TAMPA, Fla. — As COVID-19 vaccinations continue, Tampa Bay area businesses hope to see even more community support. Places like Sparkman Wharf are relying on it.
“We were in an amazing position pre-pandemic. We opened in November of 2018 and being an outdoor container park on the water, we were already situated to be pandemic ready, little did we know,” said Jessica Anderson, Manager of Retail Leasing at Water Street and Sparkman Wharf.
During the pandemic, Sparkman Wharf leaders made multiple COVID-19 safety changes.
- Health Screening & Masks: Masks are required for all Sparkman Wharf staff. Guests are encouraged to social distance via social distancing markers on the ground.
- Contactless Ordering: Many vendors are now offering contactless ordering and pickup.
- Cleaning: Staff is disinfecting all communal and highly-touched surfaces regularly.
- Hand Sanitizing: Hand sanitizing stations are available throughout the park.
Due to the fact that Sparkman Wharf is an outdoor venue, businesses were still able to serve lots of people.
“Luckily both visitors and retail leasing alike have seen incredible volume and really luckily for us, incredible interest,” said Anderson.
During the pandemic, multiple businesses have opened at Sparkman Wharf. Since the beginning of the year, they’ve had seven new leases sign, many of them local businesses looking to expand.
- Naked Farmer (2020)
- Jeni’s (2020)
- The Main Ingredient (2020)
- The Modern Paws (2020)
- Joyful Notion (2020)
- JOTORO (2020)
- F45 (2020)
- Murph’s Barbecue (2021)
- 7th + Grove South (2021)
- Fit Bowl Co. (2021)
“We feel incredibly lucky, obviously. We’re fortunate at Water Street and in Tampa,” said Anderson.
Defying the odds for local shops during the pandemic, leaders say Sparkman Wharf is in a unique position.
“It’s a desirable city but Sparkman Wharf and the Water Street District, in general, is prime for new business, it’s prime for local businesses looking to expand,” said Anderson.
Business owners are hopeful they’ll see even more community support in the coming months, from locals and visitors alike.
“This has reminded everyone how important it is. Not only because of our labor, our local businesses — just our local community in general. The pandemic really showed everyone if we want to be able to continue to keep eating and shopping locally, we have to come out and support them,” said Anderson.
Even more retailers are expected to open up at Sparkman Wharf later this year.
“We’ve got Noble Rice coming, as well as BurgerFi, and The Battery," said Anderson.