Long line at Publix in The Villages as older shoppers stock up on essentials

Senior hour at Publix.

It’s 6:15 a.m. at Publix in Spanish Springs. It’s a special morning for some senior citizens. The store will be open from 7-8 a.m. for senior citizens only. 

Seniors in walkers, using canes and having a hard time walking will not have to fight the younger crowds, who may be faster than them, to get some essentials they really need.

Shoppers lined up early in the morning at Publix.

Some were wearing masks, some with gloves, some even brought chairs to sit in line holding onto their shopping cart being sure not to lose their place in line. The talk was causal. Seemed like each time a new person got to the end of the line I would hear things, “What are you HOPING to get?” Not what are you “going” to get. 

Shoppers enter Publix at Spanish Springs.

Most responded with, “I am hoping to get some toilet paper and sanitizer.” It was a somber line, with not a lot of chitchat.  I didn’t hear the usual Villagers greeting of “what Village do you live in?”  People seemed to be more focused on getting what they need to survive this crisis.

The line grew and grew all the way down past Beacon Eye, all the way to the end of the block. 

I counted at least 75 seniors in line at 6:45 a.m., 15 minutes before opening. Three weeks ago, many of these people in line would have been headed to their early morning tee times, or an exercise class at a recreation center, pickleball, coffee at their favorite coffee shop, or some other fun activity. The GAME has changed.

At around 6:55 a.m. the doors opened, and an employee stepped out. He informed everyone that he was about to open. He indicated the shelves had been stocked, there were some restrictions on the amount of some items they may purchase, and implored them to remember to use social distancing, staying 6 feet apart. 

They were some smiles and waves, and a sense, and look on some faces, that an accomplishment had been achieved. An accomplishment of getting up in the wee hours of the morning, getting dressed, and they were about to be rewarded for that.

Yes, it is a different world right now in The Villages.  

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