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Shapes closing South Tampa site amid Trader Joe's talk

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Published:   |   Updated: July 18, 2013 at 10:44 AM

As Trader Joe's zeroes in on a location in South Tampa where a Shapes gym currently stands, staff at the location have started telling members the site will close by month's end.

It's the latest turn of events in the widely watched drama over whether or not the quirky, California-based grocer will open a site in Tampa. Though relatively petite at each location, the Trader Joe's chain tends to drawn an outsized sense of loyalty among customers who often travel for miles for the organic and funky prepared meals, wines and frozen foods.

Trader Joe's is targeting a site at 3808 W. Swann Ave., just a few yards off South Dale Mabry Highway, and lawyers for the developers involved recently asked the city of Tampa for a rezoning to allow different locations for Trader Joe's signs on the proposed building - the first documented use of the "Trader Joe's" brand name in public records.

As for Shapes, members of the women's gym are being offered new contracts at other Shapes locations around town or at a Calta's 24-hour fitness and boxing gym 3.5 miles away on Gandy Boulevard.

Florida law allows gym members to cancel their contracts if a gym closes and does not offer a same-price membership at "a facility of equal quality" within five miles.

On Wednesday, staff at the Swann Avenue site confirmed a closure date of July 31.

Officials with Shapes at the Brandon headquarters have not responded to requests for comment, but other signs are emerging that the company is spinning down operations at the Swann site. The Facebook page for the South Tampa Shapes site has been removed, and though the location is still listed on the corporate website, links in that listing are deactivated.

rmullins@tampatrib.com

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