October 31, 2014
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Some of North Florida and South Georgia’s most popular local businesses pitched their products to the Winn-Dixie Merchandising & Buying Team for the opportunity to include their goods on store shelves.

On Oct. 14 and 15, 19 vendors, including Sweet Pete’s, Fresh Jax, Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops, Jerome Brown BBQ, U.S. Culinary & Beverage and Stubbees Honey, each received 15 mintues to present their products at Winn-Dixie store No. 141 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Items included finished goods, pre-packaged products and general merchandise such as sauces, bakery items, jellies, spices and packaged frozen foods.Vendors went “all out,” presenting everything from small samples to full meals. One vendor, Olive Affairs, even played the harmonica in an effort to stand out. The chosen products are likely to be on store shelves by January.

“We called it Winn-Local, because that is exactly what we are encouraging through this initiative - to give local vendors the opportunity to have their products featured in their neighborhood Winn-Dixie stores,” said Nicole Hatfield, Bi-Lo Holdings senior manager of local business. “We wanted to bring the program to Jacksonville because we know this community has some of the best local offerings that would appeal to our tight-knit community. When we buy local, everybody wins.”

Winn-Dixie is working with U.S. Culinary & Beverage to distribute the local products that will be chosen.

The Winn-Local initiative was born from the success of a similar initiative at the BI-LO banner. The “BI-LOcal” initiative began in January in Charleston, S.C. and local suppliers were invited to present their products in hopes of being selected to be featured in area BI-LO stores. About 20 local vendors presented their products and a majority of them were selected. BI-LO stores in the Charleston area now carry local products ranging from honey and crab dip to sauce and seasonings. BI-LOcal events were then held in Chattanooga, Tennessee, followed by the first Winn-Local event in Mobile, Alabama.

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