- April 1, 2015
EAST COUNTY — The perfect storm hit Jen’s MarketPlace Oct. 18.
The Mall at University Town Center’s opening weekend sliced Lakewood Ranch Farmers Market turnout numbers in half and thousands of breast cancer survivors and their families traveled to the Ranch to participate in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer — all on the same day as the market.
But, low turnout Oct. 18 for the farmers market aside, the outdoor event on Lakewood Ranch Main Street is doubling in size and will continue into 2015.
“With all the events going on during the last market, there was just too much happening for us to have a strong market in October,” McCafferty said. “But, we’ll have a strong November, and the next few months will be strong too, once more snowbirds get here.”
No contract has been signed, yet, but market manager Jennifer McCafferty and Main Street Property Manager Amanda Vercheski agreed through emails to extend the market’s stay through May 2015.
Vercheski said the agreement hasn’t been put into a signed contract yet. The paperwork, she said, is still in progress.
The fourth Saturdays of the month from January through May — Jan. 24, Feb. 28, March 28, April 25 and May 23 — will feature a bigger market, with about 50 vendors.
Early markets had 20 to 30 vendors.
New vendors featured at the November markets and beyond include Sawyer Sweet Jalapeno Mustards, Gigi's Gourmet Caramel Sauce, Two Girls Wreaths, Fishbones Smoked Mullet and Florida Suncoast Orchids.
Produce, candles, jam and other market staples will also continue to be a part of the monthly event.
The market will span Main Street from Healthy Living Organic & Natural Market to MacAllisters Grill and Tavern. The lineup of booths will end at the traffic circle, just before the second stretch of Main Street near the move theater and mini-golf businesses.
McCafferty also hopes to bring in more live music, but on a small scale. In November, the market will feature performances by Duende Flamenco — a local troupe that often performs at the Sarasota market.
She wants to avoid blaring music, though, and is hoping for light background music for patrons while they shop.
McCafferty expects to close the market through the summer months because of high temperature and low community interest during the off-season, she said.
Michelle Wise, owner of Unleashed for Pets, sees the market’s deeper roots in the Ranch as a win-win situation for business owners and local residents.
“It’s great to see families enjoying what the market has to offer,” Wise said.
Wise sees higher sales numbers in her pet store in the four hours per month the market is open than she does any other single Saturday, she said.
McCafferty encourages vendors to bring tables or other displays to the curb in front of their store and take part in the market.
Previously, some of the merchants expressed concerns that the market was taking away from their business, especially if the market sold similar items.
McCafferty has been visiting with vendors over the last few weeks to encourage them to bring their products outside of the store and get involved.
“The main focus of the market is getting people to Main Street, that’s the goal,” McCafferty said. “But, the market also brings the produce and handmade products in, so we can support local economy and entrepreneurs, too.”
Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].
By the numbers
3 - Markets held on Main Street in 2014
5 - Secured months the market will be held in 2015
50 - Future farmers market vendors at Jen’s MarketPlace
500 - Estimated turnout at the Oct. 18 market
• Sawyer Sweet Jalapeno Mustards
• Gigi’s Gourmet Caramel Sauce
• Two Girls Wreaths
• Fishbones Smoked Mullet
• Florida Suncoast Orchids