Our journey through time takes us to 1970 — the halfway point in Publix’s history. In our last article, we showed you how Publix stores evolved from the art deco look to a wing design. During the 1970s, the stores appearance brought more changes, and so did the logo. The wings and neon lights were replaced with a square with a “P” in the center and the name “Publix” spelled out.

05_JB_History_1970s_image1If you were around in the 1970s, you might remember the Publix subsidiary called Food World. They had a completely different look and pricing structure, and the signature color was blue (not Publix green). Each store had a giant rotating globe on the front. These discount stores were just as clean and friendly as their Publix counterparts, but without some of the extras like trading stamps. Trading stamps were an early customer reward program. By the end of this decade, Publix would have 23 Food World stores in Central Florida.

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As Bakery departments were added in stores, the variety of baked goods increased. In 1972, a 28,000 square foot Publix bakery manufacturing plant was built in Lakeland. This allowed store bakeries to operate more efficiently, ensuring consistent quality and offering the best prices to the customer. You can read more about the history of our bakeries in our previous article.

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An exciting new department was the Photo Lab. Customers dropped off their rolls of film and returned later to pick up photo prints. Introduced in 1975 as a customer convenience, by 1978 Publix was processing more than two and a half million rolls of film a year. Photo processing departments were around until the early 2000s.

 

05_JB_History_1970s_image4If you ever had photos processed like this, you probably remember the  anticipation of waiting for the roll to be developed and the fun of opening the envelope to see how your pictures turned out!

 

 

 

 

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The most significant change happened toward the end of the decade. The world was about to see a huge technological advancement that would modernize the way everyone shopped. In 1974, a supermarket in Ohio tested the first check stand scanner. Publix was on the forefront of this advancement, and by 1979, computerized scanning checkout systems were installed in 73 stores. Within the next year, all Publix stores would be getting rid of the now-obsolete keypunch registers and speeding up the checkout lanes with scanners, which we can all appreciate today.

Of course, the new scanning systems relied on Universal Product Codes, better known as UPC numbers. The series of lines on each product is what the “eye” of the scanner reads to interpret the price.

Here’s a bit of trivia:  The first item with a UPC that was ever scanned at a retail checkout was a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum! This day in history took place on June 26, 1974 at a supermarket in Ohio.

 

 

 

 

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Publix stores were spreading to communities throughout Florida. The previous decade focused on the southeast coast of Florida with robust store growth in Dade County, but it was now time to focus on North Florida. As stores continued to open in Duval County, a distribution facility was built in Jacksonville. Stores from Jacksonville to Ocala became known as the Jacksonville Division. Likewise, stores from Vero Beach to Homestead became the Miami Division, and of course, there was the Lakeland Division that included the majority of stores in central and southwest Florida. In total, Publix had 231 stores by 1979.

 

Despite rapid growth, new technology and a changing world, Publix remained committed to the founding philosophy of making the customer experience great. The motto was, “No purchase is complete until the meal is eaten and enjoyed,” but with an expanding mix of products and services, the statement was updated in 1972. This became — and is still known as the Publix Guarantee:

 

“We will never knowingly disappoint you. If for any reason your purchase does not give you complete satisfaction, the full purchase price will be cheerfully refunded immediately upon request.”

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Do you have a memory of shopping in the 1970s?  We’d love to hear your stories!

 

Jennifer B.

Written by

Jennifer B. has been with Publix since 1980, when she started working part time in high school. She has held positions of Assistant Director of public relations and Director of media relations, but her current role as the Company Historian is the highlight of her career. She loves sharing Publix trivia, telling stories about Mr. George and solving Publix’s history mysteries. In her life outside of Publix, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her husband and catering to the whims of their cat Jackson, who is master of all he surveys.

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