Parent company Southeastern Grocers said it opened based on customer trends and feedback.
Winn-Dixie’s new WDs Wine, Beer & Liquor concept likely will open more stores after its first debuts at 9 a.m. Sept. 1 in Miramar Center at 4472 Hendricks Ave., between San Marco and Lakewood.
“It’s a test-and-learn environment,” said Shawn Sloan, regional vice president of Winn-Dixie parent company Southeastern Grocers, during a media tour Aug. 31.
“With everything new, you’ve got to really find how the customers react to it, what works and what doesn’t,” he said.
The initial feedback so far has been positive.
“We do intend to take this further.”
A news release said the WDs will be the first in the grocer’s Southeast footprint.
Jacksonville-based Southeastern Grocers Inc. announced July 20 that it would introduce the stand-alone WDs concept.
The city issued permits starting in June for Southeastern Grocers to build-out the Winn-Dixie liquor store format in 8,640 square feet at the site, at the southern end of the building anchored by Players Grille.
Jacksonville-based Sleiman Enterprises owns the shopping center.
The city issued tenant improvement permits totaling more than $635,000, although Sloan declined to state the total investment other than to call it significant.
Liquor stores aren’t new to Winn-Dixie. It operates small stores near its supermarkets.
Sloan said Jacksonville is the home of the first WDs because Southeastern Grocers is based in the city and Miramar was the site because of the community.
The idea for the prototype has been years in the making and the design was refined during the COVID-19 shutdowns that began in March 2020.
“We were listening to the communities over the course of the pandemic telling us that more people are going to be entertaining at home and eating at home,” Sloan said.
“We felt, listening to their comments, it was the right time to do one of these stand-alone larger-sized stores.”
Sloan said the demographics of the Miramar neighborhood, between historic San Marco and Lakewood, fit the format.
“It was just a perfect location that came available and thinking of the clientele in this market, and then the need for this area, it fit perfectly. It really did,” Sloan said.
“This was really nice to put it right here.”
Sloan said the architecture of the building, which he estimates at 80 to 100 years old, “is gorgeous.”
It once housed a Blockbuster video, among other uses. The renovations opened the area and exposed the ceiling.
Southeastern Grocers said the store will feature more than 1,700 bottles of red, white and sparkling wine including more than 700 imported varieties, as well as a wine-tasting station and a blast chiller that can cool a bottle in less than two minutes.
The selection includes budget brands up to fine wines that reach $719.99 for a 2015 Penfolds Grange Australian red wine.
WDs will offer a beer cave and more than 500 varieties, including 73 Florida brews and 22 from Northeast Florida, including Veterans United, Bold City and Ruby Beach.
It also sells more than 1,400 bottles of bourbon, scotch, tequila, rum, vodka, cognac and other finds, including from local distilleries. There are specialty liquors, including the $539.99 Clase Azul Anejo Tequila in a ceramic decanter and the WhistlePig 15-year-aged straight rye whiskey at $234.99.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a presence through the team’s Citrus Distillers Florida Whiskey partner. The Citrus Jaguar whiskey is $35.99.
WDs has a humidor with 40 cigar selections and offers more than 70 specialty cheeses and toppings for charcuterie boards. There also are mixers and snacks.
WDs offers a counter for wine tastings and an area for group events.
The winndixie.com/wds website says the store has close relationships with growers, distillers and brewers, including local breweries, winemakers and drink crafters across the country.
Inventory is organized to let customers know which items pair well – and where to find them.
WDs employs 14, with 10 part-time. It is led by manager Vanessa Andes, who managed the Winn-Dixie liquor store in Sleiman’s Point Meadows shopping center.
Southeastern Grocers partnered with local artist Jason Tetlak to create a mural on the building’s exterior back wall that features the name “Miramar” and reflects the city and the neighborhood with art elements.
The mural features an abstract design that incorporates store colors, Miramar neighborhood landmarks and city themes.