Buzz: Drive-ins, Trader Joe’s and Southlight Gallery

Your Vote Could Save a Drive-In

The Ocala Drive-In claims to be the last drive-in theater between Central Florida and South Georgia since Jacksonville’s Playtime Drive-In went dark several years ago. Drive-ins have been slowly dying, but even more will be endangered when all mainstream, first-run films move to the digital format at the end of the year, requiring about $80,000 in upgrades. Honda launched a contest to fund the conversions for five drive-in theaters across the United States. “While this giant screen approximately 100 miles south of Jacksonville is getting plenty of votes from Florida film fans, it has competition from theaters in heavily populated urban areas that easily give them an unfair advantage,” Ed Tucker of Retrorama Collectibles wrote in an email. He writes about vintage pop culture at “The Ocala Drive-in is the only one in Florida that is part of this contest,” John E. Watzke, co-owner of the Ocala theater, said in a statement. “With the help of you and the people of Florida, we can preserve this great American tradition for generations to come.” People can vote once every 24 hours at and once again via text message by sending “vote20” to 444999. Voting ends Sept. 9.


The Cult of Trader Joe’s Spreads to Jacksonville Beach

Trader Joe’s, the specialty grocery chain based in California, plans to open a Jacksonville Beach location around October 2014. It will open in time for the holidays and will be in the area of J. Turner Butler Boulevard and Third Street South, a company spokeswoman told The Florida Times-Union. Trader Joe’s has more than 400 locations around the country; the closest one to us is in Gainesville, with others in Naples and Sarasota. One is scheduled to open in Tallahassee this year. The chain, which describes itself as “your unique grocery store,” has a near cult-like following for its gourmet products and Hawaiian-shirted employees. About 80 percent of the chain’s products are its own private labels. The price of its popular Charles Shaw wine, known as “Two-Buck Chuck,” increased from $1.99 to $2.49 earlier this year, causing some to joke that the brand should now be called “Upchuck.”


Gallery Seeking New Off the Grid Space

Southlight Gallery is seeking a new location along the First Wednesday Art Walk circuit, because its current location at 6 E. Bay St., in Downtown Jacksonville, has been leased. Southlight is one of several Off the Grid galleries in a Downtown revitalization project designed to bring artists into vacant spaces at an affordable rate. Southlight needs a new location before its lease expires Oct. 1. Since joining the Off the Grid program in 2009, Southlight has supported more than 100 artists working in a variety of media, said Michael Dunlap, the gallery’s founder and director. The gallery needs a minimum of 2,500 square feet. Organizers can be reached at 438-4358 or [email protected].