BRADENTON BEACH -- Even though they have only held it twice now, the confident organizers and vendors for a new Manatee County craft market on Coquina Beach have decided to call their creation, "The World Famous Coquina Open Air Market."
"I think when word gets out there, we will be famous," said Nancy Ambrose, organizer and manager of the market, whose roughly 20 vendors sell fresh produce, arts and crafts, jewelry, fine art and more.
They all pitched their white tents Sunday just east of the equally new six-month-old Coquina Cafe and enjoyed another success, according to Ambrose.
The World Famous Coquina market will be held in the shadow of the Coquina Cafe from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Sunday through April 28 except for Jan. 13 and March 3, dates previously reserved by other organizations.
The market and cafe are part of a new look, which some might call an upgrade or revitalization, for Bradenton Beach's Coquina Beach -- which, in some people's minds, has long played second fiddle to the truly famous Sarasota Siesta Key Beach to the south and Holmes Beach's Manatee County Public Beach a bit farther north.
Besides a new boardwalk-style wood deck, which includes tables in the shade of nearby trees, the Coquina Cafe is scheduled to get a tiki bar and entertainment to go along with beer and wine early next year, said Coquina Cafe gift store manager Judy Servidio.
Residents and tourists at the market Sunday seemed to agree that having a Sunday market, music and beer and wine sales could shift the area's beach balance of power a bit.
"We won't have to fight the traffic at the public beach now that we have this," said Bradenton's Vivian Smith.
"When snowbirds discover the cafe they will absolutely come here to the market, too,"
Smith was at the Coquina market Sunday, helping her best friend Nancy Foley, owner of Fancy Nancy's Jewelry, which has jewelry scarfs and accessories.
Coquina Market offers a mix
The Sunday market has a mix to satisfy anyone from Christmas shoppers, to fashionistas, to kids looking to have fun to the hungry beachgoer, Ambrose said.
Rich Bleakley of Longboat Key bought a ripe persimmon fruit for $1 from Yvette Nunez, owner of Milargo's Produce of Palmetto. He could have had three ears of corn for the same buck, four or five sweet potatoes for $1, four or five tomatoes for $2, three peppers for $1, a watermelon for $1.50, an eggplant for $.75, three cucumbers for $1 or two Spanish sweet onions for $1.
At Sand Art by Sam, owned by Sam Ferreri, kids enjoyed pouring layers of colored play sand in bottles, light bulbs and other vessels. Prices ranged from $1 to $10.
At Katie Kaluza's Magic Mountain Original booth, shoppers "oohed and ahhed" over her hand-painted, clay mermaids, which she makes using dental tools and which go from $20 to $100 and more. Val Gratias' Island Jewels offered one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces and Gratias' sense of humor, which kept her customers laughing.
Linda Shipley's Garlynd's Creations specializes in, believe it or not, wire and glass bead spiders.
"Ugh, this looks exactly like the wood spiders we have in our home in North Port," groaned shopper Sheila Truhlar.
Karen Greenley, who provided entertainment for the opening market Nov. 17, was unavailable Sunday because of a family emergency, but Ambrose recruited substitute performers for the afternoon.
Last year, this market was held at the Gulf Drive Cafe, but Bradenton Beach city commissioners requested Ambrose relocate to Coquina because of traffic concerns.
It was a win-win decision, Kaluza said.
"It is gorgeous here," Kaluza said.
For information on renting a vendor's booth, which runs $40, call Ambrose at 941-518-4431.