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Save-A-Lot may take the place of Publix

A spokesman says the discount grocery is definitely considering the area in Coquina Key. Meanwhile, a petition effort is trying to keep Publix.

By SHARON BOND

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 26, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- Save-A-Lot, a grocery chain based in Missouri, appears to be the main contender to take over the Publix spot in Coquina Key Shopping Plaza.

"I know we are interested in the plaza and that area of the community," said Dan Kimack, manager of corporate communications for the chain. "I don't know specifically if it is the site Publix has. In conversations here at the home office, it is certainly being investigated."

Publix is closing its grocery at Coquina Key Plaza at 4350 Sixth St. S on Saturday evening after 42 years. Corporate spokesman Lee Brunson said the store has failed to meet financial projections for a number of years.

Area residents are protesting the closing by signing petitions to send to Publix. Brunson said petitions would have no impact on the decision.

Mayor David Fischer mentioned Save-A-Lot as the replacement grocery last week, and the store's manager was telling customers the same thing.

Ramdev USA Development Corp. in Canada owns Coquina Key Plaza. Vice president Jacob Attias would not confirm that the new tenant is Save-A-Lot.

"It's safe to say a chain is coming," Attias said. "I can assure you a very good chain will be there."

Attias also said that the store would be gutted and refitted for the new chain and that the facades in the small shopping center would be refurbished.

Save-A-Lot is a limited assortment grocery chain that claims to save 40 percent on the average grocery bill. The chain has 850 stores in 35 states, approximately 70 of which are in Florida, Kimack said. Six are in Pinellas County.

Its stores stock the most frequently purchased items, Kimack said. Save-A-Lots do not have seafood counters or floral shops, which increase overhead costs.

Kimack said Save-A-Lots are not discount groceries. They don't sell damaged products or stock items simply because they are cheap. They must be of higher quality.

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