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Saturday Morning Market in St. Petersburg eyes Mahaffey Theater parking garage for summer sales

ST. PETERSBURG — The Saturday Morning Market might soon be on the move.

Market founders Gail Eggeman and Mark Johnson have entered talks to move the popular outdoor venue from its location at the Al Lang Stadium parking lot to the Mahaffey Theater's parking garage at 400 First St. S during the summer months.

Mahaffey officials indicated they would be willing to talk about a possible move.

In recent years, the market closed at the end of May and would reopen in October.

The new location would provide shelter from heat and rain, two major issues that hindered past proposals for a summer market.

"The market has created a strong sense of community amongst buyers and vendors. Both groups are very excited about a possible summer market," said Johnson, who is meeting today with David Rovine, the Mahaffey's general manager.

If a deal can be reached, the summer market would take off as soon as June 6 and run through Sept. 19.

Normal market operations at Al Lang would resume Oct. 3.

The covered space at the Mahaffey location would allow up to 80 vendors, selling farm products, food and crafts. The Al lang Stadium location provides more than 120 spaces to a group of around 200 rotating vendors.

"Spots at the summer market will be offered to our existing approved vendors only," said Eggeman.

The market founder's estimates show that business worth around $100,000 is currently done on an average market day. Last year's best day saw 10,000 visitors at the market.

"Our customers love the idea of a summer market. Some of them even panic when they know June is coming and the market takes its break," said Eileen O'Hara of Brimstone Originals, a regular at the market.

The founders said that opening hours, charges and parking fees around the new location were still to be discussed.

"We are very open to talks, but I can not promise you the outcome yet," said Rovine.

While a majority of the vendors have indicated they would be interested in continuing market activities during the summer, some will take their usual hiatus.

"When the heat comes up, my sales go down. I understand that a lot of people are looking forward to a summer market, but to me it just doesn't pay off," said Greg Jones, who sells crepes at the market.

Saturday Morning Market in St. Petersburg eyes Mahaffey Theater parking garage for summer sales 05/12/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 6:27pm]
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