February 27, 2015
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Winn-Dixie No. 2521 Store Director Melody Wade rode in the Budweiser Clydesdales' carriage among a crowd of more than 2,000 people.​

A great event gets the community buzzing for weeks afterward. For Winn-Dixie No. 2521 in Fort Myers, Florida, hosting the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales on Feb. 12 was that event.

The store welcomed a crowd of more than 2,000 people to see the Clydesdales. Store Director Melody Wade said the atmosphere of the day was comparable to a Disney theme park. The crowd was excited and enthusiastic to have the Clydesdales in their town.

“I had a chance to ride in the wagon to do a lap in the parking lot, and the men directing the carriage said it was the largest turn out at a shopping center they have ever seen,” said Wade. “I can’t tell you how many people came up to me to say how much they enjoyed the event and to thank Winn-Dixie for what we’re doing for the community.”

Wade has had a number of her customers bring in pictures from the Budweiser Clydesdales appearance, so she came up with the idea to create a picture board in the store. More than 700 pictures have been submitted already.

“We brought in the Clydesdales because we thought it would be a fun event for our neighbors in the Fort Myers area, but we also wanted to introduce our store to people who may not normally shop here,” said Wade. “People have come up to me and told me they were doing their grocery shopping at a different store, but after seeing our Winn-Dixie and its amenities, they are going to start shopping here.”

Wade said as a store director, it’s important to build relationships within the community, and holding events like the Budweiser Clydesdales put her store on that path.

“It was truly a magic moment,” said Wade. “What I mean by ‘magic moment’ is we got thousands of people to gather in our Winn-Dixie parking lot and many to come into our store. All of these people came to see the Clydesdales; they came to a Winn-Dixie and they saw what Winn-Dixie is doing for them and their neighborhoods. They came to see the Clydesdales, but they left as customers.”

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