Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Business

More markets give local farmers, artisans more ways to connect with customers

VALRICO — The aroma of pork roasting on a pit infuses the air of the open market as visitors meander from booth to booth, sampling locally made honey and cheese, offering up their dulled blades to the on-site knife sharpener and perusing the selection of home-grown vegetables and herbs.

It's a scene reminiscent of medieval days when farmers and tradesmen journeyed to neighboring villages to earn a meager living selling goods.

While the open market is no longer vital to the livelihood of farmers, artisans and craftsmen, their appeal hasn't diminished over the past 600 years, according to both vendors and visitors at area markets.

During the inaugural T Marie's Valrico Sunday Market on Jan. 15, the scene drew a number of enthusiastic customers.

"I'm so happy this is here," said Becky Phillips of Valrico, who dropped by the market's opening day at 3407 Lithia-Pinecrest to check out the offerings of the 55 vendors. "We've needed something like this in the Brandon area for a long time. I see this market growing and expanding."

That was T. Marie Benchley's reason for organizing the weekly market.

Since opening T Marie's Fashion & Gift Boutique two years ago, Benchley said she's had a steady stream of local crafters and artists requesting space in her shop.

"There seemed to be a great need for a venue in this area," she said. "I have this wonderful shaded lot behind the boutique and I thought hosting a market would be an ideal way to give these artisans some exposure and allow them to sell their products."

In addition to the shaded space, T Marie's market has two other features that appealed to vendors who traveled from as far as Lakeland and Sarasota to take part: plenty of parking in the abutting lot at the Shoppes of Lithia and high visibility at the busy intersection of Lithia-Pinecrest Road and Bloomingdale Avenue.

"It's a great location," said artist Sharon Owens of Sarasota. "In addition to visitors who came here because of the publicity, it's attracting people who happen to see it as they drive by. I'm really excited to be here. I have the feeling it's going to fill up fast."

A few miles down Bloomingdale Avenue at Winthrop Town Centre, Carolyn Scott is counting on equal success at a new farmer's market she manages. With the encouragement of Winthrop Town Centre developers John and Kay Sullivan, Scott opened the Tru-Harvest Market on the grounds of the development in October.

"This market is a little different," she said. "The Sullivans really believe in supporting local farmers so we only offer items that are locally grown as well as edible items created locally."

Limited to vendors within a 100-mile radius of Winthrop Town Centre, the Tru-Harvest Market takes place the second and fourth Saturday of each month. There, shoppers can purchase fresh produce, plants and flowers, honey, cakes, breads, cookies, fudge, eggs and jams.

Scott said the market, which attracts 10 to 16 vendors, especially appeals to the growing number of consumers searching for natural, chemical-free foods.

While a busy location and plenty of parking are essential for a successful open market, South Shore event planner Jennifer McCafferty said open markets also require a great deal of community support to flourish.

She learned this the hard way.

McCafferty started Jen's Markets five years ago at the request of the Sun City Center Chamber of Commerce, which wanted a venue for the community's legion of crafters and artists. With the success of the Sun City Center market, McCafferty expanded to six markets in three counties.

However, despite vigorous marketing efforts, not all of the venues were successful, she said.

"To me, it's very important to have these markets because they give people who can't afford a storefront a place to sell their products," she said. "But a market won't be successful without the support of the community. You can have great vendors, but if people don't show up, it's not worth the effort to set up a booth."

McCafferty now operates only the Sun City Outdoor Market, which takes place at 1851 Rickenbacker Drive in the parking lot of the Sun City Center Funeral Home on the first and third Wednesday of the month.

She's also focusing on special-event markets like her Chocolate & Vine Market at Little Harbor Resort in Ruskin Feb. 11 and a market at the revival of the Ruskin Heritage Tomato Festival in May.

Contact D'Ann Lawrence White at [email protected]

Comments
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri severs contract with CareerSource Pinellas

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri severs contract with CareerSource Pinellas

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri severed his agency’s contract with CareerSource Pinellas on Monday after learning that the jobs center told the state it helped 624 sheriff’s employees get hired since 2014.The sheriff said he has no record of CareerSou...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Water Street Tampa sketches vision for Marriott Waterside (with video)

Water Street Tampa sketches vision for Marriott Waterside (with video)

TAMPA — Water Street Tampa developers outlined some broad goals for their planned $40 million renovation of the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina in a video posted to social media on Monday.In short, they want a hotel that feels inclusive, not ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Solar industry on edge as Trump weighs tariffs on panels

Solar industry on edge as Trump weighs tariffs on panels

Associated PressDALLAS — Some in the U.S. solar-power industry are hoping a decision this week by President Donald Trump doesn’t bring on an eclipse. Companies that install solar-power systems for homeowners and utilities are bracing for Trump’s call...
Published: 01/22/18
Tampa Bay ranks No. 5 for top moving destinations

Tampa Bay ranks No. 5 for top moving destinations

TAMPA — Tampa Bay was the No. 5 moving destination in 2017. Penske Truck Rental’s annual list ranks metro areas based on the number of one-way moving truck rentals to them.The Tampa Bay region, which includes Sarasota, held its position from 2016. It...
Published: 01/22/18
Free clinics respond as more people head to the ER with dental problems (w/video)

Free clinics respond as more people head to the ER with dental problems (w/video)

Charles Lee had been dealing with an excruciating toothache for days. The pain made it hard to eat or sleep or focus on work. But Lee, 54, didn’t have dental insurance. His job as a delivery truck driver offered only a supplemental policy that was to...
Published: 01/22/18
Fur and fury at 40,000 feet as more people bring animals on planes

Fur and fury at 40,000 feet as more people bring animals on planes

When Marlin Jackson arrived at his row on a Delta flight from Atlanta to San Diego in June, the middle seat was already occupied by a man with a sizable dog on his lap. Jackson squeezed by them to his window seat, and the Labrador mix lunged at his f...
Published: 01/22/18
Teens who spend less time in front of screens are happier - up to a point, new research shows

Teens who spend less time in front of screens are happier - up to a point, new research shows

In recent months, Silicon Valley executives have been speaking out about the purposely addictive designs of smartphones and social media, which make them hard to put down for anyone, but particularly teenagers. Now, a new report puts numbers to the w...
Published: 01/22/18
Sirata Beach Resort is getting a $15-million facelift

Sirata Beach Resort is getting a $15-million facelift

ST. PETE BEACH — A year ago, the longtime owners of the Sirata Beach Resort & Conference Center acknowledged they couldn’t afford the improvements it needed. They sold the 382-room hotel to a Texas company.Now the new owner has launched a $15 million...
Published: 01/22/18
This is how MoviePass hopes to make money off your low-cost subscription

This is how MoviePass hopes to make money off your low-cost subscription

MoviePass is a film nerd’s dream. The subscription service allows users to see one movie a day at a theater for a single monthly cost. The service isn’t new, but it’s become popular among a lot more than movie buffs in the past few months.During its ...
Published: 01/22/18
Florida pump prices jump 10 cents, highest in four years

Florida pump prices jump 10 cents, highest in four years

Gas is off to an expensive start this year — the most expensive start since 2014. Florida pump prices jumped 10 cents in the past week to hit $2.54 per gallon Monday, 18 cents more than last month, according to AAA The Auto Club Group. Tampa Bay gas ...
Published: 01/22/18