Pensacola, Florida
Friday October 31st 2014

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Last Minute at the Market

By Sarah McCartan

Looking for a prime hotspot to fulfill all of your last minute holiday shopping needs this season in one fell swoop? Look no further than Palafox Market.

Brought to you by Pensacola’s Downtown Improvement Board, Palafox Market is held Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is now a year-round occurrence. Each week upward of 70 vendors flock downtown to Martin Luther King Plaza to partake in this vibrant community of artisans.

The market atmosphere provides a warm, inviting ambiance, and offers a welcomed alternative to the hustle and the bustle of malls and department stores—especially during the holiday season. The market also saves you the trouble of rushing around town or trekking far and wide in search of a perfect gift. Plus, as an added convenience there is free, up close, no hassle parking. Stroll at your own pace down the tree shaded brick walkway, as you take in the sights and sounds while sipping on organic coffee from vendors such as Keens Beans.

From wind chimes, to glass blown jewelry to wine jelly, hot sauce and beyond, the market serves as a one-stop-shop for all of your gift giving needs. “There are many gifts, for all tastes and styles to be found among the artists at the Palafox Market,” said Market Manager, Hilary Gilles.

Among the collection of art vendors is crochet extraordinaire, Alicia Hill Taylor, offering up her “whimsy & couture crochet.” Taylor, a local art teacher at Oriole Beach Elementary School, spends the summer months crocheting intricate hats and other clothing items. During the school year she leads some of her students in doing the same. Taylor is a regular presence at the market and is typically accompanied by her dog. Each hat in her collection takes on its own distinct, personality, and makes the perfect gift for a child or simply, the young at heart.

In many cases the market is a family affair, bringing together distinct skill sets, resulting in an eclectic display of items. Bob White of Blue Heron Studio showcases his woodworking skills through his birdhouses, while his wife Helen showcases her potting craft in the form of multi-use ceramic items. Their spread also includes handmade scarves. Upon selling the remainder of their inventory, the two plan on retiring from their trades after years of laboring. Be sure to check out their marked down holiday special items.

Jose and Maria Peña are another husband and wife duo offering a diverse mix of items. Beginning with their line of Lady Bug all natural, organic soaps, they have expanded over the last two years to offering other items including knit headbands, as well as exquisite, exotic jewelry made from organic Tauga seed (vegetable ivory) found naturally in the rain forests.
Not only does the market provide an opportunity for this community of local artists to spread extra cheer to patrons through their trades, they also support each other, exemplifying the true meaning of the season.

“Everyone shares ideas and helps each other,” stated Maria Peña. “The market has a good village ambiance.”

Further down the way is another vendor exemplifying the essence of community, while promoting and encouraging the idea of sustainability. East Hill Honey Co. offers 100 percent raw honey in multiple varieties, including Tupelo, Orange Blossom and the widely acclaimed purely local Wildflower honey.

Owner, beekeeper and East Hill resident Thomas D. Van Horn believes every jar of honey has a story—one he is setting out to share. These jars of honey make great gifts for anyone on your list, while the honey sticks, or other items such as soaps or candles make great stocking stuffers. East Hill Honey also offers several gift sets.

Not only is the market a prime spot for one of a kind gifts and specialty items, it has been ranked in the top ten in the country and number two in Florida in the “America’s Favorite Farmer’s Market” contest.

“Palafox Market is also the place to shop for all your holiday meals and party needs,” said Gilles. “Food vendors sell an array of homemade cakes, breads, pies, jams, candies, salsas, and sauces and the market’s local meat and produce will be a fabulous addition to any holiday meal. Plus the fresh cut flowers, plants, and aromatic potpourri will help you put the finishing touches on your holiday décor!”

Still the market offers far more than a shopping destination; above all it offers an experience and a glorious one at that. The market takes you back to a land of simplicity, something that is underrated and increasingly harder to come by these days. Plus, the fact that it gives you yet another opportunity to shop local this holiday season, makes it all taste even that much sweeter.

For more information and to stay up to date with what is fresh and new at the market each week, visit palafoxmarket.com.