Seminole Heights group doesn't want Family Dollar in their neighborhood
Some residents in a historic Tampa neighborhood donât want a discount big box store put up in their neighborhood. The No Family Dollar in Seminole Heights group says the area boasts some of the cityâs best local businesses and they want to keep it that way.
Itâs the kind of community where business owners like Jordan Miller bring their dogs to work because they can. Radar spends most of his time in Millerâs bike shop on Central Avenue in Seminole Heights. A window cling saying âlocal is the new blackâ hangs in the window, echoing the sentiment of the groupâs beef with Family Dollar in their neighborhood. But Miller said thereâs more to their opposition than that.
âMost of them that I hear seem to be, not so much the opposition of Family Dollar as a company and the things that they sell and the customers that they attract because they have customers in this neighborhood. I think there are more Family Dollar customers than people want to admit.â
Instead, Miller is worried about the logistics of having a large store in an area where small business reigns supreme. Heâs watched other Family Dollar stores and noted that there tends to be at least one delivery by a pretty big truck each day. Thatâs something Miller said just wonât work on the portion of Florida Avenue where one-way traffic turns into two-way.
âThe trucks are supposed to be on DOT roads â theyâre supposed to be on Florida Avenue. Well, I guarantee their deliveries arenât always going to come on Florida Avenue. Theyâre going to come up cross streets. That means theyâre going to come up Wilder. Theyâre going to come up Haya which are two residential streets that were never even constructed for that type of traffic.â
But disabled Seminole Heights resident Mauricio Rosas doesnât mind the idea of having a Family Dollar erected in their neighborhood. He suspects the group opposing the new business is more concerned about the type of customers a discount store could attract.
âWe donât have $100,000, $200,000 people who live in this area in abundance â sure there are, but the majority of people in this general area I believe itâs like $56,000 or so as a medium wage. And when they do say âthese peopleâ to me it does say just low income or homeless or whatever. Thatâs not nice.â
Another problem the âNo Family Dollarâ group has is that there are enough of the stores in the area already. Their website lists five locations within a two and half mile radius of the proposed new store. But Family Dollarâs Braverman said that is part of the companyâs business model where, on average, stores are only a mile and half away from each other generally separated by man-made or natural boundaries.
âA lot of those natural trade boundaries would be things like highways. So itâs my understanding that some of those stores that are within close proximity to this particular location are on the other side of a major highway. So when you think about the convenience that we provide and the communities that we serve, itâs really about being right there where people live.â
And the close proximity of stores caters to some of the storeâs target demographic which includes people who donât drive like disabled resident Rosas. He gets around on foot or on his tricycle with his Black Lab guide dog Rosco. Rosas said the store will be a benefit to him and he doesnât understand why so many residents are making such a fuss.
âItâll bring more people from the community. Theyâll get to see the other stores that are there â the restaurants. That should be a good thing.â
The building on the 5100 block of Florida Avenue is currently occupied by several small businesses that have been given eviction notices. Family Dollarâs Braverman said the previous property owner handled those tenants, not his company.
âItâs my understanding that the tenants there were given ample notice that was in their lease agreement. None of them were on long-term leases. Most of them were on short-term leases because they knew that the possibility of a sale by the owner of the property was a real possibility.â
Family Dollar opponents still worry those businesses will have a hard time relocating in a struggling economy. But Keith Shaller, CEO of Van Gogh Signs which is one of the businesses moving out wrote in an email:
"I have never had a better business relationship than the one I have with the owners who lease us our space here. They have been nothing but honest and upfront about their intentions."
But company is trying to consider residentsâ concerns. Josh Braverman, spokesperson for Family Dollar, said there are over 7,000 stores nationwide and they want to work with the community to make sure the store works in its unique community.
âBut we treat every store differently so theyâre not cookie cutter stores. We want to work with the community to ensure that itâs something that we can all be proud of and be proud to have in the community.â
And Braverman said efforts are already underway to work with the opposition group who has taken to social network sites to get their message out.
âWell, obviously we are monitoring the Facebook site so folks could post questions there if they like and we could try to answer them there. I know that our real estate teams out in the field are meeting with some of the local leaders and business leaders out in the community so I think the conversations are starting and I think that those answers will start to come out very quickly.â
Seminole Heights business owner Miller said he doubts that will do any good.
âTheyâre not going to share site plans with the community. Theyâre not going to do it unless they have to and theyâre not going to entertain input where people want to give it. It doesnât make sense. Itâs not cost effective.â
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