Thursday, January 18, 2018
Events

Market fan creates one of her own in downtown Clearwater

CLEARWATER

New York, Seattle, San Francisco, London, Paris, Florence and Rome. Natalie Nagengast has been to all these cities.

"I love to travel and the first thing I do is find the market," she said.

Now, at 27, she has her own.

In October, she opened the Pierce Street Market alongside the Clearwater Harbor Marina and underneath Clearwater's Memorial Causeway Bridge; it's just a stone's throw from the condominium where she lives.

The vibrant market features locally sourced foods and goods along with plenty of free parking. Not to mention location, location, location.

On Saturday, marketgoers were greeted with blue skies, saltwater breezes and a bevy of winged tourists, all waiting for some artisan bread crumbs to be thrown their way.

Tony and Lesley Geers, owners of the King Arms Coffee booth, said the waterfront locale and mix of clientele couldn't be beat.

"Everybody's happy," he said. "Half of them are on vacation."

Nagengast, a finance major and graduate of Anderson University in Indiana, convinced the city that such a market would be a boon for the downtown area by bringing young professionals to the area. And, she obtained a $15,000 marketing grant from the Clearwater Downtown Development Board to help with promotion.

The market was originally planned as a once-a-month event but has blossomed into a semimonthly happening with about 100 vendors.

Nagengast said she has had about 500 applications and has a team in place to help her with the selection process.

She's glad she didn't listen to the naysayers who said it wouldn't work because downtown Clearwater was dying.

"There's no reason we can't have a world class waterfront market here," she said.

She uses social media to advertise the market and has a following of about 20,000. She communicates to them through Instagram, Facebook and email. She says the market is geared towards millennials, but a variety of shoppers, including retirees and the middle-aged, were seen on Saturday.

Nagengast estimates about 5,000 attend each market.

Her vendors come from the Tampa Bay area and create things like artisan pickled products (Clearwater Canning Co.), handcrafted hungry monster pillows (Poopy Doops), and paleo meal plans (Kara Lynn's Kitchen).

It's a great place to pick up some Turkish towels, whiskey-scented soy wax candles, or foaming wash for bearded friends. Food trucks offer everything from Hawaiian sliders to Indian fusion cuisine.

At the booth of Hole Donuts, co-owner Jacque Simmons told visitors the handcrafted doughnuts were made fresh from batches of brioche dough.

Madison Sarno, 19, of Long Island, N.Y., bit into her chocolate-covered delight and pronounced it "yummy."

"I really want to eat 12 of them," she said.

     
 
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