VALRICO — Nearly six years after the former Albertson's that anchored the plaza at the corner of Lithia Pinecrest Road and Bloomingdale Avenue closed, Sprouts Farmers Market is set to open in the same location at 7 a.m. on Wednesday (Feb. 21).
When the state's fifth Sprouts unlocks the doors for business in the newly-renamed renamed Valrico Landing center, it will be within short walking distance of three competitors, but it'll aim to attract more customers who frequent the nearby Publix than those who are accustomed to the Walmart on the other side of Lithia Pinecrest or the Fresh Market down the street.
"We have a fresh and natural selection – 90 percent are fresh or organic," said Diego Romero, communications manager for the Phoenix-based grocer. "We do see ourselves as competing against conventional grocers, and in particular when we expanded into Tampa, we believed we were bringing something that wasn't offered in Tampa."
Publix, long the state's dominant grocer, isn't publicly expressing any concern about one of its newest rivals.
"We welcome the competition," said Brian West, Publix media and community relations manager. "It makes us better and the customer always wins."
Sprouts, which has locations in South Tampa and Carrollwood and is adding a second Pinellas location later this year, will target customers with a new website and mobile app that helps them make shopping lists on the go.
It'll also offer an expanded Market Corner Deli (fresh salad bar), The Butcher Shop (20 varieties of ground sausages on site and custom meat cuts) and Fish Market (custom seasoned seafood). Some customers say the healthy options, with a quarter of every store devoted to fresh produce, makes Sprouts distinctive.
"I personally love shopping at both Publix and Sprouts," said Carrollwood resident Jennifer Jenkins. "Publix offers a lot of great buy one-get one options every week.
"Sprouts has a great selection of organic produce at a very reasonable price along with a great selection of bulk nuts, oats and dried fruits."
Like any grand opening, Sprouts has plenty of specials lined up. The first 200 shoppers in line will receive 20 percent off their total purchase. Muffin and coffee samples will be served to everyone in line before the doors open. Upon checkout, every 15th shopper will receive a coupon book featuring Sprouts savings and every customer will receive a reusable bag with their purchase.
Other deals for the weekend include five free deli items for the first 200 customers to make a purchase on Feb. 24. On Feb. 25, every 15th customer at checkout will receive a coupon for $5 off a purchase of more than $15 to use on their next visit.
As part of Sprouts' commitment to "zero waste," the new Valrico Sprouts will donate unsold and edible groceries to Feeding Tampa Bay through the grocer's Food Rescue program. In 2017, Sprouts stores and distribution centers donated 23 million pounds of product, equivalent to 19 million meals.
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Sprouts employs more than 27,000 team members and operates nearly 300 stores in 15 states. In 2017, Sprouts opened 31 new stores and plans to open approximately 30 more this year, including Clearwater, Winter Park and Naples. Visit about.sprouts.com for more information.
The renovated Valrico Landing center already includes a PetSmart and an Orange Theory. It's expected to add a Dairy Queen in an outparcel.
Times staff writer Ernest Hooper contributed to this story. Contact Eric Vician at ericvician@email@example.com.