The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday January 20th

Column: Chapel Hill needs a Publix

I’m from Florida, in case I haven’t mentioned it before. There are many, many  great qualities about my home state, but nothing quite gets me as nostalgic (and passionate) about my childhood than Publix, a supermarket chain founded in Florida.

But Publix is more than a supermarket: it’s a lifestyle — a clear marker of any Floridian’s identity. We eat, breathe and live Publix. I love the bright green sign greeting me, the ‘X’ slightly flickering, as I push my trolley into my neighborhood Publix, right across the street from my house. I love how the woman working at the bakery always gives me a free kids club cookie, even though she made my 20th birthday cake. I love my pub subs — I especially love them with the Publix brand peach iced tea. 

Luckily, more people across the South can experience this life-altering grocery store chain, even though they don’t appreciate it as much as Floridians. Publix opened stores in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina.

Yes! Even North Carolina. Forty-two neighborhoods across North Carolina are blessed to have a Publix in their backyards (sorry, Harris Teeter). But do you know which North Carolina town doesn’t have a Publix?

Chapel Hill.

The Town of Chapel Hill has left me disappointed many times (i.e. closing down Smoothie King), but nothing hurts more than knowing I have to drive 17.9 miles to Cary in order to buy a box of Publix brand chocolate chip cookies. It’s a slap in the face to the strong Floridian presence on this campus. 

Publix is the future. Don’t trust me? Ask the rest of the state of Florida. According to the Miami Herald, in 2018, Publix earned almost as much as Nike, a bit more than $36 billion. It has more than 200,000 employees and just opened a multi-million dollar distribution center in Greensboro, just an hour away from Chapel Hill.  

This column has been a long time coming. In fact, it was one of the first things I tweeted about when I arrived to Chapel Hill as a first year. 

Publix replied to me and said they would share it with their real estate team. It’s been two years, and I haven’t heard back since.

In fact, all I’ve heard since then is that a Wegmans is opening in Chapel Hill. This grocery store chain that is supposed to be comparable to Publix (ha) is based in Rochester, New York. It’s slated to open in 2020 between U.S. 15-501 and Old Durham Road. 

If Chapel Hill wants to preserve its southern charm, I cannot stress enough how vital it is a Publix opens within its town borders. (We cannot let these northerners take over our way of life!) Publix is so southern, actually, bag boys will literally chase you down the parking lot so they can carry your grocery bags to your car. It’s a perfect fit for a place that so proudly touts its small town feel. 

So, to the higher powers of Publix, if you’re out there, I beg of you. Please open a Publix in Chapel Hill. It’s what I deserve, after enduring two years of endless Florida man jokes on this campus and this newsroom. It’s what Florida deserves. 

It’s what Chapel Hill deserves. 

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