Unexpected Treasures

By: Paula Lewis

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Florida's flea and farmers markets are terrific alternatives to traditional shopping malls.

The great thing about flea and farmers markets is that you never know what you are going to find.  They are a terrific alternative to your traditional shopping mall. Let’s delve into these unique shopping opportunities and see what bargains await visitors and residents in the Sunshine State. 


Florida’s East Coast: Undiscovered and Charming Marketplaces

One of the best vendors in this market is Oscar’s Estate Jewelry (Daytona Beach) where you will find classic pieces such as a pre-owned Rolex watch in mint condition, without the original price. You can buy and trade gold, silver, platinum, diamonds, fine watches, gems and so much more. Practice your bargaining skills because you could walk away with a good deal and an exotic piece of estate jewelry. Open Saturdays and Sundays. 

Speaking of exotic, as you walk into Primitive Expressions Imports at the Daytona Flea & Farmers Market you will be transported into a global shopping safari, where you’ll find hand-selected works of art from around the world at unbelievable prices. Here, you’ll find are Indonesian wood carvings, tiki masks, tribal artifacts and Haitian metal art pieces. 

Continuing our journey of the east coast of Florida, the Fernandina Farmers Market in Fernandina Beach is a place where the locals like to spend their Saturday mornings. The market, located in the city’s historic district (worth a trip just by itself), features farm-fresh produce, organic products, specialty foods, gourmet baked goods and tropical and landscaping plants, such as orchids, herbs and garden flowers.

The Old City Farmers Market (St. Augustine) is held every Saturday morning, rain or shine, at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre on A1A South. You’ll find a tempting array of fresh produce, baked goods, pastries, herbs, roasted peanuts, bonsai, datil sauces (a hot sauce made from a locally grown pepper) and more. A number of local artists and handmade crafts artisans are invited to sell their wares, and fresh seafood is sold in season.

More than 80 acres of garage sales, a farmer’s market, an international bazaar and a county fair make up the South's largest flea market at the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop. You do not want to miss this unique shopping experience with 2,000 vendors; the Swap Shop provides the ultimate in family fun with a carousel, carnival rides and a daily circus.  A huge drive-in theater shows new releases on 14 screens. The operation is open 365 days a year.

Visitors from all over the world also have discovered the shopping delights of the Festival Flea Market Mall in Pompano Beach, with more than 500 shops in an indoor market setting. Cheap & Chic has a great array of the latest women’s clothing at great prices, at Lollygagz you will find a small shop full of personalized gifts for your loved ones, and Beyond Games and Puzzles will keep your little ones occupied searching for perfect toys and games. 


Florida’s West Coast: A Treasure-Hunter’s Paradise

The St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market, which opened 10 years ago, was designed to create a strong sense of community for St. Petersburg’s residents and to be a place visitors can experience Floridians’ way of life. You'll discover a distinctive selection of goods here on the St. Pete waterfront, including fresh produce, prepared foods and baked goods, as well as live music every week, October through May.

One of the vendors you should visit is Flaming Pearl, where designer Tamara Leavy showcases her own line of handmade batik clothing for men, women, girls and plus sizes, created with cloth from Indonesia. Choose from sarongs, dresses, tops, wrap skirts and more.

Half the fun of shopping is uncovering great bargains. Save from 25 to 50 percent when you shop under the Big Top Flea Market in Tampa Bay. In Fort Myers, the giant Fleamasters Fleamarket has more than 900 stores with Florida souvenirs, home decor, antiques and collectibles, beachwear, jewelry and more.


Central Florida: Lively and Eclectic Bazaars

In Orlando, the International Drive Flea Market offers 400 booths and a food court.  Shoppers with a green thumb and a taste for fresh produce and baked goods can enjoy the selections at the Orlando Farmers’ Market held every week in Lake Eola Park.  Authentic ethnic food, vintage clothing, plants, paintings and sculptures are also among the offerings.

FleaWorld, in Sanford, has more than 1,700 booths selling discounted merchandise, locally grown fruits and vegetables, rare furnishings, precious gems and one-of-a-kind antiques.  Family fun is part of the itinerary at Flea World’s Fun World, with its go-karts, mini golf, bumper cars and boats, rides and more.

Osceola Flea & Farmers Market, in Kissimmee, has more than 900 specialty booths offering fresh produce, antiques, Florida souvenirs and home décor, among many other products. Three snack bars and live entertainment at the main restaurant area every weekend round out the fun.

 Florida’s East Coast

• Coconut Grove Organic Farmer’s Market, 3300 Grand Ave., Coconut Grove: Open Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; www.glaserorganicfarms.com; 305-238-7747
• Daytona Flea & Farmers Market, 2987 Bellevue Ave., Daytona Beach: Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; www.daytonafleamarket.com; 386-253-3330
• Fernandina Farmers Market, downtown Fernandina Beach:  Open Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (closed for the Shrimp Festival on the first Saturday in May); www.fernandinafarmersmarket.com;  904-491-4872
• Festival Flea Market Mall, 2900 W. Sample Rd., Pompano Beach: Open Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Open Christmas and New Year’s Day; closed on Thanksgiving);  www.festival.com; 954-979-4555
• Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop, 3291 W. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale:  Open 7 days a week, 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; www.floridaswapshop.com; 954-791-SWAP
Lincoln Road Farmers Market, Lincoln Road, between Meridian Avenue and Washington Avenue, Miami Beach: open Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; www.themarketcompany.org; 305-531-0038
• The Old City Farmer’s Market. 1340 A1A South, St. Augustine: Open Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.;  www.staugustinefm.com; 904-471-3733
• Primitive Expressions Imports, 2702 N. Woodland Blvd., DeLand: telephone hours Monday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; www.primitiveexpressions.com; 407-467-8197. Also open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday to Sunday, at Daytona Flea and Farmers Market.

Florida’s West Coast

• Big Top Flea Market, 9250 E. Fowler Ave., Thonotasassa:  Open Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; www.bigtopfleamarket.com; 813-986-4004
• Fleamasters Fleamarket, 4135 Dr. M.L. King Jr. Blvd., Fort Myers: Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; www.fleamall.com; 239-334-7001
• St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market, First Avenue South and First Street, St. Petersburg:  Open Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., October through May; www.saturdaymorningmarket.com; 727- 455-4921

Central Florida

• Flea World, 4311 S. Orlando Dr., Sanford: Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; www.fleaworld.com; 407-330-1792
• International Drive Flea Market, 5545 International Drive, Orlando: Open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Sunday,  10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; www.internationaldriveorlando.com; 407-352-2525
• Osceola Flea & Farmers Market, 2801 E. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy., Kissimmee: Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; www.osceolafleaandfarmersmarket.com; 407-846-2811 
• Orlando Farmers’ Market, Central Boulevard and Eola Drive, Orlando: Open Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; www.orlandofarmersmarket.com
• Renninger’s Antique Center & Farmers Market, 20651 U.S. 441, Mount Dora: Open Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; www.renningers.com; 352-383-3141


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