It’s a beautiful, sunny day somewhere in the South, 1966. A pretty lady (with way-cool shades) and her two kids wait patiently as a courteous Winn-Dixie employee in black tie and Brylcreem is about to load their groceries into the family Buick.
At time this photo was taken, the wonderfully profitable Winn-Dixie was the envy of the entire supermarket industry, with a greater return percentage on stockholders’ equity than Safeway, and profits nearly as high as those of Kroger, both companies triple its size. Of course, time and the events of the last few decades have changed all of that, but one word still accurately applies to Winn-Dixie – survivor.
For me, Winn-Dixie evokes many good memories - of summer weeks in the early seventies spent with my maternal grandparents in Kennesaw (suburb of Atlanta), Georgia, shopping at the Marietta Winn-Dixie. Of eating their Deep South brand peanut butter (a brand name Winn-Dixie discarded just a couple of years ago) and drinking Chek soft drinks. Of several trips the whole crew - my immediate family, my grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins - made, driving from Atlanta to Treasure Island, Florida, near St. Petersburg, to spend four or five days on the Gulf. The Winn-Dixie there was literally within walking distance of the motel where we always stayed. The store seemed large to me, a 10-12 year old kid, but looking back I’m sure it was of very moderate size.
As you might expect, the memories have stayed with me. On a business trip to Birmingham four years ago, I drove past a Winn-Dixie store with a huge “store closing” banner across the storefront. Sadly, this was one of many stores the company closed as part of a major cutback that year. I pulled into the parking lot and (on a mission, now) sprinted into the store. I managed to snag the last two jars of Deep South peanut butter! It tasted as good as I’d remembered.