Couponers, rejoice! The new Dawsonville Publix opened its doors to customers for the first time last week.
Preceeding the 7 a.m. Oct. 13 opening was a ribbon cutting ceremony, where Store Manager Tammy Quirion and local and state officials spoke about the community's excitement over the new store.
"I'm excited to open the first Publix in Dawsonville and I'm thrilled, along with my teammates behind me, to bring our decades of experience to our customers and only produce fresh and exemplary products," Quirion said. "Not only is Publix a great place to work, but it is also a great place to shop. For 86 years Publix has hung its hat on providing premier customer service, and we do that by hiring and training people who have a servant's heart."
Quirion has worked for Publix since 1988. This is the fifth Publix store she has managed at during the last 15 years.
Mayor James Grogan, County Commission Chairman Mike Berg, State Rep. Kevin Tanner and State Sen. Steve Gooch also spoke to the gathered crowd of shoppers.
Berg thanked the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce for helping to organize the grand opening, and Halpern Enterprises, who developed the new shopping center that includes a Chili's Bar and Grill, among other restaurants and retail stores.
"One of the things people used to ask me about all the time is when the Publix is coming," he said. "Now I can say Publix is here."
Grogan said that he has been waiting 10 years for a Publix to be built in Dawsonville.
"We're tickled to death to have you," Grogan told the store associates. "I've been anxiously awaiting this for a long time. Thank you for being here."
Gooch welcomed the store and the first wave of customers, and said that if Publix wants to build a grocery store in Dahlonega, it will be all right with him.
After the speakers finished, the trademark Publix green ribbon was ceremoniously cut and the store was officially opened to the public.
Store employees were set up in every corner of the store, from the bakery and deli to the fresh produce and meat department, and offered samples of French toast, chicken fingers, sushi, sausage and more.
Goodie bags from the pharmacy contained samples of vitamins and coupons, and the first few checking out received bright green reusable grocery bags for their purchases.
One of the first shoppers, Donna McElhenney, had a cart not full of products, but coupons. An avid coupon user, McElhenney boasted of her latest steals.
"I have a receipt in my car- the last time I shopped I saved $156 and spent $60," she said.
McElhenney said she is happy about the store opening, and said she loves to shop at Publix because of their coupon system.
"These coupons basically pay for this tea," she said, pointing to the glossy inserts. "It's great- you can combine Publix coupons, manufacturer's coupons and their BOGO sales. That's why I like Publix."
Many of Dawsonville's public figures walked around the store, each stopping to look at their favorite foods.
District 2 Commissioner James Swafford and his wife bought a few items and checked out at the newly installed registers.
"We're very excited that the Publix is here," he said.
District 4 Commissioner Julie Hughes-Nix was spotted in the bakery section, eyeing carefully frosted cakes and delicate pastries.
"Don't they look beautiful?" she said. "I love their desserts. When I plan dinners, I plan dessert first!"
The store has a full calendar of events for the month of October. They will be holding a cheese tasting event on Oct. 20 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., a breakfast event Oct. 22 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and a Mom's Morning Out on Oct 25 from 8 a.m.to 10 a.m.
Publix is located at 145 Forest Blvd at the Dawson Crossroads shopping center. The store's regular hours will be 7 a.m.-10 p.m. seven days a week.
The grocery store joins the already open Chili's Bar and Grill, Aspen Dental, Brooklyn Joe's Pizzeria and AT&T stores at Dawson Crossroads. Coming to the shopping center soon are Petsmart, Great Clips, Lee Nails, Totally Running, Top Cleaners and Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, among others.