Several residents submitted letters to share their thoughts and concerns regarding Ocala/Marion County’s grocery stores.
“I agree that certain areas need more places to buy groceries. Take Highway 40 and State Road 27 (Blitchton Road) as examples. On Highway 40, there are no grocery stores going west from the Publix located on E 36th Aveneue, and people can drive west to Dunnellon and not find a grocery store. On State Road 27, there is only Publix west of I-75 and nothing else until reaching Williston. If people go into Belleview, there is a Winn-Dixie and a Publix, but there is no retail – residents of the city need to go into Ocala or into the Villages. Marion County is growing, but businesses are not following the people and the need. We have five car washes within five miles of our area and so many gas stations that I can’t put a number on it. More grocery stores and better retail equals more jobs and a better economy for the county. We may have growth but that does not add up to progress,” says Belleview resident Theresa Grimes.
“I’m tired of not finding any motorized shopping carts in most Walmart’s. Publix has more than those stores. I guess Walmart doesn’t care if their patrons can’t shop as long or as far if they had a motorized cart. They never seem to replace those that have become out of service. Sure wish they would,” says Gerry Viglione, Ocala resident.
“We do need more grocery stores in Ocala, particularly in the northwest section of town. Publix seems to have a lock on northwest Ocala and has made all of us in that section Publix prisoners. Several years ago, we did have a Winn-Dixie right down the street from the Foxwood Publix, but they closed when Publix opened in the Foxwood shopping center. This left all of us with no choice but to shop with them or travel a sizeable distance to get some variety in our purchases. Granted, Publix is a fine grocery store, but their prices are sky high and going higher every day. Why not, they have no competition. We are left with the alternative of shopping there and paying their prices or driving a considerable distance across town to Harvey’s or Winn-Dixie. The former Publix location just across the street from their current one is vacant and has been for several years. Too bad another chain isn’t smart enough to snap up the chance to parole all of us and give Publix a run for their money,” says Ocala resident Ellie Estes.
“To add to this story, the lack of access to groceries is even more dire in the Citra area. There are no grocery stores at all and only two dollar stores, which are also often out of stock on most items. We have absolutely no fresh food options and have to travel almost 20 miles to get to the nearest Winn-Dixie. This is especially hard for folks who are on a fixed income and/or have no transportation. Please use this platform to bring this to the attention of state and local law makers as I will be doing the same,” says Wendy Bruno, Citra resident.