Made in Tampa Bay: The 83 Degrees guide to shopping local

In this special ‘handmade holiday gift guide,’ 83 Degrees turns an eye toward what’s unique, what’s original and what’s locally crafted by makers in the Tampa Bay area. Candles, confectionaries and ceramics are just a few of the handmade items available in shops and markets located in Tampa or St. Petersburg this holiday season.

Handmade, homegrown holiday markets

At the one-day Tampa Indie Flea Market, discover wares from more than 70 local vendors and assorted goods from Bay area artisans and makers. 

On Sunday, Dec. 20, Tampa Indie Flea will take over the historic Rialto Theatre in Tampa Heights, along with the adjoining Hidden Springs Ale Works Brewery, for its second market of the season. A number of food trucks -- as well as the Commune & Co. coffee tricycle often spotted around downtown Tampa and Ybor City -- will be on site serving fresh food and beverages. 

Indie Flea, run by Seanissey Loughlin and St. Pete Indie Market Founder Rosey Williams, will be open from noon to 4 p.m. on December 20 at the renovated 1920s-era Rialto Theatre, 1617 N. Franklin St, in Tampa. 

Loughlin’s small batch ice creamery Milk Crate Creamery, based in Seminole Heights, will offer several flavors of the locally made ice cream for sale at the one-day market. 

Consumable delicacies from The Urban Canning Company, developed by St. Pete native Illene Sofranko, will be up for grabs, along with hand-poured candles from Angela Ellis’ small-batch artisan shop, Astatula Candle Co., located in the Old Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa. Hand-made ceramics, live succulents, letterpress cards and more will also be available for unique gift opportunities.

Do you have one-of-a-kind, locally made wares to share with the Tampa Bay community? Apply to participate in Tampa Indie Flea Market’s upcoming New Year Flea on Jan. 17, 2016. 

Meanwhile, across the bay, Station House will host the annual St. Pete Indie Market Holiday Pop Up shop on Friday, December 19. The market will take place from 10 a.m. -- 3 p.m. and feature a fundraiser benefiting the Purple Dot Yoga Project, which helps raise awareness about domestic violence and the toll it takes on society.

Vendors include O'Berry's Succulents; The Hole Donuts; St. Pete-based jewelry makers Stoned and Charming; local organic and natural soap makers Bodhi Basics, Pinellas Chocolate Company; hand-made, screen-printed goods by Miss Johnny Squirrel by Yuki Osada; and others.

Brunch and beverages will be available inside Station House at 260 1st Ave. S. in St. Pete during the pop up holiday market; local singer/songwriter Alexis Holland will provide live music entertainment.
Home décor and more 

Along with specialty markets, many local shops in the Tampa Bay area offer handcrafted, locally sourced delicacies and crafted goods throughout the year. 

In the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa, small businesses like Cleanse Apothecary and the newly expanded from Ybor-City, speakeasy-style coffee shop, The Blind Tiger, are just two of several storefronts where a savvy holiday shopper can find handmade goods. 

The Blind Tiger, located at 6500 N. Florida Ave., Suite D, recently began carrying a specialty line of candles, hand-poured by Seventh Ave Apothecary, and ‘Everything Local’ T-shirts in partnership with the popular experiential blog Never Have I Ever Tampa. At Cleanse Apothecary, next door to neighborhood dining staple Rooster & The Till at 5127 N. Florida Ave., a line of natural bath bombs made in-house can provide the perfect stocking stuffer or holiday surprise.

“When you shop local, your dollars have an impact on your community,” Cleanse Apothecary owner Gregory Curtis says. “You find retailers with a better assortment of products -- higher quality -- and the shop owners get to know you and your family.”

In Seminole Heights, for example, “we have a burgeoning retail scene that is still growing,” Curtis says.

In the SoHo district south of Kennedy Boulevard, a growing assortment of locally owned shops are making a mark on the trendy neighborhood, where several new housing projects have cropped up in as many years. 

There, Austin’s Board Shop co-owner Austin Anderson is crafting, painting, and staining lengths of blank wood into decorative surfboards for the holidays. Austin’s Board Shop, located in a remodeled Craftsman bungalow at 301 S. Melville Ave., is offering the decorative surfboards for sale as wall décor or for use in surfboard coffee tables.

South Tampa’s Summer House Marketplace of Tampa Bay is home to furnishings, home décor and artwork from more than a dozen local Tampa woodworkers, furniture makers, crafters, and artisans. Visit Summer House at 3620 S. Manhattan Ave. and get lost in mini booths filled with handmade goods - each local maker’s crafts occupies one or several stalls.

For a truly unique gift this holiday season, give someone personalized, tailored clothing from local Tampa clothier Bespoke & Co., located at 3305 W. Bay to Bay Blvd. The company is run by custom clothiers with decades of experience in luxury fashion. 

Sweets, treats and things to eat

Nearby in downtown Tampa, find fresh cream chocolates and fudge at Ashworth Artisan Chocolates. The artisans at Ashworth Artisan Chocolates make handcrafted chocolates in store. Steven Ashworth opened the shop, now located in Tampa’s downtown urban grocer Duckweed Urban Market, 803 N. Tampa St., after working with The Southern Candy Company and Godiva Chocolates for more than a decade. 

Popular Tampa brewery Cigar City offers up not only growler and 32-oz. portions of its locally brewed draft beers, but also T-shirts, beer coozys, stickers, and pint glasses or tumblers emblazoned with the brewery’s logo. Pick up limited time Cigar City seasonal offerings like Sugar Plum or special releases like The Dark Woods ales during your visit before they sell out. 

Local soap maker Trista Page of Indigo Bee Soap also stocks the brewery, located at 3924 W. Spruce St. in Tampa, with CCB-inspired soaps.

In Ybor City, head to La Herencia De Cuba -- 1817 E. 7th Ave. -- for a hand-rolled cigar from a long-time family-owned business.

North of Tampa in Land O’Lakes, Doggie Cakes offers fresh-baked pet treats that contain 100 percent human-grade ingredients and no preservatives. Doggie Cakes can be ordered through the small business’ website or found throughout the Tampa Bay area at local events.

At Sweetwater Farms Sunday markets (Oct-May), find fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies at the farm stand, as well as local honey from vendor stalls, fresh-cut flowers, and handmade, environmentally-friendly products for grabs. Click here for a parking map and directions. Tip: most vendors accept cash only. 

Where do you seek out handmade local goods in the Tampa Bay area? Let us know in the comments below!
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Read more articles by Justine Benstead.

Justine Benstead is a feature writer for 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.