Surprisingly enough, Wine at the Docks has been around for less than two years, but the business' popularity in and around Tarpon Springs may have folks thinking it's an original mainstay on the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks.
Maybe it's the friendly service at the shop or the overall hometown vibe in the air at the bar. Either way, it is clear that owners Joanne Seprinsky and Rea Sieber meant business when they opened the doors to Wine at the Docks.
Sieber moved to Tarpon from St. Petersburga few years back when her daughter was accepted into the veterinarian program at Tarpon Springs High School. Sieber was in the midst of a divorce, so the move seemed logical in many ways.
"It was a life move for me, a time to start over and do my own thing," Sieber said.
Sieber had a history of advising at the college level, but was working in retail/wholesale when the idea of a move to Tarpon Springs came up. The high school offered her a job as a guidance counselor. Sieber accepted.
The job at the high school was short lived and the position folded after just two years. Not wanting to go back into the retail business, Sieber calculated her next move.
She decided that entrepreneurship was her true calling. Sieber searched the area for a storefront where she could sell unique gifts and home goods. A spot on the sponge docks was of particular interest to Sieber.
After weeks of Sieber playing phone tag with the landlord, she was able to snag the space for a price she could afford.
Three years ago, Sieber opened her first store on the sponge docks where it remains opened today. Rea Sunshine offers everything from high end sandals to lamps, home furnishings and local art. She describes the inventory as "unique."
While Rea Sunshine was climbing the ladder of success, Sieber was already planning to open a second business in the same area.
Sieber reconnected with her twin sister's close friend, Joanne Seprinsky and the two struck up a conversation about opening Wine at the Docks together.
Seprinsky lived in Melbourne at the time, but had previously lived in the area. When Seprinsky visited, she and Sieber began to brainstorm the business possibilities. Seprinsky was drawn to the idea immediately.
"I told her that it all sounded pretty good to me," Seprinsky recalled.
After about a month of chatting and rolling out the details of the potential business partnership, Sieber was ready to take the plunge and open Wine at the Docks.
Seprinsky decided she was ready too. She moved back to the area and Wine at the Docks opened in January of 2011.
Like all relationships, some business unities turn sour or are broken off after a divide in belief or direction.
Sieber and Seprinsky would not fall under that category. They say that balance is a key ingredient to their success.
"We split up the responsibilities," Sieber explained. "She's better at some things, so we just work it out."
Aside from the responsibility balance, they say that impeccable customer service is another way to reach the top.
The store is known for its accessories as well as a number of Florida, Greek and classic wines, which the duo says was a success in itself. The space was "basically empty" according to Seprinsky.
"We totally turned this store around," Sieber said.
Long days and long nights were had at the beginning of the Wine at the Docks story. For Sieber and Seprinsky it seemed like they were at the store eight days a week. But they both say they wouldn't trade it for anything.
"It's definitely been a journey," said Seprinsky.
In March of 2012, Wine at the Docks expanded next door, where a salt water taffy store used to be located. The business was closing and so Sieber and Seprinsky got creative.
Now, there's a retail shop with free wine tastings (which take place daily, by the way) on one side of the space and a bar with seating and entertainment on the other.
Although Wine at the Docks is doing well, the duo agree that they are content with the single location. One addition in the works is weekly live music offerings.
A common belief is that the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks are strictly a tourist destination, but businesses like Wine at the Docks beg to differ.
Food, drinks and entertainment can be soaked up by Tarponites all year long and not just during the snowbird season.
"We want the locals to realize that it's not all about sponges and nik-naks down here," Sieber said.
More information on Wine at the Docks
Address: 828 Dodecanese Blvd.
Hours: Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m.; Sunday from noon until 6 p.m.