May 02, 2014
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Overnight change: 70 former Sweetbay Supermarket stores became Winn-Dixie stores between March 22 and April 18.​

Customers, neighbors and reporters were all curious what was happening behind closed doors as the sign on the outside of 70 grocery stores across Southwest Florida changed from “Sweetbay” to “Winn-Dixie.”

People had questions about associates, products, store layout and sale prices as the stores formerly known as Sweetbay Supermarket were quickly converted to Winn-Dixie in four five-day waves from March 22 through April 18.

"It's a herculean job," said Joey Medina, Tampa regional vice president, during an interview with a Tampa Bay Times reporter. "It's a big job to be doing in five days."

There were three shifts of teams per day inside each store, working around the clock to make all the necessary changes in only five days. Former Sweetbay associates put on their new red shirts and nametags, trained on a new point of sale system, learned about the fuelperks! rewards program and joined a team of legacy store volunteers and vendor partners to stock the shelves with Winn-Dixie own brand products while being mindful to maintain the store layout customers were accustomed to navigating.

"We did go to great lengths to make sure there was as little change to the customers as far as the location and products," Medina said. "If you're a shopper here, and the peanut butter is on aisle three, it stayed on aisle three."

More than just the peanut butter aisle stayed the same in these newly converted Winn-Dixie stores.

"It's the Sweetbay team inside the store," Medina said. "Your cashier, your butcher in the meat department -- all the people stayed the same."

While customers were pleased to find the same smiling faces will continue to serve them, they were also excited about how Winn-Dixie brings will help save them money in their grocery budgets and will help their communities.

At store No. 2523 in The Villages, Fla., more than 100 customers started to gather at 5:30 a.m. in anticipation of the 7 a.m. opening to experience the new store and to receive a free Winn-Dixie cutting board.

It took a team of dedicated associates to convert 70 stores in less than one month, five days at a time. Winn-Dixie is now proudly represented by 70 new stores in Southwest Florida, from the sign on the outside of the building and the own brand cheese in the deli case to the money customers are saving at the register and the gas pump with fuelperks!

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Customers wait for newly-converted Winn-Dixie store No. 2523 in the Villages, Fla. to open.

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New Winn-Dixie associates receive training during a Sweetbay store conversion.

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The meat counter at a former Sweetbay store is converted to “The Beef People.”

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Newly-converted Winn-Dixie store No. 2419 in Bradenton, Fla. gets a new store sign.

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