The eagerly anticipated GreenWise Market planned for south Lakeland is projected to open in the first quarter of 2020 and will take up nearly one-third of a shopping center that will include another anchor store, Publix Super Markets executives said this morning.
The store planned for the former Kmart property across Florida Avenue from the Lake Miriam Publix will occupy about 25,000 square feet, compared with 45,000 square feet for a typical Publix store, according to Kevin Murphy, senior vice president of retail operations.
He spoke to about 100 people gathered at Grasslands Golf and Country Clubs for the GrayRobinson law firm’s Lakeland Community Leader Forum.
Murphy showed an artist’s rendering of the exterior of the Lakeland store (see above) and said an arriving customer will pass a patio with tables seating about 50 people protected by umbrellas and a stone barrier.
Inside the store, customers will see sustainable materials, neutral colors and associates wearing relaxed uniforms in keeping with the store’s natural and organic food and beverage offerings, he said.
The product mix: 70 percent natural and organic; 25 percent specialty, and 5 percent traditional.
Sales of natural and organic groceries have increased 70 percent over five years, he said, and polling shows that 56 percent of Millennials say buying organic is important.
During a question-answer period, Murphy was asked why GreenWise is opening directly across the street from a traditional Publix store. His response: “Location, location, location.”
But he also said GreenWise is viewed as a “second shop,” a place to discover specialty items, take a class or chat with friends over a coffee or craft beer, not a place to buy laundry detergent or paper towels.
The Tallahassee GreenWise store that opened last week — it’s the first and Lakeland will be the third in a new generation of GreenWise markets — has 3,400 products not carried in Publix stores, he said. (A Tallahassee Democrat article provides a tour in words and pictures through that store, which is slightly larger than the one planned for Lakeland.)
Murphy was also asked about plans for other shopping planned for the now-vacant site on South Florida Avenue. He deferred to Jeff Chamberlain, Publix senior vice president of real estate and facilities, who said 80,000 square feet of retail space is planned and will include another large anchor store as well as local shops.
Chamberlain said he hopes to be able to make an announcement about tenants in 30 to 60 days.
The GreenWise stores in Lakeland, Tallahassee, Boca Raton, Mount Pleasant, S.C., and Marietta, Ga., are part of a five-store test of a new concept that differs from the Publix-branded GreenWise markets that opened a little more than a decade ago.
While those centered around products with the GreenWise label, the new markets fit more into an emerging concept of “groceraunts” that offer options to eat, drink and socialize within the store.
In response to a question, Murphy said it’s too early to know whether the earlier stores, such as the one in Tampa’s Hyde Park, will transition as a result of testing in the new markets.