Publix opened its first Rock Hill store at Wednesday with a staff ready to be challenged.
“Come put us to the test. You will not be disappointed,” meat cutter Mark Hailey said.
The store on Cherry Road – a former Super Bi-Lo – is a step back in time, Hailey said. The butcher will cut your meats. Someone will bag your groceries and take them to your car. Store-baked pretzels are for sale.
Customer service, said Justin Stamm of Publix, is what separates the company from other grocery chains.
The store held a sneak peak Tuesday for elected leaders, business people, educators and its neighbors in the shopping center.
Publix donated $500 to eight schools within a 2-mile radius of the store. Schools receiving donations were Ebinport Elementary, Richmond Drive Elementary, Rosewood Elementary, St. Anne Catholic School, Sullivan Middle School, York Preparatory Academy and two grants to Westminster Catawba Christian School, one for grades K-5 and the second for grades 6-12.
Among those taking advantage of the sneak peak – and the free food – was Thuy Nguyen of Nails First, the grocery store’s neighbor.
Nguyen said she hopes Publix will increase her business. She also said while several of her co-workers bring their meals, Publix will likely become a popular alternative for them.
The Cherry Road location was one of seven Bi-Lo stores Publix purchased in September 2013 in the Carolinas. It was gutted and “completely remade in the Publix image,” said store manager Ray Musser. He has been with Publix for 16 years, most recently as store manager in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Locations on Heckle Boulevard in Rock Hill and in Lake Wylie were among those purchased. No date has been set for their reopening. Publix also operates stores in Fort Mill and Indian Land, which opened in 2012.
Five things to know about Publix:• Public service: Publix doesn’t talk price, it talks about customer service. If a customer can’t find an item, a Publix employee is supposed help them find it. Customer service also means carrying groceries to a customer’s vehicle.
• Back to the dinner table: Publix’s core philosophy is about people, and that extends to helping families spend more time together. Publix does this in two ways: grab-in-go food from the deli or cafe or Aprons Simple Meals. Demonstrations of simple, nutritious Aprons Simple Meals are presented on a daily basis. Recipe cards and the ingredients to make the meals are arranged for shoppers. The meals can generally be made in about 30 minutes.
• Freshly delivered: On average, there will be about eight deliveries daily of produce to the Cherry Road location. Servings of produce will be cut and packaged at the store.
• Need more, need less? Publix workers in the meat, seafood and produce departments will open pre-made packages. So if you need three pork chops and there are four to the pack, the staff will give you just what you need. Custom cuts of meat are also available.
• More size, more options: The Cherry Road location is about 63,000 square feet. The typical Publix store is 50,000 square feet. With the extra space, Publix has an expanded wine department with specialists to assist customers, more selections in the deli and cafe, and more natural, organic and ethnic foods.