Local farm-market vendors find a permanent home indoors
Artegon Marketplace, the new 1.1-million-square-foot shopping attraction and artisan marketplace on north International Drive, opened in November with space for 165 artisans in The Village at Artegon Marketplace.
The marketplace is in an unlikely spot in the epicenter of Orlando’s busy tourism corridor, where national hotel and food franchises abound. But entrepreneurs and craft purveyors are central to what is considered Florida’s largest daily indoor artisan marketplace and, some say, Orlando’s interpretation of places like Seattle’s Pike Place, Boston’s Faneuil Hall and New York’s Chelsea Market.
Among artisans is Wendy Davis, who started Poca’s Hottest sauce and spice blend company 10 years ago. “Everything is inspired by local bands and artists,” says Davis, who uses only homegrown and local ingredients. “The bands design the label and I create the sauce and spice blends.” That list includes her JunkieRush Thai Chili Sauce, which is named after her husband’s band, and Shak Nasti Cajun Honey Mustard Sauce, which won third place in the World Hot Sauce Awards in the condiments category.
Like a lot of foodpreneurs, Davis got her start at local farmers’ markets, including the Good Neighbors Market in Oviedo and the new Mills 50 night market. But having a new permanent store at Artegon had too many pluses to pass up. “I don’t have to set up and break down each time,” she says. “And I don’t have to worry about the weather anymore.”
The new, bigger space gives her a chance to expand her product line, and Davis now plans to offer salts and herbs in bulk bins so that shoppers can mix their own tailored blends.
Traci Hurtado, who co-owns Jortra Boutique with her husband, Jorge, agrees. “We did markets in Windermere, Lake Mary and Celebration and won’t miss having to set up each time,” she says. “We’re also looking for more consistency in terms of foot traffic. If the weather is bad or a storm is on the horizon, not a lot of people go to the market.”
The Hurtados, who make eco-friendly handmade jewelry using products like orange peels and coffee beans, nearly double their retail space in the move from a 10×10 market plot to a much larger store inside Artegon. “This is really about growing small businesses and creating a space for artists. We see a lot of growth and future opportunities to come.”
Misty Wheeler-Belin sees similar advantages, including the ability to reach shoppers visiting from outside Orlando, who don’t typically shop at farmers’ markets while on vacation. But the International Drive location is expected to draw scores of tourists, and that’s something she loves. “The driving factor for me was foot traffic,” says Wheeler-Belin, whose Florida Soap Company has been a mainstay at the Celebration and Windermere markets for years. “And I was so impressed by Artegon’s commitment to showcase Orlando artisans. They really want to see art thriving here. Coming on board has been a no-brainer for me.”
Located on 140 acres at the north end of International Drive with 1.5 miles of street frontage, Artegon Marketplace Orlando will feature daily food trucks, a ropes course and several national retailers. The space is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. artegonorlando.com.