Sunday, August 28, 2016

How Sweet(bay) it is to Shop at Winn-Dixie

Kash n' Karry #1792/Sweetbay Supermarket #1792/Winn-Dixie #2465
3250 US 27 South, Sebring, FL - Desoto Square

     Before starting this post, I'd like to thank everyone for coming to the blog and reading my posts. In the last week AFB hit the milestone of 100,000 pageviews! Thanks everyone, and I have lots more to share with you all!

     Anyway, as you may remember, back in early 2013 Delhaize sold off their Sweetbay Supermarkets division to Winn-Dixie's parent company Southeastern Grocers. In the later part of 2013, Southeastern Grocers made the announcement that all of the remaining Sweetbay stores they purchased would be converting to the Winn-Dixie name in early 2014. Southeastern shut down the remaining Sweetbay stores in large batches throughout March and April of 2014, and reopened each batch of stores six days later under the name Winn-Dixie. On April 18, 2014, the final batch of Sweetbay stores reopened under the Winn-Dixie name, ending Sweetbay's short 10 year run in Florida, and the much longer history of their predecessor, Kash n' Karry, which dated back to 1947.

     For a while I've wanted to feature one of these converted Sweetbay stores on the blog. Winn-Dixie did practically nothing to these stores after they took them over, and essentially the store is a Sweetbay filled with Winn-Dixie's merchandise. When Winn-Dixie took over the 72 remaining Sweetbay stores, they announced they would not change the decor or the location of any of the items in the store, or the employees, as to not isolate or anger any of the former Sweetbay shoppers who would be making the transition over to Winn-Dixie (and the last thing Winn-Dixie needed with this purchase was to chase more people over to Publix).

     As for the background on this particular store, it originally opened as a Kash n' Karry in 1985, and in 2001 an addition was built onto the right side of the building where some small storefornts once stood. This addition is now the home to the service departments. By the mid-2000's (somewhere around 2005 or 2006), Kash n' Karry switched the branding of this store to Sweetbay as a part of their chainwide switch to the new name, which also included a complete remodel of the interior to what you see today. This Sweetbay was included as a part of the batch of 35 stores that closed on March 29, 2014, and ropened as Winn-Dixies on April 4, 2014.

     So now that we have an understanding of what's going on here, let's head inside...

     Upon first entering the Sebring Sweet-Dixie, you enter the produce department. Like I mentioned before, just about all of the signage and decor in here is left over from Sweetbay. The Sweetbay interior you will be seeing in here was the same interior (other than some minor variation) Sweetbay used for their entire 10 year run. The decor (and really everything about Sweetbay) was supposed to be a Florida spin on Delhaize's Hannaford stores, which are located throughout New York and the New England states (and at one time in Virginia and North Carolina). Even Sweetbay's logo included that same little triangle of food that Hannaford's logo uses.

     Just beyond produce in the back right corner of the store is the deli and bakery. That graphic behind the deli sign is part of Sweetbay's/Hannaford's food triangle logo. Honestly, this store felt nothing like a Winn-Dixie, mostly due to them keeping all of the old decor intact. It really felt like Sweetbay was still alive in here.

     Next to the deli was the bakery. The sign for the bakery actually says "Bake Shop", however the orange color of the "Bake" letters blends in with the orange graphics in the background.

     And to the left of the bakery along the back wall was the Seafood counter.

     The main back aisle of the store, looking from the Deli/Bakery/Seafood area into the grocery aisles.

     These pictures were taken before all of that "Down Down" madness with Winn-Dixie started earlier this year. Honestly, if I was in this store back when Down Down began with every store's overabundance of the "Big Red Hand" overhead signs, shelf tags, and balloons, it may have felt more like Winn-Dixie in here.

     And an overview of the front of the store. The only modification Winn-Dixie made up here was switching out Sweetbay's (more interesting) pennant style register lights for those plain white cube style ones when Winn-Dixie replaced the POS systems. Other than that, everything is still the same from Sweetbay.

     Now for a little more from the grocery aisles:

     Along the back wall is the Meat department. As a part of the (not really much of a) remodel Winn-Dixie did here, they added this "The Beef People" sign to the back wall, matching the old Sweetbay decor's font.

     Now for a little more from the grocery aisles:

     Closeup of one of the Sweetbay aisle signs.

     Frozen Foods takes up the last two and a half aisles of this store. We'll come back to frozen foods shortly, after a quick look around the Pharmacy and Health and Beauty departments:

    The pharmacy is located in the front left corner of the store. Like in many stores, pharmaceuticals and health and beauty products are located in short aisles in front of the pharmacy box.

     To the right of the pharmacy box was this door. While currently an emergency exit, it looks like it was originally intended to be a side entrance into the pharmacy. I don't know if the conversion of this door to an emergency exit was Winn-Dixie's doing, or if this was done in the Sweetbay/Kash n' Karry days.

     Health and Beauty department signage.

     Back into Frozen Foods we go by heading down aisle 13. The pharmacy and health and beauty departments lie directly behind me.

     Dairy takes up the coolers along the wall, with additional frozen foods on the other side.

     One last look at the back of the store, this time looking toward the deli/bakery, as we make our way out...

     The customer service desk in the front of the store, behind the registers. And with that, we've completed our look around this Sweet-Dixie. Bing Maps didn't have any Bird's Eye satellite imagery available for this area, so let's jump on over to the Historic Aerials courtesy of Google Earth: 

Winn-Dixie #2465 and Plaza - 2014 - The big building at the bottom of the image closest to US 27 is an old Wal-Mart. I have a quick look at that coming up in a moment.

Sweetbay Supermarket #1792 and Plaza - 2008

Kash n' Karry #1792 and Plaza - 2004

Kash n' Karry #1792 and Plaza - 1999 - This image shows the building before the 2001 expansion, which was added onto the right side of the building. A small section of storefronts had to be removed in order to accommodate the expansion.

Kash n' Karry #1792 and Plaza - 1994

     Now for a quick look at that old Wal-Mart at the other end of the plaza:

Wal-Mart #666
3310 US Highway 27, Sebring, FL - Desoto Square

     This is the old Wal-Mart I mentioned earlier. Wal-Mart was the other original anchor to this plaza, along with Kash n' Karry. The Wal-Mart opened a little before the rest of the plaza, opening in 1984. This is a very typical small town, 80's style Walmart. The building itself is only 56,000 square feet - extremely small compared to a typical later generation non-Super Walmart. In 1993, Walmart combined this store with the old Avon Park Walmart (Store #717) when they opened a much larger non-Super Walmart in the northern part of Sebring (with the combined replacement store taking on the store #666). That store was expanded into a very large Supercenter in 1998. In 2007, Walmart returned to Avon Park with a new full size Supercenter there as well (Store #3887), probably due to the slight upswing in population the area has seen in recent years.

     The old Sebring Wal-Mart is still very recognizable, even after it was split between a Tractor Supply Company and Agero Call Center in the early 2000's. Above is a closeup of the preserved Wal-Mart entryway, which now serves as the main entrance into Agero.

     To conclude this post, I've included this map showing the two main supermarkets in South Sebring - the Winn-Dixie we just looked at, and the Southgate Shopping Center Publix. The old Southgate Publix was featured on the blog back in February, and you can see that post here. The 52-year old Publix there closed on December 26, 2015 in order for a new store to be built in its place. The new Publix will open later this year if everything is still on schedule. So for now, this Winn-Dixie is the only grocery store on the south side of town, and they're probably enjoying every moment of that. However, when Publix opens that new store in a few months, Winn-Dixie will probably lose a lot of their traffic. So will this Sweet-Dixie be able to compete with a brand new Publix? I guess we'll have to wait and see...

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger


  1. Besides the fact that the Sweetbay décor really looks like W-D décor of the mid-2000s, I'm wondering if Winn-Dixie did the right thing by closing them and resetting them. From what I've read, they converted the Jitney Jungle stores they bought to Winn-Dixie over months before finally rebranding them (given how few Winn-Dixie stores there are left in Mississippi I'm sure nearly all of them have since closed), so why couldn't they do the same for Sweetbay, which was going away anyway?

    1. I think it's just easier to close the stores for a few days to get all of the transition work done faster, rather than having it be dragged out longer due to customers being in the store at the same time.

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  3. Interesting to see hear that they simply reused the old decor. That's always nice to see decor packages like that live on. 'The Beef people' seems like an odd choice (to me at least) to hang for the meat selection.

    1. Considering that these stores were all updated within the last decade, and Winn-Dixie doesn't have a lot of money for remodels, they probably felt that was more than enough justification to keep these stores as they were.

      "The Beef People" was put up in the Meat Department since it is Winn-Dixie's longtime slogan, and they're very proud of their meat selection.

  4. "The Beef People". Thats the best thing I've heard all day. Reminds me of the conversions of all the A&P stores up here! Minimal changes.

  5. This store appears to be getting the red remodel, they've remove the signage from the front and painted the area where it was the typical red color those remodels get.

    Wonder if others in the area will get it too?

    1. Thanks for the update! Winn-Dixie is really ramping up these remodels lately. It's nice to see them so focused on remodeling, however many of these remodels have come out looking rather cheaply done. I really have no idea what Winn-Dixie's pattern is for selecting what stores to remodel. I do know they've been remodeling a lot of stores that already had at least one remodel after the 2005 bankruptcy, but have been leaving some really old stores untouched still!

    2. Yeah, I've noticed a lot of the red stores have the wood floors, which suggests they had the post bankruptcy decor previously. I've also seen a few Transformational stores get the red redo too. I haven't seen that many that didn't have either of those get remodeled, which is silly. If it were me, the stores remodeled since 2008 would be the LAST stores I would touch. Get all of the Marketplace and purple/maroon stores done first. I do wonder if there's some tier system where the stores that get more volume get it first. With the Transformational stores, maybe they're trying to keep things fresh kind of how Publix updates their decor every few years.

      But yeah, as you say these remodels are kind of cheap. They seem to be more along the lines of the purple/maroon redos where the only thing was new aisle and department signage and new paint. Only a tiny few of those remodels got new flooring or cases, and that seems to be the same with these red remodels. So I don't know that it would look all that great in a Marketplace or purple/maroon store because of the old floors.

      It is nice to see them trying to get a cohesive decor in the stores, but I would have liked to have seen the green remodels continue and brought only to the stores that didn't have post bankruptcy or transformational. That would have kept things a bit more cohesive decor wise.

      Have you ever seen this decor? It seems to be between the green and red decor, because it has elements of the green but it's primarily white and gray instead of the green and black.

    3. I was thinking the same thing, with all of the old stores Winn-Dixie is still carrying, why remodel a store they had previously dumped a lot of money into a few years ago when stores that haven't been touched since the 1990's are still floating around out there? I will say, the red remodel does look better in the stores that previously had the Transformational or post-bankruptcy interiors, especially since those store have more modern looking floors and features that go better with the new look. However, at a recent Winn-Dixie remodel in Fort Pierce (of a shockingly 80's looking Marketplace store), they actually replaced the old floors, which surprised me, especially after seeing this: However, I don't know if that was a rare occurrence or not to see the floors get ripped up, as like you said, most of these remodels are like the ones seen during the Purple/Maroon era where very little was done to freshen up these stores. I'd say a tier system based on volume is what SEG is going by for these remodels. If they're not, their logic for what stores are getting remodels is just strange.

      I much prefer the Green interior to the current look. The current red remodel is quite bland. The Green remodel, while still simplistic, at least had a little bit more character with some wall decorations and stenciling. I wish it could have gotten into more stores, but when Ian McLeod took over as CEO, he completely changed the direction and styling of remodels away from that look as part of his re-branding campaign, which was a shame. I've never seen that decor you linked to at the South Miami store. Even with the modified color scheme, that decor still looks nice (and isn't quite "in your face" like the current red look). They did a good job remodeling that store.

  6. I looked at some pictures of the Fort Pierce Winn Dixie. From what I can see they did a really good job on that store. Other than the Cocoa Beach store, this is one of the nicest red ones I've seen. I think the new floors helps and it looks like they even put in new refrigerator and freezer cases which really modernizes it and fits better with the decor. I think the different ceiling heights in that store helps break things up a bit too instead of having so much red.

    That South Miami Beach store looks good too I agree. Since it opened in later 2015 I'm pretty sure it was one of the last of those remodels before the red came out. I think too that the warehouse ceilings in that store and new refrigerator and freezer cases really help it look clean and modern. The green and this white decors seemed to be good about being thorough, as were the post bankruptcy remodels. That can slow things down as it costs much more than a repaint and new signage, but it seems that they are at least continuing this in the red remodels when it's necessary.

    1. The next time I'm down in Fort Pierce I need to stop into that Winn-Dixie for some photos. I have an entire album of pre-remodel photos on my flickr page from that store, and I'm really curious to see how the remodel looks in person. Those little things like replacing the floors and coolers do wonders at making a "cheap" remodel look so much better. Even with the added expenses from replacing the coolers and floors, it's certainly worth the investment to make the store so much more presentable and modern to shoppers (without having to go over the top with the remodel, like the expensive Transformational remodels were). At least Winn-Dixie is recognizing when some stores need a bit more help with their remodels, rather than just painting the walls and calling it a day.

    2. Definitely. I haven't stopped into the Sebring store to see how it looks or if the redo is complete. I expect is was a basic repaint and new signage but who knows. Most of the Sweetbay stores were fairly modern as far as the fixtures with even the older original Kash N Karry stores like that one having been remodeled in the early 2000s, and some Sweetbays even being only a few years old when WD took them over, so I doubt they typically do as much in remodeling them.

      I saw your photos of the Fort Pierce Winn Dixie and that's what struck me so much about that remodel.

  7. I think you missed something in your history. Not sure of the years or how long but this was also an Albertson's

    1. The Sebring area's only Albertsons was the one up the road from here on the north side of town. This building may have some similarities to a mid-80's Albertsons, but this was Kash n' Karry's late 80's store design (the strip of narrow windows in the middle of the entry vestibule is the distinctive trait from Kash n' Karry - Albertsons never did that).