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Neighborhood Report

Produce stand is moving in

The Hyde Park Farmer's Market will occupy the Davis Boulevard site left vacant by George's Island Amoco.

By SUSAN THURSTON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 10, 2003

An old produce stand at Howard and Swann avenues has found a new home on Davis Islands.

Hyde Park Farmer's Market is moving to the former George's Island Amoco at 202 E Davis Blvd.

Owner John Sansone says he plans to tweak the name but not the concept. Like the former store, the Davis Island Farmer's Market will sell fresh produce, cut flowers and plants.

And, yes, bananas will still go for a cheap 33-cents-a-pound.

Sansone closed the Hyde Park stand in October after 13 years. He and his daughters replanted the flower business at the corner of MacDill and Cypress avenues but wanted another spot for the produce stand.

He found it on Davis Islands, less than 21/2 miles from his old store.

"It's basically where our customer base is," Sansone said. "A lot of people who used to shop at the Hyde Park market live on Davis Islands."

Sansone signed a six-year lease for the Davis property, with an option to extend. He hopes to open within a month, after renovations.

By Monday, word was already out. A lot of people noticed Sansone working on the store over the weekend and stopped to inquire.

"It was amazing," he said. "Car after car going to the restaurants (on Davis Boulevard) were all saying hello and honking."

The market comes as a welcome addition to many people in the small, tight-knit community. The only neighborhood supermarket closed in October, forcing locals to go off-island for fresh produce.

The store replaces the Amoco gas station run by George DeLeary. He reluctantly closed in November after 23 years, disappointing many loyal customers who relied on his shop for lube jobs and minor auto repairs.

The landlord, Vince Palori, rented the property to Radiant Oil Company, which for years subleased it to DeLeary. When Palori and Radiant didn't renew their lease, DeLeary was forced out.

Rumor had it that an office building would replace the station, but it didn't materialize.

DeLeary said Tuesday that neighborhood opposition may have partly nixed the deal. He still feels bad about leaving but suspects it was for the best. He pays less at his new garage on Howard, George's Off-Island Repair Shop.

"I wish them all the luck," he said. "I don't have any hard feelings toward anyone."

-- Susan Thurston can be reached at 226-3394 or .

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