St. Petersburg community fighting to save Sweetbay store, press conference to be held in Midtown

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The fight to save at least one of the doomed Sweetbay Grocery stores in the Bay area takes center stage in St. Petersburg today.

Just last week, the grocery chain put out the word that it's closing 22 stores locally, leaving thousands out of a job.

The people in midtown say the Sweetbay grocery store brought new life to this neighborhood not unfamiliar with hard times.

In fact, the people who live here, fought for some time to even have this open next to their front doors.

Midtown residents and leaders are joining with St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster and other Pinellas representatives later this morning for a press conference that could very well tell corporate Sweetbay that the loss of their store -- could send them back into an economic glum.

The store on 22nd street in Midtown opened about five years ago. Before then, people living here resorted to convenience stores -- and the opening was heralded as the beginning of revitalization.

But the announcement that came down last week hit them hard -- they along with 21 other neighborhoods -- would lose a Sweetbay that was deemed underperforming -- within a month.

Mayor Foster says even if the Sweetbay model doesn't work out -- something will.

"I guarantee that were going to have a vendor in there that's committed to serving the needs of an entire community and midtown -- so were going to find somebody committed and we're going to work on that with great haste," he said.

The press conference is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. this morning and

area leaders say not only is a grocery store at stake -- but the livelihood of at least 70 employees and the countless others who live here.

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