publix supermarket

Publix: Supermarket Wars Continue in Cary

publix supermarket

Cary, NC — Last week, Publix Supermarkets confirmed the long-running rumor that it will occupy a 49,000 square foot store at Davis and High House in the Bradford development, now under construction.

Supermarket Wars Continue in Cary

Supermarkets are usually a slow news item in Cary. I mean, I like food and I like grocery shopping, but it doesn’t make for riveting copy.

However, in the last couple of weeks, we’ve had several big moves in the local supermarket space.

Kroger Eats Harris Teeter

On July 9, Kroger announced it was acquiring Harris Teeter. I have this vision of a man walking into the Deli section and saying “I’ll take it all.”

Kroger operates 2,419 stores in 31 states. Harris Teeter, based in Matthews, NC, has 212 stores in the Southeast.

Some Harris Teeter shareholders have filed a class action lawsuit against the purchase, but expect the deal to close this fall.

Also expect Kroger to support the Harris Teeter brand, particularly in North Carolina. It’s a profitable franchise with good margin and minimal overlap with Kroger stores.

Wal*Mart Opens Third Neighborhood Market

First question: Do I have to use the asterisk*? Can’t I just say Walmart or Wal-mart? No?

Boldly staking out turf in the supermarket wars, Walmart has opened their third Neighborhood Market in the Cary area. This one is at Harrison and Maynard, literally across the street from a Harris Tetter and Aldi.

I drove past over the weekend and it looked pretty busy. Read more about Walmart Neighborhood Markets.

Publix Confirms Bradford

But back to Publix, the rumors have been swirling for months. Last week, they were confirmed: Publix is coming to the Bradford at Davis and High House.

Publix has it’s eye on North Carolina, with three stores recently opened in Charlotte. The Publix in Cary will be the first in the Triangle.

Interestingly, Publix is the largest employee-owned supermarket in the United States (over 1000 stores). The shopping experience is very pleasant – fresh, green and attractive. Also notable is a little more genuine interaction with store workers than one usually gets at the supermarket. From the website:

Founded in 1930, Publix Super Markets is the largest and fastest-growing employee-owned supermarket chain in the United States. Publix and our associates excel in community involvement, volunteerism and a commitment to our market areas and beyond.  Publix’s commitment to diversity has contributed to our success in being a great place to work and shop.

By local standards, the new Publix in Cary will be modest: a mere 49,000 square feet. It will be up against stiff competition with Harris Teeter and Lowes right across the street.

But I predict Cary will come to love Publix. And visa versa.


Shopping cart photo by Mark Nockleby. Tank by Randen Pederson. Story and photo illustration by Hal Goodtree.


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15 replies
  1. Bruce Cotton
    Bruce Cotton says:

    One of the observations I have made leading up to the Kroger buyout (I’m the shopper and cook in the family); Harris Teeter has been raising prices on outside brand items dramatically, while keeping their own private label products at price points where the outside brands used to be. Take bacon for example. Oscar Mayer used to be in the $3.99 range. Then the store brand moved to $3.99, and Oscar Mayer was gradually escalated to $6-7.99. Coffee like Peets brand has been priced up, and then put on sale where the regular price used to be. I suspect this was all to make the chain’s bottom line look a lot more attractive. It’s forced me to shop elsewhere – so the addition of Publix is welcome.
    By the way, if you are looking for stores NOT selling GMO – Trader Joes is the only one doing so. Even Whole Foods sells GMO…

    • Brent
      Brent says:

      Grocers typically make the highest profit on their internal brand items. In a very low-margin business, it’s no surprise that they do all they can to drive you to their (higher profit) brands.

  2. Gary
    Gary says:

    Reminder, TJ’s parent also runs Aldi which is not making such claims!

    Imagine the great PR a grocer would do if they could explain Genetically Modified Organisms for us low-information coupon-clippers! 🙂

    BTW, Turkey Hill ice cream prices are always the best at Kroger.
    Lowes, H-T are nearly double.

  3. Todd
    Todd says:

    3 of 4 corners having a grocery. 7 groceries within 1 mile…I thought Cary’s planning and use of PUD’s would prevent this. Oh… and do we also need three ‘Chicken Places’ together with addition of PDQ. Come on. Lets get creative.

    • Hal Goodtree
      Hal Goodtree says:

      I agree with you, Todd – it is strange and inefficient. But that’s the marketplace. I wouldn’t want government to control marketplace competition at that level – my right to open a supermarket if I wanted. It’s a hotly contested corner, but I think in the longterm that’s good for local consumers. [Disclosure: I live within 1/2 a mile of the corner of Davis & High House.]

    • Gary
      Gary says:

      Let the future PUD work focus on not repeating goofs, like single-street access to major highways for over a hundred(s) homes:

      Turner Creek area, Rigsbee Farms, etc.

      Please, government do not mess with capitalism and the free market!

      OK to choose tenant if you own some historic property downtown, etc. and need the rental income and vibrance, etc.

  4. Steve
    Steve says:

    i wonder if this means the end of the the Lowe’s at Davis and HH. I don’t know how that place stays open, its a dump that is always empty.

    • Gary
      Gary says:

      Yep, it’s closing, per yesterday’s newscasts. I suspect the two nearby WalMart Neighborhood Markets really made a dent in store traffic.

      Rt 55 location still suffers from miserable parking lot access while the Morrisville one sure seems busy ALL the time.

      I walk to the Morrisville one and cool down by browsing the ice cream freezers. 😉

  5. Eric
    Eric says:

    As a new Cary resident direct from Florida, I can tell you that you will be thrilled with Publix. Imagine Harris Teeter with more reasonable prices, and you get the idea. The one that is coming doesn’t sound very large, but the Publix in the area I come from are enormous, typically three times the size of most of the grocery stores I have seen here. Should this one prove successful, I would think you’ll be seeing a much larger version coming shortly after.

  6. Myron
    Myron says:

    If there has to be an additional grocery store in the area then thank goodness it is Publix. My wife was praying that Publix would buy Harris Teeter. Most people that have no experience with Publix will soon see why they have captivated the market wherever they open a store. Good prices with the best customer service.

  7. TJ
    TJ says:

    OMG! Publix is not reasonable, neither is Harris Teeter. If you compare the two, then Publix seems more reasonable. I live in South Florida currently, a transplant from Virginia. I used to shop at Food Lion, Trader Joes and Aldi’s. If you want the Virginia Ukrop’s experience then go to Publix. It’s always loaded with older shoppers here anyway. Kroger is much better and way more reasonable in my eyes. I’d rather not pay for frills.

  8. Gary in Cary, NC
    Gary in Cary, NC says:

    Yep, the new planned Publix in Cary is right across the street from a HUGE senior Searstone community, about ready for first residents. Yes, for those that still prep their own meals, there will be “older shoppers”!

    I doubt the Searstone folks will be very grocery price-sensitive.

    Yesterday, Kroger saved me 50 cents a gallon on a BIG fill-up, so I shop there still for the fuel points and 5% off on Tuesdays. Produce dept. has improved considerably here, probably thanks to the competition.

    I just hope the traffic signals give enough “crosswalk” time for the seniors to walk across a very, very busy wide intersection.

    I walk there real often–I see lots of drivers talking on phones making at-speed right-on-red turns?

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