The first of three markets at Town Center Green was a hit with residents.
By noon on Jan. 14, Anna McClement from First Leaf Microgreen Farms was down to her broccoli and red cabbage microgreens. The salad mix and mustard greens had all sold out. Usually, she brings five flats of greens to a market, but because this was the first go-around of The Market on Longboat Key, she only brought three.
She won’t make that mistake again.
“I should’ve brought five,” McClement said. “People in this area, because it’s not so touristy, came out in droves. Them coming out showed their support and how much they want this market here.”
On the day of the first market at Town Center Green, Bay Isles Road was lined with cars desperately seeking parking. Many people came from other lots on Bay Isles, rode their bikes over or walked by after tennis. Plenty of dogs got their morning walk at the market, too. The busiest time was towards the beginning, and although the crowd thinned as the clock crept toward noon, there were still plenty of perusers.
“It shows the need for something like this,” resident Wendi Bundy said. “People don’t want to leave the island.”
Jason Mellica, who was selling bromeliads and orchids for his business Advanced Bromeliads, has been selling at the Coquina Beach Market for more than 20 years. He said he would always see lots of Longboat folks come, but they would end up frustrated trying to make it across the bridge thanks to the heavy season traffic. Many Longboaters showed up early for the island’s market, but out of excitement rather than an urge to beat the traffic.
“It was amazing today,” said Lynn Shannon from Uniquely Yours jewelry and handpainted demin. “I’ve gone to a lot of first-time (markets), and you get the stragglers coming over, but these people were here so early. There were a lot here by 9. If I didn’t set up early, I would’ve missed out on a couple of sales.”
Shoppers walked around holding huge bags of kettle corn thanks to Poppin Good Kettle Korn, the smell of which wafted throughout the market, bromeliads carefully wrapped in bags from Mellica’s booth and stuffed lobster rolls from The Maine Line food truck. Friends met up with each other or ran into others unplanned.
“It’s really nice to see the island turn out like this,” resident Lynette Emmons said.
Rather than on the green, the market was held in the parking lot because of nearby construction on the town-owned green space. Next month, however, the booths will be on the green itself, said organizer Nancy Ambrose.
That means the parking lot will be open for cars, hopefully easing one of the most common refrains from visitors on how the event could be improved. The other was the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables for attendees to purchase, but Ambrose said the produce vendor who was supposed to be at the first market couldn’t attend. There will be one at the next market.
Despite a few bumps in the road, vendors and visitors alike agreed they were excited to come back in February. Visitors were enthusiastic about the addition to the outdoor social calendar on the island, while vendors were thrilled at the turnout and new customers.
“It was just amazing today,” Shannon said.
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