Tampa, Fl – Small Business Saturday, November 24, is a day we celebrate the shop small movement to drive shoppers to the Ybor City Saturday Market and local Ybor businesses. This is a great opportunity to recognize and support our home-grown businesses, not only do they create jobs, but they give back to the community in many ways. We ask each of you to shop local and buy at least one item from a SMALL business, this will have a HUGEimpact on our local economy!
Since 2000, the Ybor City Saturday Market, a non-profit organization, has served as a venue for local, SMALL businesses to promote their products and services, a place to “test the market” before they go BIG.
Many local businesses have utilized the market as a stepping stone and “graduated” to a brick and mortar location with great success. Other businesses have made the market their permanent home and enjoy an established customer base without all the overhead of an actual storefront. “Like a business incubator without walls, the market provides a networking opportunity amongst other vendors to share ideas, meet the community, make new friends and most importantly, follow a dream of owning their own business,” said Lynn Schultz, Executive Director of the Ybor City Saturday Market.
In honor of Small Business Saturday, we are highlighting three Saturday Market Vendors, all with a unique story to tell.
Two Girls and a BeagleBonnie and Connie had $40 between them and a diagnosis from their vet that their beloved beagle, Hoss, had developed a severe food allergy. Their creative minds went to work and they experimented with making their own dog and cat food and had great success and best of all, Hoss loved it! As time went on, they realized many dog owners were experiencing the same issues and perhaps this was an opportunity to help others with a low cost, healthy option for their pets. Neither had ever run a business, but their passion and desire to provide a quality product was the reason they started their new business venture. They took samples to local pet and health food stores and the story goes from there….. Two Girls and a Beagle was created. They operate on a very low budget; however, they make it a priority to donate to local animal shelters and rescue organizations to help provide a better quality of life to our loved 4 legged friends.
AJ’s CigarsIn 1983, Dr. Augie and Jean Mauser created AJ’s Cigars, a small, mail-order business. In 2002, they made a decision to expand and selected the Ybor City Saturday Market as their new home. The market is conveniently located in the heart of Ybor City, Cigar Capital of the World, it was a perfect fit! With this expansion, they had one mission in mind, Augie and Jean would employ individuals experiencing hardship and difficult times. They have provided an opportunity that not many others would and entrusted their employees, most of who are homeless, to feel ownership of a business and earn an income.
AJ’s Cigars is the only Rocky Patel sponsored Cigar Emporium in the United States. In addition to Ybor City, they now serve with AJ’s Mobile set up, Hyde Park Village, Downtown Tampa’s Franklin Street Mall, Harbor Island, Westchase and Seminole Heights and continue to create jobs for disadvantaged individuals in the area. Contact AJ’s Cigars: email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Happy BakerWhat happens when your husband brings home a 40lb box of bananas? You launch a business! Averil Massie, owner of The Happy Baker, made banana bread, lots of banana bread! Little did she know her passion for baking and a 40lb box of bananas would soon lead to the creation of her own job and additional income for her family at a difficult time, Averil’s prayers were answered!
Now the family-owned businesses can hardly keep up with demand at the weekly market. The popularity of their varieties of banana breads which include blueberry bliss, chocolate chuckle and a new adult flavor, jumpin’ for Jack (Jack Daniels) has provided them the opportunity to expand in locations throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Averil now has five employees including her husband, two sons and two additional employees and has plans for future expansion expected soon!
The Ybor City Saturday Market takes place in Centennial Park EVERY Saturday, year-round, 9am-3pm. You will find 70+ vendors each week displaying their talent and locally produced products unique to our diverse community. Products include gourmet foods & sauces, fresh baked breads, prepared foods, herbs & plants, honey, fine cigars, fresh produce, pet treats, unique gifts, photography, artwork, jewelry, woodworking, bath & body products, candles & so much more!