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Justine Griffin, Times Staff Writer

Justine Griffin

Justine Griffin covers retail business and tourism for the Tampa Bay Times. She is a native Floridian who spent most of her childhood in Pasco County. Prior to coming to the Times in 2015, she worked for the St. Augustine Record, the Sun Sentinel and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, where she gained national attention for her retail coverage and for a longform article she wrote about her experience as an egg donor. Justine is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she studied journalism. She's an equestrian. Her horse is named Belinda.

Phone: (727) 893-8467


Twitter: @SunBizGriffin

  1. Tampa Bay's first Sprouts Farmers Market opens Wednesday


    TAMPA — The first thing I noticed when I walked into the Sprouts Farmers Market in the Carrollwood Commons shopping plaza in Tampa Tuesday was the produce section.

    Avocados. Dozens of colorful kinds of peppers. Limes, oranges and lemons. I've toured many grocery stores during my tenure as a retail reporter: Earth Fare when it opened in Seminole, Lucky's Market in Naples, Whole Foods 365 in Seattle, just to name a recent few. But the produce department in Sprouts is hard to miss. Located right in the middle of the store, it's one of the biggest I've seen. ...

    Sprouts Farmers Market will open a store in Carrollwood on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Sprouts Farmers Market.
  2. Why would these two St. Petersburg entrepreneurs want to open a used bookstore in the Internet age?


    ST. PETERSBURG —The age of Amazon and online shopping has left a litany of retail casualties in its wake.

    Bookstores in particular have been hit hard by online marketplaces where shoppers can virtually find any book they want and have it shipped to their home with just a few clicks of the mouse.

    But that doesn't deter Tim Russell and Bobby Hauske, who are about to open a used bookstore in Tyrone Square Mall next month....

    Tim Russell, foreground, and his partner Bobby Hauske, sort through books at the warehouse at 4143 118th Ave N in Clearwater. The business is a reseller of used books which are catalogued and resold by the company at a high volume on The company in March is opening a used bookstore at the Tyrone Square Mall, with plans to have more than 100,000 books on the shelves.

  3. Winn-Dixie is beefing up its private label brands


    Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of Winn-Dixie, is rolling out a new and revamped line of private label products in its latest bid to stand out in a sea of grocery shopping options.

    So Winn-Dixie, Bi-Lo, Fresco Y Mas and Harvey's shoppers can expect to see and taste thousands of new and updated private label products in nearly all store departments, from household goods to canned vegetables. Some stores already have a few of these new items on the shelves. ...

    Southeastern Grocers President and CEO Ian McLeod shows off the new "Kitchen" area in their newly remodeled Hyde Park grocery store. Winn Dixie recently accounced its new line of private label products. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  4. Carnival Paradise to sail to Cuba from Tampa


    TAMPA — Carnival is the latest cruise line to offer cruises to Cuba from Port Tampa Bay.

    The Carnival Paradise ship will begin offering voyages from Tampa to Cuba beginning June 29, the cruise line announced Tuesday.

    The overnight visits to Havana will be featured on 12 different four- and five-day cruises from Tampa.

    Four-day cruises will depart June 29, July 13, Aug. 24, Sept. 7 and 21, and Oct. 5 and 19, as well as May 3, 2018, and include a daytime and overnight visit to Havana. Five-day voyages will depart Aug. 14 and 28, Sept. 25 and Oct. 9, and include a daytime and overnight visit to Havana as well as a stop in either Cozumel or Key West....

    The Carnival Paradise ship will begin offering voyages from Tampa to Cuba beginning June 29.

  5. Virage Bayshore takes shape at former Colonnade site on Tampa's Bayshore Boulevard

    Real Estate

    The condominium tower under construction at the former site of the Colonnade restaurant on Bayshore Boulevard has a name: Virage Bayshore.

    The Virage Bayshore will be a 24-story, 71-unit tower with views of Hillsborough Bay and the downtown Tampa skyline. The site at 3401 Bayshore Blvd. is considered the last unclaimed parcel on Bayshore Boulevard zoned to be a high-rise tower, according to a press release. ...

    Plans for Virage Bayshore call for a new level of luxury in the Tampa Bay market, with a tower topping out at 24 stories and  71 units. The site at 3401 Bayshore Blvd. is the last unclaimed parcel on Bayshore zoned for a high-rise tower. Photos courtesy of Virage Bayshore
  6. Gov. Rick Scott visits Tampa to defend economic incentives, tourism programs

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Less than a week after a Florida House committee voted to kill the state's job incentives program and tourism marketing agency, Gov. Rick Scott rallied local tourism and economic development leaders in Tampa Bay to help fight back.

    While Scott's rallying cries were well supported by the many in the hospitality and economic development communities in Tampa Bay who showed up to listen Monday, his message did not do much to soothe the fears many of them have about a future without Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. ...

    Gov. Rick Scott visited the Museum of Science and Industry Monday to defend funding Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. Photos courtesy of MOSI
  7. Lucky's Market plans further expansion into Florida this year


    ST. PETERSBURG — Lucky's Market, a natural and organic foods grocer from Colorado, announced it will open at least six new stores in Florida over the next 18 months.

    The first Lucky's Market coming to the Tampa Bay area is opening in the summer of 2018 as part of a redevelopment project at Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg.

    Seritage Growth Properties, a New York based real estate developer, is moving forward with plans to demolish the 188,515-square-foot Sears store to make way for a new 151,952-square-foot shopping center, according to building permits filed in St. Petersburg. Leases have already been signed with Dick's Sporting Goods, Lucky's Market and Petsmart, with room for one more anchoring retailer. ...

    Lucky's Market opened its first store in Naples, Fla. The organic grocer has plans to expand in Florida. Photos by Justine Griffin, Times Staff Writer
  8. A rocky road ahead for Macy's stores in Tampa Bay


    TAMPA — The going out of business banners are visible from Fowler Avenue as drivers pass by the ailing University Mall.

    Soon, the mall's anchoring Macy's department store will close.

    When Macy's announced it would close 68 stores nationwide this year amid slumping sales, the three stores from the Tampa Bay area that made the closure list seemed to make a lot of sense. University Mall near the University of South Florida campus has been struggling for a long time. Same with the Lakeland Mall. And clearly Sarasota didn't need three Macy's department stores in one market. ...

    Macy's is one of the department stores at the Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel.  The open-air mall is home to more than 70 stores including Barnes & Noble, Macy's and Forever XXI. 
[Times staff photo]
  9. Tampa airport chief Joe Lopano, other airport execs meet with Trump (w/ video)


    President Donald Trump called for a boost in infrastructure spending in a meeting with top U.S. airline and airport executives today, promising to roll back regulations and remake the country's transportation system.

    He also voiced support for privatizing America's air traffic control system, according to a top airline industry lobbyist who was in the meeting.

    Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano, who was one of six airport executives invited to the sit-down with Trump, said in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times that the hour-and-a-half session focused mostly on infrastructure spending and efficiency....

    President Donald Trump speaks while meeting with airline industry executives at the White House on Thursday. [New York Times]
  10. 'Bubba the Love Sponge Show' to air on WWBA-AM 820 in Tampa Bay


    TAMPA — The Bubba the Love Sponge Show has found a new home on the radio waves in Tampa Bay.

    Beginning Feb. 13, WWBA-AM 820 will air the show live during the morning time slot of 6 and 10 a.m., according to a press release.

    In January, Beasley Broadcast Group's WBRN-FM 98.7 said it would no longer broadcast radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem's show in Tampa Bay following a ratings-tampering lawsuit filed against him by Nielsen, which is claiming $1 million in damages. Clem admitted to the ratings tampering charges at a news conference last year....

    Radio host Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, shown here leaving court after being cleared in a 2013 defamation suit, is now off the air in Tampa Bay. EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN   |   Times
  11. Lions Eye Institute is buying International Sight Restoration in Tampa


    TAMPA – The Lions Eye Institute for Transplant & Research on Wednesday announced it was buying International Sight Restoration in Tampa, which will double the company in size, creating one the largest eye banks and distributors of corneas in the world.

    With the acquisition, Tampa-based Lions Eye will increase its ocular tissue distribution network to about 80 countries, a release stated....

    The Lions Eye Institute for Transplant & Research on Wednesday announced it was buying International Sight Restoration in Tampa. [Times file photo]
  12. ReliaQuest to hire at least 150 for Tampa headquarters this year


    TAMPA — Tampa data security company ReliaQuest announced Tuesday that it will create at least 150 new jobs at its new headquarters on Harbour Island this year.

    ReliaQuest CEO Brian Murphy offered tours to community leaders Tuesday afternoon of its new headquarters at the One Harbour Place office building on Harbour Island. The company moved into the new location about a month ago. It features a large room called the RQ University, where up to 80 employees can be working or training at computers with three monitor screens each. Additional television screens line a wall near the front of the room. ...

    Brian Murphy, CEO of cyber security firm ReliaQuest, offered tours of the Tampa company's headquarters Tuesday as it announced its fourth major expansion.
[Photo courtesy of ReliaQuest]
  13. HSN featured a Florida jewelry company accused of cheating female artisans in developing nations


    People tuning in to HSN might think they're supporting a good cause by purchasing a lapis bracelet from Bajalia International Group, an Orlando company that employs female artisans in developing countries like Afghanistan and India.

    What shoppers don't see on their TV screens is the sometimes ruthless business arrangements between Bajalia and its artisans, the company's history of short-changing its craftswomen or the checkered financial past of the company's founder and CEO....

    Bakht Nazira (front row, second from the right) met Bajalia International Group founder, Debbie Farah, through an organization called BPeace. Nazira claims she is owed thousands of dollars for handmade jewelry she made for Bajalia but was never paid for. Photos courtesy of BPeace
  14. Sunday Conversation: Joe Lopano is bringing Tampa International Airport into the future


    Joe Lopano has been busy. Since taking over as chief executive of the Tampa International Airport in 2011, he and his team have landed more than a dozen new flights, including a handful of high-profile international routes to Frankfurt, Panama City and most recently to Havana, Cuba. Lopano has also spearheaded the single largest airport renovation — a $1 billion overhaul — since the terminal was built in 1971. ...

    Joe Lopano, Tampa International Airport chief executive officer, said one reason he left Dallas-Fort Worth to come here is that the airport and the community are the right size.
  15. USF releases renderings of new Morsani College of Medicine building in downtown Tampa


    TAMPA — The University of South Florida on Tuesday morning unveiled renderings of the Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute buildings set to begin construction in downtown Tampa at South Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive this summer.

    The renderings offer an early look at USF's future facility, which will house a medical school and a cardiovascular research institute. The $152.6-million building is part of the 50-plus acre redevelopment of downtown Tampa, spearheaded by Strategic Property Partners, a real estate firm backed by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates' Cascade Investment. ...

    The University of South Florida unveiled preliminary renderings of the future home of its USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute in downtown Tampa. Photos courtesy of USF