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The Zest: Exploring Tampa's Fun, Quirky Convenience Stores

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One of the convenience stores on Jeff Houck’s tour was the 813 Food Max in Tampa. COURTESY: JEFF HOUCK ";

If you're like Jeff Houck, you've popped into a neighborhood convenience store and thought "wow!" this is a little quirky and an adventure.

Houck, former food writer at The Tampa Tribune and now marketing and public relations director for the Columbia Restaurant Group in Tampa, has been exploring Florida neighborhoods by visiting their convenience stores.

These neighborhood meccas are filled with personalities, sundries and speak to the locals' needs, and he’s been documenting his visits on Instagram @jeffhouck and his website, jeffhouck.com.

I started doing them because I have this deep fascination for what they offer a neighborhood, especially the independents. It’s a reflection of the people who shop there and the people who live around there because if they don’t have what you need, they don’t stay in business.”

Houck discusses how these multi-colored, jam-packed, one-stop-shops are successful when they respond best to the area's needs.  He also explores why convenience stores fade in some areas.

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