The GreenWise Market opening on South Florida Avenue in mid-December will showcase its Lakeland locale through a handful of home-grown vendors and a mural depicting local landmarks.
The store will be the fourth in Publix Super Markets’ updated foray into the stand-alone organic/natural/foodie space and will also include some Tampa Bay-area vendors, such as the St. Petersburg hydroponic gardeners who will incorporate fresh lettuce that will start out in a planter by the store’s patio and end up on the sales shelves.
Those were among the revelations Monday when Bob Wabbersen, business development director for GreenWise, spoke to about 40 members of the Leadership Lakeland Alumni Association at Publix corporate headquarters at the Polk Parkway and Airport Road.
The store, projected to open in mid-December, is currently under construction in The Shoppes at Lake Miriam Crossing, a shopping center rising on the site of a former K-Mart across the street from the Lake Miriam Square Publix. GreenWise will anchor the north end of the plaza, and the other six stores will include a Publix Liquors and a HomeGoods store, which will anchor the south end.
At 25,500 square feet, it will be a little smaller than the Publix at 540A and Lakeland Highlands Road, and nearly half the size of the Publix store across the street.
GreenWise is seen as a complement to Publix, not a competitor; the company envisions customers going to Publix for household staples and heading to GreenWise for specialty items or to attend foodie events or grab something to eat or drink at an array of food and drink bars.
GreenWise stores try to impart a sense of place through a “gateway to goodness” mural near the entrance, Wabbersen said. In Lakeland, it is being created by local artists Bump Galletta and Fred Koehler and will depict familiar landmarks.
The murals are a nod to the mosaic entrance murals at early Publix stores commissioned by company founder George Jenkins, Wabbersen said.
Local beermakers, including Lakeland’s Brew Hub and Swan Brewing and Tampa’s Cigar City, will provide special brews and ciders on tap, he said. Furniture in an 89-seat, fan-cooled, canopied outside patio is being created by Jon and Sarah Bucklew’s Seventeen20.
Weekly ads will promote local goods, he said, and the GreenWise “good works” program will feed a portion of profits to three local charities being vetted now. Members of the rewards program will be able to select which charity to support by providing their phone number.
When the store opens, commemorative canvas bags will show some a rendition of the store and some Lakeland scenes, he said.
Some other nearby specialty vendors include Kahwa Coffee Roasting and hydroponic farmers Brick Street Farms, both from St. Petersburg. Brick Street is setting up a 40-foot planter that uses 15 gallons of recycling water and produces four types of lettuce — an estimated 648 heads per week.
Lakeland’s store is serving as a prototype since it’s the first one designed and built “from the ground up” as a GreenWise market. The already-opened locations in Tallahassee, Mount Pleasant, S.C., and Mountain Brook, Ala., were repurposed from existing retail outlets.
Shoppers will encounter an open, airy store with repurposed/recycled fixtures designed in neutral colors so that fresh food and its vibrant colors stand out, he said.
The layout theme is “simple, smart, efficient,” he said. Similar items will be grouped together, so customers won’t have to visit several aisles to see all the offerings for things — like baked goods, guacamole, salads or sliced meats — that are often spread out in traditional grocery stores.
Like the other GreenWise outlets, the store will be divided into themed “experience zones” (They’re no longer called departments):
- Pours for things to drink from hot coffee, cold brews, kombucha and smoothies to glasses of wine and craft beers.
- Eats for prepared-in-house foods, including wood-fired pizza, sushi, bento bowls, burrito bowls and sandwiches that can be ordered either in person or online. It also includes a salad bar, hot bar and soup bar.
- Produce (no fancy name here), much of it organic or sourced locally.
- Cuts: Seafood and meats, including 42 varieties of sausage made in-house, eight or nine of which will be available at a time.
- Finds, an area for discovery and sampling via cheese and wine tastings, olives and a wide variety of wines and craft beers.
- Care: health and beauty goods, including vitamins and supplements.
GreenWise is Publix’ response to changing consumer tastes and shopping habits, Wabbersen said. A newer generation of shoppers prizes the availability of organic and natural options over store loyalty, leading to the rise of competitors such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Fresh Market, Earth Fare, Lucky’s Market and Sprouts — none of which are available in Lakeland.
The product mix at GreenWise is 70% natural and organic, 25% specialty and 5% traditional.
Some of the things Wabbersen said customers will experience at GreenWise:
- An outdoor cistern will capture rainwater for irrigation.
- Check-out options include six self-service lanes and “no judgment” express lanes for smaller baskets of “10ish” items or less.
- A car lane for order-ahead customers.
- A customer service desk without the typical lottery, tobacco and money order products.
- Wifi available inside the store, and a separate wifi network on the outdoor patio.
- A rewards program that includes $5 off a first purchase of $10 or more.
- Paper bags at check-out stations. Plastic will be available in the Cuts area for people who want it to separate their meat packages.
- Four chargers for electric vehicles
- A craft beer area linked with the Untappd app.
- A patio with two large TV screens. Their alcohol license allows customers who buy glasses of beer or wine inside to enjoy them on the patio.
- Events calendars in the store and on Facebook.
- Instacart home delivery.
GreenWise private-label items will still be available in the Publix store across the street. The everyday shelf price on GreenWise items will be the same at both stores, he said, but promotional prices may differ.
In the end, the smaller size and simple layout of a GreenWise store are a bonus, Wabbersen says. “A lot of customers say I like the smaller size. That’s part of that simple, smart, efficient shopping experience is that you’re not going through miles and miles of aisles.”