West King Is A Thing - West King Wednesday in St. Augustine Is Where Locals Go

West King Market St. Augustine Florida

WEST KING IS A THING. St. Augustine's west side is undergoing a not-so-subtle transformation, and the businesses in the West King business district just west of US1 are not letting it pass them by. 

Singer Jolie at the West King Market at a West King Wednesday event in St. Augustine Florida
Singer Jolie at the West King Market 

While the West King district in St. Augustine is just a short distance away from downtown St. Augustine, it is not an extension of the touristy downtown that locals often shy away from, it is a completely different feel. 

The vendors, the businesses, and the customers - they are not focused on tourists or mass-produced items with little made-in-China stickers, they are focused on local, local businesses, small businesses, locally made, handmade, handcrafted, eco-friendly, vintage, plants, and sustainable products - this is where the secret is, this is where the sense of community is coming from - locals supporting one another. 

This past Wednesday, the result of community and business collaborations on both sides of the street could be seen by pedestrians walking up and down West King Street, browsing the various markets, shopping at local vendors, and small businesses, dining and drinking, and the local establishments and at local food trucks. 

A sense of community could be seen up close when shoppers recognized each other and the vendors, and the now common greeting Happy West King Wednesday could be heard all around, as shoppers walked from one market to another, and from one business to another. 

Rachel SobonesDesmé's Maven Maker booth at the West King Market in St. Augustine Florida
Rachel SobonesDesmé's Maven Maker booth at the West King Market on West King Wednesday

"It feels like a success as a community," says Rachel SobonesDesmé from Maven Maker, who is organizing the West King Market part of West King Wednesday. "It's not my success, everybody is here on a bus. People are responding to our efforts, and it is always delicious. I knew it had this potential; the lot is stunning. It is always glowy and sparkly, it's just beautiful at sunset."

Maven Maker started out her West King Wednesday journey selling her crafts at a table inside Buena Onda Cafe, then Buena Onda began hosting the Local Makers Market at their parking lot, but this spot soon became too small to host everyone interested. 

Shyloh Culpin and Isabella Kotrady 9th graders from St. Augustine High School
Shyloh Culpin and Isabella Kotrady, 9th graders from St. Augustine High School

St. Augustine High School 9th graders Shyloh Culpin and Isabella Kotrady noticed the West King Market banner and found out more about the event on Instagram. "I'm here because of the amazing people who come out, and the amazing vendors - it's beautiful," says Culpin. "There are some really interesting and unique things that you can walk around and visit. Honestly, just the vibe, the people who come out. It's really nice to socialize and meet people, who have the same interests as you." 

Kotrady agrees. "I came out here tonight to support the small businesses. I really like supporting women of color and women in general. The vibe of it all, it's so amazing, and the music is great. Everything is so unique - you won't find it anywhere else, and I love that everything is vintage and secondhand."

Ryan Northrup from Komorebi Bonsai Garden in St. Augustine
Ryan Northrup from Komorebi Bonsai Garden in St. Augustine

Ryan Northrup from Komorebi Bonsai Garden is getting ready for his West Augustine adventure, as he is building the first Bonsai Garden in Northeast Florida right on West King Street across from the Boys and Girls Club. He is hoping to be up and open for business within the next year or so if everything goes as planned. "We're going to be taking care of all your Bonsai needs," says Northrup. "We're going to have a Zen Garden to walk through, I'll be hosting classes, and we hope to be able to collaborate with local artists, yoga studios, breweries, and meditation groups." 

Sarah Schleicher from Wild Hearth Goods Native Plant Candles
Sarah Schleicher with Wild Hearth Goods

Sarah Schleicher from Wild Hearth Goods was at the West King Market as a vendor for the first time with her new St. Augustine nature-inspired candle company. "I'm very excited to be here, I'm here to connect with some new customers and maybe interest some new people in native plants and conservation." Schleicher makes the soy-wax candles herself with scents inspired by nature, and she is proud of giving back to wildlife preservation. 

Schleicher is a great supporter of the West Augustine community participating in the West Augustine Improvement Association's cleanup efforts at the Pinehurst and San Sebastian cemeteries, and this Saturday she has partnered up with the West Augustine Nature Society, the West Augustine Improvement Association and other local groups on the Earth Day clean up. You can find Sara's nature-scented candles at her website www.wildhearthgoods.com and locally at Southern Horticulture. 

West King Is A Thing t-shirts St. Augustine Florida

On both sides of West King Street, the sidewalks filled up on West King Wednesday, which is the third Wednesday of every month. People of all ages could be seen wearing West King Is A Thing t-shirts, which were being made right in the Buena Onda parking lot, and the proceeds were collected to a Make Space Scholarship fund to send kids to summer art camp. 

Amy Tarmey from Buena Onda Cafe and Breanne from Make A S.P.A.C.E
Amy Tarmey from Buena Onda Cafe and Breanne from Make A S.P.A.C.E

For Amy Tarmey, co-owner of Buena Onda Cafe, it is a dream come true. "I love seeing the community out on the street. It's fun to see people walking around at night on West King and stopping in at all the businesses." The best part about the success of West King Wednesday is "creating a space and an environment that supports locals," says Tarmey. "Local vendors, locals coming out, and locals playing music." 

Local Makers Market in St. Augustine at Buena Onda Cafe

At the Buena Onda Local Makers Market, The Airtight Band played, and local makers were selling their creations. 

"The people and the sense of community," is what makes the Buena Onda Local Makers Market so special says Janelle Luce from Sourdoubts. This is Luce's fourth time bringing her Sourdoubts sourdough products to the Buana Onda market on West King Wednesday, and she is excited about the growth. "It is great, it's more people, and we all have a good time." In addition to ordering directly, you can also find her sourdough products at the Juniper Market on San Marco Avenue and at the Local Refillery on West King Street. 

Opposite Buena Onda Cafe, the new Muggsy's Bar was hopping with vendors inside the courtyard and on the sidewalk. 

Muggsy's Bar West King Street St. Augustine Florida

St. Augustine's Muggsy's Bar on West King Street 

Muggsy's Bar West King Street St. Augustine Florida

Next door at the Old Town Pizza and Tavern live music was also being played. 

Old Town Pizza and Tavern West King Wednesday

At Broudy's parking lot, the parking area was full, and the sense of community was the star, as the West King Market was full of small vendors. 

"I travel to spread my business everywhere," said April Bluemosely from Lady of Leisure, who had come all day way from Jacksonville. "I think the crowds are better, and it is more laid back." Bluemosely sells her elderberry syrups, dressings, and marinades, and she brings her mocktail bar to events such as baby showers, bridal showers, and brunches. 

The West King Market began when the Local Makers Market at Buena Onda started turning vendors away because of the high interest. 

When a few of the businesses began collaborating on the West King Wednesday concept, they had big dreams. The first West King Wednesday was officially launched in August of 2021, and Ashlee Raven from Mystic Concoctions and owner of Raven Promotions & Social Media said she wanted to see all the parking lots full, and that the dream for West King Wednesdays was to have the sidewalks full of people supporting the people up and down West King Street. 

Murf's Homestyle To Go
Murf's Homestyle TOGO on West King Wednesday
Photo courtesy of Murphy Leathers 

At Murf's Homestyle a bit up the street, they are already preparing for the next West King Wednesday in May, as this will coincide with their 2nd anniversary.

You can learn more about the next West King MarketWest King Wednesday, and the Local Makers Market at Buena Onda Cafe by following on social media.

Read more pieces about West King Wednesday here.

*This piece was originally posted on the West Augustine News Connection on March 25, 2023.

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