Friday, April 20, 2018
Business

Two Publix stores win loyal customers on both sides of Fourth Street

ST. PETERSBURG — Five years ago when Publix bought 49 Albertsons stores across the state, local shoppers quickly questioned what would happen to the seemingly redundant situation at 38th Avenue N and Fourth Street.

On the west side sat an Albertsons and on the east, a Publix. Would the Lakeland grocery company close one or convert it to its "healthier" Greenwise concept? Neither.

After a facelift, the Albertsons reopened as a Publix, or "Publixons" as many shoppers nicknamed it. Despite continued rumors along the way of closings or new concepts, five years later both stores continue to operate just a few hundred yards from each other.

"We are happy with the performance of both of those stores and we are fortunate they're doing so well in such close proximity," said Publix spokesman Brian West.

There are no plans to alter what seems to be the redundant locations, he said. There are enough shoppers in the area to support both stores.

"It's very common to have stores in very close proximity," West added. "I know we have stores that are just a few blocks from other in Miami."

But these are the only two that are more or less across the street from each other in the five states where Publix operates.

The stores are so close, in fact, that if a shopper finds one is out of a certain product a Publix employee will go to the other store and fetch it. Those are the only two stores with such an agreement, West stressed.

Shoppers interviewed by the Tampa Bay Times recently at the two stores were not aware of the convenient customer service, but each had a reason for shopping on the east or west side of the street.

Amy Willoughby has been shopping at the original Publix for a decade. She tried the converted Albertsons a few times but came back to her grocery roots.

"I didn't feel that familiarity at (the converted Publix). I can find things easier here," she said while pushing her 7-year-old daughter, Reese, into the original store at 200 37th Ave. N.

"I just never bothered to change," said customer Sal Schantz, as she exited the original Publix. "I know some people like it over there but it doesn't make much sense to me."

Brooke Mitchell came to the area four years ago and sampled both Publix stores. She opted for the one on the west side at 3700 Fourth St. N.

"This parking lot is so much better than the other one. With all the other shops in the shopping center it's harder to find a place to park over there," she explained.

Barbara Merrill shopped at the first Publix from 1999 until the new one opened. The parking lured her to break tradition and head west.

"The store is less crowded, too. It took a little while to get used to it but now I like it a lot. I can run in and out faster," she said.

Richard Storer has bought his groceries on the west side of Fourth Street since it was Skaggs Albertsons 40 years ago, he said with a smile. He prefers it now because of the wider aisles. His daughter has limited mobility and can get around on her crutches much easier in the bigger store that was Albertsons.

"It's convenient for us and gives her a chance to walk," he said, adding: "We've always shopped here."

Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8785.

Comments
Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

Florida continues to coast with relatively low unemployment and modest job gains. In March, for the sixth straight month, the state’s jobless rate was 3.9 percent. Florida added 13,800 jobs over the month.Tampa Bay’s unemployment rate was 3.6 percent...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Tampa Bay foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa has violated numerous rules of professional conduct and caused two clients to nearly lose their homes because he failed to tell them about settlement offers from their banks. In preliminary findings of ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

Associated PressNEW YORK — SunTrust Banks Inc. says accounts for 1.5 million clients could be compromised following a potential data breach. The Atlanta bank says that it became aware of the potential theft by a former employee and that the investiga...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

The Tampa Bay Times recently sat down with Walmart director of corporate communications Phillip Keene to chat about the retail giant’s latest retail strategies and how the company is winning over customers in a competitive market.Already, two of the ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

The Tampa Bay area’s hotel occupancy rate rose to 87.5 percent in March, the highest level in three years. The rise was fueled by spring break vacationers as well as insurance adjusters and hurricane cleanup crews flooding the state to restore it aft...
Published: 04/20/18
St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

ST. PETERSBURG — Beef jerky, mayonnaise and Altoids mints were the only edible things in view inside one of the houses. There was no running water. The refrigerator was empty. A bed sat on top of the deteriorating living room floor. Cigarette butts b...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Marriott Edition to bring five-star hotel ambitions to Water Street Tampa

Marriott Edition to bring five-star hotel ambitions to Water Street Tampa

TAMPA — At the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City, hotelier Ian Schrager transformed a Jazz Age building with its own rich history into a destination offering even more heady experiences — extravagant, edgy and bohemian.In Tampa, Schrager will have...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

TAMPA — Developers on Thursday detailed plans for what they touted as the tallest building on Florida’s west coast, with condominiums priced in six and seven figures and a shimmering glass design they say would stand out in the skylines of New York, ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
The St. Pete Pier takes another step forward

The St. Pete Pier takes another step forward

ST. PETERSBURG — Development of the city’s long-awaited pier advanced another step Thursday.The City Council approved a $15 million construction contract and additional money to design a waterside restaurant, build a playground and ferret out naming ...
Published: 04/19/18
Free rides on PSTA and HART buses to celebrate Earth Day

Free rides on PSTA and HART buses to celebrate Earth Day

Those who use mass transit across the Tampa Bay area can ride for free on Sunday.To celebrate Earth Day, both the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) will be offering free rides on Su...
Published: 04/19/18