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Upscale fare sold at prototype grocery

What is most striking is the height of the ceiling or, really, the lack of a traditional ceiling in the new Kash n' Karry on N Dale Mabry Highway.

It soars, and it is lavender.

The new grocery is held out by Kash n' Karry officials as a prototype for the one planned for Midtown, at 18th Avenue S and 22nd Street in St. Petersburg. The chain announced recently it was closing a number of stores in Florida and concentrating its resources more on certain areas, including Tampa Bay. It will improve existing stores and build more upscale new ones.

At the Dale Mabry store just south of Columbus Drive, the ceiling is open with a crisscross of exposed pipes popular in lofts today. The difference here is that the ceiling and the pipes look as if they were sprayed with insulation and then painted lavender. Other colors include dark teal and purple on trim throughout the store, as well as aisle signs.

The signs are one of the better parts of this store, which opened in late May. They are plentiful. At the entrances and ends of aisles, signs hang listing what the shelves carry. The moment's bargains are advertised on signs at the ends of the aisles: "24 (pack of single roll) Charmin, 2/$10."

As a shopper goes down an aisle, smaller single-subject flags hang over subcategories. Down the international aisle, for example, the flags advertise Chinese, kosher, Mexican and Hispanic items.

The store appears to have more upscale items, more cheeses and wines, for example, than other Kash n' Karry stores. In addition to the bright colors, the produce area is decorated with large photos of its offerings: huge strawberries and yellow corn with kernels the size of grocery sacks.

The Dale Mabry store has a liquor store next door, which is in the plans for the Midtown store.

_ A version of this story first appeared in other regional editions.