The Real Reason Publix Stores In Florida Have Giant Scales

The moment you step into a Publix grocery store, you'll probably notice the massive scale that sits right beside the entrance. These devices look like relics ripped from another era of grocery shopping, and their presence in modern-day stores is actually a nod to a bygone era. Decades ago, you couldn't buy a home scale to measure your own weight, so people would have to travel to a local store and pay a small fee to use a public scale — affectionally called a people weigher — that was generally stationed outside the doors (via Palm Beach Post). George Jenkins, the owner of the first Publix opened in Florida in 1930, made waves when he offered up a scale inside the store and let the public use it for free. 

Jenkins was known for revolutionizing shopping in the Sunshine State thanks to his businesses that featured automatic doors and air conditioning (via WLRN). By luring customers to the entrance of his Publix stores with the help of the free scale, he encouraged people to take notice of the modern amenities and helped launch a grocery empire that continues to flourish to this day. Jenkins made the scales a fixture at each new Publix he opened, enticing shoppers to the entrance at every location. 

Branding with the help of a scale

These large scales eventually became synonymous with the grocery franchise. According to The Palm Beach Post, the Lakeland, Florida headquarters of the business still houses the original scale Jenkins used to lure customers. Although the Publix chain has now expanded to include spots outside Florida, the classic scales — painted in the trademark green color — are still only to be found at stores in the Sunshine State, according to the Palm Beach Post. WLRN notes that the scales didn't resonate with shoppers outside the area, so they never made the journey past the state line. 

The modern versions have today grown in size. The current incarnations of the devices look more industrial, are four times larger than the original, and features a large dial that displays the weight. The base also expanded from the original, potentially to help customers weigh baggage.

Next time you visit Publix, make sure to use their iconic scale to indulge in a slice of food history and be part of a marketing tradition that stretches back to the grocery chain's founding.