08/21/05 — Winn-Dixie in final days

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Winn-Dixie in final days

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on August 21, 2005 2:04 AM

Southern Family Markets officials have confirmed the purchase of the Winn-Dixie at 1805 Wayne Memorial Drive, and the store and its pharmacy will change hands next week.

Chief Operating Officer Frank Curci said Friday morning the store on Wayne Memorial will be the first in North Carolina to carry the name Southern Family Markets. The store will close a few days to put up stock and have a grand opening Aug. 31.

"We're looking forward to a good relationship with the Goldsboro community," he said.

But Winn Dixie's other two Goldsboro stores are holding going-out-of-business sales and Employment Security Commission manager Bill Pate said he has heard they will close Aug. 27.

Pate said the full-time employees at the two Winn-Dixies at 2441 U.S. 117 in Mar Mac and 211 N. Berkeley Boulevard qualify for the Dislocated Workers program that enables them to go back to school for retraining. Books and tuition are free.

The closings are coming at a bad time, he said. Wayne Community College has already registered the students for fall semester, but he said there's no way anybody could control the timing.

Job Service staff and Wayne Community College representatives met with about 120 full-time employees. He didn't count part-timers and working high school students.

"One guy at Mar Mac recognized me," Pate said. "We went to high school together. He had always worked in grocery stores since high school, even when he was in high school."

He said the man has been with Winn-Dixie 31 years, and the long-timers are in a difficult situation. They will have a hard time finding comparable pay and benefits.

Pate said his old friend looked the same after 31 years, "except we're all older and grayer. I felt bad for him."

Communications manager Dennis Wortham said from the Winn-Dixie headquarters in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday afternoon that the company did receive bids on the two stores.

But for some reason, he said, they did not sell.

Wortham said another company considered leasing rights for another business, but that that deal didn't happen either.

He said based on the company's calculations about 140 people will be out of work when the stores close. That number might reflect the part-timers and the high school students who are working at the two closing stores.

Winn-Dixie filed motions in federal bankruptcy court July 1 seeking authorization to sell many of its stores to other grocers.

"It was a difficult decision for us," Wortham said. "But it needed to be done to restore Winn-Dixie to health."