VALRICO — Why did the Publix shopper cross the road?
To get to the newer, larger, fancier Publix.
At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, the Publix supermarket on State Road 60 in Valrico will close for good. The next morning, the newest Publix will open right across the street, at 1971 State Road 60, in the Valrico Commons Shopping Center.
Publix officials say their Valrico customers will be the first to experience the future of Publix.
"Every time we build a store, we get better at it," Publix spokeswoman Shannon Patten said. "This is our new prototype, and when I say new, I mean it's the very first one of its kind."
There used to be a Winn-Dixie supermarket at that location, but Publix tore it down and started from scratch, Patten said. The new building will be approximately the same size as the old one — about 54,000 square feet — but because of new design ideas and increased efficiency, the shopping areas will be noticeably larger.
That allows for some new features, including a lobster tank and fresh sushi in the seafood department.
But perhaps the most noticeable difference will be simply more of everything.
"We're going to have a wider selection, a wider variety, across all categories," Patten said.
Regular customers of the old Publix won't miss any of the features they've depended on, Patten said. The new store includes a pharmacy and deli, in addition to all the traditional grocery departments. Many of the employees from the old store are making the move across the street as well.
Actually, calling the previous location the "old store" is misleading. It opened in the mid 1990s.
"We just had an opportunity to offer our customers something new, bigger and better," Patten said.
Next door to the supermarket, and also opening on Thursday will be an 1,800-square-foot Publix Liquors store.
The supermarket's hours will be 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day. Pharmacy hours are 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, call (813) 657-4041.
Walmart grocery store growth continues with Valrico market
VALRICO — Another new supermarket opened this week on Lithia Pinecrest Road. Walmart Market, in a former Sweetbay site, welcomed its first customers on Wednesday.
The store represents a larger bay-area expansion by Walmart as it takes advantage of vacant supermarket space in the market. The number of Walmart Markets, essentially conventional grocery stores, is set to grow from six to 10 in Tampa Bay by this winter.
Still, the larger Walmart Supercenters have been the engine that propelled Walmart into the nation's largest food retailer. In only 15 years, its share of the $20.9 billion-a-year Orlando/Tampa Bay food retailing market has jumped from nothing to 29.7 percent, behind only Publix.
The company continues expanding its remaining discount stores into supercenters and pouring money into remodeling supercenters every year to reflect the chain's new, warmer look.
The Walmart in Seffner is under renovation, and the Walmart at Bloomingdale Plaza in Valrico was remodeled earlier this year.
Information from Times archives was used in this report. Staff writer Mark Albright contributed to this story. If you know of something that should be Everybody's Business, contact Marty Clear at firstname.lastname@example.org.