The Felt Grocery Store Taking Over TikTok

Tampa mural made of felt, located in Tampa Fresh Foods

At first glance, “Tampa Fresh Foods” appears to be just a normal grocery store with an unjustly long line that wraps around the block. At closer glance, the canned beans and heads of lettuce that stock the shelves are entirely made out of felt. 50,000 handmade replicas of the brands that line every American grocery store shelf were painstakingly created by one woman, Lucy Sparrow.

Sparrow is a British artist who first gained traction in 2014, and was soon approached by collectors to create this pop-up in Tampa. Sparrow worked for two years to create all of the individual pieces, and worked for two weeks to set up the installation. Each piece is hand cut, sewn, and adorned with a Sparrow’s signature. Some of the pieces feature two black beaded eyes that have become an immediate identifier of her work.

The pop-up features an impressive assortment of items, including everything from a seafood bar to a cigar room to a bakery. The event is completely free to enter, and everything within the store is for sale, but with a heavy price tag, with the cheapest of the items being a $10 strawberry, and the most expensive of the items being upwards of $500. The exhibit opened in late January, and will stay open until February 20, 2022.

Since its opening, Tampa Fresh Foods has gone viral on TikTok, with one of the biggest videos posted amassing nearly half a million likes and 3.3 million views. The exhibit’s rise to virality on TikTok is most likely to blame for the hour-long lines that wane throughout the day, but despite these lines, this is a worthwhile experience open to Tampa residents that is truly one of a kind.

Finally, some tips and info for those looking to go:
Get there early! The pop-up is open from 11 to 8 everyday, and lines start to build up quick.
Bring a friend/family member! Having someone with you to go through all the shelfs and point out all you favorite foods makes the entire experience more fun!
The pop up is located at 1050 Water street.