix for our clients. I do this because I am proud of this store and it will make their visit more enjoyable.
Powers that be, the nucleus of the island is Publix. You can drive up Cortez Road to save 25 cents on paper towels. Gas will cost $3 and your time stuck in traffic will be lost forever. You can shop at other area Publixs, too. But it’s someone else’s store.
Our Publix is like our condominium. Both have amenities. Both have services. But both have people who have become our friends. We laugh when these people cause us to laugh, and we cry when someone leaves us. I didn’t plan on getting involved with these people. It happened gradually, and it is a fact of life now.
Publix is closing. A new store is scheduled to open some day. It will be a pretty updated place, and I am sure to make some new friends, eventually. But what of the old friends?
God, I will miss those people … and the store, too.