SARASOTA — The Tampa Bay area hasn't had a new major mall since 2008, when the Shops of Wiregrass opened in Pasco County.
But, if you're willing to expand your horizon a bit, there's one opening a straight shot to the south.
The Mall at University Town Center opens Thursday in Sarasota, at Interstate 75 and University Parkway. It's a 50-mile drive from downtown Tampa and about 39 miles from downtown St. Petersburg....
TAMPA — When it comes to protecting companies against data breaches, experts say it isn't about stopping them. It's about minimizing the damage.
"Breaches are inevitable,'' said Jamey Dillon, senior manager at the security consulting firm Mandiant. "Our object is to make them as difficult as possible for (hackers) to do.''
Dillon was among several presenters at the Florida Center for Cybersecurity conference Wednesday at the University of South Florida. The state-funded center was established earlier this year at USF to help position Florida as a national leader in cybersecurity. The school's new master's degree program in cybersecurity prepares students for industry certification....
If they haven't already, vape shops are coming soon to a strip center near you.
Vape shops — those small stores selling electronic cigarettes and nicotine-laced liquid — are springing up everywhere, becoming as commonplace as nail salons and dry cleaners in many retail centers.
The reason is pretty clear. The market for electronic vapor products is expected to exceed $2 billion this year and climb to $10 billion by 2017. That's for both the disposable e-cigs sold at convenience stores and the more expensive, refillable devices sold at vape shops....
BOGO is a no-go at Walmart.
Starting Monday, the discount retailer will no longer match buy-one-get-one free offers at competitors' grocery stores in Florida, including Publix, its top rival.
Instead, Walmart wants shoppers to use its price matching program called Savings Catcher, which rolled out nationwide in August.
"Matching BOGO offers at Walmart's everyday low price has been a test that has only been executed in Florida stores,'' said Walmart spokeswoman Molly Blakeman. "With the introduction of Savings Catcher we have decided to end this test and align the policy in Florida with Walmart's company policy.''...
Calling all extreme couponers.
Publix is on to you.
Florida's largest grocery chain tightened its coupon policy Wednesday to discourage shoppers from overusing coupons and buying up everything on a shelf.
Among the changes, Publix now limits shoppers to using eight of the same coupons per day, per household. It defines a household as a single family, meaning you can't have your 3-year-old hand coupons to the cashier at checkout. The guidelines also limit dollars-off coupons to one Publix and one competitor's coupon per day, per household. All coupons must be original, not copied, and any individual coupon for more than $5 must receive a manager's approval....
10/01/14 The Feed
ST. PETERSBURG — Heather Van Nest has left as an evening news anchor at CBS affiliate WTSP-Ch. 10.
Van Nest posted a Facebook message Wednesday afternoon thanking her viewers.
"I am excited for new work opportunities that allow for more flexibility in my family life,'' she wrote. "Working until midnight with a 1-year-old son, 3-year-old daughter and husband at home is not ideal.''...
RUSKIN — Amazon's distribution warehouse is finally up and running in southeastern Hillsborough County.
The online retailer said Tuesday it shipped its first item, a Disney Frozen Ice Skating Anna doll, to a customer in New York.
Shipments began Sept. 24 from the 1-million-square-foot fulfillment center at 3350 Laurel Ridge Ave., near Interstate 75 and State Road 674 in Ruskin....
Martha and money. What more do you need?
That's the feeling of four Tampa Bay entrepreneurs seeking to win a Martha Stewart American Made Award. The 10 awards are given annually to small businesses devoted to quality craftsmanship and design.
The contest is part of ongoing efforts to support locally made products and shift shoppers from mini-malls to Main Street. Thousands of business owners nationwide applied for the nearly 1,000 finalist spots, 20 of which are from Florida....
TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn hasn't met a ribbon-cutting he doesn't like. One day he went to six, smiling for photos and speaking at each. Last week, he went to a groundbreaking of a Walmart supercenter in east Tampa, another seemingly routine event.
His message was anything but.
"This has been a food desert for a long time," Buckhorn said. "The folks in east Tampa have had to rely on convenience stores and get charged exorbitant prices for food that's not particularly healthy. … Now there will be healthy alternatives available."...
TAMPA — Pods aren't going the way of the escalator, aspirin and linoleum — for now at least.
Clearwater-based PODS moving and storage on Thursday was awarded $62 million in damages in a lawsuit against U-Haul over its use of the word "pods.''
The ruling marked a win over "genericide'' — the death of a trademarked word. PODS remains a legally protected trademark brand, even if people use the word frequently to describe a container used for moving....
Beef 'O' Brady's is serving pizza and flatbreads. California Pizza Kitchen is serving salmon, halibut and ribeyes.
Identity crises? Hardly. The restaurants have taken the attitude that when it comes to attracting diners, the more options, the better.
"In the casual-dining segment, variety is a big piece of being competitive," said Chris Elliott, CEO of Tampa-based Beef 'O' Brady's. "Any casual-dining restaurant, whether it be Chili's or Applebee's or Cheesecake Factory, they all have large menus. That's part of the niche."...
Last week I finally got my tax refund — nearly six months after I filed my return.
I could curse IRS bureaucrats for the delay but, really, it's not their fault. Some lowlife stole my identity and filed a return using my Social Security number.
Sadly, I'm not alone.
The IRS shelled out $3.6 billion in potentially fraudulent returns in 2012. That was actually an improvement over the previous year, but it's still an ugly number. The IRS identified more than 2.9 million incidents of identity theft in 2013 and has described identity theft as the No. 1 tax scam for 2014....
09/19/14 Personal Tech
That's how long some people stood in line to buy the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which hit store shelves Friday.
By 8 a.m. Friday, about 400 shoppers had lined up outside International Plaza waiting for the Apple store to open. Lines also snaked around Verizon, AT&T and other wireless stores across the region.
Many people hunkered down for the night in tents and folding chairs, dreaming about the moment when the next-generation iPhone would be theirs....
CLEARWATER — Sears has closed its standalone auto service center at Westfield Countryside mall as part of a nationwide strategy to save the struggling retailer.
The Sears Auto Center closed Saturday after decades at the Clearwater mall. A mall spokesman said a new tenant was taking over the space but couldn't release the name.
The closure is part of Sears' efforts to unload some of its vast real estate holdings by leasing space to other retailers or closing locations altogether....
Bryan Clayton knows not everyone likes to mow their lawn. But they also don't know who to hire and don't have the time to gather bids.
That's where his service comes in.
GreenPal connects homeowners with lawn care companies using a smartphone or desktop computer. Clayton cites Uber, a car service app, as its inspiration.
GreenPal works like this. A homeowner posts his lawn job and companies vetted by GreenPal bid for the work. The customer chooses one and reserves with a credit card. Once the job is done, the company uploads a photo of the finished product and the customer approves the payment....