How the 1% Shop for Groceries in the Richest Zip Code in America
The food desert in the richest zip code in America is no more. Publix had shut down their location just blocks from Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, FL to do a remodel, rendering the area — named the “richest zip code in America” in a recent Bloomberg BusinessWeek report — supermarket-barren. Now that the Publix is reopened, residents no longer have to cross the bridge to West Palm Beach to buy groceries.
I visited the newly formatted store just two days after its opening, and it’s a beauty. The new Publix has all of the standard amenities: pharmacy, upscale deli, bakery, salad bar, seafood counter, gourmet cheese counter, aisle of wine, parking lot security guard, and valet parking (to come later). This may not be an everyday occurrence, but at least this past Saturday there were half a dozen sampling stations offering everything from sushi and wine to ground buffalo. There were Publix employees all over the store, constantly tidying up and ready to answer any questions. One thing not in sight: self-checkout.
In all honesty, while this Publix was nicer than others I’ve visited, the difference wasn’t that noticeable and the store is a little more of an effort to shop, as it is smaller than many (45,000-square-feet). Shopper comments included, “Isn’t the dairy case a little small?” (it is) and, “What exactly is port anyway?” from a shopper in the wine aisle. A Publix staffer was at the ready, to answer in detail. The parking lot is a little small, too, but the security guard ) was there to direct wayward drivers and everybody seemed in good spirits.
Bottom line: Even rich shoppers can get a little grumpy when they are missing a supermarket in their town, and Publix has now remedied that situation while taking the store up a few notches. The fact is, nobody is going to come in to Publix’s trading area and beat them on service or ambiance, other than a gourmet market. And Publix keeps their prices within shouting range of the discounters, to make defectors think twice.
- Renovated 44,000-square-foot Publix store opens – Palm Beach Daily News
- Cerabino: Palm Beach and Publix: A marriage on the rocks – Palm Beach Post
- Palm Beach’s 33480 ranked as nation’s richest ZIP code – Palm Beach Daily News
Discussion question: Do supermarket operators need to treat the 1% differently? How radical a difference should it be? Does it pay for supermarket operators, with a broad demographic base, to provide special treatment to customers in high-income communities?