Flowers, free samples, reusable grocery bags and plenty of good cheer welcomed a couple hundred eager shoppers at the Publix that opened a couple minutes after the crack of dawn this morning in North Shore.
"We're just super excited," said Store Manager James Groover, as he handed out white carnations to folks who walked through the 45,800 square-foot store's brand new doors. "The excitement downtown is amazing."
He wasn't kidding.
It's been a good two years since plans floated for the grocery, initially without the Publix name attached. The closest Publix stores are at least nine miles away in Hixson, Ooltewah or on East Brainerd Road.
One of the North Shore location's first customers is a Hixson regular. Bart Daniels and his 11-year-old daughter Hannah got a tip from a Hixson Publix employee about the grand opening. Word was the North Shore Publix would open at 6 a.m. So the Daniels arrived at 5:30 a.m.
"Of course, it didn't open until 7," said Daniels, 36.
Make that a few minutes short of 7 a.m.
Daniels checked out at 6:59 a.m. That got him a free bag filled with $25 of groceries: buns, sugar and canola oil, among other things. The first 25 customers to spend at least $50 were awarded the same. Many ran to the back of the store as soon as they stepped inside, loaded up on pricey items like meat and seafood, and then darted to the check-out lanes.
The new store at 400 N. Market Street will be open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.
Read more in tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Contact staff writer Mitra Malek at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6406.