Yesterday’s Food And Retail by Grady Ellis (Editorial)
Yesterday’s Food and Retail by Carrollton resident Grady Ellis is an editorial series brought to you by The City Menus, LLC. The following piece is unedited and in its original state. In no way does it reflect the views or opinions of The City Menus, LLC or its additional contributors.
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From the late 1960s, until 2000; Winn Dixie was one of the main players in Carrollton. Known as “The Beef People”, for many years Winn Dixie was one of the top grocery stores in the area, expanding to Villa Rica in 1996, before leaving the area in 2005. Let’s take a look at a chain that at one time gave Kroger a run for number one in the grocery stores of Carrollton.
Winn Dixie was founded in 1925; and became known as Winn Dixie in 1955, originating in Florida. By the 1960s Winn Dixie was becoming a superstar among its peers. Expanding throughout the Southeast; by the late 1960s they set their eyes on Carrollton Georgia. In the late 1960s, Winn Dixie would make its debut in Carroll County at West Georgia Shopping Center. The shopping center’s also the only shopping center in Carrollton to have two grocery stores at once, a common thing in the day but as the 1970s came in things would change in that regard. Winn Dixie quickly became a favorite among folks in the area. In 1976, a second store would open on Bankhead Highway as one of the anchors of First Tuesday Mall. For a short time Carrollton had two locations before the original location would close. The original location would become Maplewood Lanes.
Winn Dixie in its time in Carrollton was immensely popular. Their private brands such as Chek Cola, Thrifty Maid, among others were common items to find in the pantry in homes throughout their time here. The First Tuesday location would receive a renovation in the mid 1980s; expanding into the space next door, and adding a larger Deli/Bakery section. In this era, Winn Dixie was one of the top players in the grocer war, and by the end of the 1980s, the main player in the Bankhead Corridor for groceries along with Foodmax.
By the 1990s, Winn Dixie began to struggle as new grocers began to make entries into the area. In 1996 the only Winn Dixie Marketplace would open in Villa Rica; and also the last new location we’d receive in Carroll County. In 1997, a rival from Florida by the name of Publix made its Carrollton debut in its present spot; and many customers switched as Publix was new and shiny, and Winn Dixie was beginning to show some age and First Tuesday Mall had some trouble after McIntosh Plaza’s opening, as Belk moved and also hurt business for the longtime staple. In early 2000, after over 30 years Winn Dixie would close their location in Carrollton, leaving the Villa Rica location as the last location in Carroll County.
In the early 21st Century, Winn Dixie had trouble adapting to the changing market in Atlanta with the arrivals of Publix, and Walmart stepping into groceries also with their Supercenters. In 2001, the Winn Dixie in Villa Rica and throughout the area became known as Save Rite; as an attempt to compete in a market dominated by Kroger, Publix, Walmart, Ingles and others. The re-branding unfortunately didn’t help out the longtime grocer’s presence in the area, and by 2005, Winn Dixie would leave the Atlanta market.
Today Winn Dixie is still alive and a subsidiary of Southeastern Grocers; that also operates the Bi-Lo and Harvey’s banners found throughout the Southeastern United States. Winn Dixie still has locations in Georgia, but a far cry from their prime. Nonetheless they served our area wonderfully for many years and still fondly remembered by many around here. And for those of you that miss Chek Cola, just head to Anniston and there’s still a few Winn Dixie stores remaining that’s worth the trip to “Chek Up”.