New grocery store means more than just food to South St. Petersburg community

Walmart replaces old Sweetbay a year after closing

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Midtown Plaza on 22nd Street South in St. Petersburg has a new addition. One that has the community rejoicing.

"This is a blessing to the neighborhood," said a customer as he walked through the doors just after the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Walmart on Wednesday morning.

Dozens were lined up before the store officially opened at 7 a.m. Many told us the opening of the store meant the end to what they have been calling their "food desert."

The Midtown community says it's been this way since the Sweetbay Supermarket that used to occupy the space closed down in February 2013.

"Sometimes you can't stand at the bus stop because it's raining or it's cold," said Mamie Johnson who has lived in the area for decades.  "[I] had to pay [people] $10 to $20 just to take me to the grocery store and come back!"

Saudia Cason knows that feeling all too well. She grew up in the Midtown neighborhood, and most of her family still in the area. They've all been struggling without a grocery store in walking distance.

"A lot of people who don't have cars, like myself," Cason said. "So it's really convenient for people like the elderly who can't really get around."

The store's opening added nearly 100 jobs to the area, a reason people in the community say this grocery store is much more than a place to get food. It's a place the community can finally call their own.

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