Pasco County is a growing area and the number of small businesses is growing as well. You can get a look at some upcoming events and how to get involved by clicking here.
Cheryl Taylor has been running the Community Markets and Events for the past year. They’ve grown from two markets a month to 10.
“I think what’s important is that we realize how important getting community together is to get messages out, learn what’s going on in our community, and to support our local economy. All of the dollars that are spent and supported here at Community Markets stays within our local community. And that just causes the whole area to thrive,” explains Taylor.
“Since we started, we have hosted events with up to 5,000 people. The community has really wanted to get out post-pandemic, see everybody, have fresh air experiences, and see what’s going on in the community. Not to mention, during the pandemic, a lot of people went to a different mode of following their passion and making money for their family or additional source of revenue. And this gives them the opportunity to do that as well,” said Taylor.
Below are some examples of vendors you could see at one of their markets:
Stacy Moser came up with the idea to use spent beer grains in dog treats on a whim. When her husband, a home brewer, spent grains she started composting them. Then, she realized how much her own dogs loved the grains. After a little bit of research, her small business was born. Moser started 8 Paws about a year ago.
“This community has been amazing, I think, you know, one of the most important things, you know, around is to have your community and I think, you know, sort of COVID sort of taught us that you know, what you have and what you’ve lost,” Moster said.
“One of my commitments was to actually spend my money locally, you know, and with other folks who, you know, are doing things to get by not necessarily big corporate, you know, nothing against them, there’s a place for them. But I think that those of us who are just trying to, you know, make our way, you know, put our kids through college and that sort of thing is more important. And being an Air Force veteran, one of the things that, when I left the military that I lost was my community. So having the community, I think, is hugely important. And I think that you know, with community markets, you see some of the people that you know, but new before you meet new people all the time, you can kind of give them tips and tricks other people help you out,” explained Moser.
A.F.I.R.E of Pasco County is a nonprofit that provides day training programs for adults with developmental disabilities like autism and down syndrome. They provide basic training in self-help skills, social skills and also community awareness.
A.F.I.R.E also holds a market on the third Saturday of the month at their facilities, and it has helped bring awareness to all they do. A portion of the proceeds from that market goes to A.F.I.R.E.
“So our students, once they age out of the school system at 22, a lot of them will just sit at home and eat and watch TV. And that’s not good for anybody, especially them. So here, they get to be with their peers, they get to keep their minds going as much as possible. And they get out into the community with their peers. They get to be with other people as well. They get to go out and see people in the community,” explained Denise Haystrand, Administrator at A.F.I.R.E of Pasco County.
In addition to businesses in Pasco County, you’ll also find nonprofits.
Hope in Motion services Pasco and Hernando counties. They go out into the community daily to help those experiencing homelessness. They deliver backpacks filled with hygiene items, snacks and other resources. They also host events for the holidays to make sure people in the area have someone to go to. The markets enable them to reach out to people who can help or even meet people who may need help.
“We find people that have a need. We meet a lot of people in the community that are you know, widows or widowers and have lost family through the pandemic or otherwise. And they’re out here just trying to give themselves a little joy and shop. And then we also find, you know, people that are wanting to be out in the community and helping and volunteering. Even teens, we’ve gotten a lot of teen volunteers to help us make a greater impact,” explained Gena Voigt, CEO at Hope in Motion.
A community market may not be the place you’d expect a magician’s career to take off, but that’s the case for Savvas Nikolaides. He moved to the area from Dallas, Texas, and was looking to continue his magic career here.
“It was a great way to get actually recognition. And that’s kind of where I wanted to start fresh. When I moved down here to Tampa, I wanted to find a way to actually promote and get recognized and this was a great opportunity. And I have people that constantly walk by my booth. And I’ll show them a trick whether it’s a kid or whether it’s adults, and just the reactions I get is just phenomenal.”
Matthew Blicharz has only been running The Meltdown Food Truck for three months but has found nothing but success after leaving his corporate chef job. The Meltdown consists of all kinds of grilled cheese (and tomato soup!) made right in his truck.
“I bumped into Cheryl’s community markets and went to our first one, and it was a success and just the meeting people and seeing all the different trades and different skills and different trucks and crafts and and it’s just been wonderful ever since.”
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