Under twinkling trees laden with tiny blue lights, dozens of artists, craftsmen and entrepreneurs line Beach Boulevard twice a month to peddle wares as interesting and unusual as the city itself. The mobile shopkeepers bring everything from shiny trinkets made overseas to original art to Art Walk. The vendors come and go, so there are always things-we-can't-live-without surprises. Here are some specialties from a recent Art Walk.
Most glib shopkeeper: Phin Barnes, who with his wife, Shelly, own the Original Nut House. The Clearwater couple sell sweet, glazed pecans, almonds, cashews, peanuts and sunflower seeds in $4 and $6 bags and flavored Spanish peanuts in $3 and $5 bags. Delicious.
Most humble artist: Sarasota's Robbie Boyer sells one-of-kind wall sculptures, specializing in celestial and sea designs. He makes intricate designs of suns, mermaids and fairies, and then glues them onto a canvas, adding some flair with a glue gun before painting the piece. Amazingly priced — $5 to $42 — for original artwork.
Appropriately-named shopkeeper: Sitting outside his Cottage Creations booth, Walter Glass of Largo takes a torch to glass rods and turns them one at a time into colorful beads. The most popular item, his wife and business partner, Judy, said are earrings that sell for $10. They also sell beads that fit on popular Pandora bracelets for $5.
Most sinful splurge: The Cheesecake People of Clearwater sell cheesecake, of course. This month's most popular flavor is ginger pumpkin. For $6.50 — or two for $12 — a person can get a delicious treat, big enough to share.
Best tail-wagger: Man's best friend has lots of friends at the Art Walk but perhaps none they like better than treat-givers. Jayne-Ward-Hachey, owner of Jayne's Dog Treat Pantry, sells all-natural dog treats — peanut butter is the most popular, she says — in $4 and $6 bags, but samples are free.
Best glow: At Glow in the Dark, Mikel Patterson sells luminescent pendants, pins, earrings and more. He puts a special powder in the resin before molding the products that makes them glow for up to 20 hours before a "recharge" — 10 minutes in bright light. His products sell for $4-$8.
Best way to amaze your friends: The strings of beads, anchored with one large heavy one, at Ask Me Beads may look like key chains or bookmarks but they are actually Ask Me Beads, pendulums that answer the owner's questions by swinging in a certain direction. Hang the beads over your palm, ask a question like "Should I get on a plane today?" and wait for the movement of the beads to reveal the answer. From $20-$70.
Best hope for happiness: The Psychedelic Jester Enterprises sells stickers, incense, oils and tapestries. Owner Anthony Marzola of St. Petersburg sells Guatemalan Worry Dolls, a handful of tiny little people in a decorative box. According to legend, children tell each doll one of their worries and put it under the pillow before going to sleep. In the morning, all worries are gone. The cost for this peace of mind? $1.50.
Best headgear: At the Flaming Pearl, among the batik clothing, designed by owner Tamara Leavy and made by artisans in Nepal, are fleece-lined hats that look like monkeys and other animals. They sell for $20.
Best music to your ears: Allen Yanko of Hudson, owner of Yanko Enterprises, sells drums, flutes and bone- and antler-carved necklaces. His rope-tuned drums made of cypress are topped with goat skin and sell for $250.
Last note: Don't let this limited list fool you. It's only a fraction of the creativity that lines the streets for Art Walk.