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Market value

By CRISTINA SILVA, Times Staff Writer
Published October 14, 2007


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Text and shopping By Cristina Silvaphotos by Lara Cerri Times Staff

The Saturday Morning Market isn't just for Greenpeace types looking for organic granola. There are many deals to be had, and in some cases, market food is cheaper than standard grocery store fare. Here's how far $50 got us at the seasonal market in downtown St. Petersburg on a recent Saturday.

Fresh tipsThe Saturday Morning Market is a shopping bonanza for the initiated. It is by far more successful than all other markets that have popped up in the Tampa Bay area in the past two years. Market regulars and vendors have created a rapport to the extent that together, they are often considered a village within a city. Arrive too early or too late, or without enough cash, and you might be out of luck. Here are the Top 10 tips for getting the most out of market day.10Be flexible. Lines can be long, so don't make all your friends wait with you when you want to make a purchase. Be willing to split up your group. Likewise, for families, send little Johnny off to find a hot dog with one parent while little Susie searches for crepes with the other parent.9Check out www.saturdaymorningmarket.com to see what bands will be playing when. If you want to get a seat at one of the outdoor tables for a popular performance, it's best to arrive early or bring your own chair.8Take Fido. Many vendors set out water bowls for your furry friends. Doggie cookies and muffins are for sale in the arts and crafts area. Also, North Shore Dog Park is a quick jaunt away.7Become a regular. Once vendors get to know you, they will be more likely to throw in extra home fries on your breakfast platter or hook you up with two-for-one honey jars. Vendors also change every week, so the more often you come, the more stuff you'll find.6BYOB, as in bag. Vendors have plastic bags, but those can fall apart quickly. Besides, this is an opportunity to shrink your carbon footprint. We suggest a canvas bag or even a small carry-on so you can roll it around behind you.5Wear comfortable shoes. It's hard to find a good parking spot downtown on Saturday mornings. Be prepared to park a few blocks away from the market or, better yet, ride a bicycle or walk there if you can. 4Know the lay of the land before making a purchase. That eggplant you've been eyeing might be a little cheaper at the next stand over.3Bring cash. Many vendors accept credit cards, but some don't. There are ATMs nearby at the Bank of America tower, at the southwest corner of Second Street and Central Avenue.2Come hungry and take advantage of the free samples. Not only is this a great way to try everything the market has to offer, but it's the only way to know if that salsa verde is too spicy or just right.1Buy crafts and prepared foods early, before they run out, but wait until the afternoon to buy fresh produce. Fruit and vegetable vendors are eager to move their produce then and will start to slash prices.

Asparagus

$1.75 half-pound, Bob and Daughter Produce



Not pictured

Fresh squeezed orange juice $2 a pint, Rudy's Fresh Produce

Black beans and rice$3, Habana Cafe

Salsa$5, the Kitchen

Soda $1, Mr. I Got 'em



Black bean hummus

$2.52, Rudy's Fresh Produce



4 small tomatoes

$1.29 a pound, Bob and Daughter Produce



Leaf lettuce

$1.29, Bob and Daughter Produce



Fresh corn tortillas

$3.50, the Kitchen



Spaghetti squash

60 cents a half-pound, Rudy's Fresh Produce



Mango

80 cents a half-pound, Bob and Daughter



2 cucumbers

39 cents each, Bob and Daughter Produce



Wind chime

$6, Carol's Crafts



Kiwi

99 cents for three, Bob and Daughter Produce



Salad dressing

$3.25, Bob and Daughter Produce



Eggplant

59 cents a half-pound, Bob and Daughter



2 avocados

99 cents each, Bob and Daughter Produce



Vegetarian curry crepes

$6, Crepesville



Cheese wedges

Raclette, $3.99; cheddar, $2.70, Cheese Lodge



5 small red potatoes

69 cents a pound, Bob and Daughter Produce

[Last modified October 13, 2007, 22:35:22]


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