Saturday Morning Market is a go-to for St. Pete locals

By Hope Ward Community Beat Reporter

The Saturday Morning Market has been bringing joy to the St. Pete community for over two decades and is going strong. It has been running every Saturday from October to May 9-2 p.m. at the AI Lang Stadium parking lot on the corner of 1st Street and 1st Avenue S. With their first market opening back in November of 2002, their goal has always been to be the heart of St. Petersburg, as their website puts it. The founders stated that they wanted a place for people to feel a strong sense of joy and creativity all in one place. This market is one of the top 20 markets in the country and is the largest in the southeast United States. Their typical Saturdays bring in an outrageous amount of people, containing over 100 vendors and averaging around 10,000 visitors. Everything from food, crafts, live music, and much more, the spirit of community is stated to define what the Saturday Morning Market experience is all about.

The market’s main entrance is located right next to the live band.

The Market has a long waiting list and has had one for years of wanting participants. They carefully screen their vendors and only select a handful of each category; food, produce, art, etc. One of the Vendors, Jill from Just Jill Designs, has been a vendor at the Saturday Morning Market for the past twelve years. She hands paints silks that come in many different styles, most of which utilize nature. The Saturday Morning Market, Jill explained, was without a doubt the best thing that ever happened to her. One of the things she admires most about the management is how they oversee vendors and treat them like one big family. Jill went on to explain what the market means to her personally.  “…it’s all about local…has a wonderful feel to it that reflects St. Peter perfectly. I see regular customers every week when I’m there and have gotten to know them over the years,” said Jill. 

Just Jill Designs uses different elements of nature such as leaves and water to create some of her most popular pieces of work.

People like Jill use events like the market to bring people together in their line of work. The market is very inclusive and diverse when it comes to the type of products they sell and food they make, therefore having a little something for everyone. Alex Joyce a St. Pete local, shared about her experience with the Saturday Morning Market. Alex, along with her husband and their 1-year-old daughter, have lived in the St. Petersburg area for almost two years. The three of them were able to enjoy a fun family outing in the Bay Area. This was her first time attending the market. “Where I grew up, there wasn’t many markets like this around that we could just go and talk to small vendors” stated Alex. “…moving to St. Pete really broadened my horizon and allowed me to see a little bit of everything with events like this.” She went on to explain that one of the local vendors, Hoola Monsters, reminded her of when she would dance at dance festivals.

Hoola Monsters pioneered as Florida’s full-service hoop dance company.

While the market only closed briefly, it was still a little while before regular customers got to see their favorite vendors. With that, just the vendors alone had said that they missed seeing their fellow small business friends. One of the busiest vendors was Caribbean Quenched. Caribbean Quenched has been going to the Saturday Market prior to being a vendor, for years. They always admired the market’s ability to showcase local businesses. Once they established their business, they had no doubt about applying for the Saturday Morning Market. “The first market back was amazing. I was hoping to ease my way back into the flow of things, but customers seemed to have been anticipating that day” explained Caribbean Quenched. “…It was very busy; however, it was great to see familiar faces as well as meet new people.”

All in all, the Saturday Morning Market brings the St. Petersburg community together, whether you’re a visitor or a vendor. It enhances and promotes small businesses from all different categories. The live music, the food, and so much more, are what define the Saturday Morning Market in its entirety.