WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — West Palm Beach’s Southend neighborhood was starting to look a lot like Christmas on Sunday for the neighborhood’s first-ever holiday market.
The market ran from 5pm to 9pm in the parking lot of SoSo and Palm Beach Meats off South Dixie Highway.
About 20 area vendors sold everything from artisan bread and local honey to hot sauces and condiments.
The market comes as a This year’s survey by the National Federation of Independent Business shows that nearly 80% of small business owners say rising costs for fuel, inventory, supplies and other materials have hit them hard this year.
“It’s pricing our paper product down to our produce, our meat,” said Kye Akavia, co-owner of SoSo Neighborhood Kitchen restaurant in Southend.
Acavia and her business partner, Alex Dishino, opened their restaurant eight months ago and know all too well the impact inflation can have on a small employer.
“Prices now are not what they were eight months ago,” Akavia said.
Akavia and Dischino knew they had to recoup those costs, both for themselves and for their neighboring business owners, many of whom said they’re not as impacted here in the Southend area as they are in other areas of the city.
“I still feel undiscovered,” Dishino 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: axis,” said Akavia.
The plan was to create a weekend market that spanned the parking lots of the two businesses. In addition to 20 vendors, children and their families had the opportunity to meet Santa, play in a special play area, enjoy both 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 southside community and our wider community to experience our two businesses and shop vendors in the area,” Dishino said.
“It would mean the world to us to have the community come out and show us some support, 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 such local markets.
“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 vendors that might not be in the same markets.”
Jonathan Richards agreed. Richards owns the Palm Beach Salt Company and makes salt from Palm Beach County’s own shores.
He doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar store yet, and said events like this are crucial to meeting customers face-to-face.
“It’s inseparable. We depend on customer input,” Richards said. “It’s an opportunity that we don’t get many other places.”
Families visiting the market, including Stephanie Springmeier and her family, said it’s an opportunity they love to take advantage of.
“We always try to go to local restaurants or retailers to give back,” Springmeier said. “We want this area to continue to grow.”
Akavia said the response is what the market really is; support local vendors and support loyal customers who come out in return.
“That’s really it, just making sure the people around you are smiling and happy, and being a part of that, that’s what it’s all about for me,” Akavia said.
SoSo Neighborhood Kitchen hosts local vendors on Thursday evenings year-round.