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The pandemic took their jobs. It opened the door to chase a hot sauce dream

Todd and Heather Anderson opened Spice Of The Harbor during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Safety Harbor community has embraced them from the beginning.

SAFETY HARBOR, Fla. — If the décor inside Todd and Heather Anderson’s shop wasn’t enough of a dead giveaway as to what their passion is, one look at their feet ought to convince you.

“Fiery shoes,” said Heather, chuckling, as she stretched out her right foot to show off brightly-colored kicks with flames on the side. “I wear a lot of red.”

Todd wore a matching pair. So did Heather’s mother. It’s a clear sign that the family loves all things spicy from their head to their toes.

“I love coming into work,” said Todd. “I love making people cry and I love to see snot running out of their nose. It’s graphic but it’s true.”

Spice of the Harbor – the Anderson’s shop which carries all kinds of products like BBQ rubs, sauces, and salsas ranging from mild to unbelievably hot. They started with 625 in November. Now, they carry 896 different products.

It was something you couldn’t get in the area until they arrived in November.

“(Safety Harbor) needed something spicy. It needed something like this,” said Heather. “There were 14 salons.”

The couple only started the spice shop after being laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic. They had previously worked in the large-scale sign-making business for two decades. In fact, they met on the job and wed 12 years ago.

They sat down and discussed their future after getting laid off. The couple decided to pursue their dream of opening a spice shop, something they’d always wanted to try.

“It was a terrible time,” said Heather, whose dad also passed away during the pandemic. “A lot of tears.”

They moved to Safety Harbor from Clearwater and now take the backroads to the shop via golf cart. It’s only a three-mile ride. Heather and Todd don’t allow themselves to use the “W-word." 

"Work," they say, is much less fun than what they get to do now. It’s just something fun that makes them smile.

“My dad still thinks I’m crazy,” said Todd.

Peppers have always been a passion. Todd would visit spice shops on vacation as a kid. He eventually began growing his own at home. Heather carries pepper powder with her in her purse and drops a little on meals while out at restaurants that serve dishes that are just a little too bland for her liking.

They are pleased to be doing what they love in a place that loves them.

“Safety Harbor has embraced us from the beginning,” said Todd. “This would not have worked. I know it would not have worked in another city in the Pinellas County area. I would not have wanted to go any other place in the entire United States.”

There are dedicated spice shops in Tarpon Springs and Gulfport but not much in between. It’s a big reason why the Andersons chose Safety Harbor. They opened in early November when the COVID-19 pandemic was still causing local businesses headaches. But, they persevered through online orders and preparing spice bags to drop off at the front door.

The Safety Harbor Third Friday celebrations returned to downtown recently and provided an outdoor selling opportunity. Shops open their doors in the evening and customers were encouraged to shop. That really has been a boost for spice sales.

They love Safety Harbor and Safety Harbor, so far, seems to love them, too.

“This place really needed something like this and who better to do it than two people who love it?” said Heather.

Spice Of The Harbor is located at 318 Main Street. The shop is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

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