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TAMPA, Fla. -- Kash n' Karry said goodbye after more than 50 years in the Florida marketplace. Yesterday marked the end of a three-year transformation of the Delhaize Group-owned grocery store chain from the Kash n' Karry format to the food-centric Sweetbay Supermarket format.
"Kash n' Karry at one time was a strong brand and served as a pillar for the Tampa Bay community," said Shelley Broader, president and c.e.o. of Sweetbay Supermarket, in a statement. "We wanted to treat Kash n' Karry with respect and retire the company gracefully, and I am very proud that we have."
To celebrate the milestone, Broader was joined by her executive team, along with hundreds of Sweetbay associates and local dignitaries including mayor Ronald Kitchen, vice mayor Jim Farley, and city councilman Philip Price, in a ceremonial ribbon cutting and retirement party at the Crystal River store, which was the last store to be converted.
"These were exhausting and exhilarating years of transition and we couldn't have done it without the dedication and resiliency of our entire team," Broader said.
Kash n' Karry began in 1914 when Italian immigrant Salvatore Greco bought an old horse and wagon and began selling fruits and vegetables in the streets of Tampa. The Kash n' Karry name was adopted in 1962, and by 1970 the chain had grown to 48 stores.
By 1973 it expanded into 11 counties, and a distribution center was opened in Tampa in 1976. In 2001 Kash n' Karry joined the Delhaize Group, and in 2004, the company announced the creation of the Sweetbay Supermaket concept. Sweetbay was developed from extensive customer research in core markets.
The first Sweetbay opened its doors in Seminole in November 2004, with Ft. Myers and Naples opening stores shortly thereafter. In the following years, the supermarket accelerated store openings by one year, transforming 92 Kash n' Karry stores in three years. Today, there are 101 Sweetbay stores, with three more brand new units scheduled to open by the end of this year.
"The conversion of the last Kash n' Karry store is only the end of the beginning, and now our single focus is building a really successful regional supermarket chain," Broader said. "All of our effort and energy is now focused on improving and growing Sweetbay."