How Publix Grocery Store Got Its Name

For shoppers living in the southeastern portion of the U.S., Publix is not merely a grocery store, it's an institution, which got its name in an unpredicted way. The establishment was founded by George Jenkins, who'd previously worked as a manager at Piggly Wiggly. Jenkins was inspired to open the store in an attempt to realize his dream of a fully modern supermarket.

As for the store's name, many people believe it had something to do with Jenkin's desire to create a grocery store that focused on the needs of the public. Unlike other grocery stores at the time, Publix offered interior comfort thanks to innovations, like fluorescent lighting and air conditioning systems. Jenkins also had high aspirations for the staff and products, both of which exceeded customer expectations in terms of friendliness and quality, respectively. While there's no denying that Jenkins was committed to serving the public in the best way possible, his idea for the name Publix actually came from another business.

A name brimming with cinematic inspiration

It's often said that the Publix name arose from the notion that the chain was akin to the public's grocery store. However, it appears the name was actually inspired by another business, as explained by The Palm Beach Post. Adolph Zukor, best known for his involvement with Paramount Pictures, founded Publix Theatres Corporation at some point in the early 1900s. While the company was based in New York, it was responsible for managing a slew of movie theaters throughout Florida. Due to the financial impact of the Great Depression, Zukor's company eventually entered into receivership (a debt restructuring plan similar to bankruptcy) in 1933.

Publix Theatres Corporation's run of bad luck happened during the same period that the first Publix location was opened. Upon opening the store in 1930 in Winter Haven, Florida, founder Jenkins claimed that he "liked the sound of the name" of the Publix Theatres Corporation, so he borrowed it for his new enterprise. The supermarket chain went on to make a huge splash in Florida and elsewhere in the south, where it still reigns supreme among grocery chains in the region. And if you thought its name origin was surprising, that's not the only interesting factoid involving the store.

Other surprising facts about Publix

One of the highlights of Publix is how friendly and attentive the staff are when it comes to meeting customer needs. In addition to the team's commitment to doing a great job for its own sake, the staff at Publix also has a lot to be happy about. Publix is actually employee-owned, which means that each worker has a stake in the success of the establishment. This approach has been successful for all involved, as the chain claims they've never had to lay off a worker in the nine decades that it's been in business.

The store also believes in treating its customers impeccably. Customers with prescriptions can get certain medications, such as antibiotics, for free from the Publix pharmacy. The store has also established a network of automatic teller machines that partner with financial institutions to help shoppers avoid paying fees when taking out money. It's these and many other little touches that make the shopping experience so special to fans of Publix.