Growin’ on up

Patrons eat lunch in Panera Bread Co. on Cox Creek Pkwy. Panera Bread, Publix Supermarkets, Gander Mountain and Ross Clothing are among a few businesses that have recently decided to call Florence home.

With the addition of Panera Bread Co., Publix Supermarkets, Gander Mountain and restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings, students are excited about the growth of the Cox Creek Parkway business area on the eastern side of Florence.

With an opening set for late fall, Publix will be located where Hibbett Sporting Goods and Books-A-Million were formerly located on the corner of Cox Creek Parkway and Hough Road.

“I grew up in a city, so I like that we have a Panera,” said Alicia Revelle, a senior majoring in Entertainment Business and Marketing. “I like that Florence is trying to make itself into a college community, instead of making it into a retirement community.”

Revelle said she is excited that businesses are deciding to plant roots in Florence but sad she is graduating in December and will not fully benefit from the new shops and eateries.

“I travel out (to Cox Creek Parkway) to go shopping because I go to Target a lot,” she said.

UNA senior Amanda Bliss echoes Revelle’s excitement.

“I definitely think it is good growth,” Bliss said. “We need more diversity as far as places like (Panera) go.”

Bliss said when she first moved to the area from Pennsylvania all she could find were chain stores. She said she is excited that the growth on Cox Creek Parkway will also allow for more diverse stores and restaurants to come to Florence.

“Nothing against the South, but chitterlings, cow tongues and pigs feet (are) not food,” Bliss said.

Bliss said she is excited about healthy and organic food options that Publix has to offer.

“From when I moved here in 2008, it’s a lot better, because when I moved here from Orlando I was just surprised there were not as many options,” Revelle said.

In recent months businesses like Demos’ Restaurant and Crocodile Ed’s Fish Market have decided to close or cut back on services offered, but Revelle said she thinks that growth on Cox Creek Parkway will come and go just like in any city.

Gander Mountain, an outdoor and hunting specialty store, has already opened for business on Seville Street, just behind the new Publix location.

Revelle said she is excited that Gander Mountain is open, but being so close to Dick’s Sporting Goods may end up being too competitive for both businesses.

“There are a lot of businesses that are the same (in that area),” she said.