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Seminole Heights Businesses Draw Support Despite Recent Killings

Roberto Roldan
WUSF Public Media
Uban Bungalow, a boutique and coffe shop, had no shortage of customers during Saturday's Seminole Heights Shop Hop.

Some Seminole Heights business owners are expecting a record holiday shopping season in spite of the recent series of murders in the neighborhood.

They will be relying, in part, on customers like Shawn Coyne to balance out those who have been scared off by the four killings that began in mid-October.

Coyne is a Seminole Heights resident who says she has been frequenting her local stores more often because she knows they might be hurting. On Saturday morning, she brought her cousin to the Seminole Heights Shop Hop event, which showcased businesses along Florida and Nebraska Avenue.

"I think all of our neighbors here in Seminole Heights are supportive of our local community," Coyne said.

According to Urban Bungalow owner David Hansen, Coyne is one of many customers from the Tampa area who have taken on this mindset.

"We've seen more people coming in to support, to say 'I'm not from Seminole Heights, but I know you guys, I've seen it on the TV and we just want to come out to support you,'" he said.

Though Hansen said he has seen a drop off in customers during the evening hours, he's seen more daytime customers.

Credit Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media
WUSF Public Media
Cleans Apothecary was one of more than a dozen local businesses being showcased during the Seminole Heights Shop Hop on Saturday.

Jayme Kosar, owner of the Seminole Heights City Wine Bar, said she has also seen the community step up to support Seminole Heights businesses.

Kosar said the initial shock of the killings led to some cancelled reservations at her Florida Avenue bar. Now, however, she said business is doing great and that shows no sign of stopping in the holiday season.

One reason people might be back to shopping locally, Kosar said, is that they have realized Seminole Heights encompasses a large area and that the killings have occurred in a very small part of the neighborhood. Another may be the increased law enforcement presence. 

"With all of the police patrols and now the FBI and everyone, Seminole Heights is the safest it's ever been," she said. "The longer this seems to be going on for, the more resilient we have become."

Both Kosar and Hansen said they are expecting a record number of customers between now and the New Year.

"Just seeing the community come together is better than the business aspect itself," Hansen said.

Roberto Roldan is a senior at the University of South Florida pursuing a degree in mass communications and a minor in international studies.
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