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Venerable Sweetwater Kayaks is moving to St. Petersburg's Old Southeast neighborhood

The Gandy Boulevard project that opened in 2017 made it hard for customers to access the current location, the owner says.
Published Jan. 10, 2019

Sweetwater Kayaks is moving to the Salt Creek Marina District south of downtown St. Petersburg.

A mainstay of the local paddling community, Sweetwater plans to be in its new digs at 235 15th Ave SE near the U.S. Army Reserve complex by the end of the month.

Owner and president Russell Farrow said he'll miss the current shop at Gandy Boulevard and Fourth Street, with its eclectic layout and ample space for dozens of kayaks and stand-up paddle boards.

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Sweetwater, one of the area's first stores dedicated to kayaking, moved into the location about 17 years ago, after operating out of Tierra Verde for several years.

But since the state opened the elevated portion of Gandy Boulevard in 2017, customers have had a hard time accessing the store, Farrow said. The $83 million, 2.5-mile project runs from near Interstate 275 to past Fourth Street.

"Business really fell off when that road opened," he said.

The new shop will have about 3,100 square feet of retail space, plus another 2,600 square feet in a warehouse next door. He plans to put in a deck and an outdoor shower.

Farrow said the rent is significantly lower than the current shop and has easy access to the water at nearby Lassing Park in the Old Southeast neighborhood.

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"We'll be able to run guided kayak tours right from the shop," he said.

The move won't affect Sweetwater's kayak rentals at Weedon Island Preserve. Farrow plans on having a sale once the new shop officially opens.

"It's a new era for us," he said.

Contact Graham Brink at gbrink@tampabay.com. Follow @GrahamBrink.

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