Bradenton, Florida -- The first wave of new Winn Dixie stores are open replacing Sweet Bay stores in the Bay Area. By mid-April there will be 42 new stores in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota Counties.

Winn Dixie brings a familiar look to the former Sweet Bay Grocery stores making it easier for customers to find their favorite items. "Same set up as Sweet Bay familiar not a big change," says customer Mindy Boyles.

7 new stores open in Manatee and Sarasota Counties Friday morning. Justin Brennan says he used to shop at the store when it was a Sweet Bay and finds the new Winn Dixie store "brighter, nicer."

What's different? Winn Dixie representatives say customers have a wider selection of food deli items are prepared fresh each day, as are pre-cut fruits and vegetables some supplied by local farmers.

See also:The complete list of new Winn Dixie stores, county by county

"We offer more have a great variety, great deals," says Mayra Hernandez, a Winn Dixie representative.

Winn Dixie's customers are encouraged to sign up for reward card loaded with savings customers cash in on automatically.

In store sales last longer too, 10 to 12 weeks compared to other stores weekly special. Just look for the Dependable Deals yellow and red sales tags.

Instead of clipping or fumbling through coupons, now you can digitally load coupons onto your reward card.

Justin Brennan's groceries add up to $111.13 cents, but he only he pays $97.62.

The rewards don't stop at the cash register. The more one spends, the more one saves at the pump with Winn Dixie's Fuel perks program at Shell Gas Stations. Customers earn 5 cents per gallon for every $50 they spend in groceries. Mindy says, "I love Winn Dixie for fuel perks. Helps me save on gas."

It's the neighborhood store many customers say they're glad to have nearby.

Justin says, "So far so good."

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