SEMINOLE — This city's first-ever green market is scheduled to open this weekend — in quarters guaranteed to set it apart from similar events across Pinellas.
Fresh Markets & More will be inside Seminole Mall, a venue that organizer Scott Meehan hopes will draw crowds who will appreciate the air conditioning and convenient parking. Meehan also hopes those crowds will stay to shop in mall stores.
"It's the first time we've ever experimented with something like this," Seminole Mayor Jimmy Johnson said. "I predict that it will be very, very successful, especially in the early stages."
Johnson, who is also executive director of the Seminole Chamber of Commerce, will preside at a ribbon cutting for the market Thursday between 5 and 7 p.m.
Meehan, owner of Meehan Special Events, thought of the idea as a way to help revive interest in the mall, which has struggled in recent years. The most devastating and obvious blow came in December when Publix closed and moved across the street to a former Albertsons. The grocer left behind a huge open space and an empty parking lot, as well as swirling rumors about the mall's future.
Although rumors and dreams are plenty, concrete plans seem to be few, leaving store owners in Seminole Mall to fight more than a poor economy.
Meehan said he believes that enticing shoppers into the mall via the green market will revive interest in the mall and its shops. And, while he wants to concentrate on that, he also has plans to provide entertainment on Friday nights.
Johnson agreed that Meehan needs to do something to keep people interested in the long term. One way is to make sure the quality of vendors remains high.
"We want this to remain a fresh market," Johnson said. "We do not want to turn it into a flea market. We don't want to turn it into a garage sale."
Entertainment might be just the ticket.
"You've got to have something to keep them coming back," Johnson said.
Anne Lindberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8450.