LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The outdoor Main Street Market is returning to Lakewood Ranch for the summer with earlier hours for shoppers and vendors who can't stand the heat.
The market will open for business along the perimeter of Main Street from 8 a.m. until noon Saturday with several new vendors selling watermelon, corn and fresh seafood from Anna's Seafood market in Bradenton.
If all goes well, market proprietor Jennifer McCafferty of Jen's Market Inc., said she wants to offer the market two Saturdays a month in the fall and winter.
"I would like to stay in Lakewood Ranch. The merchants want the market there and the community wants it. It's a good opportunity because it brings visibility to the Main Street stores," McCafferty said.
Negotiations to maintain the outdoor Main Street Market involves Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty, property management and the Main Street Merchants Association.
"I'm in favor of having a market twice a month, although I'm not speaking for all the merchants because we haven't done a tally yet," said Michelle Wise, president of the Lakewood Ranch Main Street Merchants Association. "I enjoy having the market here, especially over the summer because it's much
slower. I know the merchants would be looking at the opportunity of putting the hours back to 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. once it cools down."
The farmers market has a quasi-sponsorship business relationship with Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty, allowing McCafferty and the merchants to use the Main Street space for free.
Amanda Vercheski, leasing manager for Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty, could not be reached for comment.
At San Marco Plaza on Nature's Way in Lakewood Ranch, 48 vendors selling fresh, farm produce and natural products were part of a regular Friday farmers market in the cobblestone courtyard before it shut down two years ago due to liability issues.
"Our vendors were all so good, but now that our plaza is almost 95 percent full, we would need to move the farmers market from its former location," said Barbara Smith, president of the San Marco Plaza Condo Association and owner of 2nd Ann Rose Designer Consignment Boutique.
For now, the summer Main Street farmers market will operate the last Saturday of the month through September. Besides farm produce, vendors will sell arts and crafts, and visitors can bring their dogs for a bath at the Mobile Dog Wash.
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.