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Low-cost grocery store to fill vacancy

A Price Buster grocery store, with 35 to 40 workers, will be paired with discounter Family Dollar Store.

© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 21, 2001

ST. PETERSBURG -- The new grocery at the Lakeview Shopping Center on 34th Street S is scheduled to open next week, occupying a huge space vacated this year by the Sunshine Thrift Shop.

Price Buster Food Centers Inc., the first of its chain in Pinellas County, is a limited- assortment grocery store that claims customers can save from 10 to 40 percent on their grocery bills.

Expected to arrive soon is the Family Dollar Store, which likes to pair with Price Busters.

"They've been opening places together all over the place," said Ira Mitlin of Mitlin Properties, the leasing agent for the shopping center.

Mitlin said the lease was not yet signed with Family Dollar, but he expects the discount store to occupy about two-thirds of the space formerly held by Miami Fashions, several doors down from Price Buster.

Family Dollar, founded in 1959 in Charlotte, N.C., carries what it describes as good-quality, low-cost basic merchandise.

Its arrival will mean two new stores in the front part of the shopping center that faces busy 34th Street S. Mitlin said he was negotiating with another retailer, which he did not name, to take the remaining third of the Miami Fashions space.

Price Buster had hoped to open before Thanksgiving but did not make it. At the end of last week, the store had signs up, checkout stations ready to be assembled, shelving installed, and coolers and freezers ready for meats and dairy products. Even some prices were up on the empty shelves: Country Prime Hi-Pro dog food, a 20-pound bag for $4.99. Food started arriving Sunday by the trailer load.

Price Buster is a subsidiary of Associated Grocers of Florida. The St. Petersburg store is its seventh location, according to Chuck Berry, a vice president in the organization.

"I think this came out really nice," Berry said last week. "We did everything: new floor, all new cases, new restrooms, new office space." He said the chain spent about $750,000 to transform the thrift shop space.

"We specialize in produce, and the meat department is our focus," Berry said. "We carry everything the supermarkets do; we just don't carry as many varieties."

The store will employ 35 to 40 workers, according to Dimitri Delgado, store manager, who said hiring already had begun. He said Price Buster will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, though the store may shorten the hours on Sunday.

"This is a good location for us," Delgado said of Lakeview, which is at the intersection of 34th Street and 22nd Avenue S. "There is no competition."

Price Buster is occupying the space that a Publix supermarket held when Lakeview Shopping Center was built in 1960. Publix left Lakeview in 1982 and was followed by Sun World supermarkets, which then left in the mid-1980s. Sunshine Thrift moved in and stayed 15 years. It left after its lease expired to find a more modern building.

Lakeview Shopping Center is owned by investors from New York, Mitlin said.

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