Had you asked Larry Hollander 20 years ago if he would ever be a flea-market proprietor, the man would have laughed you out of the building.
But tough economic times have spawned creativity for Hollander, who owns two local businesses: Contemporary Cabinetry and Closet Concepts. Unable to sell a 20,000-square-foot warehouse on Lime Avenue, Hollander put his marketing background to use and came up with a solution. Seven weeks ago, he opened Lime Marketplace.
The first day was a disaster. When only six out of 25 vendors showed up to tend booths, Hollander was worried, especially after spending $1,400 on advertising prior to opening day. The second week was an improvement with 28 vendors. Now, locals are even trekking from Longboat Key every weekend to embrace the market.
Lime Marketplace caters to the Sarasota area with gourmet foods and jewelry, arts, crafts and even back-to-school bargains. The market also provides quality produce and consignments, a neighborhood environment and savings.
“We’re more of a neighborhood market,” Hollander said. “With free parking, it’s a family-oriented, salt-of-the-earth place for locals.”
With 42 vendors and growing 15% to 20% each week, Hollander’s goal is to house 150 vendors by season. Vendor rates are $25 per day for an indoor or outdoor booth, which he says is a fraction of what other markets charge.
“The big appeal is that on a commercial street in Sarasota, where there is one for-sale- and for-lease sign after the next, now there’s something of real benefit to the neighbors, residents and community at large,” Hollander said.
Hollander has already brought in crêpe chefs from Crazy Crepes and hopes to add booths for additional art, spices and exotic foods from around the world, making it more of an international bazaar.
“I wouldn’t give up all my Saturdays and Sundays if it wasn’t fun,” Hollander said.
if you go
1126 N. Lime Ave.
Open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
Visit www.limemarketplace.com for more information.
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Enjoy this week's edition of Cops Corner.
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