WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The Southend neighborhood of West Palm Beach was starting to look a lot like Christmas on Sunday for the neighborhood’s first holiday market.
The market ran from 5pm to 9pm in the parking lots of SoSo and Palm Beach Meats on South Dixie Highway.
About 20 area vendors sold everything from artisan breads and local honey to hot sauces and condiments.
The market comes as one survey this year by the National Federation of Independent Business shows that nearly 80% of small business owners say rising costs of fuel, inventory, supplies and other materials have hit them hard this year.
“It’s the price of our paper products to our produce, our meat,” said Kye Akavia, co-owner of SoSo Neighborhood Kitchen, a restaurant in Southend.
Akavia and his business partner, Alex Dischino, opened their restaurant eight months ago and know well the impact inflation can have on a small employer.
“The prices now are not what they were eight months ago,” said Akavia.
Akavia and Dischino knew they had to offset those costs, both for themselves and their neighboring business owners, many of whom said they don’t have as much exposure here in the Southend area versus areas of other parts of the city.
“I still feel undiscovered,” Dischino said.
Akavia and Dischino partnered with their friend Eric San Pedro, who owns Palm Beach Meats next door, to come up with a plan.
“One word—pivot,” Akavia said.
The plan was to create a holiday market that spanned two business parking lots. In addition to 20 vendors, children and their families had the opportunity to meet Santa Claus, play in a designated play area, enjoy sweet and savory treats, and hear a children’s choir perform.
“We wanted to have it here on our property to bring our local neighbors, our community to the south and our wider community here to experience our two businesses and shop vendors in the area,” Dischino said.
“It means the world to us to have the community come and support us, and not just us, but all the local vendors,” Akavia said. “It’s been a tough few years for small businesses.”
San Pedro added that the market is really more about the vendors, many of whom may not have the opportunity to showcase their products without local markets like these.
“All the vendors here are really our friends,” San Pedro said. “It’s really about the idea of community, and we hope the community can enjoy some of the vendors that might not be in the same markets.”
Jonathan Richards agreed. Richards owns the Palm Beach Salt Company and produces salt off the coast of Palm Beach County.
He doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar store yet, and said events like these are crucial to meeting customers face-to-face.
“It’s integral. We depend on customers coming in,” Richards said. “It’s an opportunity that we don’t have many other places.”
Families who attend the market, including Stephanie Springmyer and her family, said it’s an opportunity they enjoy taking advantage of.
“We’re always trying to go to local restaurants or retailers to give back,” Springmyer said. “We want this area to continue to grow.”
Akavia said the feedback is what the market is really about: supporting local vendors and supporting loyal customers who come out in return.
“It’s really just that, just making sure the people around you are smiling and happy, and being a part of that, that’s what it’s about for me,” Akavia said.
SoSo Neighborhood Kitchen hosts local vendors on Thursday evenings year-round.