Southwest Wake News

New Publix, Harris Teeter entering crowded Cary market

One grocery store is opening in what may be the most controversial development in Cary’s history.

The other store was built after developers tore down one of the town’s most iconic sites, the Galaxy Cinema.

But when a new Harris Teeter and the Triangle’s first Publix open on Wednesday in Cary – a town already stocked with upscale grocery stores – many will welcome them with open arms.

The Harris Teeter opens at 8 a.m. at 885 Walnut Street in the Village Square Shopping Center, which sits between Cary Towne Center and Cary High School. The site was home to a theater for more than 40 years before being torn down last year to the chagrin of some online protestors.

“I’m personally pretty darn excited about the grocery store and will use that way more on a regular basis than I ever used the Galaxy, even though I liked the Galaxy a lot,” said Laura Schuster Mishra, who lives less than a mile away in central Cary.

Publix will open at 7 a.m. at 1020 Bradford Plaza Way in the Bradford, a 41-acre mixed-use center similar to Raleigh’s North Hills, at the intersection of Davis Drive and High House Road. The development has divided the community – prompting some to unsuccessfully sue the town – after Cary leaders approved plans for it in 2007.

These days, though, area residents seem most interested in the prospect of lower grocery prices.

“Harris Teeter has sort of a monopoly, so it’ll be good to have the competition,” said Eliza Wiora, who lives in central Cary and plans to shop at the Publix.

The town will soon have 27 stores to buy groceries, including Target and Walmart. Once the Harris Teeter opens on Walnut Street, the grocer will have 10 locations in Cary, the most of any grocer.

Representatives for Harris Teeter and Publix said they didn’t intend to schedule grand openings on the same day. Though the new stores are located 6 miles apart, the Publix is opening less than a quarter-mile away from a Harris Teeter on High House Road.

Richard Lang, who lives in the Brookstone subdivision close to the stores, said he may turn to Publix for good chicken cutlets and flank steaks.

“They were alright, but I’m not overly impressed,” Lang said of Harris Teeter meats while perusing egg cartons in Cary’s Trader Joe’s. “I’m very selective with my meats.”

The new Harris Teeter replaces a store in the Cary Towne Center parking lot that recently closed. It will include new features such as fresh sushi, a sandwich station, a cheese kiosk, Starbucks and a salad bar.

It also will be be more energy-efficient, said Harris Teeter spokeswoman Danna Jones.

“Shoppers will notice new sustainable features including LED lighting in refrigerated cases as well LED spot lighting throughout the store,” she said.

Matthews-based Harris Teeter is popular in Cary, but the area is home to many who had good experiences at Publix before moving here from other states. The Florida-based chain has more than a thousand stores across the southeast.

Unlike Harris Teeter, Food Lion and Lowes Foods – which have the biggest presence in Cary – Publix doesn’t offer a customer loyalty rewards program. Company officials say every customer deserves the same service and pricing.

The Publix will offer a bakery, full-service deli, meat and seafood departments, produce and a pharmacy.

“The customer service is outstanding and they’ll even take your groceries out to your car,” said Lori Hall Nix, an Apex resident who shopped at Publix when she lived in Georgia. “The bakery, deli, subs, chicken, anything they make beats anything else you can get around here.”

Over it?

In Nortth Raleigh, hundreds of residents have organized to oppose a Publix planned for the corner of Dunn and Falls of the Neuse roads. Their complaints about the the store worsening traffic are similar to those made by those who opposed the Bradford in Cary.

In Cary, the controversy prompted some to form DavisandHighHouse.org, a political group that helped Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht unseat Ernie McAlister in fall 2007. The development has been a point of contention among challengers ever since.

Cary still faces major growth issues in the western part of town, and Publix will be first major retailer to open in The Bradford. But it seems that any anti-Publix fervor in Cary died with residents’ chances of blocking the development.

Even Karl Thor, who helped lead the fight against The Bradford, said he’s intrigued by the Florida-based grocer.

“The ground’s already been paved over, so we don’t see an issue with it being a grocery store,” said Karl Thor, a Cary businessman who ran for council against an incumbent who voted for it.

“I don’t know of anyone that’s gonna be vindictive or silly about it (by boycotting it),” he said.

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