ST. PETERSBURG — The lone convenience store in Shore Acres is set to close this fall.
And in its place, planners hope, will be a new one.
Islander Market is slated to replace neighborhood staple B&N Market in the coming months. The effort has been headed by Shore Acres resident Brad Bell, 46, who wants to offer customers fresh produce and custom-made sandwiches in a refurbished space.
"A good place for good people," Bell said in characterizing the new market.
"I want the market to be like a corner store where we’ve got a lot of specialty items," he said. "More importantly, I want it to be clean, clean, clean."
Among Bell’s plans are a meat department offering deli slices, cuts of steak and kebabs; basic fruits and vegetables like lettuce, onions and potatoes; and a bevy of wines and craft beers. It’s a grab-and-grill mentality.
All that, Bell said, will be wrapped together with convenience store essentials B&N offers now, but in a redesigned, beachside-themed look.
And, he said, prices should stay similar.
Bell began thinking of a way to renovate the space about a year ago. He had driven by the place day after day and thought he could give people a better product.
So, near the start of this year, he pitched it to the board of LCC Day School, the pre-K to eighth grade school run by Lutheran Church of the Cross, which owns the property. The school sits next door to the market.
According to board treasurer Robert Kapusta, Jr., officials saw it as an opportunity to upgrade a community resource.
Before news of Islander Market came, those in Shore Acres feared the closure of B&N, which many on social media praised for its dedication to the community. If it weren’t replaced, it would’ve been the latest in a string of commercial closings in the neighborhood.
"It’s been there since I went to school at LCC in 1996," resident Laran Stover said. "It’s kind of like a landmark. The staff is friendly and know us. It’s the only source of supplies many of us have when we get flooded in."
On the Shore Acres Civic Association’s Facebook page, others expressed that same sentiment. At the same time, people complained about B&N’s apparent level of cleanliness and the type of crowd it attracts. When one member announced the plans for Islander Market, they were met with a long list of excited residents.
A manager for B&N declined to comment. Kapusta, the school board treasurer, said the school has given B&N until Sept. 1 to move out.
As the soon-to-be operator of Shore Acres’ only convenience store, Bell said he understands he has to be there for the neighborhood. "I have that sense of responsibility," he said. "I grew up here."
And, as long as safety permits, he plans to keep the store open for the community during storms.
Bell, who is eyeing an October opening, sees Islander Market as "kind of a full-circle thing."
He moved to St. Petersburg as a boy in 1983. The first place he visited alone was B&N; he had stopped there after getting lost while exploring the neighborhood by bike.
"We want to make sure it’s nice. I want it to be someplace the neighborhood can enjoy," he said of the new market. "I want it to be a place where families can ride their bikes up."
Just like him.
Contact Justin Trombly at [email protected] Follow @JustinTrombly.