Pane-free shopping: New WPB Publix has no windows. Why?

Windows are not a prominent feature of the new Publix that opened this month on Belvedere Road in West Palm Beach. This is the front of the building, seen from the street. (Lannis Waters, Palm Beach Post.)

This is the front view of the new Publix that opened this month on Belvedere Road in West Palm Beach. (Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post)

People who live and work near the new Publix supermarket in West Palm Beach might be glad to see it, even if a few are curious about one thing it seems to lack — windows.

Why do some stores feature plenty of windows and others virtually none? Maybe you assumed it was to get lower property insurance costs near the coast in hurricane country, reduce air conditioning bills or enhance security.

» PHOTOS: A look inside the new Publix

Maybe you assumed wrong, Mr. or Ms. Armchair Theorist.  At least, those factors are not mentioned in an explanation from a store spokesperson.

It’s about maximizing interior space, Publix says. This particular location is what the Lakeland-based company calls a 28m, a 28,000 sq. ft. prototype, and was simply the largest it could fit on the existing property, said Publix spokeswoman Nicole Krauss.

“This prototype is often what we use in hard-to-fit spaces where our goal is to maximize space,” Krauss said. “There is no other reason for its compact design.”

Publix in Surfside, Fla.

Publix in Surfside, Fla.

Ah. Windows limit the use of interior space because the store would not want to put the backs of stores shelves, for example, against a window?

“Yes, exactly, space often dictates design options as was the case in this location,” Krauss said. “We try to maximize all space available in an effort to best serve our customers and ensure that they have a great shopping experience.”

Then again, it’s not uncommon to see windows disappearing at many stores these days. See your local big-box retailer.

The Lake Worth Publix that opened in 2011 was also short on windows in a small space but long on Art Deco design, and featured a couple sets of doors facing in different directions at the main entrance.

The Publix store that opened in Lake Worth in 2011. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

The Publix store that opened in Lake Worth in 2011. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Granted, modern grocery stores might not see a pressing need for windows in the same way New York department stores traditionally have — to invite traffic with eye-catching displays. People in Florida already know what to expect from the flourishing chain.

In different circumstances, Publix shows it can turn on the architectural charm with windows and shutters at some stores, like No. 73 in Surfside, Fla., for example. Even at more traditional stores, such as No. 620 at Crestwood Square in Royal Palm Beach, front windows along a casual dining area near the deli offer a glimpse at what’s happening inside.

It’s all about squeezing as much shopping space as possible inside the footprint at store No. 1491 at Belmart Plaza, Publix says.

“We have quite a few locations where this model worked best due to space,” Krauss said. “There’s one in Sea Ranch Lakes, another in Stuart. It’s our standard prototype for smaller spaces.”





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