You’ve probably wondered when you go shopping at the Publix Supermarket and as soon as the door opens, every Publix in Florida has a scale inside.
Surely we Finns in Florida, myself included, have often wondered why Publix grocery stores have huge old-time personal scales as you enter the store. As I researched the history of Publix, I discovered the following. In 1940 George Jenkins opened the first Publix supermarket in Winter Haven. The first shop, built of marble, glass and stucco was called the “marble palace” and had some notable amenities, including air conditioning and automatic doors. Today, every supermarket has A/C, but in the 1940s it was a luxury, as were automatic sliding doors.
Jenkins also added a new comfort to the store, the personal scale. It was a handy sales trick to bring customers to the store, as household scales were not common in the 1940s. Small shop owners and companies placed large scales called “people weighers” outside their stores and charged the people who used them. Jenkins also decided to install the scales in its new store, but placed it inside its store rather than outside, as most competitors did. The scale in Publix was also free of charge. His idea was hoping that when they walked in the doors, they would smell these fresh donuts, see the beautiful colors, and feel the cool air.
Publix’s Lakeland headquarters still has the first scale of the store, called “lollipop” because it was shaped as lollipop candy. The rounded top is on a narrow base and a small base, all in white porcelain. The appearance of the scale has changed since the first. The scales available today in stores are four times larger and look more industrial. The larger circular meter selector sits on top of a rectangular block. The platform with the scales is also larger and much more convenient for people to weigh their suitcases before traveling.
Today Publix supermarkets are also find in other states. Supermarkets have been opened in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Carolina and Virginia, but the scales you can find only in Florida Publix.