BRADENTON BEACH -- It’s a game. It’s a cooking contest. It’s the new version of the Bridge Street Sunday Market.
The weekly Bradenton Beach market, which kicks off its season at 10 a.m. Sunday, is applying some lessons learned during its first two years. The event is adding some new features designed to draw attendees into the shops of Bridge Street merchants and increase its appeal to island residents.
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This Sunday, for example, shoppers can join in a photo scavenger hunt that will send them traipsing through merchant stores in search of a list of hidden items. Those who participate will have a chance at one of four $25 gift certificates to a Bridge Street merchant of their choice.
“Every month, we’ll be coming up with more ideas,” says Melissa Enders, taking over this year as the market manager. “We’re definitely trying to get creative.”
Next Sunday, the special event is a pumpkin pie cookoff, which Enders emphasizes can mean any kind of pie that somehow includes pumpkin.
The overall goal, says Bridge Street merchant Amanda Escobio, is to create a “deeper integration between the market as an event, the market vendors and the merchants on the street.”
“I don’t in any way want to indicate that the person before wasn’t doing a fabulous job,” says Escobio, who credits the market’s first two years for a 20 percent increase in massage clients at her business, Island Wellness. “I’m a big fan of (former market manager) Nancy Ambrose. But I’m also very excited for the changes that Melissa is heralding.”
Enders and the Bridge Street Merchants association that sponsors the market haven’t yet determined what fun game will kick off December. Future cooking contests, which will likely occur the second week of every month, will feature chili, chowder, crab cakes, dessert cakes and pies.
Other changes Enders has brought to the market include sponsors who are helping to fund professional promotional and advertising material, and direct fundraising by the market on behalf of different causes including a Toys for Tots holiday gift drive.
The market will be held every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through April 29. For more information, including to inquire about joining as vendor, contact Enders at 215-906-0668 or MelissaEnders76@yahoo.com.
Christine Hawes, Herald business writer, can be reached at 941-745-7081.