Advertisement
  1. Business

Trader Joe's coming to St. Petersburg

Shoppers line up as they wait for the grand opening of a Trader Joe’s in Pinecrest in South Florida on Oct. 18. 
Shoppers line up as they wait for the grand opening of a Trader Joe’s in Pinecrest in South Florida on Oct. 18. 
Published Oct. 31, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG — First Tampa. Now St. Petersburg.

After years of scouring the Tampa Bay area for sites, Trader Joe's confirmed Wednesday that it will open a store on Fourth Street N at 28th Avenue N in St. Petersburg.

The specialty grocery chain said it has signed a lease for a new 12,500-square-foot store set to open late next year. The site is now home to the Ringside Cafe, Classy Closet, the 4th Street Boxing Club and other small businesses, which must move by year's end.

The announcement comes less than three months after Trader Joe's said it will open the region's first store at 3808 W Swann Ave. in Tampa. Construction there is under way.

The stores are part of a building boom in Florida for the California-based retailer, which is opening locations in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Orlando, Palm Beach Gardens, Wellington and Winter Park.

"Developers and retailers recognize that St. Petersburg is a city on the move,'' Mayor Bill Foster said. "The demographics, traffic counts and population supports having a first-class concept like Trader Joe's in the city.''

Foster has never shopped at a Trader Joe's but has heard the buzz. He expected that the company would start submitting paperwork for the project in November and would meet with abutting neighbors to ensure "all foreseeable kinks are worked out.''

Word of Trader Joe's plans started circulating about a month ago when business owners on the block were notified that the property was to be sold in January. A few have found new locations. Ringside Cafe, a popular restaurant and music venue, will move downtown to the Club Detroit spot at 16 Second St. N. on Dec. 1. Classy Closet, a clothing consignment store, will relocate to 540 Central Ave. on Dec. 14.

Ringside owner Greg Pugh said moving after 26 years is bittersweet.

"It's sad, but St. Pete is growing in a positive manner,'' he said. "It's hard to let go of some traditions, but the good news for us is that we're moving the tradition. We feel very good about it.''

Jeanette Ohanian isn't so sure. After four years, her consignment store, Classy Closet, has gained a following. Moving will be risky and expensive.

"I thought that St. Petersburg was about small shops,'' said Ohanian, who owns the store with her daughter, Alex. "We're taking away all these mom-and-pops and putting in banks and grocery stores on every corner.''

Still, she remains optimistic. "We'll pick up the pieces and go and hope our clientele will go with us.''

Jim McLoughlin, founder of the 4th Street Boxing Club, a hub for young fighters, doesn't know what the club's future holds. He has been looking at sites but can't find a comparable place the gym can afford.

"I'm not going to let the kids down,'' he said. "I'll find somewhere to train them, even if we have to go to a smaller space.''

Trader Joe's attracts a cultlike following with its distinctive products, affordable prices and private label brands. Local fans accustomed to traveling a long way to reach a store said they are thrilled at the idea of having two stores nearby.

"Finally,'' said Pat Mundy of Spring Hill, who road trips to Trader Joe's every several months. "I think it's wonderful. People are going to absolutely love it. I just hope there's enough parking.''

Store officials have said little about the new store except that it will sell beer and wine, including Trader Joe's famous Two Buck Chuck, which sells for $2.99 at most stores.

Trader Joe's is moving to a stretch of Fourth Street N that already has four grocery stores in the immediate vicinity — two Publix stores, a Fresh Market and a GFS Marketplace.

Steven Kirn, executive director of the David F. Miller Retailing Education and Research Center at the University of Florida, said Trader Joe's typically looks for central locations in densely populated areas, regardless of nearby competition.

Stores become destinations for shoppers looking for items they can't find at their traditional grocer.

"When you have something unique to offer that distinguishes you from the competition, then you become more fearless about entering a market,'' he said.

Susan Thurston can be reached at sthurston@tampabay.com or (813) 225-3110. Follow @susan_thurston on Twitter.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

  1. People fill Community Cafe as drag queen Viktoria Sommers reads a Dr. Seuss book to children during Drag Queen Story Hour.  [Times (2019)]
  2. Tampa Electric Co. announced plans to double its solar capacity over the next three years.  Pictured is a Tampa Electric worker installing a solar panel on the roof of the Tampa International Airport economy parking garage in 2015. [James Borchuck | Times (2015)]
  3. Wawa and Coppertail partnered to create a craft beer that will only be at the gas station's Florida locations.
  4. The Publix at Channelside (pictured) opened in late August. Now the new store at Westshore in Tampa will open later this month. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  5. Brian Davison is chief executive officer of Equialt, which bought this Safety Harbor home in a tax deed sale. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission contends in a new lawsuit that EquiAlt is a Ponzi scheme, and Davison has diverted investor funds for his own lavish personal spending. Times (2015)
  6. Daily recreations like this Bible scene at the Holy Land Experience in Orlando will end at the Christian theme park, which has been suffering from low attendance and debt for years.
  7. Madico spent $40 million developing its new corporate headquarters and factory on Belcher Road in Pinellas Park. [Amy Pezzicara | Pezz Photo]
  8. The developers of Avalon Park West in Wesley Chapel are planning a $736 million downtown core to accompany nearly 2,700 residences and 355,000 square feet of commercial and office space in a walkable neighborhood. . As part of the deal, Pasco County will consider kicking  in a $33 million 30-year incentive, mostly a tax rebate to help with infrastructure costs.
  9. Pasco County commissioners introduced an ordinance Tuesday governing upkeep of empty property after residents complained about the condition of the Links Golf Club in Hudson, which closed in June 2019.
  10. In this Aug. 8, 2015, file photo former owner of the San Francisco 49ers Edward DeBartolo, Jr., is interviewed before the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. President Donald Trump pardoned DeBartolo, who was convicted in gambling fraud scandal. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
  11. Outback Steakhouse at 4302 W. Boy Scout Blvd. near International Plaza and Bay Street. [Monique Welch | Times]
  12. Florida has some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country. [Courtesy of Clearwater Police]
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement