Bargains galore at Island Flea
SUN PHOTO/LOUISE BOLGER
Nicole Heslop offers vendors
affordable and accessible spaces to present their
wares at Island Flea in Holmes Beach.
Question: What happens when you merge a farmers' market, a flea market and a Caribbean market, put it all under one roof and stick it on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico?
Answer: You get The Island Flea Farmers' Market in Holmes Beach, a very fun and cool place.
In November of last year, Nicole Heslop and her husband, Jon Westergard, opened The Island Flea Farmers' Market. After living on Anna Maria Island for more than 15 years, Heslop knew that the Island sure didn’t need another T-shirt or shell shop. She set about to look for a business that would serve both local small businesses and shoppers in an outdoor creative setting.
What she came up with is what she likes to describe as a Caribbean market, a potpourri of merchandise most of which are Florida products, many organic in nature and all with an Island theme. What really makes the Island Flea unique is the concept developed by Heslop of renting space to individuals, giving them an affordable and accessible place to display their goods. Some products are also sold on a consignment basis with the staff at The Island Flea handling those sales.
One area of the market is devoted to fresh fruit while another to fresh seafood. Another space is devoted to Mexican pottery and organic farming. You can purchase bread and pies from the Amish bakery, fresh produce, as well as hanging baskets, herbs and annual plants.
Locally produced hot sauces, spices and salad dressings are displayed on one table right alongside jellies and honeys. And while you’re there purchasing all the goodies, you can have your knives and scissors sharpened.
There’s even a surf shop with hand-made tote bags, flip flops, artwork, garden fountains, a doggie boutique and more. Heslop also is setting up a climate controlled area for plants, candles and other products that need to be kept at a constant temperature. And don’t forget the Java Dog Coffee Bar where you can take a break and have a latté or smoothie or grab something from Little Bites Gourmet Food To Go. Soon she will also be renting and selling golf carts. It’s a festival for the eyes that changes daily.
The Island Flea is open every day, but individual vendors set their own hours, which are displayed in their areas. All sellers are properly licensed and insured by the state and city and personally vetted by Heslop, who is picky about who she puts under her roof. However, she does encourage artists and small business professionals to contact her for a fresh approach to doing business on the Island.
So get out your organic shopping bag, put on your flip flops and pickup dinner. You’ll find everything you need at The Island Flea. And while you’re there don’t forget that birthday gift you’ve been meaning to get or the gourmet doggie biscuit. Shop, sell and eat but mostly have fun at the Island’s newest attraction, The Island Flea Farmers Market.
Island Flea Farmers Market5704 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach
9 a.m. – 5 p.m. – Everyday