Winn-Dixie: Bigger, Brighter, More to Choose From
May 8, 2021
Way back, in 1914 to be exact, William Davis bought a general store in Burley, Idaho. His four sons, Artemus Darius Davis, James Elsworth Davis, Milton Austin Davis and Tine Wayne Davis, worked with him to build the business. William renamed the store to Davis Mercantile and, as was common then, he sold most goods on credit.
In the 1920s, Davis’ business took a hit when new cash-only grocery stores offered lower prices and larger selections.
Always the businessman and determined to succeed, William borrowed $10,000 from his father in 1925 and moved to Miami, Florida, where he purchased the Rockmoor Grocery.
The Rockmoor store was renamed to Table Supply in 1927 and four more stores were opened. With a plan to continue expanding, in 1931 the Davis family bought the Lively Stores chain for $10,000 and renamed them to Table Supply. The Davis family now had a chain of 33 grocery stores across Florida.
William Milton Davis died in 1934, leaving his four sons in charge of the company.
In 1939, the Davis brothers bought 51 percent of Winn & Lovett, a chain of 73 stores. In 1944, the brothers bought the remainder of Winn & Lovett and merged the two chains under the Winn & Lovett name. The company headquarters moved to Jacksonville. Between 1949 and 1952, the Davis brothers bought out another 77 stores in Kentucky and Florida. In 1952, Winn & Lovett became the first industrial corporation based in Florida to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
In 1955, Winn & Lovett changed its name to Winn-Dixie, as it continued to acquire other grocery chains in Mississippi and South Carolina.
In 1967, Winn-Dixie extended its reach to the Caribbean when it bought the City Markets chain of 12 stores in the Bahamas. The company sold the chain to Bahamian investors in 2006.
In 1976, Winn-Dixie purchased the Buddies Supermarket chain based in Fort Worth, Texas, expanding the Winn-Dixie chain into Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.
Still expanding, in 1995, Winn-Dixie purchased Cincinnati-based Thriftway Food Drug and in 2000 it acquired Jitney Jungle.
In the 1990s, Winn Dixie gave a generous contribution to the Boy Scouts of America and has long been involved in Jacksonville, including a former sponsorship as the official supermarket of the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL).
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