Barb and Paul Sheil of Belleair are pleased with the free flowers they got at the Friday Fresh Market in Belleair.
BELLEAIR – Described as new and improved, the outdoor market made its 2012-13 debut Nov. 2 in the town of Belleair.
The market began a year ago as the “Market on the Mall.” Organizers changed it this year to “Friday Fresh Market.” It is a move they hope will cut down on confusion and more adequately describe what it is all about.
The market is held in Hunter Park, near the town hall in the center of Belleair.
“This is a perfect place for the market,” said Christy Ward, the market manager. “This park was made for this, the winding walkway through the park makes it perfect for the vendors and soon there will be improvements which will allow us to have better music.”
Ward said there is a big difference this year from last.
“Last year I had to go looking for vendors, I had to solicit them,” she said. “This year they are coming to me. Word is getting around that this is a good market.”
Nearby, manning the Jay’s Market Place booth, was Jeanene McKnight and she agrees with Ward’s assessment of the market.
“I go to four markets a week to sell,” she said. “I am looking forward to this year here in Belleair. I love the area, I love the people and I know this will do well. This will be good for the neighborhood. I came here last year just to browse with nothing to sell.”
Her customer, Joan Williams of Belleair Beach, is convinced the market will be successful. “This has to get bigger,” she said. “I think it is fabulous. I could hardly wait for it to start.”
Another vendor on the other side of the market couldn’t keep her muffins in stock. Mary Cannici was surrounded by goodies from Sweet Caroline’s Bakery in Palm Harbor. “This is so much fun,” she said. “This market is going to be significant for this area.”
One problem identified by town staff with the market a year ago was consistency. Rachel Schneider, a supervisor with the Recreation Department, said it was too hit and miss last year.
“This year we are going to have it every Friday, not every second Friday,” she said. “It will run until the end of March so there will be 20 Fridays when the market will be here. The only exceptions are holidays.”
She also noted that the hours changed from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. last year to 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this year.
“That is so moms who are picking their kids up from school will have time to come to the market on their way home.”
Wandering through the market holding a plant, compliments of the Belleair Garden Club, were Paul and Barb Sheil of Belleair. They were pleased with what they saw.
“There are so many unique things here,” said Mrs. Sheil. “The plants and the flowers and you get a chance to see what the community is all about.” The Sheils, who are new residents of Belleair, had just come back from the summer in Ohio.
“This is my first time here,” said Mr. Sheil. “We’ll be back for sure. I like the idea that there is so much local stuff here. We’re getting to know the community just by being here.”
There are 30 vendors taking part in the market each week.
“It has taken us a year to get established,” said Ward the market manager. “We hand pick the vendors. They are coming to us now, more than we can handle. But that is a good problem to have.”