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Sarasota’s Detwiler’s says no plans for St. Petersburg store — for now

The family-owned and operated grocery store chain says that despite reports it does not have plans for a St. Petersburg store.

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 3:55 p.m. June 10, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Image via Detwiler's Farm Market/Facebook
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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Despite a weekend’s worth of chatter about Detwiler’s Farm Market opening a new store in St. Petersburg, an actual deal for the move is — for now at least — nonexistent.

In a statement Monday, Detwiler's said that “We have not secured any locations in the St. Pete area but we are always looking for options in surrounding areas and we never know when opportunities will allow us to expand.”

Talk of the chain opening a new store in a St. Petersburg shopping center began late last week when a developer working on a proposed redevelopment of the city-owned Tangerine Plaza at 1794 22nd St. S. casually mentioned in a city council meeting that his organization had been in talks with Detwiler's.

Speaking at that Thursday meeting, Louis Murphy, a partner with the Sugar Hill Group and a pastor at Mount Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, said his company had “been in negotiations” with the family owned and operated Detwiler’s about the possibility of it opening a new grocery store when the property was redeveloped.

He spoke about how the chain’s offerings would not only benefit local residents with little access to grocery stores but would be an economic driver attracting people to the center and the neighborhood.

“There are people that travel from as far as Clearwater, New Port Richey to go to the store that is in the Palmetto, Bradenton area,” Murphy said. “So again, (we’re) just super excited about that. We need to have folks to stimulate the economy, we need to revitalize.”

But Murphy also said that “we don't want to say a whole lot about it. Because again, we don't have site control. So, we really can't negotiate anything, we’ve just been in discussions.”

Tangerine Plaza, on the site of a former Walmart Neighborhood Market and in an area largely underserved with grocery options, is being redeveloped into a mixed-use development that will include 115 affordable housing units and 10,000 square feet of retail, including no less than 3,000 square feet set aside for a grocery store.

As part of its agreement with the city, which was approved 5-3 Thursday, Sugar Hill has 18 months to secure the funding necessary for the development of the property and to provide a commitment letter for a grocery store for a term of not less than five years.

Once the work is done, Sugar Hill will have the option to lease the property or purchase it for $1.5 million.

Detwiler’s, given its focus on fresh fruits, meats and low pricing, would be an ideal grocer for the area which is need of options. And, despite Monday’s denial, anyone who has tracked commercial real estate and retail happenings well knows that today’s “no” easily becomes tomorrow’s “yes.”

Detwiler’s, according to its website, traces its history to Franconia, Pennsylvania. That’s where family patriarch Henry Detwiler Sr. writes in a history of the chain that he and his brothers were taught “the trade of butchering and retailing at Franconia Meats.”

The family went on to sell produce as well as Amish barns and outdoor furniture in the late 1990s in Farmville, Virginia, a rural town about an hour outside of Richmond. Next, Detwiler writes, the family had a tent at Sutter Egg Farm in Sarasota before starting at the Fruitville Grove Market “where we learned so much about local Florida produce and our loyal Sarasota customer base was born.”

The family's first Detwiler’s Farm Market Store opened on Palmer Boulevard.

Today it runs six stores in Sarasota and Manatee counties and recently broke ground on a 133,000-square-fot warehouse and distribution center at Florida International Tradeport in northeast Manatee.

Elizabeth King contributed to this report.



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the deputy managing editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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