'One person makes a difference.' Shopping local in Sarasota on Small Business Saturday – Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Standing inside her corner of the Bazaar on Apricot & Lime, artist Kendal Kiner looked around at the painted fish mounted on her walls.
She had barracudas, spearfish and bass, all painted with various designs and color schemes. One sailfish was painted with Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” and small alligator heads, which Kiner painted in University of Florida orange and blue, sat nearby inside of a cabinet.
If there was any question as to whether her creatures were the real deal, Kiner has a sign up in the middle of the booth quoting “Seinfeld” – “Yes, they’re real and they’re spectacular!”
“Real fish are hard to come by. If ladies hate the fish their husbands have on the wall, I can fix it,” she said.
By the way:
At the Bazaar on Apricot & Lime, vendors are preparing for the holiday season. Many of the 40 merchants inside the market at 821 Apricot Ave. are selling special items and offering discounts for the weekend, which culminates in Small Business Saturday, a holiday reserved just for them.
In a shopping weekend dominated by big-ticket items and huge ad verticals, Small Business Saturday is when local companies get their chance to shine. The shopping holiday was founded in 2010 by American Express, and since then, consumers have reported spending nearly $140 billion on the day, according to the credit card company.
Anand Krishnamoorthy, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Central Florida, said consumers see the value in shopping small and local this holiday season – especially after last year.
“The biggest chunk of Small Business Saturday sales are from people going to small businesses in their community,” Krishnamoorthy said. “That was seriously hurt last year.”
Read more: Retailers in Sarasota-Manatee prepare for holiday shopping season
At the Bazaar, where many vendors sell products they make themselves, several vendors said business mostly comes from foot traffic and face-to-face interactions.
Near the front of the market is a booth featuring the work of Sarasota artist Karen Chandler. Chandler is perhaps best known for her colorful “Sarasota Heroes” painting of health care workers wearing masks on 2nd Street, and for her “Shop and Dine Local” painting downtown.
Chandler sells her paintings in the form of prints, t-shirts and cards. She also has some eclectic vintage jewelry for sale, which she’s cultivated through about 30 years of collecting.
As Chandler painted the “Sarasota Heroes” mural on the outside of 1717 Second St. last year, a parade of her friends and colleagues from the Bazaar drove by to cheer her on. She started tearing up just talking about it.
“That kind of sums up the Bazaar in a way,” Chandler said.
She said she sells some artwork on Saatchi Art, an online sales portal that provides its sellers with shipping labels and takes a percentage of the sales. Chandler is launching with a different online sales portal later this year, where she’ll be one of 75 artists instead of one of thousands on Saatchi.
For this weekend, Chandler said she plans to offer a buy-one, get-one deal on her signed prints, which are usually $25 each or two for $45. She also might do a sale on her jewelry.
Kiner, the fish artist, said she usually offers 20% off around the holidays.
On top of her regular painted fish and alligator heads, Kiner did some work specifically for the season. She has giant oyster shells painted with Santa Claus’ face for sale. She also has pufferfish – one is covered in glitter and another is painted red and yellow for Florida State University.
“They’re good for hanging from trees,” she said.
On the outside, the Bazaar looks colorful, lively and inviting.
The patio out front is painted with a rainbow. The building itself has an orange and green color scheme – appropriate for a business with the words “apricot” and “lime” in its name. And in the courtyard, where the Bazaar holds outdoor events, there’s a sign in rainbow-colored calligraphy that says “BE AMAZING.”
During last year’s shutdown, Livengood was at a bit of a loss. She waived everyone’s rent because she knew they wouldn’t be able to pay. But she also wondered how she could help her vendors adapt and sell their products even when they were closed.
Last March, Livengood launched “Bazaar Shopping Network,” a video series streamed on the Bazaar’s Facebook page.
She hosted the first one on a day when she was alone inside the Bazaar. She accidentally filmed it sideways. But the segment caught on – it grew in popularity and the videos now average 1,000 views, she said.
On Nov. 18, she filmed her 100th episode with guest co-host Joey Panek, formerly of Suncoast View. She also had a live studio audience, champagne and great production value.
Livengood said she’s proud of the program she created, especially because at first she wasn’t sure if it would take off.
“I was walking around the Bazaar by myself filming it wondering, ‘Does anybody care?’ But I heard from a customer in Pennsylvania who said, ‘I love the Bazaar. When I come to Sarasota, it’s my first stop,’” Livengood said. “When one person says that to you, you can’t stop. One person makes a difference.”
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