Swan City Market Life

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Featured Vendor: Peggy Hickson

book sale Join me in welcoming Peggy Hickson to The Market! You may certainly welcome her in the comments below, but you probably also want to welcome her in person because, as she told me, “I don’t know the first thing about computers.” 🙂 I promised her I’d bring my Kindle to The Market next Saturday so that she could see her vendor feature.

Peggy is a very special kind of vendor. She’s not a hobbyist, nor is she a business. She is a fund-raiser, a do-gooder, a woman of conviction and faith. Through her sale of donated books, Peggy is raising funds for missions trips to the Ukraine. Peggy is at The Market on “most Saturdays,” and the average cost of her books is around $2-3…Some are more, some are less; but for the most part, you can expect to find yourself a literary treat for just a couple bucks.

Peggy says that cookbooks have been a big seller at her booth, a few simple tables covered with pretty fall-printed table cloths and loads of books! She currently also has a large selection of books on history, biographies, and murder mysteries. She even has an impressive selection of magazines priced at a low, low 50 cents each! As I browsed her tables this past Saturday, I came across a stack of Highlights magazines from the late 80’s and early 90’s. My Granny renewed my Highlights subscription every year for me as a Christmas gift when I was a kid, and I was immediately struck by memories of each cover — how excited I was when my next issue came in the mail.

Peggy would love for you to browse her tables and make a contribution to her cause. She also would love your donations of books of all kinds and all genres. She feels her selection could use some good light-hearted reads, and of course, cookbooks! Lots of cookbooks! Bring them on out to The Market for Peggy, and she’ll help them find new homes to support her faithful efforts.

books

While we’re on the subject of welcoming new vendors, has anyone else noticed how much The Market has grown just since we reopened in September?? This past weekend, I learned that we have grown so much that we have added a whole extra block of vendors! Make sure you don’t miss where The Market turns the corner to the west at Bay St. and Kentucky Ave. There are plenty of vendors along Bay St. up to Tennessee Ave! I was excited to find my vendor buddies Debra, Holly, and Alice selling their plants, fair-trade baskets, and tie dye (respectively) along Bay St. this past weekend! (I’ve been missing Debra’s epic arrivals to The Market, where she pulls up to unload her plants and is literally rocking out to some amazing ballad from 30-or-so years ago. She is a woman who truly knows how to make an entrance!) I was also excited to see Bay St. Bistro with a booth, and I can’t wait to try their reportedly fabulous board of fare for lunch one Saturday.

Last but not least, don’t forget to include The Market in your holiday shopping! With just a few weeks until Thanksgiving and less than 45 days until Christmas, make sure you stop by the Market for a great selection of good eats for the holidays and tons of locally-made gift ideas. Small Business Saturday just so happens to fall on Market Day, November 30! There are also still a few weeks left to order your holiday poinsettias at The Market. All proceeds will benefit live music at The Market. On so many levels, we appreciate all your purchases!

In Community,
Heather.

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Welcomed with Open Arms!

MrManHUG

I pulled up to my regular Market spot this morning before the sun rose, and my first inclination was to run and hug my vendor buddies! However, I have on more than one occasion, been known to socialize when I should be unloading and setting up…and then Jim, our fearless Market manager, has to nudge me gently in the right direction. 🙂 So I withheld my hugging impulses until after I unloaded and parked my car…Being back was great!

My Granny — who is the wisest woman I’ve ever known, and whom I often quote — has traveled a lot in her 89 years. I always ask her about her trips upon her return, and she always says that she had a fabulous time, but that the real purpose in taking a vacation so that we’re glad to come back home. I thought about that bit of her wisdom today as I admired the bustling crowd at today’s reopening day, and I realized it was totally applicable. Being away from the Market for the month of August made me so much more appreciative of being there today. Everything familiar and wonderful about the Market meant a lot more to me after not having it in my life for a little while. I talked with many vendors and customers who shared the same sentiment.

And reopening day was not without its fanfare! Applebutter Express played fun tunes that had me tapping my toe (and feeling a little jealous of those dancing right in front of the stage). New vendors were welcomed, and each brings a special new element to the Market. Last but certainly not least, the “Curbie Award” — given to the vendor with the most votes on the recent Market customer survey — was awarded to my buddy Ron at Sugarbuzz Dezert Company! I’m very happy that all of Ron’s hard work on his business paid off! There’s no better feeling than the appreciation of your customers, and although every vendor is deserving of their own award, I know Ron loves filling Lakeland’s bellies with yummy goodness and love!

Coming back to the Market today was wonderful, not just because we all felt refreshed from time off, but because it was just good to be HOME. To be back to what is a familiar routine. To be back to a community of friendship, creativity, and good ol’ fashioned wholesomeness.

I can’t wait to continue learning the life lessons the Market has to teach me. I just get the feeling that some very special things are going to happen in this new Market season!


On a friendship-related note, I’d like to use this blog post to promote International Women’s Friendship Month (IWFM), which comes around each September. I try to use my Market business (Swan City Stitchery) as a platform for important causes that are near and dear to my heart. IWFM is very special to me because it was imagined and created by Kappa Delta Sorority, of which I am an alumna sister. Kappa Delta has played a very important role in my life, connecting me with not only some of my very best friends in life, but also helping shape me into the confident, capable woman that I am today. One of Kappa Delta’s platforms is the Confidence Coalition, which serves to mobilize the many organizations, companies and individuals that promote self-esteem and confidence among girls and women. Through my involvement in Kappa Delta and the love of my sisters and women friends, I have truly learned to feel comfortable in my own skin and learned that a person’s beauty is so much deeper than what you can see with your eyes. Today, I volunteer for Kappa Delta as an alumna advisor to my chapter at Florida Southern College, which helps me continue to learn about being a confident woman and share with college students what I have learned about being a confident woman.

So, because September is International Women’s Friendship Month, and because women’s friendships are so valuable, I want to share with you all an opportunity to win a very cool contest offered by the Confidence Coalition. Throughout September, all women can celebrate their most cherished friends by entering the Confidence Coalition’s 2013 International Women’s Friendship Month Photo Contest. Entrants will submit a photo with a caption that answers the question, “How do your friendships build your confidence?” If you submit the winning photo, you and a friend will win a girlfriends’ getaway to Memphis, Tennessee to have lunch with IWFM spokesperson Leigh Anne Tuohy (a Kappa Delta alumna), the real-life inspiration behind the film “The Blind Side.” Leigh Anne is also an acclaimed author, the host of the uplifting TV series, “Family Addition with Leigh Anne Tuohy,” and an advocate for women’s friendship!

You do not have to be a member of Kappa Delta to enter the contest! You just have to be a woman who is willing to share about a friendship that builds your confidence! I have so many incredible female customers that this seemed like a very fitting cause to share for the month of September. 🙂 All the details about entering the contest can be found on the Confidence Coalition’s website.

Looking forward to SO many things!
– H.


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The Heat Is On…

It’s that time of year when we could all swear the humidity is somehow above 100%. That time of year when afternoon rains roll in just as reliable as a Yellowstone geyser. We kick off hurricane season without so much as the bat of an eye. School lets out and summer camps and vacations commence. We switch out hot coffee for iced coffee. And summer doesn’t even officially start until June 21!

I’ve had to free my feet from actual shoes and wear sandals every Saturday now. My feet have gone from stark white to perhaps ecru or eggshell in a matter of weeks, although leaving white lines where my sandal straps rest. I found myself thinking back yesterday to December, January, and February of this Market season. Oh, the memories of arriving on Kentucky Ave. at 6:30AM in the total darkness, with temperatures somewhere in the 40’s and vendors dressed in 3 or 4 layers. Of course, by 10:30AM, we had usually shed at least a layer or two because the temperature had climbed to the upper 60’s. We couldn’t feel our hands to set up our tents. We’d hug one another good morning, and often linger for a little extra snuggle and an exchange of body heat.

Those days seem so far away now. Now, once I pack up my booth at the end of the Market each weekend, I am tempted to drive straight to Barnett Park and sit in the cool, refreshing fountains for a while (except that I’d be the creepy lady without kids). It’s that time of year when it could be really miserable to be outside at the Market. But amazingly, we’re still all there! Vendors are faithful in attendance, even though wearing one layer of clothing seems like too much. Customers are still steady throughout the day, even though the local supermarkets and big box stores are running their A/C’s full-blast. And we remain united — not just because we’re miserably hot together, but because the Market matters. Buying the freshest local organic produce at the best price matters. Buying gifts from local artisans matters. Because our local economy matters. Our relationships with one another matter. Our Saturday routine and commitment to our Market Community matters, even if it makes us physically miserable for a little while. 🙂

There are only 7 Saturdays left in this Market season. And yes, you can pretty much count on each of those Saturdays being rather miserable. But we depend on you and appreciate you in a way that those fancy air-conditioned retailers don’t. And come August, I’m willing to bet you’ll even miss us a little bit. That first Saturday of September will seem like forever away! And if nothing else, it is true that misery loves company, so at least stop by and commiserate with us about how hot it is. Over Teaki Bars and iced tea, we can discuss what crazy notion ever possessed Florida’s settlers to choose this muggy swampland to call home…but also be so thankful that they did!

Thank you so much for sticking with us…even at this time of year when your clothes are sticking to your body like flypaper. 🙂


Just as an aside, while we’re discussing the dog days of summer, I’d like to mention that I’m doing a casting all for all Canine Customers of the Market. Would you and your pooch like to be featured in an upcoming Swan City Market Life blog post? All interested pups and their people to stop by Swan City Stitchery next Saturday, June 15 for a photo and to give some insight on the varied personalities (dog-alities?) of our four-legged regulars. There will even be treats involved! (For dogs only, although any humans who enjoy eating dog treats will not be judged!) And since we’ve established that it will be hot, there will be a dog bowl of refreshing water as well. 🙂


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A Perfect Ten!

It’s been a hot minute since my last blog post. I haven’t forgotten about you out there in the blogosphere! I have just been considering the right topic and verbage for the most epic blog post about a farmer’s market that you will ever read. And I’m pretty sure I have a good grip on it now…

I’ve been a vendor at the Market for 6 months now. During those 6 months, it’s amazing to me that so many Saturdays I meet a customer who says, “This is my first time at this Market…It’s pretty neat!” I tend to ask these new customers where they are from, and I’m usually surprised to find that they say, “Oh, the southside of town/northside of town…I just don’t make it this direction very much.” Now, even though I’ve only been a vendor for 6 months, I’ve been a Market customer since way back. I remember the Market’s humble beginnings as a tiny little smattering of tents in the Bay Street parking lot. From my very first visit, I was hooked. And hopefully you’re reading this because you’re hooked. But chances are you know someone — a Lakelander even — who has never been to the Market or doesn’t even know it exists. And it may take some persuading to convince that person to take the 15 minute drive downtown with you to come check it out. So, my Market customer friends, I will do the persuading for you…You just pick your reason(s) from the list below, explain them to that person you know who has never been to the Market, and convince them to come with you excitedly this Saturday!

Reasons for Visiting the Lakeland Downtown Farmer’s Curb Market:

1. The Market is IMPRESSIVE. I say that as both a customer and a vendor. The variety of booths at the Market is really something incredible. Need bath soap, produce for the week, a baby shower gift, and then hoping to squeeze in time for a relaxing massage? We have all that! The Market is your one stop shop! Our Market extends from the railroad tracks at Kentucky almost to Bay Street (where our little Market roots were first planted), with multiple rows of vendors down each block. You truly won’t believe the variety the Market offers.

2. Your money stays local…And often doubly local! Here’s an example: When I buy Dutchy’s Granola each week, I am supporting sweet Ms. Janet. The money she earns from my sale will go back into our local community when Janet purchases the groceries she needs to make next week’s batch of granola. AND, she’ll spend a portion of that money buying Country Bees local honey to sweetener her granola naturally! Boom, double local impact! Or, if I buy a Plant City Strawberry Teaki Truck Pop, not only am I supporting the locals of Teaki Truck, I’m supporting a local farmer, too. Now if you took your money to another store — Let’s just call it TargMart for the sake of illustration — your money is headed off to a corporate account somewhere far away, like…oh, I dunno, Little Rock, Arkansas or Minneapolis, Minnesota. So not only is your money headed out of our area, it will eventually be paid to corporate stockholders, and then it could end up even further away, like…oh, what’s a good example here? Maybe a off-shore account? There are vendors who sell products from abroad, but by and large, those products are fair trade and support sustainability in developing areas of the world.

3. You discover there are lots of really cool things going on downtown! Us Marketeers are really used to co-existing with downtown events because there are so many of them going on! From the Garden Extravaganza and Spring Obsession, to Fancy Flea and Chalk for Charity. Arts events, events for every kind of hobbyist, faith-based events, family events, literary events involving local writers, fundraising events for Lakeland’s many worthy causes…they’re all going on downtown, and visiting the Market is a great way to discover two fun things in one day!

4. When you buy something meant for human or animal consumption, you will know what all the ingredients are without an advanced degree in chemistry. They will be real, common-knowledge ingredients that you can pronounce, and you can rest assured they won’t be harmful to you or your loved ones. What in the heck is “BHT?” I dunno, but it’s listed in the ingredients of store-brand granola bars…next to it, it says “(preservative).” Comparing that to Dutchy’s, which has oats, wheat germ, flax seed, honey, the healthy variety of nut of your choosing…I think I’ll pass on that “BHT.”

5. You will leave with new friends. When a Market vendor asks you your name and introduces themself to you, they will know you when you return. They will ask how you are doing, and they will really care about how you answer that question. They will be glad that you’re back. They will notice if you haven’t been around in a while, and they’ll make sure everything’s been okay with you. They will look at the photos of your grandkids and dogs on your Smartphone and be genuinely excited about the people, pets, and things that are important to you. They will thank you for being a regular and a friend. And they will mean all of it. Try getting that from TargMart.

6. The Market is good for the environment. Many vendors feature a special focus on eco-friendly merchandise or organic produce. Many offer upcycled creations. Some even give you a discount if you return your empty container when it’s time to buy a refill! We’ll gladly take donations of your plastic bags to use again for our sales. You won’t have to use gas and give off emissions as you drive all over town to find what you need. And since I mentioned our vendors buying locally, they don’t order things from China that require A LOT of petroleum/energy to arrive here in the US. Last but certainly not least, you will enjoy the time you spend outside in our open-air Market, and you’ll leave feeling closer to Mother Nature.

7. You’ll be part of a community. I know I mentioned that you’ll leave with new friends, but the Market truly goes deeper than that. Customers and vendors aren’t “JUST” customers and vendors. We’re interconnected, we’re bound together by our common values, we’re invested in one another…and we’d love to have you join us!

8. We’re open to your feedback. In fact, we actually appreciate it and value it! Some of my best product and marketing ideas have come from my customers who have said, “You know what you could do…?” If you have a comment or concern, you won’t have to call an 800-number and wait on hold for a customer services representative. You’ll be face-to-face with the booth’s owner at every visit! We even have a committee to whom you can take your comments and suggestions for the Market!

9. You’ll get what you pay for. Every Market purchase is a purchase of the highest quality. Your produce will be the freshest and finest, so you’ll get optimum nutrition. Your gifts (for others or yourself!) will be unique and handmade to last by experienced artisans. You’ll savor every last bite of your beignets, cheesecake, or fruit and tea frozen pop. No buyer’s remorse at this Market!

10. You’ll be in on one of Lakeland’s Best Kept Secrets. Except we don’t want to be a secret! We want you to tell EVERYONE you know! We want all of the above reasons the Market is so great to exist for a really long time, and we want our entire Lakeland area (Polk County and Plant City included, of course!) to be so excited that every new customer feels inspired to bring a new customer some day. We want to be a household topic of conversation. We want to be part of your Saturday routine. We want to be a gathering place for you and your friends.

Perhaps you even have your own reasons for shopping at the Market. I am quite sure there are more than the few I mentioned above. If you have other reasons, I’d love to hear them. I’d also love to hear who you know that you’re going to bring to the Market for the first time!

Hoping to see all of you +1 this Saturday!

In Community,
Heather.


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North America Farmers’ Market Directory

New Yorkers enjoy the famous Union Square Farmers’ Market

Did you die-hard Gator fans who spend a lot of fall weekends in Alachua County know that Gainesville has FIVE farmers markets? Or you Seminole fans? Tallahassee has SEVEN! Our neighbors to the west in Tampa and St. Pete have four markets each, with other markets in the Bay Area like Clearwater, Largo, and Ybor City.

As we get closer to summer and vacation season, The Farmers’ Market Directory can help you locate a market if you’re taking a trip to another city in Florida. Use this very handy website to help you locate farmers’ markets in the area you’ll be in! Or maybe you’re traveling somewhere else in the US or Canada? No problem! The links down the left side of the page will help you locate farmer’s markets in every state or province! Help support Main Street USA or Canada. small businesses, and family farms wherever you travel!

Of course, be it ever so humble with our one (but STRONG) market in Lakeland, there’s no place like home, and we look forward to seeing you when you’re here!

Blessings –
Heather.