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"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Love Letter

Dear Publix,

Long ago, in my misspent youth, I shopped at any old grocery store. I didn't care if it was national, local, or international - I was all about the convenience. If it was close, I shopped there. I am mortified to admit that sometimes I didn't even care how clean it was. The horror! I often wandered thoughtlessly through the local Kroger, Big Star, or Food Lion without giving a though to you, humbly waiting in the next town or a few blocks away for a token visit.

O! The time wasted with other, inferior stores! Alack! Alas! Ahem...

I started shopping with you when you built a store near the track. How convenient, to be able to buy groceries when I got there instead of carting them from home! Then, when I moved up to the area, that store was the closest, and it was familiar to me, so it became my default.

A few years ago, Ingles and Kroger both tried to woo me away from you by building huge monuments to excess, also called "super stores", between you and I. I admit, I paid them visits - especially Kroger, who sought to tempt me with a Starbuck's kiosk - but they weren't you, dear Publix.

Since our beginning, you have gone far beyond mere customer service. Your pharmacy has been stellar, and your cashiers and stockers are wonderful - kind, cheerful, helpful without being intrusive - so much so that I now drive past Kroger and Ingles and eschew the Evil Empire for you. You even accept their coupons! Marvelous!

Why, I didn't even complain - much - when you rearranged the entire store to meet a nationally standardized layout. I simply wandered about, lost, until I was familiar with the new product placements. Now I can once again shop in my sleep, blindfolded, should the need arise.

I have mourned when the people I know have quit, retired, or been fired. Your employees are so nice to me, I feel valued, special. You may not know this, Publix, but an agoraphobic like me takes comfort in familiar places and faces, and even on days when I didn't want to walk to the end of the drive to collect the mail, I could come visit you without too much effort on my part. Your people have made some of my bad days better simply by being their wonderful selves.

Recently, you held a promotion - buy so many dollars or more of groceries, get a gift card for x-amount. I bought well over the minimum amount and figured I'd get a card. Your employee, though, asked the manager if it was one card for the whole order, or one card for every so many dollars. You, dear Publix, despite the careful wording of the promotion to make it clear a shopper got ONE card, you said "Eh, give one for every time they reach that amount", netting me several cards which ultimately let me buy a few luxury items like toilet paper and cat food. You are awesome that way.

Some day, hopefully in the near future, I will be moving up to Mum's place. There is no Publix here. There are only a rather inferior Ingles and an Evil Empire. Not to worry, beloved Publix - I will be loading coolers and bags into Rosie the Mule and driving down to visit you for my grocery needs. Yes, really - I would rather make a forty minute drive than have to tolerate anything less than you, Publix.

Thank you for not becoming one more in a string of retail disappointments - your constant drive to remain service-oriented is a wonder to me in an age of chains that seem to think I am here to serve them, not the other way around.

I love and adore you, Publix...

Yours as long as you'll open your doors to me,

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