Advertisement
  1. Business

Lucky's Market opens in St. Petersburg, lures shoppers with low-priced organic produce (w/video)

Lucky's Market in St. Petersburg will open on Wednesday, June 6. [EVE EDELHEIT | Times]
Published Jun. 5, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — The latest grocery store in town is vying for your dollars with the promise shoppers will not only find organic produce and meats at low prices, but also have a good time doing it.

Lucky's Market, inside part of the former Sears block at the Tyrone Square Mall, held its soft opening on Tuesday with its grand-opening slated for Wednesday . Sip wine while you shop — the carts have cup holders. Chuckle at the store's private label quips — it's not just a bag of frozen fruit, it's Sir-Mix-a-Lot of Berries and Bohemian Raspberries.

"We want our shoppers to have fun while they're pushing the grocery cart," said the store's director, Curt Rotrock.

On Tuesday morning, shoppers trickled in to explore Tampa Bay's first Lucky's during the unannounced opening. They were greeted by tables of organic produce, bright lights and a rustic aesthetic similar to that of Whole Foods with prices more akin to Trader Joe's.

"It's like if those two stores had a baby, you'd get this one" said shopper Robin Thill, 54.

She lives about a half-mile from the new Lucky's and came inside as soon as she noticed it was open for business. She stood in the produce section surveying the rest of the store, deciding where she wanted to hit next. A few items in and she said she was already hooked. She scored a good price on Dr. Bronner's toothpaste and was thrilled with the fresh, chopped and ready-to-cook bulk stir-fry mix.

She showed off chives she said were priced 30 cents lower than competitors. In the surrounding stands were cantaloupes for 98 cents; four for $1 mangos and avocados for 98 cents each.

"And that's for organic," she said. "You're not getting that at Publix."

The closest Publix had a non-organic avocados on a four for $5 deal — $1.25 a pop. Cantaloupes at that same Publix were $2.99 each. On sale, a pound of Lucky's strawberries was 98 cents. At Publix, it was three 1-pound cartons for $6.

Rotock said while sales were "heated up" for the store's opening, customers can expect consistently low and competitively priced produce.

If it seems like cutthroat pricing battle, that's because it is — especially in Florida where there's a growing market.

Read more: New grocery chains are popping up across Florida — unlike most of the country

Last year, most states saw grocery openings drop on average of 29 percent, according to real estate brokerage firm JLL. In Florida, by contrast, the square-footage of grocery store openings grew by 6 percent.

Speciality grocery stores have exploded in the area: There's Sprouts Farmer's Market in Hillsborough and North Pinellas and Earth Fare is in Seminole and Oldsmar. Big-box stores like Winn-Dixie have been struggling, but the store's parent company opened two new Fresco y Más stores in Tampa and one in Orlando. The Miami-based brand has been a hit with customers, according to the company's CEO, and could expand to more locations in the future.

Read previous coverage:A first-look at the Tampa Fresco y Más stores replacing Winn-Dixie this week

Because there are no Whole Foods locations in St. Petersburg (the nearest are in Clearwater or Tampa), Lucky's shoppers said on Tuesday they were thankful to have something specializing in organic foods nearby.

Lucky's also boasts a juice bar, cafe, ramen and sushi bar and ready-to-make dinners for two as low as $9.99. An apothecary section has a bar where shoppers can make their own body scrub or shop essential oils and natural remedies.

Unlike Trader Joe's, which is strictly private labels, Lucky's carries a few well-known brands like NyQuil, Silk and Campbell's, in addition to its expansive private label. The company says it then uses 10 percent of the private label sales to donate to the community.

Lucky's Florida expansion began in early 2017, when it announced it would open at least six new Florida stores — the next closest to Tampa Bay being in Sarasota.

The store markets itself as having organic food for the "99 percent." It was started by two Colorado chefs who wanted a one-stop shop for foodies. Lucky's is a cook's paradise, said Rotrock.

Grains and other cooking ingredients are available fresh and in bulk so shoppers can get only what they need for recipes, he said. The store prides itself on having low-priced staples such as $6.99 in-house smoked bacon, $5 wine, 99-cent coconut water, and two for $5 cartons of cage-free eggs.

MORE:Go here for all business news

Rotrock, who has been in grocery retail for three decades, is from Tampa. So he remembers when the very floor he was standing on was a Sears, which closed in 2016 to make way for a Dick's Sporting Goods, Five Below and, of course, Lucky's. Now, even more Sears are closing — likely making room for even more in-demand speciality stores.

The new Lucky's has hired 190 people and Rotrock suspects the area will wooed by the store's prices and variety.

And in case you're seeking recommendations: his favorite prepared item is the in-house chicken salad.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Casey Cane has resigned as chair of Pinellas County’s Housing Finance Authority in the wake of a Tampa Bay Times story about his failure to disclose an arrest for a financial felony when he was 19. He also serves as a Palm Harbor fire commissioner. Casey Cane
    Casey Cane failed to disclose his arrest for a financial felony in 2006. He said he didn’t think he had to reveal that information.
  2. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor speaks to about 75 people Tuesday at a city conference on innovation and collaboration. (City of Tampa photo by Janelle McGregor) Janelle McGregor
    City Hall brought together startups and the nonprofits that nurture them for a discussion of possible ideas to improve city operations and service.
  3. Tampa Bay Lightning owner and financier Jeff Vinik told investors in a letter Tuesday that he is closing Vinik Asset Management, the hedge fund he relaunched earlier this year. (Times files)
    The Tampa Bay Lightning owner and longtime financier announced the decision to close Vinik Asset Management in a letter to investors on Wednesday.
  4. Pat and Harvey Partridge visit Waiheke Island in New Zealand in April. Courtesy of David Partridge
    The husband-and-wife team that founded St. Petersburg’s Partridge Animal Hospital were known for their compassion and kindness to all creatures great and small.
  5. The lobby bar at the Current Hotel on Rocky Point in Tampa serves eclectic cocktails and locally brewed coffee. SARA DINATALE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Take a look inside Tampa Bay’s newest boutique hotel.
  6. The Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee. SCOTT KEELER  |  Times
    The Tampa Bay Partnership, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and Tampa-Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. filed a brief in the Florida Supreme Court.
  7. Tech Data's headquarters in Largo. TD AGENCY  |  Courtesy of Tech Data
    Largo’s Tech Data would be the fourth in as many years, though the potential sale seems far from a done deal.
  8. Former WTSP-Ch. 10 news anchor Reginald Roundtree, shown here with his wife Tree, filed a lawsuit Friday against his former employer alleging he was fired because of age discrimination and retaliation. [Times file] WTSP  |  FACEBOOK
    The suit comes after a federal agency took no action on age discrimination complaints he had filed.
  9. Guests of the Flying Bridge at the Tradewinds Resort, which is now under new ownership. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
    The new owner says he plans to keep its management and 1,100 employees.
  10. The University of South Florida has earned national accolades for its push to raise graduation rates. Student loan debt in Florida is so crushing that it makes it hard to afford a house.
    Staggering debt loads make it hard to buy a home.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement