Sweetbay to close 33 'underperforming' stores throughout the state; half of those in bay area.

Closings will take place in mid-February

TAMPA, Fla. -   
"I just keep thinking, what are we going to do?" said shopper Jamie Jackson.

Jackson has been coming to what is now the Sweetbay store for fifteen years.  And today, she saw the sign out front informing customers that the store will be closing.

"I am severely disappointed.  It's going to make a huge negative impact on our community," Jackson explained.

Most of the people in and around this neighborhood that surrounds the Sweetbay, near Columbus Dr. and I-4, rely heavily on the store. Hazel Alcantara walks to the store most of the time, and was sad to hear about the closing.

"That's a hard thing for the whole neighborhood.  Because it's the only one around," she said.

The Sweetbay stores will remain open for about another month.  The pharmacy and liquor stores will shut down as well. That's a quick adjustment for many shoppers to make.

"In the communities where the grocery has functioned and provided a convenient place to shop for people, it's going to be a tough blow," said Alexis Muellner of the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

"They're going to feel like some family members have moved that they didn't really want to move. I mean, it's a store but it's part of their family," said Sweetbay shopper Al Corradini.

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, whose city is losing three Sweetbay's, immediately assembled key staff members and has talked with Sweetbay represtantives, vowing to make the situation a high priority in his city.

Cleve Fulwood, who owns the barber shop just a few feet from the Sweetbay, is concerned about more than just his business dropping off.

"I'm more shocked with the fact that, 'What are the people going to do in the area.  I'm more sad for that than anything.  Because these people really depend on Sweetbay being here," said Fulwood.


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