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St. Petersburg, Florida - For now there's still the rattle of carts at this St. Petersburg Sweetbay, but news of its pending closure has shoppers rattled.

"Very sad, very disappointed," says 81-year-old Dorrie Belcher, who sometimes walks to the store.

"It's a great asset to the neighborhood," says Kenneth Peterson, heading to the store's pharmacy. "It's going to be greatly missed. It's convenient for a lot of people in the neighborhood."

The Midtown store opened to much fanfare in 2005 as the blighted neighborhood's first grocery store. Midtown is mostly poor and mostly black and the store helped revitalize the community. Right across the street there's now a new credit union and just down the block a Dollar General store.

And other businesses in the Tangerine Plaza, like Meme's Beauty Gallery, now worry about losing the grocery store traffic. "Yes, definitely we're used to it. Someone could just be going grocery shopping and they happen to see us and come get their hair and nails did," says Janae Harris, while working on a girl's nails.

The city of St. Petersburg put $1.3 million into helping secure land and construct the plaza and Mayor Bill Foster says it's important to keep a grocery store in the neighborhood. He says he's already reached out to Sweetbay and he intends to contact other chains as well.

"If Sweetbay, via Portland, Maine and Belgium where these decisions are made, if they're not committed to St. Petersburg and the Midtown community, we'll find somebody that is," says Foster, who has called a news conference on Monday to speak about the store.

And shoppers like Belcher, used to a store right around the corner, certainly hope city officials can find a new store-- "As fast as they can".



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