UNIVERSITY AREA — As Dan Jurman, his wife, Rachel, and their three young children stood amid the flurry of activity in the park adjacent to the University Area Community Center, he described what he saw as “a dream come true.”
As the executive director and CEO of the University Area Community Development Corporation, Jurman’s long sought-after wish to open a community market was unfolding before his eyes.
“We wanted to help people launch micro-businesses and use this platform to do that,” said Jurman, who was a witness to the organization’s first-of-its-kind endeavor also intended to draw families from the surrounding neighborhoods to a day of fun and fellowship.
“It’s something we’ve been working on for almost a year and it’s wonderful to see it come to fruition.”
The inaugural University Area Community Market featured a mix of vendors selling fresh produce, handmade jewelry, a variety of crafts, freshly prepared food and an art booth and a bounce house for the youngsters’ enjoyment.
Representatives from several area social agencies and ethnic-based organizations also were on hand.
“This is good exposure for me,” said Carla Humphrey of Tampa, who featured a selection of her handcrafted Essential Jewelry line that began as simply a hobby and now helps supplement her income as a local travel agency owner.
Odessa resident Hermida Clark said she was there to test the market for people’s interest in her unique hand sewn toilet skirts she creates in a variety of colors.
“I was re-doing my granddaughter’s bathroom and put one in there. The little girls seem to love them,” said Clark, a social worker at the Children’s Home in Tampa.
Jamaican native Kevin Dixon’s colorful array of Caribbean clothing, wall hangings and accessories displayed from his eye-catching Dread Lock Da City van undoubtedly caught the attention of almost every attendee.
“I have a little bit of everything and it’s different, and I like giving back to the community,” said Dixon, a Hillsborough County employee who described his sideline business as more of a hobby.
Across the park from Dixon was Guyana-born Christine Phillips, owner of Miss Vi’s Cook-Up catering and vending business who, with the help of her two youngsters, was serving up some jerk chicken and curried vegetables with jasmine rice she had prepared.
“I named the business after my grandmother Vi, who taught me how to cook,” she said.
A few steps away stood Haitian native Junior Polo, an artist and co-owner of Veropolo, who was immersed in his cost-free art session for the children who’d gathered around his booth.
“I enjoy working with kids and I learn from them when they do free art,” said Polo, who on a part-time basis, gives art lessons for youngsters at the adjacent community center.
Positioned at yet another booth was Linda Murray of Tampa, who turned her 15-year hobby of making what she touts as lifelike bonsai and floral arrangements into a small business.
“I lived in Japan and went to a cultural center where I learned how to do this,” she said. “It’s my first time at a market like this because I usually sell my things by word of mouth.”
The community market will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every fourth Saturday of the month through May 2014 at 14013 N. 22nd St.
Go online to www.uacdc.org or call (813) 558-5212 for additional information.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]