The past five years have been busy for the Tampa Bay area, with many local residents commenting on how quickly the region has developed. This expansion has included a large number of local businesses, as well as a growing young adult population.
While many millennials have been told that their degrees, and by extension futures, have been deemed worthless because of what is viewed as an unstable job market, quite a few are taking the leap to follow their passions and start their own businesses.
Local markets lend an entrepreneurial hand to recent endeavors.
Becoming increasingly popular in the past several years, Bay Area local markets draw thousands of attendees who come out to support unique and local businesses. They are all pet-and-family friendly, but students will find that they each bring something different and exclusive to the table.
St. Pete Indie Market
In 2012, Rosey Williams owned a pop-up vintage store in St. Petersburg. She started inviting her friends to sell their products on the sidewalk outside her shop. Some even did live paintings and artwork.
“It was super casual and it started catching on to other people,” Williams said. “We ended up starting to fill the whole sidewalk. It started wrapping around the block.”
This was when she realized it was “a real thing.” She ended up closing her store to solely manage the market, which moved to Green Bench Brewery, and the St. Pete Indie Market was born.
She loves the market because of how it helps small and local businesses. Shortly after starting St. Pete Indie, some of its vendors got requests from retailers who wanted to sell these items in their stores.
“The coolest thing was seeing from when it started then, and how it was sort of (the vendors’) side project,” Williams said. “Now at this point, they’re able to fully sustain a small business between all of the markets and the other projects that they’re able to do through their businesses.”
Students can check out over 80 vendors on the first Saturday of every month from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Occasionally, there are also pop-up markets that boast about 25 vendors, such as last year’s nighttime pop up at The Bends and Mother’s Day pop up at Station House.
Some of their oldest vendors who can still be found at this market are O’Berry’s Succulents, Ash Couture and Stoned and Charming Jewelry.
Students who are interested in visiting the event, or applying to have their business appear there, can find out more at StPeteIndieMarket.com and follow them on Instagram at @indiemarket.
Tampa Indie Flea
Along with business partner Seanissey Louchlin, Williams operates the sister market to St. Pete Indie, Tampa Indie Flea, on the third Sunday of every month from 12 – 4 p.m.
“Two years ago, a friend of mine approached me about starting a market in Tampa and that was something we already talked about,” Williams said. “So, I ended up partnering with him, and we launched the Tampa Indie Flea in 2015.”
The second local market under her hat, Williams said this is all a part of their bigger brand, Indie Collective.
“That represents the relationship we have with the vendors in the local area, even travelling makers, who are able to make it to these local markets that make it so we’re not saturating the area,” she said.
This is only the beginning, as they started Gainesville Indie Flea in October, and they are already looking to expand to other cities.
As for a difference between St. Pete Indie and Tampa Indie, Williams said it’s more than their locations.
“It’s a different style, and we definitely try to do that on purpose,” she said. “It’s geared more towards Tampa.”
Tampa Indie Flea also had its first pop-up market on Saturday at The Bricks in Ybor City for Valentine’s Day. Many of the vendors decided to gear their products toward the holiday for that pop up.
While most events have common vendors, there are some students can only catch at specific markets. Vendors such as Commune and Co., a coffee merchant, can only be found at Tampa Indie Flea.
Interested parties can find out more at TheIndieFlea.com and follow them on Instagram at @indieflea.
Pierce Street Market
Pierce Street Market came about in October 2015 when Natalie Nagengast, owner of the jewelry company Coco & Marie, was walking along the waterfront in downtown Clearwater and “thought it would be nice to have a local market there,” according to Madai Gutierrez, the market’s director.
The market started with 40 vendors, and now hosts an average of 100 for every event. Some of its oldest vendors are Tropical Sea Sponges, a sustainable sea sponge and soap merchant, and Good Vibes Juice Co., an organic cold-pressed juice company.
Students can also go grocery shopping at Pierce Street as Aurora Fresh Produce and Healthy Heritage Grass-fed Beef are regular booth renters.
The market boasts a picturesque waterfront view along Drew Street, as well as being the only local market where someone can find fresh flowers. It also provides various food trucks and live music.
Apart from family, friends and pets, Gutierrez asks that attendees travel with one more thing.
“Bring reuseable bags,” she said “We’re trying to stay green, definitely along the waterfront.”
As a part of its regular season, Pierce Street Market is open on the second and fourth Saturday of each month from October to April from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Starting May 13, it will run on the second Saturday of every month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., until September 9.
Those who plan on visiting Pierce Street and wish to perform or have their business featured there, should go to PierceStreetMarket.com and follow them on Instagram at @piercestmarket.