You’ve probably been inside your neighborhood Publix so many times you can walk the aisles with your eyes closed. The one a few towns over probably isn’t all that hard to navigate, either.
They all kind of look the same, right? But what if, also, no?
The majority of Publix’s 1,228 stores are comfortably familiar: big green letters, tan and brick facades. But then there is the Publix in South Carolina that is housed inside a plant that printed money during the Civil War; the beloved College Park store in Orlando that looks straight out of 1966; and a store in Georgia that has its own water tower.
"Sure, we have stores that look different – even unique, throughout our footprint,” said Publix spokesman Brian West. “We want our facades to identify with the communities we serve.”
We’ve rounded up handful of the most atypical Publix locations across the Lakeland grocer’s seven-state turf. Some made the old new again, while others were designed to make a statement.
Despite their external differences, inside they all still look and feel like Publix: deli full of Pub subs, bakery section brimming with sugar cookies, and — if in Florida — a vintage “people-weigher” scale near the front doors.
“Regardless of the Publix our customers shop, we want them to have the same great shopping experience,” West said.
1. This Publix has a hefty history.
The Publix on Gervais Street in Columbia, S.C. is on the National Register of Historic Places — though the building itself had a life long before it was a supermarket. The massive brown brick structure was built in 1862, according to the state’s history collection the SC Picture Project.
It was originally used to print money and bonds for the Confederacy during the Civil War. But it spent most of its lifetime post-war as the dispensary warehouse for distilled spirits — the first and last state-run alcohol distribution center in the country.
It was vacant for decades before Publix opened there in 2004.
The structure was reinforced with plank floors and steel before it could be made into a grocery store that met building codes. Publix takes up about 30,000 square feet of the long block warehouse.
2. You’ve maybe heard a Publix might get a boat dock, but have you heard about the Publix that looks like a boat?
In November of 1998, Publix debuted one of its more architecturally novel and modern storefronts in Miami Beach. A story about the store’s opening written by the Associated Press described it as a “curved exterior of glass, aluminium and steel jutting out over three stories.” It looked more like an art museum than it did a supermarket, the reporter wrote.
Others have described the store as “the Titanic," with its winding structure appearing like a massive ship with a deck.
It was designed by Carlos Zapata, who later gained fame as the architect behind the Bitexco Financial Tower in Ho Chi Minh City.
“This glass and metal clad exterior ramp system is clearly visible from passing cars on Alton Road and is an immediate attention grabber,” Zapata wrote on his studio’s website.
It’s been featured in fashion shoots before, according to Zapata, which probably is not common for any grocery store let alone a Publix.
3. This rural looking Publix has its own water tower as an entrance.
The Publix in Alpharetta, Ga. was a long time coming before it was built by a Tampa firm and opened to the public in 2006. When developers first discussed turning the rural crossing into “the Marketplace at Birmingham Village,” locals were not having it.
They wanted to hold onto their slice of rural paradise, according the Atlanta Journal Constitution, which reported on the controversy over a decade. Eventually locals and developers agreed on a Publix store and a design that resembled a horse barn “to match the rural flavor of the area,” the AJC wrote.
The plan for the shopping district overall called for scattered buildings rather than a strip center and efforts to save any historical buildings or structures — hence, the water tower.
4. This Publix store is an intentional a blast from the past, even though it’s only two decades old.
The original College Park Publix opened in 1966, quickly becoming a staple for that part of Orlando. It was so beloved that on its last day open in 1998 a reporter from the Orlando Sentinel was there to talk to shoppers and commemorate the shop’s swan song.
But Publix, well aware of the imprint the store had left over nearly 50 years, decided it wasn’t going to part with the store’s look. Publix razed the old building to expand its footprint by 7,000 square feet, but told customers the new store’s facade would look much the same when it was rebuilt.
“It will closely resemble the old building,” manager John Wozniak told the Sentinel in 1998. “But a lot of folks are still pretty sentimental about the old store’s passage.”
The store reopened later that year to much fanfare — and, as promised, it kept its sleek 1966 aesthetics. Publix has another charming Art Deco-style store that opened in 2011 in Lake Worth.
5. The Publix with a splash of old and a whole lot of modern.
The big windows at the Collins Avenue store in Miami Beach are enough to get anyone’s attention. But what sticks out about the Publix store, which opened in 2012, is that it pays homage to the 1960s design that’s so popular in Orlando.
The angles of the store’s roof are inspired by the angles and center pillar used in the old-school stores.
Like the Miami Beach modern store that resembles a boat, this store also boasts people-movers, a large parking garage and elevators.