Englewood Farmers Markets
With so many events and festivals postponed or canceled, the return of the farmers markets, yes markets, to West Dearborn Street on October 1 was a big deal for the customers and the vendors.
While the Englewood Farmer’s Market at 300 W. Dearborn is the main market, actually the second largest in the area after Sarasota, the markets that have popped up around it provide shoppers with a cornucopia, if you will, of produce, prepared foods, hand-crafted items and much more. All are open from 9 am to about 2 pm every Thursday, except holidays. The variety of markets also provide vendors with more opportunities to get back to business after COVID-19 shut everything down in March.
The Englewood Farmer’s Market
300 W. Dearborn Street
When you walk into the Englewood Farmer’s Market on West Dearborn Street you are greeted by a large yellow sign with the “Customer Code of Conduct.” The lengthy list of reminders includes everything from making a shopping list to using hand sanitizer, shopping with your eyes and not your hands, and wearing a mask “if you have one available.” On a recent Thursday all the vendors were wearing masks, as were nearly all the shoppers.
Launched in 2011, the big daddy of markets almost always has a waiting list for vendors. The market is a non-profit organization that leases land from Sarasota County and partners with several non-profits to provide support. The market also accepts SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits and has given more than $100,000 back to community organizations. Manager Lee Perron is credited with much of the success of the market and has since taken on the Venice Farmer’s Market on Saturdays and the new Wednesday Braves Farmer’s Market at CoolToday Park.
“Each week things get better and better,” said Pam “Winkey” Stallons, who has been turning lemons into lemonade at the market for three years at Winkey’s Watering Hole. Stallons said she has tried out other markets, but she does best in Englewood. “It’s my favorite.”
Mattheis Gelner prefers the mass market approach. He sells his gourmet pretzels in six markets on the Southwest Florida circuit. Gelner is one of many vendors who, without a brick and mortar location, rely on the markets for income. Then there’s Louise Coble. Her daughter Christine Nordstrom owns Five-0 Donut Co., with two locations in Sarasota. “I used to do a market every day,” said Coble, who now only brings her doughnuts and popular breakfast cookies to Sarasota and Englewood.
If you want to visit Chris Lumpkin at the market, better get there early. Lumpkin almost always sells out of his pasture-raised eggs by 11 am or earlier, running back to his Englewood farm to replenish his booth. Lumpkin left his career as a car salesman to start Chris & Victoria’s Tiny Ranch and is in three markets. Like many other vendors, he recommends customers avoid disappointment by ordering in advance online, by phone or text. For more information, visit englewoodfarmersmarket.org.
Englewood Farmer’s Market
353 W. Dearborn Street
Down the road at Sea Star Cove you’ll find more vendors at Englewood Farmers Market 353. Rosibel Malheiro, a vendor and promoter, said the market, which features art and homemade goods, along with honey and guacamole, started just about one year after the main market. Pre-Covid there were about 20 vendors, but with social distancing Malheiro said there about 10.
“This is a lifesaver,” said Hana Tiskiewic, peering out from behind her mask, surrounded by a sea of bobbing wooden marionettes. Tiskiewic sells the hooded towels she sews and Bouncies from Bohemia, handmade wooden marionettes on springs, at three markets. “People smile when they walk by, that’s the best thing,” said Tiskiewic. She’s right. Just watching a zebra, mouse, biker, alien and even Albert Einstein, bob up and down, can turn your day around. For more information, on the market, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dearborn Street Market
348 W. Dearborn Street
Across the street from the main market is the Dearborn Street Market, a for-profit venture started by Joyce Colmar, owner of Vino Loco, about seven years ago. While her market and the Englewood Farmer’s Market, engaged in a bit of unfriendly competition years ago, today, customers nonchalantly cross the street from one to another. Colmar says that her vendors are also adhering to strict health and safety regulations, all samples must be individually packaged and masks are available for customers. “Business has been quite nice,” she said.
Here you’ll find Phil Bauman sharing the love for his product, Eileen’s English Toffee,. “Nobody has more fun than I do,” claims Bauman who entices customers to his booth with the promise of free samples, and “the chance of a lifetime” to indulge in sweets made from his British mother’s homemade recipe. “It will crumble in your mouth and not stick to your teeth,” declares Bauman as he unveils the toffee surrounded by dry ice, which gets packed with the toffee so it doesn’t melt. Bauman’s wife Lisa bakes the cookies and leaves the showmanship to her husband. Another couple, Betty Jo Baca and Ron Katz, sell their homemade challah and rolls at Baca Bread. The couple get to work together on Thursday, but in order to hit more markets, split up on Saturdays.
You might not expect to find fine jewelry at a place where people normally pick up produce and barbecue, but Forrest Shafer says that the market has been “very successful” for Jocelyn Hoch and Forrest Fine Jewelry. “We have regular customers and collectors and people who didn’t know they needed jewelry.” For more information, visit Dearborn Street Market on Facebook or email email@example.com
Corin Bay Market
30 S. Mango Street
Tucked behind Mango Bistro, you’ll find Corin Bay Market, started six years ago by Chris Phelps, owner of Corin Bay Realty. Phelps said that these days “People feel more comfortable in an open environment and want to support local businesses.” This market is the home to Stan the Shrimp Man and Chocolate Lovers homemade chocolates whose proceeds benefit veterans.
Phelps also sells chicken coops built by her husband, and has some good news for locals who want even more market options. She already has 50 vendor applications for a new Cape Haze Farmer’s Market scheduled to open Tuesday, November 24, just in time for Thanksgiving. For more information, visit Corin Bay Market on Facebook.