Greening of Bailey’s
Social awareness and costs drive grocer in cleaner directions
Richard Johnson sees a green future. Co-owner of Bailey’s General Store on Sanibel, Johnson is moving aggressively to convert 40,000 square feet of floor space into a more socially aware place, he says, spending many thousands of dollar s on solar devices; green-friendly refrigeration, doors and lighting; new flooring; and other upgrades at checkout such as recycled shopping bags and a reduction in plastic.
Rooftop solar panels were installed this fall, and other changes are completed or planned for the next two years, Johnson says. The goal is energy independence, or at least a lighter footprint to reduce the costs of running a business that’s reliant on electricity. “We call it the greening of Bailey’s,” says Johnson, whose wife, Mead, is the daughter of Francis Bailey, a son of the store’s founder. Frank Bailey began the business on Sanibel in 1899. “It’s a business decision, sure,” Johnson says of modernizing to reduce costs. “But when you’re married to an environmentalist, you’re going to pick up a few pointers.”
Bailey’s started as a packinghouse shipping tomatoes and citrus and morphed into the grocery side as visitors began flocking to and settling on Sanibel. The company’s first store in the 1920s was destroyed by a hurricane; its replacement today rests at the Sanibel Historical
Museum & Village. Pine-framed Bailey’s was then more of a catch-all: hardware to groceries to home goods, even offering the island’s first telegraph and phone services. It sat on Matthews Wharf at the end of what is today Bailey Road. Frank
BAILEY’S STARTED AS A PACKINGHOUSE SHIPPING TOMATOES AND CITRUS AND MORPHED INTO THE GROCERY SIDE AS VISITORS BEGAN FLOCKING TO AND SETTLING ON SANIBEL.
Richard Johnson has been active in social causes to benefit Southwest Florida. Here he is pictured with Christin Collins of Lee Memorial Health (left), Renee and Emily Norris of Norris Furniture & Interiors of Fort Myers.