ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Mike Smith loves the taste of an ice-cold beer after a day in the Florida sun. But what he doesn’t love is alcohol. It’s why everything on the shelves of his store is free of it.

What You Need To Know

  •  Mike and Caitlyn Smith recently opened Herban Flow in St. Petersburg

  •  The couple's goal is to normalize and educate people about alcohol-free living

  •  The alcohol-free industry grew 7% in 2022, according to the IWSR Drinks Market Analysis

“Ever since I’ve become sober, really, my whole life has changed,” Mike said. “I feel better, I’m 36 now and I feel like I’m back in high school again.”

Mike and his wife, Caitlyn, recently opened Herban Flow in St. Petersburg. It’s a non-alcoholic bottle shop, which they said is the first one in all of Florida.

The industry is booming and grew 7% in 2022, according to data from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. As a result, the market surpassed $11 billion in value.

After going through their own journeys with sobriety, the Smiths said they want to educate people and normalize alcohol-free living.

“It was definitely a struggle we ourselves were dealing with,” Caitlyn said. “Just trying to find options and varieties and drinks that would almost give you assistance with energy, something that would wind you down or just something in a social setting.”

Half of the drinks at Herban Flow just resemble the taste of your favorite wine or beer. But the other half all leave an effect — helping with energy, mood and sleep.

A 2022 study by the Centers for Disease Control found drinking alcohol — even in moderation — can increase the risk of death from several types of cancers and cardiovascular disease.

It’s why some people, like Mike, are choosing to put the bottle down.

“I’ll never go back to it,” he said. “You know, to each their own on it. One thing I’m very often asked is, ‘Are you worried about triggering someone by having these types of stores?’ I think every person kind of knows their own stage and if you feel like you’re going to be triggered by it, don’t do it.”

As they get settled into the new store, the Smiths are clocking 80 hours a week, seven days a week — and it’s just the two of them. But they said they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get their name out into the community.

Before opening their storefront, the Smiths held pop-ups at local farmers’ markets, festivals and events in the area. You can find Herban Flow behind Tyrone Square in St. Petersburg.