Interview with Otis Pitts
QUESTION 16
MADISON DAVIS LACY:

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?

OTIS PITTS:

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.