Roy Exum: Publix Could Care Less

Friday, February 19, 2021 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The loonies are out in Florida, “boycotting” the premier grocery chain, Publix, because the daughter of “Mr. George” Jenkins donated about $2.5 million to the Trump presidential campaign. More specifically, Julia (Julie) Jenkins Fancelli was asked to donate $300,000 for Trump’s final rally, which gave the extreme-right fanatics the chance for a clandestine and well-planned “insurrection” to break into the nation’s Capitol Building.

Let me let the Florida chapter of The Legion of the Miserable in on an obvious secret. Publix could care less. The lot of you are small potatoes, nothing, not even a blip on any radar screen or heart monitor.  Tragically, five years from now, or even 10, you will still be whiny, empty, and shallow because your acid will eat its way through your container.

Until you learn to live and let live, to love your neighbor as yourself, to build rather than destroy, every family on your block is eager to see the ‘For Sale’ sign in your yard.

Oh, right now the Publix officials are up for an Emmy for the way they twist their hands for the out-of-kilter media, appear grim and pensive for the photo shoot, and issue a purposely vanilla statement but – believe this – in their hand they hold four aces. Publix is no more worried about ignorant loud-mouthed liberals than those in West Palm Beach fret over frostbite. Or, more easily understood, the opinions of sheep mean nothing to the wolf. Let’s study the Publix “hold cards”:

THE ACE OF DIAMONDS – Publix is roundly regarded as the best grocery store chain in all the United States.  Headquartered in very lucky Lakeland, Fla., Publix operates over 1,200 stores throughout the Southeastern United States, with locations in Florida (813), Georgia (189), Alabama (78), South Carolina (64), Tennessee (46), North Carolina (46), and Virginia (16). They employ just shy of 200,000 very happy people and just so you’ll know, those same people represent the largest employee-owned company in America. The company's 2017 sales totaled $34.6 billion (with a ‘b’), with profits of $2.3 billion (with a ‘b’). Believe it or not, they are the 13th largest retailer in the country and rank No. 38th on the Forbes list of “Best Places to work in America.” Publix continues to be the top-ranked company in America in the Food and Drug sector and, if you think your chippy boycott means anything other than the sensationalist news cameras, I am sorry to inform you that your shelf life will already be expired.

THE ACE OF CLUBS – Just over four weeks ago, I got an opening for the COVID vaccine at the Publix in Fort Oglethorpe. There was no wait, no line, no hassle. “I live in Tennessee,” I said. “No matter, we’ll inoculate anyone we can.” It was an absolute pleasure but bigger was the fact everyone who works in the store is akin to an ambassador. “Can I help you find anything?” and “We insist we take your groceries to your car.” George Jenkins was exactly right when he arranged for the employees to buy the store: “If they own it they’ll work twice as hard to make it perfect and the quarterly profit-sharing check is a big deal. Today there are pharmacies in 95 percent of Publix’s stores. So, answer me this: What do these antibiotic prescription drugs have in common: Amoxicillin, Ampicillin, Penicillin VK, Sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim (SMZ-TMP)? At Publix, with a doctor’s written prescription, a two-week supply is free. How about Metformin for Type II Diabetes (the generic of Glucophage)? It’s free. So is two weeks’ worth of Lisinopril, an ACE inhibitor for blood pressure. Amlodipine, a calcium channel blocker used to treat high blood pressure. You bet. If you are walking past the bakery counter and spy a cookie you might like? Just ask, it’s free. The Presto! ATM is installed outside the store and, when I received my second dose of the vaccine, I failed to get a prompt for the $3 dollar service fee. I told the assistant manager, but he shook his head. “No sir, at Publix there is no additional fee.” Oh, mercy.

THE ACE OF HEARTS – Publix, a regional grocery store chain, mind you, is No. 3 on the United Way’s global donations list. For years they have been a “national” sponsor of the Special Olympics, March of Dimes, Children's Miracle Network, United Way, and YMCA. When the COVID pandemic hit America’s dairy farmers, and the closing of school was causing milk and produce to be poured out or left to rot, Publix blew a shrill whistle and proclaimed, “We’ll buy all you’ve got.” The catch was the Publix suppliers are so loyal the company couldn’t undercut them, so immediately they provided – no, no … I miswrote -- they DONATED the fruit, fresh vegetables, and dairy products to “Feeding America.” How many in The Legion of the Miserable have done that? Any liberals you know can match that? And, oh yes, try this: In Polk County, Fla., where the Publix main office is located there is 20 percent poverty and a sharp increase of COVID-based unemployment. Not long ago, Publix opened about 20 food centers in the county where over 500 of the neediest families are given a complete two-week supply of groceries every month. The idea is that if you feed ‘em every day they will have no incentive to try to better themselves. That’s 1,000 trips to the grocery store every month for entire families. How many sheep have done that?

THE ACE OF SPADES – “Mr. George” Jenkins, the most beloved philanthropist the State of Florida has ever known, was asked just before he died at age 88 in 1996, “Sir, how much would you be worth had you not given millions upon millions to charities and just causes?” He never blinked before his two-word answer continues to thrill every generation who hears it: “Probably nothing.” George and his wife, Anne, had seven children. Today each of those children is a billionaire, or close to it, and the youngest is Julie. None of them are connected to the grocery chain, other than holding substantial stock. It is no one’s business what any of us do with our personal worth but I can give my blood oath that if Julie had the slightest hint the Trump rally would unfold as it did, she would have had nothing to do with it.  The Florida Legion of the Miserable can’t touch Julie so they instead decided to play “Kick the Can’ with Publix, who had nothing whatsoever to do with the Trump rally. but was the only target the cowards could find. You are right, it makes no sense at all, but cowards don’t either. Today Julie is the president of the George Jenkins Foundation, which helps either totally sponsor or greatly helps “somewhere around 10,000” organizations. The foundation is always on “ready alert;” when the pandemic hurricane hit, she immediately sent $270,000 to provide superior day care for the children of First Responders, fire and police, and RNs and LPNs. Yes, she’s the “keeper of the trust” and, as the liberal nobodies try in vain to get her attention, she spends her time and effort to better such needs as abuse prevention, Christianity, diseases and conditions, education, elementary and secondary education, higher education, human services, mental health care, museums, out-patient medical care, rehabilitation, special population support, and projects of like need. While I cannot recall a Democratic effort that was boycotted ever on her scale, Julie Jenkins Fancelli has done more to help people than any one of her spineless detractors and that is the glaring truth. The other mystery is when, since the beginning of time, have conservatives ever boycotted a Democratic donor? Have you gotten a scent of these reprehensible scalawags yet?

* * *

BOTTOM LINE: The despicables are full of bluff and bravado right now, but I will bet my dollar against your dime that within no more than 60 days everyone who boycotts a Publix will be subject to having their picture taken in a Publix checkout line. The reasoning is simple. Publix is the best. They stand for more good causes, for more goodness, than anywhere else these leeches can find, and every one of them will slink back and why? Publix employees make them feel welcome. Winners, you know, have the ability to overlook the frailties of lesser people and the offal never seems to notice. Just you watch. 60 days.

* * *

Last year one of the most unfortunate incidents in Hamilton County history unfolded when the Regional Planning Commission, spurred on by Mayor Andy Berke’s highly bogus Urban Design Studio, forced Publix to endure 18 project renderings of a new store coming out of the ground on our South Broad Street. It was the most shameful abuse of power and nauseating bullying that I have ever witnessed. There is now the misconception all is forgotten and forgiven. Unfortunately, that is untrue. The three men and two women most responsible have been identified and are known. Heed the longtime Scottish belief: “The bones remember, and the blood never forgets.” Perhaps it is time for each of you to bid adieu from the public’s interests, and crawl back under your rock.

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