Local Businesses Angered Over Addition of New Family Dollar
Businesses near the proposed Family Dollar location at 5100 Florida Avenue are not happy about their new neighbors.
An issue is causing a stir within the Seminole Heights community surrounding a new Family Dollar location on Florida Avenue and some local business owners have made it clear which side of the divide they sit on.
At a recent meeting was staged by the owners of The Refinery, other local business owners from Sherry's Yesterdaze, Cleanse Apothecary, The Independant and several other local shops. Shop owners met with members of the community and attempted to identify a plan to move toward stopping the retail chain. That meeting berthed a website and fueled a Facebook movement. It also became the subject of a recent Tampa Bay Times article, which painted a scene with racial overtones.
"I was at that meeting and I'm disappointed with the article because it misconstrued the meeting as being racist," Cleanse Apothecary owner and Seminole Heights Patch blogger Gregory Curtis said. "For me it's not about anything like that, my store is for everybody, but it has a neighborhood feel that I want to keep and that is the issue we were there to address. Some of the things that were being said, I don't think people were thinking about how they might be taken."
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For Curtis, who opened his business on Florida Avenue nearly two years ago, the decision to move into his current location may have been altered if he'd known he'd eventually be sharing the block with Family Dollar.
"I don't know if I would have moved my store in here if I'd known Family Dollar was going to come in," Curtis said. "Seminole Heights is really about supporting local shops. I think a lot of people were disappointed when the NAPA Auto Parts moved in. We've been supported by the people around here because the community as a whole appreciates local business. It's not just Family Dollar, it would be any big chain box store that people would have a problem with, whether it was Target or Macy's."
Curtis is trying to view the addition of Family Dollar in the most positive light possible, however.
"It's not my first choice for something to fill that space, but we have to also look at it as being better than an empty building I guess," Curtis said. "Personally, I think the city needs to get involved and show their muscles. I feel bad for the people who live on that street. Would you want to live next to something like a Family Dollar or a nice local business like The Refinery? For a lot of people who have made a point to shop and eat locally, you don't want this here."
The City of Tampa says that currently, there is no need for a public hearing on the possible Family Dollar store coming to Seminole Heights.
Family Dollar seeks dialogue
According to Family Dollar Communication Director Josh Braverman, the company is willing to present renderings of the building and to discuss with the community why the location is a good fit for the area.
"Our next step is to get the rendering and then sit down and have a fruitful discussion with the neighborhood about expectations," Braverman said. "I think it's important for us to show that this new concept we have for a Family Dollar stores is one that people in the neighborhood can be proud of.
"We've gone into gentrified areas like this in other communities and we've been successful because this new format has brighter lights, better layouts, a good assortment of name brands and a store team that is responsive to the community."
Braverman did not provide a contact locally that concerned residents can get in touch with to ensure that they are part of the conversation. Chris Salemi, the property manager for Hunt Douglas Developers declined to comment on this article.