When moving to a new city one expects changes — everything from a new landscape and weather to a new house and new neighbors. However, some things remain the same. For example, you still need to eat and shop for groceries. While the need to buy groceries remains consistent, a move may mean shopping at new stores.
A while ago we profiled two Southern-based grocery stores with which you may not have been familiar, Publix and Winn Dixie in The Villages.
In this article, we’ll look at another grocery store in The Villages, Sweetbay Supermarket.
Sweetbay Supermarkets are relatively new to the grocery scene. Their first store opened in Largo, Florida, in 2004. Today there are 102 stores (ranging from as far south as Naples and as far north to Gainesville), including The Villages location.
Though the Sweetbay brand is new, the Delhaize Group, a company with more than 50 years in the business, wholly owns the chain. The Brussels-based group has food operations in 10 countries on three continents. Including directly operated, franchised and affiliated operations; the company has 2,559 stores and approximately 144,000 employees. This includes about 10,000 people in its Florida-based stores.
Headquartered in Tampa, The Sweetbay brand was created specifically for Florida consumers. Even its name, Sweetbay, was designed to reflect the specific Florida culture. The Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) is a tree common to west, Central Florida.
The company strives to be “rewarding place to work,” and where differences are embraced. They have a community outreach program that focuses on health and wellness, hunger relief and cultural diversity, and the stores also have seasonal promotions that support local schools. Sweetbay also participates in the Upromise college savings program.
Of course, the first mission of a grocery store is to serve the shopper. Specialty departments at Sweetbay include a bakery, a butcher, seafood shop and deli. The deli has food to go, subs and rotisserie chickens. Sweetbay’s Harvest Market stands out from typical produce centers by offering fresh, dried and potted herbs, numerous varieties of tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers, and tropical fruits.
Sweetbay has a large selection of ethnic foods, and they carry natural and organic foods and grocery products, like cruelty-free soaps, deodorants, shampoos, paper towels and laundry soap.
Hannaford and Sweetbay are the store brands, with more than 2,000 products, from pasta and cereal to cheese and canned products.
The Sweetbay’s Taste of Inspirations (specialty line) includes things like sauces, marinades, artisan breads, salad greens and deli meats and cheeses. Sweetbay has their everyday line, Home 360 (comparable to national brands), and the economical Smart Option line.
The store also focuses on health and wellness. The Villages’ Sweetbay has a pharmacy with a drug-savings plan and online prescription refills. Also, to help guide shoppers in making healthy food choices, Sweetbay has a Guiding Stars system.
Guiding Stars uses a proprietary rating formula that credits a food’s score for the presence of vitamins, minerals, fiber and whole grains. Foods with trans or saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars and sodium receive a debit.
The Guiding Stars icon (a runner with stars) appears on shelf tags near a product and tells shoppers, at a glance, which foods are better choices. The more stars a product has (up to three), the healthier it is.
More on the Guiding stars program and a healthy eating guide can be found on the store’s web site.
The store caries beer and wine, and like most Sweetbay locations, The Villages’ store has a full liquor department. Services include ATMs, check cashing, gift cards, money orders, lottery ad scratch-off tickets, and postage stamps. Store hours are from 7 am t 11pm. Check with store for liquor store hours.