BY MELISSA TORRE
Living in Florida, we often take for granted the fact that it’s warm almost all year. Here, it’s easy to do things that not many people around the country can, like going to the beach in December, driving your car without having to shovel snow, and having access to local produce year round. There are numerous farmer’s markets throughout the Tampa Bay Area, offering a cheaper option for stocking up on your essential fruits, vegetables and much more.
Farmer’s markets are not only easy on your bank account balance, but they also offer exclusive products you cannot get at your local Walmart or Publix. Local business owners use farmer’s markets throughout the area as an outlet to share their products with the public.
Fresh Market at Hyde Park
The first Sunday of every month, Hyde Park Village hosts its annual Fresh Market at Hyde Park Village event. The event runs from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., and the main strip of Hyde Park that holds popular stores and restaurants like Anthropology and Timpano, transforms into a crowded farmer’s market with hundreds of people and over 50 vendors. During your adventure through the market you will notice they have everything from candles to jewelry, but more importantly over a dozen varieties of different foods. Some of the veteran local vendors that come monthly include The Pop Shop popcorn and Wine Slush.
South Tampa has a number of markets to choose from that are open daily, including Fresh Market on South Himes Avenue. This market is open seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 9:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Sundays. Fresh Market offers cheaper prices on popular fruits and produce and sells locally made cakes that shoppers can’t find at any other markets. Rosemary’s Southern Cakes are currently sold at Fresh Market in her signature flavor, Strawberry.
Friendly Family Farm Market
The Friendly Family Market, located on Westshore Boulevard, provides another daily farmer’s market option. This market is open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Sunday. This farmer’s market sells a variety of local products not offered in stores including Datz Bloody Mary Mix for $11.99 a bottle and Cigar City Salsa for $5.99 a jar. This farmer’s market also allows shoppers to test out their inner gardener with Bonnie Plants for sale. These plants allow you to grow your own produce, such as chili pepper, eggplant and cilantro right on your windowsill or in your backyard.
Sanwa Farmer’s Market
Sanwa’s offers a Costco-type shopping experience with all of the perks of the farmer’s market. Located on Hillsborough Avenue and open seven days a week, this market is different than most farmer’s markets in the area because shoppers can buy in bulk. Along with selling world renowned brands such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi products, shoppers can also buy off-the-grid products like Jarritos Premium Soda for $14.50 a case. Sanwa’s creates a more complete market environment by selling meats at their location. Catalina Meat Company beef roast halves sell for $4.99 and come from local farmers throughout the area. Weekly deals are also posted on Sanwa’s website to help encourage new shoppers to stop by, while also providing existing customers with the best deals possible.
What Do Farmer’s Markets Mean To Vendors?
1. It’s a way to get people informed.
Vendors use markets as a way to share their products and inform consumers about all the details they can’t fit on the box. Ona Schmidt, founder of Doggone Good Goodies, created her delicious dog treats after her first dog passed away from Cushing’s Disease. During his final months she learned a lot about the proper nutrition that dogs need and the importance of teaching people the right way to feed our furry friends. This ranges from the benefits of holistic dieting to the dangers of corporate dog food.
“I do this purely for the dogs,” Schmidt said. “The people at this market [Fresh Market Hyde Park] are so in tune with learning new things– good things for their bodies, good things for their dogs’ better well-being. They’re much more receptive to learning new things.”
2. It Boosts Sales
It’s no secret that starting your own business can be very difficult, but farmer’s markets allow locals to test their products in the business world before putting a lot of money on the line. Markets allow people to make record monthly sales but, at the same time, still keep a 9-5 job during the week.
“This is the main way of getting it out to the public without actually advertising it,” Todd O’Brien, creator of Wine Slush, said. “It works out pretty good, you see a lot of new people that you might not reach otherwise.”
3. It helps Vendors Design Their Products
While it may seem that sellers are giving out free stuff just to be nice, sampling is used by vendors to help test which flavors of their product have a strong reaction with customers. Lisa Krasne, founder of The Pop Shop, even uses this technique to help stimulate ideas for flavor creations.
“The flavors that I think will be popular may not necessarily be,” Krasne said. “A lot of people recommend flavors and those end up being best sellers. So, for market research it ends up being really good.”