Sightseeing. A periodic tour of CVI news, views and events.

Why I Shop for Groceries at Publix

Empish at Publix

As Thanksgiving and Hanukkah quickly approach cooking and preparing meals for friends and family is essential. There is so much to do with all the holiday hustle and bustle that the last thing I want to worry about is challenging or difficult grocery shopping experiences. This is why I shop at Publix.

Over my 15 years of being visually impaired, I have had a host of interesting, complicated and humorous shopping adventures. From being left alone in the aisle while a store clerk went on break, to wrong items being placed in my cart, to another visually impaired person offering to assist me - my experiences are unlimited. But when it comes to shopping at Publix, my experience has been much like their slogan: Publix - where shopping is a pleasure.

One of the first things I noticed when I began shopping at Publix is how all the store employees always speak to me. Whether I am in the aisle, the checkout line or in front of the store, they always stop to say hello and offer help. I have found that over the years, customer service is more important to me now more than ever before. Their simple acknowledgement shows me that they value me as a customer and want me to continue shopping with them.

Empish at check outOne example of this is when I got to the checkout line, several of my items were incorrect. I figured this out because I always have the sales clerk call out the item and price before I purchase everything, that way we can catch any errors before I leave the store. On that particular day, we caught several wrong items and I did not have time to go back and pick up the correct ones.

The next day, I called and spoke to the store manager and explained the situation. He apologized and told me he would correct it. When I came back to the store, he greeted me at the customer service counter and introduced me to a nice sales clerk who assisted me. We picked up the items that I needed and rang up everything. When she gave me my total, it was less than what was in my cart. At first I thought it was a slipup, but she told me that at Publix when they make a mistake - you get your groceries for free. Well, I was shocked! I had not heard of a policy like that. From that point on, you didn't have to guess where I went shopping! LOL!

Another thing that I have noticed is whenever I come to the customer service counter to get assistance, someone is always available. I might have to wait no more than 5-10 minutes. Everyone is pleasant and willing to help. As a blind person, this is extremely important to me. I need to know and feel that they want to assist me and that they will make themselves available.

But the biggest thing I enjoy about shopping at Publix is their accessible website. Since I am totally blind now, I can’t read the weekly sales ad in print, but I can online. Publix has accessible features on their website that speaks to the blind community.

For example, there is a section on the site that gives instructions using JAWS’s shortcut keys to navigate the site. JAWS is a screen reading program that allows people to listen to their computer through a speaker or headset. On the site, I can create my profile, read the weekly ad, add or remove items from my grocery list and print out my shopping list to take with me.

Once I complete my shopping the grocery list will not only list the items I want to purchase, but it will also list the store location and the aisle that the item is located on. This extra feature makes it very easy for me when I request a sales clerk to help me do my shopping. All the Publix clerk has to do is read down the list, go to the specific aisle and place the items in my cart. You can’t get any easier than that! Additionally, for low vision users there are buttons where you can magnify the screen and print out the grocery list in a larger font size. When I discovered this adaptation that Publix made for the blind community, I was excited and very impressed.

Empish at PharmacyNot only do I purchase groceries at Publix, but I get my prescriptions filled there too. The experience at the pharmacy is also stress free. There is seldom a long line or long wait time to pick up my medication. The pharmacist is always pleasant and offers to explain any information about my medication without having to be asked.

One time when I was picking up my prescription, the pharmacist alerted me that the shape of my medication pill had changed. It went from a round, circular shape to an oval almost diamond shape. She wanted to make me aware since I was blind, and to reassure me that I was not getting the wrong medicine. I thought, "How perceptive of her to understand my visual disability and to share that important information with me." I told her that I appreciated that because I know how easy it is for people to take the wrong medicine.

By now you know my thoughts about Publix, but how do you feel? Share with me your thoughts. Do you currently shop at Publix? Has your experience been a good one? What things do you like or dislike about shopping at Publix? I want to hear from you. Please make your comments in the section below.

Comments

Yes, Gina I agree with you. I have had the same experience and feel awkward saying that I need someone who can shop. Sometimes stores think they can just give a blind person anyone not understanding that you need someone who is familiar with the store layout, can speak English and also can read. This last one has been the hardest for me because I dont' want to offend but I have found that I must insist or there will be major problems. But as you say talking to the store manager and building a good relationship with people that work there will help alleviate that problem for the most part.

Comment by Empish; November 23, 2013 1:14am

Publix is the best shopping store that is assistant friendly for people who are blind and visual impaired. great blog. love it

Comment by Annie obasih ; November 22, 2013 1:34am

Kevin, thanks for the compliment. I have been wanting to write this blog post for some time now and thought since the holidays are coming up it would be a good time now. I actually started shopping at Publix several years ago before I went blind. I liked them then and even more now. You have a happy Thanksgiving as well.

Comment by Empish; November 21, 2013 4:33pm

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