Fall was just a test drive. Villagers cooked up Octoberfest and fall harvest dishes and made Halloween cookies and candy – but the serious Holiday cooking starts now. With Thanksgiving about a week away, turkeys and hams are on order and menus are pretty much planned. When it comes to stocking up for the holidays, residents of The Villages have plenty of grocery shopping choices, just a short golf cart or car-ride away.
While food shopping options in The Villages range from specialty produce and meat shops to corner quick stores, grocery stores provide the largest variety and are conveniently located. Two Southern grocery store chains, Publix and Winn Dixie, may be unfamiliar to newcomers to The Villages.
The Publix chain dominates area grocery shopping with four stores within The Villages, and several more within easy driving distance.
Publix was founded in Winter Haven, Fl, in 1930. Now based in nearby Lakeland, the privately held company operates stores more than 1000 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. It is one of the fastest growing employee-owned companies in the United States. The chain consistently wins grocery industry and community-involvement awards and has been named one of the top companies in Fortune’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” (1998-2009) and one of Jacksonville Magazine’s top 25 Companies That Care (2000-2009).
Though departments and services vary by store, Publix store departments commonly include: bakery, deli, produce, seafood, meat and floral. Services usually include: money order sales, money transfers, check cashing, coin counting, recycling and ATMs.
As well as carrying national and store brands, Publix has its own GreenWise line. Products under this label are “minimally-processed”, natural, organic or environmentally friendly. Products in this line include produce, dairy items, meat, and vitamins and supplements. They also carry national “green” and healthy brands. To become more familiar with the green side of Publix, you can subscribe, free, to their quarterly GreenWise Market magazine online.
All the stores in The Villages have a pharmacy and prescription refills can be done online. Also, all the stores sell wine and beer, but the Publix at Bella Cruz has a liquor department. The Southern Trace Plaza and Colony Plaza stores also have sushi.
Store hours run roughly from 7 am to 9 pm, with shorter hours on Sundays. Pharmacy hours may also differ from regular store hours. Call for current and holiday hours.
Winn Dixie, a Jacksonville-based chain, can be found at La Plaza Grande South in The Villages, and in the neighboring cities of Wildwood and Leesburg. Winn-Dixie operates supermarkets throughout the Southeastern U.S. with stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The company’s roots reach back to 1925 but the store has been known as Winn Dixie since 1955.
The chain has an internal sustainability program and states a commitment to carrying organic and natural products, water and energy management, and continuing its community partnerships with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, and with supporting youth athletic and academic programs.
Winn Dixie carries national brands, store brands and some eco/ green products, and natural and organic foods, such as Seventh Generation, Annie’s and Stonyfield. They also have their own Organics and Naturals magazine, in print and online.
Store brands include:
• Thrifty Made – the every-day value line (napkins, cookies, hot dogs, frozen vegetables)
• Winn Dixie brand – items comparable to national brands (laundry products, dairy, spices, meat)
• Winn & Lovett – premium brand (specialty items like coffee, olive oil and fancy foods)
Special departments include: floral, deli, bakery, seafood and fresh meat, pharmacy and liquor. The pharmacy offers online tools to learn about your medications and to transfer and refill order refills. Both local stores are also slated to offer free cholesterol and diabetes screenings in early 2010. Check with the store or company web site for more information.
Hours for the The Villages store at La Plaza Grande South are from 6 am to 10 pm, all week, with shorter pharmacy and liquor store hours. The Sumter Crossing store, in Wildwood, is open from 7 am to 11pm. Call for current and holiday hours.