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Ahh…November. The leaves are falling (…for our readers outside of Florida), the scent of pumpkin everything, great football on TV, an abundant amount of food, the cooler weather (…again, sorry to our Florida readers) and of course Thanksgiving. Our favorite time of the year has arrived. Whether you have family in town you haven’t seen all year or you’re spending the holiday with loved ones you see daily, the memories made around the dinner table during Thanksgiving are the memories you will cherish for a lifetime.

11_MJL_Family_Body_1Though our stores are closed on Thanksgiving so our associates can spend time with their loved ones, everything leading up to the holiday requires a lot of work. Whether the Grocery department is building a unique lobby display with your favorite Thanksgiving staple items, the Meat and Deli departments are unloading pallets upon pallets of turkeys, the Produce department is getting all of your vegetables ready to be prepped or the Bakery department is making sure you have every dessert imaginable, the work from our associates that goes into getting ready for Thanksgiving is extraordinary.

This Thanksgiving, we visited Store 1439, The Marketplace at Dr. Phillips in Orlando, Florida. We met with a few managers to get their thoughts on what Thanksgiving means to them and hear any stories they wanted to share with us about working during Thanksgiving.

Jay Farley, Store Manager

Jay Farley, Store Manager at 1439, is no newcomer to the Thanksgiving rush. He’s worked at Publix for twenty two years. Besides the three Thanksgiving Day NFL games he’s been to, he explained that he has so much more to be thankful for. He smiled wide and told us, “Everything begins with my family.  My wife of nine years, Tina, and our two and a half year old son, Owen, are my personal motivation to work hard, execute our Publix strategy and deliver on our mission to our customers and associates. I am thankful for so many different opportunities that come as a result of this philosophy.” Jay’s attitude during Thanksgiving is very simple, “The customer always comes first.” He routinely gathers with his associates before the holiday and shares his thoughts with them. “Our team knows that the day before Thanksgiving, we get many new customers and a new opportunity to win them over forever by showcasing all that Publix has to offer. We may get very busy, but we always have fun by excelling at premier service, offering great products and creating an environment that keeps our customers coming back. I have been so proud of my store’s team in years past and want them to know just how thankful I am for them the whole year through.”

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Thanksgiving is a very important time for our Deli. Every day leading up to the holiday can bring new challenges, but it’s during the Thanksgiving rush that our Deli associates rise to the challenge and make a positive impact on many families’ Thanksgiving experiences. We didn’t want to keep Deli Manager Johnny out of the Deli for too long, but were able to speak with him briefly to ask him a few questions about the busy holiday.

Starting with Publix in 2010, Johnny’s seen his fair share of busy holidays. Thanksgiving, he tells us, is his favorite. “From the Thanksgiving pot luck dinners the associates have in the break room to the camaraderie formed with your coworkers, it’s up to us to work hard to be successful each day. Thanksgiving brings many ups and downs, but the end result is always the reward of being off of work and with our families.” Though Johnny is usually helping other customers get their turkey dinners ready for the holiday, he shared that a few years back when he was a Deli clerk, a customer bought everyone in the Deli a turkey dinner for their family or to give to someone else in need. “I’ll never forget that gesture and that customer. It sticks with me to this day,” he shared. “This Thanksgiving and every other, I’m grateful for my loving and supportive family. Even though they often call me Raymond since I bought a house right next to my mom, we always have a great Thanksgiving breakfast with my wife’s family and then invite friends over for a huge dinner later in the day.”

Next we spoke with Customer Service Manager, Cesar Gipson.

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A Publix associate of twelve years, Cesar was eager to share his family’s Thanksgiving traditions with us. He stated, “My family is very diverse so we have two separate dinners. One dinner is made of Hispanic foods and one is with very traditional Thanksgiving food and I’m still hungry after both!” It’s a good thing one of his main hobbies is working out. As one of nine children, family values and customer service are dear to his heart. One year, his store was getting ready to close when they received a phone call from a family on vacation in the Orlando area. The family just got back to their hotel after grocery shopping and realized that their room didn’t have an oven to cook their Thanksgiving meal in. He and his team sprang into action and delivered the family a ready to eat turkey after the store closed. To this day, that family still shops with Cesar when they visit and he has become good friends with them. When we asked him what he was most thankful for this year, he shared that he’s most thankful for his family. Every year, he looks forward to catching up with long distance relatives and family members that he rarely gets to see. “It’s great being able to catch up on a year’s worth of conversations with my family around the table” he told us.

Assistant Bakery Manager, Mary Anne, says she’s thankful for Publix. “I joined Publix five years ago and I never thought I’d be a manager. Here I am, though, and I couldn’t be more proud of myself. The holidays are a very busy time for all of us, but we wouldn’t want to have it any other way!”

What would a trip to Publix for Thanksgiving be without a visit to our Produce and Grocery departments? Phil, the Grocery Team Leader, told us “This Thanksgiving, I’ll be thankful when the day is over,” his face crinkled in laughter. “On a more serious note, I’m thankful for my family and being able to enjoy a day of relaxing with my loved ones, who come visit from Miami, Florida.”

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Produce Manager Robert Cruz was excited to speak with us and recalled his favorite experience on Thanksgiving. “It happened last year actually! I was restocking the potato section when a customer asked if I knew where the ham glaze was. I was unsure but I told the customer to wait for just one minute and I’d go find out where it was. When I came back, the customer was gone. I searched up and down the aisles and throughout the store with no luck. I thought to myself with great uneasiness, ’Did I ruin this person’s holiday? Was this the one special ingredient they needed?’  As I walked back to the Produce department, I spotted the customer checking out at the register. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and delivered the ham glaze to them and actually got a hug from the customer. It was a great feeling…I guess it really was the secret ingredient! Just one of the many reasons I love working at Publix!”

 

We hope you enjoyed hearing from our associates at Store #1439. As you can see, our associates are ready to go above and beyond to ensure that you and your family have an amazing holiday. From everybody at The Publix Checkout and each one of our stores, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Matthew L.

Written by

Matthew L. started with Publix in 2009. After working his way up to a Publix Manager, Matthew decided to make a change from retail and pursue his passion for writing. Matthew enjoys hearing stories from the people he's writing about and loves the Publix culture. Outside of work, Matthew enjoys spending time with his wife and their dog, Edmund. They love to explore all that Central Florida has to offer.

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