HORIZON WEST In its first year, the Lakefront Farmer’s Market at Summerport Village has compiled an impressive roster of vendors.
With wares ranging from vintage coasters and handcrafted jewelry to sweets and all-natural home fragrances, it has been a one-stop shop for the community to support local businesses.
But even though the young market turned 1 year old in February, its regulars have begun to notice a trend.
The brainchild of Summerport Village resident Shanny Rios, the Lakefront Farmer’s Market opened Feb. 21, 2016, with the intention of bringing local artisans and small businesses together for the community to experience and support.
And it’s been quite the platform for various local vendors whose businesses have outgrown a need for the exposure the market offers. Businesses such as Camila’s Sweets and Monstar Makings, among others, have since graduated the market and moved on to storefronts and successful Etsy shops.
With that success comes opportunity, and now, the market is in need of some fresh craftsmen and entrepreneurs.
“I’m super happy for my vendors who have just exploded so much that they’re now getting office spaces and storefronts, and that’s what I started the market to do — to have the community support the vendors,” Rios said. “My focus is to find unique vendors, anything from artists to local crafters to even organizations. We don’t charge nonprofits to set up, because it’s about the community. It’s a community market.”
Rios, a former vendor herself who participated in six markets a week a few years back, was one of the first vendors to set up shop at the Winter Garden Farmer’s Market. The success it has seen over the years piqued her interest and it’s been her passion since to help others get their businesses off the ground.
“We don’t have the exposure some of the other markets have, like signage and the city’s backing,” she said. “I’ve paid out of pocket for it since the beginning. The vendors I sought out were super awesome. That makes me really proud and happy for them, and I want to do the same for other people looking to start a business or expand what they currently have.”
When it first opened, the market consisted of 25 vendors and at its peak had about 35. Now, it’s down to about 17, and not all of those vendors are out weekly.
“When it was a full it was an amazing market, and the community is still supporting it but it’s hard to get them to keep coming out when there’s only six or seven vendors,” Rios said.
Most of the vendors are local and live either in Summerport Village or within five miles of it, and many only showcase their products there and don’t market-hop.
Rios is accepting applications for new vendors and is looking for people who are local and really care about the community they’ll be in. She would love to have vendors that sell free-range eggs, more handmade and baked goods, flowers and plants, kettle corn and even grain- or gluten-free products.
“The community just needs to continue to come out and support the vendors that are there and encourage anyone they know who needs exposure for their own business to come out to the market as well,” she said. “Please continue to come out and buy your local produce and staples. Without the support of the community the market will fade out.”
Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected].