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Reblogged:Thank You, Publix!

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There's a good article at Vox about a Florida intuition I will miss when we move out of state: Publix, the state's ubiquitous and well-liked grocery chain.

I especially like the account of its founding at the start of the article:
These pans, sold at Publix, are the best frying pans I have ever had. I own two myself and bought one for my father-in-law, who has thanked me more than once for it. (Image by Publix, via Publix. The author believes this use to be protected under U.S. Copyright Law as Fair Use.)
George Jenkins was working as a store manager at a Piggly Wiggly in Winter Haven, Florida, when he tried to meet with the grocery chain's new owner to talk business and introduce himself. The guy blew him off -- his secretary said he was in important meetings, but Jenkins overheard him talking golf. So he quit and opened his own store, which he called Publix, right next to the Pig in 1930. He built the business gradually, its growth mirroring Florida's, and finally took the company outside of the state in 1991, starting with Savannah, Georgia.

Today, Publix employs some 250,000 people across 1,350 stores concentrated across the Southeast. It is the largest employee-owned company in the United States. Its workers -- it prefers the term "associates" -- get shares of stock in the company after working 1,000 hours in a year... [bold added]
I had not been aware of any of this -- except that a few other states in the South also have locations. Sadly, Louisiana isn't one of them: I checked soon after we decided to move there. (I don't shop there for everything, but it has been my go-to for grilling night and gourmet items the whole time we've been here.)

As one might expect of a large, leftist media outlet, the piece is ultimately about politics, and seems at times to try really, really hard to slam the chain for such transgressions as not permitting workers to wear BLM garb on the job; a baker leaving a space on a cake for the word trans due to erring on the side of caution for leaving politics out of work; and an heiress (who has zero active role in the company) donating money to Donald Trump.

The piece comes up empty. To Emily Stewart's credit, she does acknowledge the chain for also not kowtowing to the right, such as with this quote:
"Publix wants you to have an ideal civic experience in its store. It doesn't cut corners, it's not the cheapest, you go into its stores and it feels like you're in a really nice neighborhood," says Billy Townsend, a Lakeland-based writer and former member of the Polk County School Board. "They are going for a specific kind of feel, and January 6th ain't it."
The piece ends almost wistfully:
Publix seeks to remain uncomplicated in a complicated world because life is complicated enough. Keeping things simple may not be possible, but isn't simple a little bit what we want our grocery stores to be?
I appreciate Publix both for being an outstanding grocery chain and for showing a new generation by example that it is both possible and desirable to live life in the pursuit of excellence.

Politics isn't everything: It's only a means, and we should be highly suspicious of anyone "left" or "right" who seems to think we should live our lives for a cause -- rather than supporting a cause because it will improve our lives.

-- CAV

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