If you’re old enough, you may remember the days when you didn’t know (and didn’t care) about the political leanings of the companies you visited. This is not to say that the times were better or worse, but to indicate that we now live in a distinctly different environment. When a store is noticeably pro-something, it becomes a statement for the customers to consider.
Just ask Chick-fil-A or Nike or Publix supermarkets.
Publix supermarkets? What? Oh, you shouldn’t live in Florida.
Publix for Trump
Publix is huge in Florida. And it has a history that goes back to the 1930s, growing through the origins of the Depression, all the way to the giant supermarket chain it is today. Publix supermarket customers have grown to love the chain for “the little things”: their employees bring your groceries to the car, the baker always offers free cookies and there are 2 x 1 deals constantly.
The founders of Publix supermarkets, the Jenkins family, are according to ForbesSo to say their family-friendly strategy has worked in spades is a bit of an understatement. Unfortunately for the Jenkins’, one of them has triggered the threat of a boycott against the chain.
While Julie Jenkins Fancelli – daughter of the late Publix founder George Jenkins and official Publix heiress – isn’t the first Publix personality to donate to conservative causes, she has quickly become the most infamous. Fancelli got Publix supermarkets in hot water for donating $ 300,000 to Donald Trump’s January 6 Washington rally. You know, the one who sparked the uprising in the Capitol
Breaking up is difficult
Julie Jenkins Fancelli has contributed more than $ 2 million to conservative causes and Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, so her support for that particular rally shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. But it’s become sort of the last straw for many Publix grocery shoppers who can’t reconcile their pleasant Publix shopping trips with the brutal, disturbing imagery of the assault on the Capitol.
The Guardian quotes Wendy Mize, a longtime Publix client: “Uprising in the Capitol, images of the police officer with his head crushed, individuals dressed as Vikings on the floor of the Senate. We are not going to call this normal. (Publix) is a private company and it is their business how they want to contribute their money, but it is also my right to decide what I want to spend my dollars on. “
Mize, 57, isn’t the only one looking to end what she calls “an abusive, dysfunctional relationship” with Publix supermarkets (Yikes! That is an intense shopping experience.When Fancelli’s contribution to the rally was announced, the hashtag #BoycottPublix started trending on Twitter. And you know that once things are serious start trending on Twitter
Where shopping used to be a pleasure
Wendy Mize’s response is easier to understand when you consider that Publix supermarkets have had a few other controversial incidents in the recent past. About three years ago, in the aftermath of the Parkland high school shooting, Publix faced in-store protests over political donations. This time it was to fund Adam Putnam – a self-proclaimed “proud sale of the National Rifle Association” – for the governor of the state.
Putnam eventually lost to another Republican, the current Governor Ron DeSantis. Earlier this year, to no surprise, Publix donated $ 100,000 to DeSantis’ reelection campaign. DeSantis subsequently awarded Publix an exclusive distribution contract COVID-19 vaccines in its supermarketsOh, that didn’t look good. Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago called it “plain and simple, pay-to-play politics.”
As if the vaccine contract didn’t make the Publix supermarkets (and DeSantis) shady enough, it also made the supermarket chain look hypocritical. Publix is known for not enforcing the wearing of masks in the store in some of its locations. Worse, the company recently found itself on the losing end of a wrongful death sentence imposed on the family of an employee who died of COVID after being ordered not to wear a mask at work.
Publix statement on Julie Fancelli: pic.twitter.com/SLYEe3Je5a
– Publix (@Publix) January 31, 2021
Julie Jenkins Fancelli’s financial contribution to a rally in which a former president was effectively impeached certainly seems like a misstep too much for some Publix supermarket customers. The company is doing what it can to distance itself from Fancelli’s actions – by which we mean that Publix supermarkets took to Twitter to try to extinguish the boycott flames with an official statement.
Publix’s statement is pretty standard: they try to gently remind customers that Julie Jenkins Fancelli is not a true Publix employee and that she does not represent the company in any way. Then they offer outright condemnation of the events took place in the Capitol on January 6.
If it feels like Publix isn’t trying so hard to win people back, it’s probably because a stronger verbiage would likely lose them customers who agree with Julie Jenkins Fancelli. As we said before, that is the environment in which we now live.