The fragrance of baked goods linger in the air while garments dance in the breeze. Vibrant artwork trim the tents while devoted locals swarm the sidewalks of the Martin Luther King Plaza on Saturday morning in downtown Pensacola.
Local vendors line the street at downtown Pensacola’s Palafox Market every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. offering a festival- like shopping opportunity featuring a variety of art, antiques, fresh produce and natural products.
Currently in its fifth season and rapidly growing, the Palafox Market includes over 70 unique vendors who are local to Pensacola and surrounding areas. The market has been a growing success since its establishment in 2008 and will now run year round.
Although the market is fit for all generations, many advocates are young adults who are passionate about supporting local merchants.
“Farmer’s markets and shopping local is such a huge thing for the younger generations,” market manager Hilary Gilles said.
Word is spreading, and many young attendees are enthusiastic about supporting their community.
“Be vocal and shop local,” UWF alumna Ashlee Simpson, 27, said. “I love the idea of supporting and empowering my community. It’s a great feeling to contribute to the improvement of Pensacola.”
The fresh produce, baked goods, coffee beans, kettle corn, jams, pies and honey just skim the surface of the tasty spread. Along with specialty foods, an abundance of art, jewelry, antiques and clothing decorated the booths from top to bottom.
“The eclectic items at the market are what keep me coming back,” FSU alumna Sierra Eades, 27 said. “The jewelry is one of a kind. The artists are so talented, and you can’t find things they offer commercially.”
The market focuses on the authenticity and locality of the products they offer. All vendors must be from within a 100 mile radius of Pensacola.
“We have so many different products and so many different vendors that all the rules and regulations have to be covered,” Gilles said. “Everything has to be made or grown locally by that vendor so there’s no reselling.”
Kittrell’s Daydream Apiary (bee yard) is a long time vendor at the market and offers raw honey and raw honey products including handmade milk and honey soap, beeswax candles, and pollen. Cheryl Kittrell, bee yard farmer, is passionate about their product and the health benefits consumers can receive from this natural replacement for sugar.
Like many of the other vendors, Kittrell’s embraces the local opportunity to share their product with the community and wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We don’t aspire to the commercialism,” Kittrell said. “We fit perfectly with the cottage industry and the feeling of the market. It’s a very organic kind of thing.”
Although Kittrell’s isn’t looking for mass production, other vendors have seen their business grow through the Palafox Market’s exposure.
“We have all sorts of vendors, from the well- established farmer, who that’s their life and their business, to the backyard farmer who’s really into gardening and has excess produce,” Gilles said.
The Palafox Market showcases these hobbyists and businesses for exactly what they are, local and authentic. Due to the market’s popularity, some vendors, like those selling produce, often sell out early. Although some products have become a hot commodity, there is no rush if you’re not an early riser. There’s plenty going on until the market’s close in the early afternoon.
The market is located in the Martin Luther King Plaza on North Palafox Street between Wright Street and Chase Street every Saturday, except Feb. 9, rain or shine.