BRADENTON BEACH – Since the Aug. 2 announcement that Manatee County would take over the Coquina Beach Market from Nancy Ambrose, its director for the past decade, she has been looking for new venues.
Ambrose told The Sun that she is exploring the permitting process for one or more new venues for the market and said there are several good possibilities.
“This all happened so fast,” she said. “My concern is always the vendors having a place to go. When this happened, I almost felt like I let them down. I would say right now there is probably more than one place that we’re looking at.”
Ambrose declined to say where she was looking, but said that her search was not limited to Manatee County.
“The market will probably be at more than one place,” she said. “There’s one
in particular that I’m very excited about.”
“I’m done with the county as far as the beach market,” she said. “My reports are in to the county, I’ve destroyed my signs and business cards. I had 30 days, but I got it all done.”
Ambrose had expressed astonishment that her franchise license agreement for use of the beach parking lot had been terminated, thus ending her longtime management of the market.
“I was completely shocked when I received the coldest termination without cause letter out of the blue yesterday,” she wrote on Aug. 2 on her Facebook page. “I spent the day trying to figure it out and was so worried about the vendors.”
An Aug. 2 press release from Manatee County Information Director Bill Logan stated in part, “Artisans and other vendors will be back along the Coquina Beach South promenade, once again, when the 2022-23 season opens in November as oversight for the market shifts to Manatee County.”
On Aug. 5, Logan declined to give a reason for Ambrose’s termination and said by email, “I do not have any further information why the contract was terminated.”
“In a perfect world, I at 64 would retire as my husband retired in May and we would get the Thor Vegas or Atlas and travel with our dogs – that we dream about,” she wrote. “However instead of relaxing now – I must work on finding other venues as I honestly feel that some of our vendor family will not have a home in November.”
“We have fabulous vendors,” she said. “It has a family vibe and that makes it a special place. People can feel that.”
Ambrose’s supporters have come out in force on social media. The Facebook page, “Where is the Market?” has garnered 1,200 members – many of whom are vendors who have worked with Ambrose and are expressing loyalty. For example, “941 Beach Vibes” will NOT be vendors at the Coquina Beach Market, we will be following Nancy,” is posted there.
Ambrose said she started the Beach Market as vendors at her previous Bridge Street market were not allowed back when she left as manager.
“I am afraid that I will see the same thing now – that the vendors who helped build and make the Beach Market at Coquina Beach so special will not be back,” she wrote. “I fear for this on so many levels. So, I have no other decision than to start anew and help the vendors… I am mama bear to my vendors – you do not mess around with them.”
County organizing new market
County leaders are working to create a “more engaging and enjoyable experience” when the Coquina Beach Market reopens in November, Logan wrote in an Aug. 11 press release.
He declined to speculate as to what some of those changes could be, saying, “Everything is being looked at in order to make it a better event.”
“Every aspect of the market is being studied, from location to hours and dates of operation to enhancing vendor and guest opportunities,” Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said. “We want to integrate this into the beach experience.”
The new director has not yet been chosen, Logan said.
“There are discussions as to who will be in charge of the market, but no person has been appointed or named yet,” he said.
More than 150 vendors have responded to initial survey requests, expressing their interest in continuing to work with the new management team, according to Logan.
Vendors for the county beach market may apply at coquinamarketvendors@ mymanatee.org.