More than just a store: Gramercy Winn-Dixie welcomes back community

Published 12:09 am Saturday, December 18, 2021

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GRAMERCY — St. James Parish celebrated a much-needed step in its Hurricane Ida recovery this week as the Gramercy Winn-Dixie reopened its doors to the community.

The grand reopening ceremony continues December 18-19 with live entertainment and giveaways. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, there will be $100 gift card raffles every hour with a special drawing at 1 p.m. for a chance to win a Green Egg Smoker. Raffle drawings will continue from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday with a special drawing at 4 p.m. for a Yeti cooler, in addition to other prizes.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Wednesday morning as customers lined up outside the store at 1803 Highway 3025. St. James Parish resident Annie Lasseigne was among the eager customers who arrived bright and early. Her husband questioned if she was crazy when she slept in her clothes, ready to get up and go. But for Lasseigne, Winn-Dixie’s reopening signified something much greater.

“We’ve had a rough time since the storm. We also lost our son this past weekend. This is some happiness with all of the crazy things that have happened. It’s the little things that mean the most, and I’ve been waiting for this,” Lasseigne said. “One thing I love to do is cook for my family. It’s good for the soul.”

Lasseigne’s favorite holiday tradition includes cooking on Christmas Eve and stepping outside to admire the bonfires illuminating the levee. With Winn-Dixie now open, she looks forward to bringing her family together with a heartwarming meal this Christmas, even if it means gathering inside a camper.

Longtime customer Steven McClung was another familiar face in line during the grand reopening.

“I come to the store at least six times a week,” McClung said. “This is my exercise. I just walk in and joke around with everybody. I know almost everyone who works here, and my daughter worked here at one time. It’s just something to come here.”

McClung watched the roof cave in as Hurricane Ida devastated the River Parishes. The store renovations were projected to take six months based on damage assessments and supply chain issues. Thanks to the rallying of the Winn-Dixie team and a community filled with support, the work was done in half that time.

Regional Vice President Joey Medina said Winn-Dixie was active in the community throughout the storm recovery, even when its doors were closed and the store was damaged.

Mobile pharmacy services were provided as soon as one week after Hurricane Ida. Meanwhile, Winn-Dixie personnel were in the store’s parking lot distributing water, ice, dry goods and more to the community. Winn-Dixie also partnered with Feeding America for a large food giveaway in St. John the Baptist Parish.

The past four months have been a testament to Winn-Dixie’s value within the community, Medina said.

“Groceries are at the center of life in any community. In Gramercy, Winn-Dixie is the main grocery chain. For people to have to travel outside of their community to buy groceries is a hardship, especially when they are having to deal with the aftermath of the storm and what happened to them personally in their homes,” he said.

At the center of the store is the dedicated team of employees. Winn-Dixie made a monetary contribution to go toward holiday meals as a show of support to the 26 associates who were severely impacted by Hurricane Ida.

During the ribbon cutting, Winn-Dixie personnel also presented a $5,000 check to the Gramercy Police Department to provide holiday meals to 65 local families rebuilding from the hurricane. Throughout the recovery process, Police Chief Brent Dicharry has been a wonderful community partner who has gone the extra mile to help Winn-Dixie support those in need.

Gramercy store manager Barrette Trosclair said it feels great to be back home, and he was happy to see a lot of regular customers back in the store.

“We missed y’all just as much as y’all missed us. I don’t think we all realized how much Winn-Dixie being closed meant to the community,” Trosclair said.

Trosclair also praised the employees for a great job getting the store back together.

“Each and every one of you was affected some kind of way with Hurricane Ida. Two days after the storm, each and every one of you was blowing up my phone wanting to know when we were going back to work,” he said. “You had your own issues at home, but you were worried about your second home, work. What you see today is representative of you all.”

One of the Gramercy store employees described the store reopening as a breath of fresh air and a much-needed return to normalcy.

“I was ready to come back to work. It was almost like peace of mind. I’ve been trying to get the kids back in school and myself back to work. Being here, it’s like being with family,” she said. “I had so many people who would see me in a whole different area and ask me when Winn-Dixie was opening. It plays a big role in the community. I haven’t seen a lot of these people in months. To be back and see my regular customers feels good to me.”

Anthony Hucker, president and CEO of Southeastern Grocers, said, “Winn-Dixie has been deeply rooted in Louisiana for more than six and a half decades and we remain steadfastly committed to the resilient people that make this state a renowned treasure.”

While the store’s commitment to fresh quality and outstanding service has not changed, several enhancements have been made throughout the new and improved store.

Improvements include:

  • modern signage
  • updated produce department with an expanded selection and grab-and-go options
  • new deli with a wide assortment of lunch and dinner options
  • expanded bakery with freshly-made, self-service doughnuts and bread selections
  • refreshed meat department
  • expanded, full-service seafood department with convenient meal packaging options
  • new health and beauty section
  • in-store pharmacy offering prescriptions and private immunizations
  • expanded wine, beer and liquor selection
  • updated floral department
  • expanded grocery selection

The newly renovated Gramercy Winn-Dixie is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. The pharmacy is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.