Lauren Segedin and her husband, Matthew, have lived in St. Pete for six years, and she admits, “We both think this is the happiest place we’ve ever lived.” I’ve only been talking to Lauren for a minute, but I can tell she’s caught the bug. I contracted it a while ago. Most of my friends and my wife have it too. After all, it’s highly contagious. I’m referring to the St. Pete bug.
It’s a narrative I’ve heard over and over. Someone moves to St. Pete, they fall in love with the city, and then they don’t want to leave. But why? What makes St. Pete so special? Lauren believes it has to do with the community. I’d have to agree.
For Lauren, just loving the city wasn’t enough. She felt the need to give back. Her first gift to St. Pete came by way of Chicago, where her college roommate started the American Bocce Company. After witnessing how bocce ball was building community and social engagement in the Windy City, Lauren felt she had to bring the concept back to St. Pete.
And so last year, Lauren and her husband started St Pete’s first and only bocce ball league. The league still meets every Monday night, where everyone enjoys drinks, friendly camaraderie, and two games of bocce ball.
It was through this bocce ball league where Lauren had an idea for her next gift to St. Pete. The bocce courts are located on a beautiful lot next to Intermezzo Coffee and Cocktails in the heart of the EDGE District of Downtown St. Pete. The area is covered in crushed shell and over fifteen 30-foot royal palm trees. String lights and sail shades hang overhead. Currently, the space is only utilized on Monday night for bocce ball.
“This lot next to Intermezzo is such an unbelievable space. It can be utilized for so much more,” she thought. And thus, the idea for the Royal Palm Market was born.
Now I know what you’re thinking. St. Pete already has plenty of great markets! You’re right, but we think the Royal Palm Market will bring something new to St. Pete. As with the Monday night bocce league, the market’s main focus will be on fostering community. Additionally, it will also serve as an incubator for budding St. Pete businesses.
It is really tough to open your own business these days. If your new idea requires a retail location, most landlords require you to sign a lease of at least three to five years. Additionally, most downtown leases are what is know as a “triple net” lease (or simply “NNN lease”), meaning the tenant is also responsible for paying property taxes, insurance, and maintenance. That’s a huge risk to take on a concept that hasn’t been tested.
The Royal Palm Market hopes to be a stepping stone in-between conceiving a business idea and signing a lease for a brick and mortar location. “We want the market to be the Silicon Valley for entrepreneurs in the St. Pete area,” admits Lauren.
Expect to see a variety of vendors at the first market — about 30 in total. There’ll be smoked meats, edible cookie dough, an ice cream truck, a photo booth inside of an old VW bus, leather goods, wood burning, steel signs, industrial lighting, graphic designers, artists, illustrators, jewelers, local boutiques, plants, and much more.
And want to know the best news? The first market date is TONIGHT, Thursday October 17th at 6pm, and will run every Thursday at 6pm indefinitely. The market has no set end time, with vendors closing up shop whenever they are ready to end their night.
As for the decision to hold the market weekly, Lauren says, “I really love routines, structure and having a place where I can always come back to.”
The monthly markets are great, but you almost need a social media notification or a friend to remind you of an upcoming market. However, for the Royal Palm Market, every Thursday is a market day.
“We want the Royal Palm Market to be the culmination of your week. You’ve worked really hard, so come enjoy live music, get what you need for the week, grab a cocktail at Intermezzo, and take a load off. It’s a place to come gather and enjoy.”
Be sure to follow the Royal Palm Market on Instagram and Facebook for vendor highlights. And if you are interested in being a vendor at future markets, feel free to message Lauren on the market’s social media accounts or email her directly at lauren[at]eastmanequity.co (Yes, it’s .co not .com)
The Royal Palm Market is located at 1111 Central Avenue in Downtown St. Petersburg, FL. The hours are every Thursday from 6pm until late. See you at the market!