- September 10, 2014
LAKEWOOD RANCH —Lakewood Ranch Main Street’s farmers market will spend summer break on the East County shopping strip.
Jen’s MarketPlace owner Jennifer McCafferty and Lakewood Ranch Main Street Property Manager Amanda Zipperer finalized a contract last week to extend the market’s stay through September.
“Most Merchants spoke in favor of the market and said it was beneficial to their business,” Main Street Merchants Association President Michelle Wise said.
But the summer market will undergo some changes.
The market’s times — previously 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — will change to 8 a.m. to noon for June through September dates (see sidebar).
“It’s just too hot to have a market start late morning,” McCafferty said. “Main Street can attract a lot of early shoppers, pet walkers or joggers. I see them when we’re setting up a few hours before our 10 a.m. markets.”
McCafferty doesn’t plan to scale back for summer. In fact, the market will stretch its reach to wrap around the fountain in front of MacAllisters Grill & Tavern.
“The market will now start near American Shore Trading Co. and Naples Soap Co., and will extend to the back side of Main Street to end near Katy Rose Olive Oils and the Let’s Create Art Learning Center,” Wise said.
Merchants who operate businesses on the back half of Main Street said they welcomed the market neighboring their stores, because it could increase traffic to their shops.
The market will continue to house 35 to 40 vendors, the number that operate in its fall and spring markets. But patrons won’t see all of the same vendors. Hot temperatures rule out the sale of certain items during the summer, such as cheese, McCafferty said.
Attendees can also expect to see a larger variety of products, because other local markets, such as downtown Bradenton’s, will close until fall.
McCafferty plans to have a seafood vendor who will sell seasonal fish and an egg vendor. She will also continue to showcase monthly nonprofits, which she allows to run a booth for free.
Although McCafferty isn’t worried about crowds dying down in the summer, whether the community will continue to support the market weighs on her mind.
McCafferty won’t continue to provide free monthly performances for attendees, if turnout drops too low, she said.
“We need to have the head count to be able to provide some of our services and products,” McCafferty said. “We’ll see if people, local people, support the market. We like snowbirds, but we’re community focused. I’d like it to be our community coming out to support us, not just tourists. We’ll see.”