SEMINOLE – The Seminole Wednesday Market, which launched in November, has ended its season two months early. The market, which set up in the parking lot of the Holland G. Mangum Recreation Complex, was scheduled to run every Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., through April.
This was the first year the market was held in Seminole. Prior to this, it operated weekly in Madeira Beach for four years. It was forced to move for the 2018-2019 season due to a construction project at its original location at Gulf Boulevard and Tom Stuart Causeway.
In a March 7 Facebook post, the Seminole Wednesday Market announced that “due to overwhelming requests” it will move “back to the beach areas for the coming season.” In an interview, Laura Garrison, market operations manager for The Beach Markets, which also runs the Indian Shores Sunday Morning Market, said they’re considering several locations for the Wednesday market.
Garrison said the market “struggled” at the Seminole recreation center from the start and that she “lost a lot of money,” often paying rent out of her own pocket.
“The bottom line is that it cost me thousands of dollars and the vendors were not making any money, so we’re leaving,” she said.
She said that the market was forced to close twice in February due to inclement weather and also during the first week of March when the recreation center was closed ahead of the Pow Wow Festival.
“It made zero sense for me to pay exorbitant insurance costs for the month of March when not only were we having yet another week off, we were experiencing high attrition rates with the vendors,” Garrison said.
She added that the city didn’t offer the market any assistance, either through “financial sponsorship” or promotional help.
“Every week that I was there, I went in and asked for assistance in the form of, at the very least, a mention on the marquee (‘too many events’ is what I was told) or allowing me to put a banner up in the rec center lobby at my expense,” she said.
Becky Gunter, the city’s recreation director, said her department provided marketing assistance to the market in various ways. The recreation department promoted the market on its Facebook page and also put the event on the marquee, she said.
She added, “We created a short video of the market that we were actually going to push out on our social media the week she gave her notice.”
While Gunter is “glad [the market] found a landing spot,” she thinks “it would have been successful in Seminole if we gave it more time.”
She said, “Just this week we had five people pop into the recreation center looking for the market. We could not have given her a better location right on 113th [Street] with hundreds of cars driving by hourly. We wish her all the luck and encourage people to go check her out on the beaches.”
The Indian Shores Sunday Morning Market will remain open through the end of April, though it’s closed Easter Sunday.