The bad news for grocery shoppers in Carrollwood is that Publix will soon tear down a location at Fletcher Avenue and Dale Mabry Highway. The good news is that Publix plans to rebuild the site into a vastly different, luxurious new store that's the first of its kind in the region.
When built, shoppers there might well think they've walked into a Greenwise store, with a sit-down café and loads of fresh-made foods and organic produce.
The new design doesn't have a formal name, but shoppers who have seen the Greenwise Publix stores will see a slew of similarities – and the new store will very much compete head-to-head with a brand new Whole Foods store two miles north that opened a few months ago.
The Publix store currently there will close down sometime this spring, and construction workers will tear it down to the ground. Re-construction will take between eight and 10 months, and the new store could open after New Year's, with a slew of "earth-friendly," "all-natural" and organic items.
As for size, the new 49,000-square-foot store will be almost exactly the same size as the current store. But similarities end there. The new store will have:
(Prices, by the way, will be the same at this store as other Publix locations.)
That drive to go more upscale is a hot trend. Like most other grocery chains, Publix is in a fierce battle for market share with Wal-Mart, and rather than competing with ever-lower prices, rivals are moving more up-market: Sit-down cafes, hot food prepared on site, party planning centers and special cooking events.
While Wal-Mart may generate $426 per square foot per year in stores, according to some market reports, specialty stores like Whole Foods are generating $878.
Several years ago, Publix launched a new, health-focused Greenwise store model, and built a Greenwise location in South Tampa that sold scores of organic and all-natural foods – including "Greenwise" branded fresh items like beef, dairy and poultry.
The store has been successful, Publix officials say, but instead of building dozens more Greenwise stores across the region, Publix instead built a prototype "hybrid" store in Longboat Key that had Greenwise elements blended within a normal Publix store.
Now, Publix is testing a third design in Carrollwood that's not officially a "hybrid," but has many upscale differences compared with much older Publix stores. Time will tell, Publix officials say, but shoppers in other cities can expect many new stores to model the most successful parts of the Carrollwood design.