Remember this? Check out this Publix photo timeline to celebrate 92 years of business

Take a tour of the Publix photo timeline to learn more about the history of Publix since our company was founded in 1930. (Credit: Publix — https://corporate.publix.com/about-publix/culture/history/photo-timeline)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Publix is celebrating 92 years of business on Tuesday.

We wanted to tell a story — starting with the first store that ever opened in Winter Haven on Sept. 6, 1930.

The photo timeline below paints a picture of how far Publix has come. (Photo credit & information credit: Publix)

George Jenkins

In the midst of the Great Depression, Jenkins walked away from the security of a good job to open the first Publix store, Publix wrote. Gross annual sales in the early years averaged about $100,000, slowly rising to $120,000 by 1934.

While many of his competitors’ store shelves went bare for lack of goods, Jenkins traversed the country seeking products to send back home to stock his stores. In his travels, Jenkins also garnered ideas about how to better the business. Click here to read more.

George Jenkins (Photo: Publix)

Publix Toledo scales

Jenkins was the first person to introduce people to the big green Toledo Publix scales (known by the store as People Weighers) in 1930.

“Our founder having the vision to be a customer service expert, he thought having scales in the store without having our customers pay for it would be a treat — and it was,” said Dwaine Stevens, who has worked for Publix for around four decades.

Stevens is referring to the decision by Publix in the early years to make the scales free of charge. Many scales in that era required payment because people did not have scales in their own homes.

Related: No scaling back: Tradition of Publix scales lasts decades and counting

But you won’t find the scales in Publix stores outside of Florida, except for a few just over the Georgia border. Stores in other southern states where Publix operates don’t install the scales, partly because there are only so many scales left.

The manufacturer, Mettler Toledo, stopped producing them in 2015.

Click here to watch News4JAX reporter and anchor Scott Johnson dive deeper into the history of the scales and what the future could look like.

Publix Toledo Scale

Related: New Publix 20 years in the making finally opens in East San Marco | Exploring Publix’s Greenwise Market

Jacksonville’s first stores

In 1971, three Jacksonville stores opened on March 30 (Nos. 162 and 163) and another store opened on Oct. 5 (No. 165). In 1974, the Jacksonville distribution center and office opened.

Fun fact: A share of Publix stock, valued at $2.50 in 1958, was worth $44 by 1969. By 1978, Publix was grossing nearly $2 billion annually, with profits of more than $32 million.

Jacksonville Publix location

Check-out scanning

Publix turned 50 in 1980 and celebrated by kicking off a decade of technological innovation. In keeping with the company’s penchant for using technology to make shopping more pleasurable, Publix introduced check-out scanning statewide.

Publix in the 1980s. (Photo: Publix)

The Story of Plato

Since 1991, Plato the Publixaurus has been the mascot for Publix. Since his debut at a store opening in Savannah, Georgia in 1991 (Publix’s first Georgia store), Plato has made hundreds of appearances at store openings and other Publix events, Publix said.

If you’re from Florida, you know Publix is the best of the best.

After 92 years, with locations all over Florida, the grocery chain is a billion-dollar corporate giant with yearly earnings that rivaled Nike in 2018, CL Tampa Bay reported.

Today, Publix has grown from a single shop into a sprawling collection of more than 1,100 supermarkets that brought in $34 billion in 2016. The values and philosophies established by George Jenkins are still in place and serve as the foundation for the mission of being the premier quality food retailer in the world. Click here to read more.

Share your favorite Publix food, item, event, employee, or story from the past below!


About the Author:

Carianne Luter is a social media producer for News4Jax and has worked at Channel 4 since December 2015. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a degree in communications.