SUN CITY CENTER - Hundreds of shoppers recently turned out to preview a new market that's soon to become a regular part of the community scene.
"I thought it was fantastic," said Mimi VanDevender of Wimauma, noting the merchandise was truly diverse. "There was everything from baked goods and pet products to handmade soaps and beeswax and, of course, lots of jewelry. And I liked that (the vendors) were all local.
"This is something Sun City Center needs on a Saturday afternoon."
Themed Christmas in July, the market will be the prototype of a monthly event that organizer Jennifer McCafferty calls Jen's MarketPlace to be held monthly at locations in Sun City Center and Apollo Beach.
"I'm looking at this as a kind of street party where folks can shop, eat and be entertained," she said. "This was a test run to gauge the level of support we'd receive - from both vendors and the community. We had 38 vendors; I actually had to turn some away for lack of space. And people were lined up outside the doors as we were setting up."
McCafferty said she plans to have lots of rotating vendors, including some selling seasonal produce and other farm products, live music and additional food trucks. Each month part of the table rental proceeds will go to an area nonprofit group.
McCafferty is lining up vendors, entertainers and a second venue in Apollo Beach to kick off the monthly events on a regular basis this fall. The fun begins Oct. 19 when Jen's MarketPlace hosts Harvest Hoedown from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce, 1651 Sun City Center Plaza. Details for the first Apollo Beach event are forthcoming.
McCafferty is looking for event sponsors to help cover operational expenses, which include labor for set-up and tear-down and entertainment fees.
She said preference will be given to folks selling fresh produce and authentic, hand-crafted items. The vendor fee is $25.
"I was actually ecstatic after Christmas in July," McCafferty said. "This was the first one so I didn't know what to expect. In the fall. I will have to double the space."
To sign up or learn more, email jens-market.com or call (813) 846-1316.