This description describes the Market during non-COVID times. For a description during COVID visit this page.
Our Mission — The mission of the market is to be the ‘heart’ of St. Petersburg — the place, more than anywhere else, that people feel a strong sense of joyful connectedness and creative community.
- While actual farmers, great food, interesting crafts and lively music are all wonderful elements of the market, this spirit of community is what really defines the market experience.
- Many customers have shared that they think that the market is the most significant improvement to quality of life ever in St Petersburg.
The Basics — The market first opened in November 2002
- The market runs every Saturday from 9–2pm in downtown St Petersburg
- The market is located in the Al Lang Field parking lot (the corner of 1st Street and 1st Avene S)
- We’re open from early October–late May each year. This reflects the optimum weather period and the mid-Florida growing season.
- Our smaller Summer Market changes venues for shade. It takes place in Williams Park from June to August … 9am–1pm
- Click here to see our assorted Facebook photo albums including an overview of the Market
Market Management — The market is a non-profit (501c3) organization, actively managed by the Sterieng Committee (Mark Johnson, Gail Eggeman, & Carol Ringed).
- The market is not sponsored by an outside organization (e.g. the city, a merchants association, etc).
A Top Market — We’re one of the top 20 markets in the country (of ~7000+), and the largest in the southeast US. (This assessment is based on our personally visiting over 150 markets, including most of the major ones).
- We have about 170 approved vendors filling over 130 spaces.
- About 10,000 people attend on a typical Saturday.
A Top Food & Eating Experience — We have broad array of gourmet ‘ready-to-eat’ and ‘take-home’ food.
- We have more nationalities or styles (15+) of ‘ready-to-eat’ food than any market in the US (e.g. Greek, Italian, French, Belgian, German, Polish, British, Cuban, Mexican, Ecuadoran, Colombian, Thai, Ethiopian, Cajun, Vegetarian, and more).
- We have a great variety of artisan food vendors. (e.g. fresh seafood, baked goods, pastries, jams, chocolates, cheeses, salsas, chutneys, sauces, imported truffles, pickles, popsicles, spices, jerky etc.).
- The Creative Loafing Food Editor declared that the Market was one of the 5 most significant food-related developments in the Tampa Bay area in the entire 2000-2010 decade.
Business Development — Product sales on a typical Saturday are estimated to be $120,000.
- Over 25 vendors have used the Market to springboard into permanent retail locations. Others are thrilled by the high sales and low overhead associated with Market vending.
- We provide a great deal of direct coaching to vendors about many aspects of vending. They report that this is a unique and very valuable aspect of the St Pete Market.
- We designed a detailed self-assessment model that outlines what ‘poor’, ‘good’ and ‘great’ looks like in 6 categories. It enables vendors to identify their best opportunities to make improvements.
- We’re extremely selective with new vendor applicants, and have declined over 1000 in our history.
- The Market has sponsored a community kitchen to provide fledgling food vendors access to a kitchen that enables them to meet regulatory requirements.
- Surrounding retail stores in the downtown area (and up 4th St) report that the Market has a significant positive impact on their Saturday business.
An Extraordinary Social Experience — It’s widely recognized as the local town square, and the definitive community experience in St Petersburg.
- Live music in the center of the Market plays a key part of the lively market experience.
- Our intention is that visitors are regularly surprised and delighted. One way this occurs is our broad variety of performers/ buskers (e.g. balloon artist, accordionist, magician, chalk artist , living statue, etc.).
- We have 3x as much seating space as any major US market, with over 25 tables and 150 chairs.
- People often plan to eat and hangout at the market, spending about 60-90 minutes, which they know means that it’s very likely that they will run into friends (both expected and unexpected ones).
- Our vendors represent a wide variety of ethnicities and nationalities, contributing to a rich multicultural experience of food, crafts and music.
- Our customers reflect a wide demographic, ethnic and age ranges. This means you’ll see strollers, dreadlocks, canes, high heels, tattoos, balloon hats, bicycling clothes, purple hair & Bermuda shorts.
- Our observation is that the friendliness and ‘vibe’ in our Market is in a class by itself. One indicator of friendliness is the extent that strangers freely talk to one another.
Farmer Development — Running a market in Florida is challenging as Florida is dominated by agri-businesses and has a low proportion of small farmers.
- Our customers are able to buy high quality produce and other products directly from local growers.
- Worden Farm, an organic farm in Punta Gorda (100 miles south) is a huge market favorite.
- We are a primary source of sales for many of our small farmers.
- We support farmers by offering reduced market fees, and scholarships to the Florida Local Food Summit.
- We personally inspect the farms to insure that they grow what they sell.
- We work closely with local agricultural agents to identify and support start-up farmers.
Community Support — We provide significant community visibility to a broad variety of non-profit organizations.
- We’ve given over 500 free booth spaces (including a free tent and table) to non-profits including
- The Bloodmobile has collected over 500 units of blood in their monthly visits.
- We provide a performance venue for many community groups to promote their programs (including the St Petersburg Opera, the Arts Magnet schools, youth development, ethnic dance programs, and many others).
Health & Sustainability — We promote healthy eating and positive environmental practices in many ways.
- The Market provides an EBT service, enabling low income visitors to buy quality food and produce with their benefits. We also provide a ‘double dollars’ service through a charitable grant.
- We’ve purchased a large scale solar composting station to recycle garbage into high quality soil.
- We’ve created a food demonstration cart to enable demos by chefs about healthy and creative cooking.
- We specifically select food vendors for their nutritional value (e.g. we have no deep fried foods).
A Visitor Destination — Local residents report that it’s a favorite place to take their out-of-town visitors.
- We’re a highly rated destination on TripAdvisor & Yelp with an average rating of about 4.5. On TripAdvisor, we’re the #1 shopping location in St Petersburg and earned a coveted ‘Certificate of Excellence’.
- Bay area residents regularly attend from over 40+ miles away (e.g. Lakeland, New Port Richey and Venice).
Award Winning — We regularly win awards and get positive editorial acknowledgements.
- We regularly win Creative Loafing’s annual Readers Choice award as the best local Farmers Market.
- We're a multiple-time winner of the the voting contest by the St Pete Chamber as St Petersburg’s ‘Best Hotspot and Hangout’.
- We won the Downtown Neighborhood Association's Sunshine Award as the best 'Event' in the downtown area for 2 years that the contest has been run.