Avoid the mall rush, shop local at Tampa Bay beach markets

MADEIRA BEACH, FL (WFLA) — The smell of sawdust and baked-goods fill the air at the Beach Market in Madeira Beach. It’s an alternative to jam-packed malls or impersonal online shopping this holiday season. While some stroll the streets to enjoy the fresh air, others are flocking to area beach markets to do serious shopping.

Beach Markets operations manager Laura Garrison explains it’s good for the community. “We keep the economy here; we support the local economy. It all works together; it becomes a family,” says Garrison.

The markets – in both Madeira Beach and Indian Shores – are more than local economy boosters or good-neighbor building vehicles, they’re a place to find unique gifts from unique vendors.

“I’ve been working with wood for 30 years, been making the grinders and stuff for about a year and a half,” explains woodworker Rex Shivers who sells pepper mills and other creations. Some are readily available, but customers can also make custom orders and wait while they watch the woodworker in action.

The same goes for jewelry makers and other artisans offering an array of goods from butterfly art to apple-blackberry turnovers. Baker Sheila Debussey will take orders for pies for pick-up the following week. Lorraine Galante recycles fabrics, turning them into unique stockings, bags, and even pet clothing. Candlemaker Stacy Paine pours beach-scented soy candles sure to make out of town friends and relatives wish they were spending the holidays in sunny Florida.

The markets are decorating their booths for the holidays, too. The Madeira Beach market is every Wednesday from 9 AM to 2 PM. A weekend alternative is the Indian Shores market every Sunday morning.

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