The new Detwiler’s Farm Market will fill a vacancy left by a Winn-Dixie
The Sarasota community was accustomed to shopping at the Winn-Dixie on Clark and Swift before it and three other area locations closed in March 2018 following a bankruptcy filing.
Even the Detwiler family shopped there. Now, that same family is bringing one of their own stores to the location at 2881 Clark Road.
A press conference Monday morning confirmed a longstanding rumor that a Detwiler’s Farm Market will fill the more than yearlong vacancy left behind by the old Winn-Dixie in Merchants Pointe plaza. This buzz played at least some role in facilitating the company’s expansion.
Henry Detwiler., the owner of the business who runs it alongside his five sons, said he has had countless people ask him when they were going to open a big store on this end of Sarasota. When rumors started swirling, he tried to downplay them at first as they weren’t intending on opening another store at the time, but he kept reading Facebook comment after Facebook comment from people asking for a Detwiler’s in the plaza, which has lacked an anchor tenant for sometime.
But more than anything, it was the right opportunity coming along at the right time that made the Detwiler’s decide to move forward.
“As much as I can say the buzz isn’t a factor, it does matter,” said Detwiler. “I don’t want to have to re-create our whole brand in a totally new area where they don’t know us. There’s a lot of excitement here. I think it’s a great area where we can serve the people on the way to the beach and this whole community.”
The new location will be approximately 45,000-square-feet and will employ around 125 people, with 100 or more being full-time. With the new location still yet to clear the hurdles of permitting, there is no timetable for when it will open — however, the company’s president, Sam Detwiler, said that the store itself is in pretty good shape and that it should be “simple to turn around.”
He said at this point it’s all about working on simple renovations to the store and achieving the permits for what they’re going to do. “This was a grocery store, we’re a grocery store. We’re going to keep it really simple and utilize a lot of what they had already.”
The opening of the new location will mark the fifth Detwiler’s Farm Market, with other locations in Venice, Palmetto and on Lockwood and Palmer Boulevard. Once the new store opens the company will have around 600 employees in total. What once started as a roadside produce stand in 2002 is steadily growing, evidenced by their two most recent locations, Palmetto and now this — both of which are more than eight times the size of the company’s original store at 6000 Palmer Blvd. in eastern Sarasota County.
“We believe that we haven’t hit the Sarasota market itself very well at all. We’re really only serving it out of a 5,000 foot-store on Palmer and we wanted a location a little closer to that,” said Henry Detwiler.
Space at that location is notably tight, according to Henry Detwiler.
His son Sam expects the new store to be a major success.
“The only thing I’m nervous about is parking because we’re going to pack the place out,” he said. The space, according to Sam Detwiler, has around 320 parking spaces when he would prefer it be closer to 400. He said that they tend to serve around 500 customers per every half hour, or 1,000 an hour, so they are aiming to have multiple express lanes and multiple options for people to check out quickly once they are done with their grocery-shopping experience.
The new location, like the Palmetto store, will have a wellness section. They are also considering adding a hot food section, which would be a first for Detwiler’s. The store will also likely be a reverse layout, with shoppers entering and then moving toward their left where they will encounter a massive wall of fresh produce, something Detwiler’s continues to pride itself in.
“We’re going to keep it simple: we’re trying to keep prices down and keep the food fresh,” Sam Detwiler said.