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Justin Stubblefield works with bee hives. He wants to sell his honey products to Winn-Dixie.
Jax Daily Record Friday, Oct. 24, 201412:00 PM EST

Winn-Dixie meets 'Shark Tank' as grocer hears pitches to sell area products in stores


Sweet Pete’s candy? FreshJax’s spices and sauces? Stubbees honey?

Winn-Dixie wants to put more Jacksonville and Southeastern products on its shelves.

Last week, 19 vendors made 10-minute pitches “Shark Tank”-style to Winn-Dixie’s buying team over two days. Other businesses included Olive Affairs, Jerome Brown BBQ Sauce and Minorcan Datil Peppers.

Winn-Dixie will decide during the first two weeks of November which ones will be stocked by January — and it might be some or all of those local favorites.

Justin Stubblefield, co-founder of Jacksonville-based Stubbees, pitched honey.

“This opportunity will certainly help us in achieving a wide range of customers looking for raw honey that is true to its source,” he said.

Stubblefield said Stubbees is pioneering putting organic fruit in creamed honey for spreads to be used on toast, baking, and drinks like coffee and teas.

“Our company’s main goals are to increase awareness about the dangers facing the honeybees today. We are one of the few honey companies that keeps our honey raw,” he said.

Winn-Dixie can put the word out.

“We appreciate this opportunity with Winn-Dixie and are glad they are moving in this direction in helping support local businesses,” he said.

Allison Behringer made the pitch for Sweet Pete’s, the Jacksonville-based candy company created in 2010 by her and her husband, Peter Behringer. It recently attracted investor Marcus Lemonis of “The Profit” and plans to occupy the renovated Seminole Club building Downtown.

“The panel seemed genuinely interested in the growth of our company,” she said.

Behringer said stocking the products in Winn-Dixie will further that.

FreshJax, a café, yoga and healthy living venture founded by Jason and Hillary McDonald in 2011, reports it is in a major expansion mode.

Pending a deal with Winn-Dixie, they will buy a building and open their first store.

“How cool is Winn-Dixie for simply putting on this contest. Even if FreshJax is not picked, we feel so privileged to just be considered,” said Jason McDonald.

A new store would include a health food cafe and yoga studio.  They currently rent a small commercial kitchen Downtown, but would need a larger one to handle the Winn-Dixie order, which they expect would increase sales by more than 40 percent.

He started FreshJax three years ago after dropping 40 pounds and began clean eating and exercising. They started the venture by making hot sauces. Hillary McDonald is a master yoga teacher and University of North Florida adjunct professor.

Their Winn-Dixie proposal included their signature coconut bacon, coconut curry, their three top-selling hot sauces, and their seven top-selling organic spice blends.

They took eighth place at the 2013 One Spark crowdfunding festival and also participated in this year’s event.

Winn-Dixie solicited vendors for finished goods, pre-packaged products and other general merchandise, such as packaged frozen foods, cleaning products and health and beauty items that are manufactured in or around Jacksonville.

The chain, which is part of Jacksonville-based Bi-Lo Holdings LLC, calls the effort “Winn-Local.”

It’s called that “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 spokeswoman Tiffany Hutto.

Hutto said Bi-Lo Holdings, the parent company of Bi-Lo, Harveys and Winn-Dixie grocery stores, has been adding locally sourced products in its stores for years, but the “local” initiative began in January.

Hutto said the company put the program into practice in Winn-Dixie stores first in Mobile, Ala., and now Jacksonville.

“Jacksonville is our hometown and we wanted to bring the program here because we know this community has some of the best local offerings that would appeal to our tight-knit community,” she said by email.

Hutto said that selling local products supports area businesses and their employees as well as the suppliers, truck drivers and warehouse workers to move the goods to market. Northeast Florida products also provide an opportunity to share community culture.

“When we buy local, everybody wins,” she said.

Winn-Dixie has partnered with Jacksonville-based US Culinary and Beverage to distribute the chosen local products rather than requiring each vendor to service the stores.

US Culinary Beverage is an owner of Edgewood Bakery, which also pitched to the buying team.

Hutto said the decision to use the distributor is separate from Winn-Dixie’s decision whether to carry products from Edgewood Bakery.

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s Stache Investments Corp. bought the 67-year-old bakery, a Murray Hill neighborhood favorite.

The Edgewood Bakery name was recently filed with the state Division of Corporations under the Fictitious Name Law by Carol Ann Rykalsky, Donna Marie Zimmerman, Michael Ray Zimmerman, Thomas Patrick Rykalsky and US Culinary and Beverage LLC, all at the bakery’s address at 1012 Edgewood Ave. S.

Tom Rykalsky and Mike Zimmerman are managers of US Culinary and Beverage LLC.

Pitching their products to Winn-Dixie

Nineteen companies made pitches to have their products sold in Winn-Dixie stores.

Pura Bean Coffee CompanyJacksonville BeachCoffee
Raneri’s GourmetJacksonvilleSauces
TCC Marlow Enterprises Inc.Flagler BeachSauces
The Hyppo Gourmet Ice PopsSt. AugustineFrozen Foods
US Culinary and Beverage (Edgewood Bakery)JacksonvilleBakery Fresh/Frozen
Sweet Pete’sJacksonvilleCandy
Olive AffairsBrunswick, Ga.Condiments
Little Black Box Baked GoodsJacksonvilleJams
Evil Seed Sauce CompanyJacksonvilleSauces
Brimstone Originals Specialty FoodsLargoPepper Jelly
K.J.B. Specialties (Jerome Brown BBQ Sauce)JacksonvilleSauces
Mammy’s Day Off (No Name BBQ Sauce)PerryBBQ Sauce
Big Carl’s BBQ SauceBrunswick, Ga.BBQ Sauce
The Flour Pot BakeryGainesvilleBakery Fresh/Frozen
Weeki Wachee Seafood MarketSpring HillFrozen Seafood
DeLand BakeryDeLandFresh/Frozen
Minorcan Datil Pepper ProductsSt. AugustineCondiments/Sauces

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