MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The wait is over. Mobile's first Publix Supermarket is now open.
With the parking lot packed and a line hundreds of people deep, Mobile welcomed its first Publix to the Hillwood Shopping Center in West Mobile Wednesday, April 24. City officials, local school representatives and special guests gathered for the grand opening.
Media Relations Manager for Publix Supermarkets Dwaine Stevens said if you've never been in a store, you're in for a surprise.
"It's a ‘wow' factor. And I'm not just saying that to pat ourselves on the back but we truly created an environment that's second to none," Stevens said.
It's also an environment for jobs. Stevens said more than 5,000 applications poured in to the company's job center. Officials said of the 167 positions filled, nearly 75 percent were local hires.
The store site, which sits at the northwest corner of Hillcrest and Cottage Hill was a former Delchamps and then Bruno's location. According to White-Spunner Realty, it's one of the best grocery corners in the city.
The first Publix coming to Mobile has been a long time coming. Many loyal shoppers are glad they no longer have to drive across the bay to Daphne and Fairhope to shop anymore. Now, they have one in their own back yard.
"We are elated…we're happy to come across the bridge and start serving these great customers here in Mobile," Stevens said.
Couponer Nicole Eaton was one of those loyal customers who made the drive.
"I am here because I am tired of going over to Daphne to Publix. I am so excited we have our own Publix here in Mobile. I have my binder. I have my Publix app, and I am ready to start saving over here," Eaton said.
Melody Cooley said the brand said it all.
"I just love the Publix experience. Shopping is a pleasure here. It really is," Cooley said.
Matt White, president of White-Spunner Realty said planning for the project has been about five years in the making. He's glad to now see it as a reality.
Perhaps the biggest driving force behind the completion of the Publix was Gerri Cox.
Cox was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and liver cancer in November 2011. At first, doctors said she had three weeks to live. At that point, she set a goal to see the groundbreaking of Publix. She did just that. Her next goal: to be at the grand opening. Unfortunately, she passed away two weeks before the store opened but not before leaving an impact on store employees and shoppers alike. Her daughter, Rhonda Daniels said Publix has gone above and beyond for her mother through the past several months.
"They wrapped their arms around our family, embraced us like their family. And I will be just always grateful for their love and care they've shown my family," Daniels said.
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