PALM HARBOR — For Josh White, the ongoing process of relocating his Tampa Bay Salvage shop from its current spot on U.S. Alternate 19 in Palm Harbor to the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks represents a homecoming.
The architectural salvage industry veteran, who learned the trade at his family’s business in New Jersey, has always considered Tarpon to be his home away from home after he and his wife, Jessica, moved to the area in 2010 and opened their first shop on North Pinellas Avenue in 2011.
So when the opportunity to vacate the cluttered warehouse that sits on a tricky blind curve on Alt. 19 for a spacious, recently remodeled building at 601 Hope St. came up, the Whites jumped at the chance.
“Our lease was up here, and we really wanted to stay in Tarpon because we really never wanted to leave Tarpon,” White said on a late October afternoon, noting they moved to Palm Harbor in 2015 after they outgrew their first location. “When we outgrew our original building we wanted to stay as close as possible, and we’re excited about the new location. It’s a great space, a beautiful space for what we do.”
Indeed, the Whites outgrew their old location when their small business began to explode.
As they “scoured the earth” searching for unique furniture, home décor items and architectural finds, the industry as a whole started to boom, and the Whites saw interest in their business grow.
“We find local schools, churches, factories and buildings slated for demolition and we salvage the parts, fixtures, furniture and lumber,” he said. “We also get furniture delivered from Indonesia, Mexico and Europe and wood from Central America. So, we pretty much travel the world and scour the earth for cool, one-of-a-kind things, and we ship all over the country now, too.”
White said his experience in the business plus his easy rapport with clients makes his job enjoyable.
“I’ve always enjoyed woodworking and wanted to be my own boss, and I love the picking and the buying and designing pieces,” he said. “Plus, I love meeting people and making people happy. It really is a passion for me.”
White, who has been featured on TV shows including “Operation Salvage” and “Dirty Jobs,” according to the Tampa Bay Salvage website, said his new location at the Sponge Docks will serve two vital purposes: provide more space when the large outdoor yard is included in the square footage, as well as draw from, and attract customers to, the historic tourist district.
“This place is 7,200 square feet and the new place is 6,000, but we’re going to fence in the entire outside yard and “rock it” and make it an outside showroom and garden,” he explained. “And having AC inside will certainly please the customers because the summers have been pretty rough on us here.”
In regard to returning to Tarpon, White said after five years away it just feels right.
“The location here wasn’t great, with no neighboring businesses to draw from plus being on this part of Alt. 19,” he said. “But the Sponge Docks are different. Tarpon has more of a community feel and I truly am pleased to be back with a great property. I think it’s going to be a destination in Tarpon Springs. I really do. We bring people in from all over and I think it will be good for everybody being right by the Sponge Docks. We’re excited.”