Interview with Otis Pitts

There must have been an image problem with trying to retrofit a shopping center, super market in this area. How did you attack it? How did you deal with that?


Well there were several problems. One is, of course, it was on the heel of the riots and of course the super market had already been here. So, I mean, Winn-Dixie wasn't necessarily, I mean that enthusiastic about coming here. Ah, but we did convince them that, ah, one, we could do it because we assembled a team of people, one, who had the expertise to do it. We brought in, ah, several Black businessmen who, one, one gentleman ran a super market chain in Baltimore. Ah, ah, some eight, had some eight stores, doing about $25,000,000 a year. And those stores were in former A&P stores. So he had shown that he could go into a market where, it had been abandoned, you know, by, a, you know, a large chain and had made stores work. So we had a man who had experience in inner city super markets who was there as a part of our team. The second guy we had involved, ah, had extensive experience in business packaging and the third person was a, a, a, a developer, a city developer who owned his own firm, he and his partner, in fact. And so we had the team that, with all the requisite expertise, were developing a shopping center, who, ah, was able to talk to any professionals about, about this deal. I mean to talk to engineers, to talk to banks, to talk to Winn-Dixie, etcetera, ah, about its business and show a lot of knowledge about that business. Ah, the one guy, Henry Edwards, who ran an inner city super market chain had worked with Jewel Foods, ah, was, was Harvard educated. I mean, ah, he knew a lot about the business so he, he didn't go in talking on the basis of any foolishness. He talked about the business of running super markets.