When Winn-Dixie took over Sweetbay supermarkets in April, it swapped the signs and shopping carts but basically left the stores the same.
Shoppers saw the same faces working the registers and stocking the shelves. Every item from peanut butter to popcorn stayed in the same spot.
Long term, Winn-Dixie hoped to narrow gaps between stores and gain market share in an area dominated by Publix and, to a lesser but growing degree, Walmart. It wanted to succeed where Sweetbay had failed....
TAMPA — Eric Newman says taking cigars out of Ybor City would be like taking wine out of Napa Valley or Disney World out of Orlando. You just can't do it.
But that could very well happen, he says, if the Food and Drug Administration approves tighter regulations on tobacco products that would treat cigar manufacturers like cigarettemakers.
The president of J.C. Newman Cigar Co. says complying with the proposed requirements would be so cumbersome and cost-prohibitive that the cigar factory would have to close....
At a time when many retailers are struggling to find the best business model, David King has come up with one that works.
And it has nothing to do with the Internet.
Since opening Doma Home Furnishings in 2006, at the brink of the housing collapse, King has managed to stay afloat and grow. He has expanded his St. Petersburg store twice and opened a second location in Tampa.
"We had to learn to be lean and mean,'' he said. "It was about controlling costs and negotiating the best deal with our vendors.''...
Youfit Health Clubs is a company gaining muscle.
In the past few months, the low-cost fitness chain has opened five clubs in four states, including one in Carrollwood, its 70th overall. Next week, another opens in Miami, followed by two more in Atlanta and one in Dallas.
Just to keep track, J.J. Creegan, Youfit's director of operations, gets an email every Monday with the latest list....
Radio personality Mike Calta is staying on local airwaves.
But don't call him Cowhead. He retired the name in April and rebranded his show The Mike Calta Show.
Cox Media Group said it has signed a five-year contract to keep Calta at WHPT-FM 102.5 the Bone. Calta was expected to announce the news today during his afternoon drive show, from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays.
"It's a big relief,'' he said Monday while on vacation in New York. "This is my fourth contract with them, and the contracts keep getting longer. It's the company (I) want to work for for the rest of my life.''...
For fans of customer loyalty programs who don't want to carry another card, Publix is launching a website that allows shoppers to register for special offers.
Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw, speaking at the University of Florida's Retail Smarter Conference last week in Orlando, said the new site will help the company gather information and communicate with its customers without swiping a card at the register....
HSN's Mindy Grossman is one of several names being floated for Target's top job.
It seems doubtful Grossman would want to leave Florida for Minnesota, but she must be flattered. Target did $72.6 billion in sales last year. HSN did $3.4 billion.
Target is said to be looking for a fresh face to run the company after booting CEO Gregg Steinhagel in May as fallout for the holiday data breach....
YBOR CITY — Guavaween, one of the area's most famous and rowdiest parties, has new promoters who promise to revive and improve the flailing event.
The Ybor City Chamber of Commerce has selected Big City Events and 813Area.com to produce the decades-old Halloween party for the next three years.
Organizers plan to incorporate some of the party's signature elements — the Mama Guava Stumble Parade and costume contest — but keep it contained to one venue in Ybor for 6,000 to 8,000 people....
ST. PETERSBURG — The annual college football game played at Tropicana Field has a new name: Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl.
ESPN Events said Wednesday that BitPay, a bitcoin payment processor, will serve as title sponsor for the postseason game for the next three years, starting with this year's game on Dec. 26.
BitPay officials said fans will be able to buy tickets as well as hot dogs, beer and T-shirts at the stadium using the virtual currency, a first for a college football event. Digital wallet companies also will be on hand to educate and set up users with the currency. ...
ST. PETE BEACH — As president and CEO of the Global Retail Marketing Association, Stephanie Fischer rubs elbows with some of the top minds in retail. Her group's advisory board includes marketing officials from David's Bridal, Dunkin' Brands, Michael's, Havertys, eBay and Payless ShoeSource.
Her 14-year-old association connects retailers to share and develop ways to succeed in the fast-changing world of shopping. Efforts culminate with the annual GRMA Executive Leadership Forum, held in May at the Loews Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach....
A hot new barbecue concept is headed to Carrollwood.
Orlando-based 4 Rivers Smokehouse is opening at the Shoppes of Carrollwood, along N Dale Mabry Highway just south of Ehrlich Road.
The Texas-style smokehouse has a hearty following, especially among brisket lovers. It has four locations in the Orlando area and one each in Jacksonville and Gainesville.
The restaurant was founded by John Rivers, a pharmaceutical executive who started a barbecue ministry in 2004 to help a family whose daughter had cancer pay for medical bills. Five years later, he opened the first 4 Rivers Smokehouse, a faith-based company that donates to local schools and charities....
Amazon has put out another "We're hiring" sign, suggesting the retail giant is close to opening its distribution centers in Ruskin and Lakeland.
I'm not sure whether to celebrate or put my phone on mute.
For weeks, I've been inundated with calls asking for information about Amazon. Callers read my stories about Amazon opening warehouses in Florida and think I work for the online seller....
CLEARWATER — Bob DeCecco grew up around the TV ad slogan, "But wait, there's more!"
As a kid, he owned a Pocket Fisherman — the "biggest fishing invention since the hook!" — and a Mr. Microphone — "Hey, good lookin', we'll be back to pick you up later!"
DeCecco was in awe of Ron Popeil, the face of the handy-dandy Ronco gadgets, who recently retired after 50 years....
For fans of Busch Gardens, the numbers are as disappointing as a "closed for maintenance'' sign on their favorite ride.
While the Tampa Bay area continues to shatter tourism records, attendance at its top attraction (aside from beaches) dropped 6 percent last year.
That was the steepest decline of any of the top 20 amusement parks in North America and largest annual dip since the recession in 2009....
ST. PETERSBURG — Ten years ago, Robert Earl opened the first Earl of Sandwich shop at Downtown Disney, serving its signature roast beef, cheddar and horseradish sandwiches to tourists seeking fast, affordable food.
Since then, the chain has grown to 28 locations, including one in London, where another Earl — the 4th Earl of Sandwich — was credited with inventing the sandwich in the 1700s....