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Wrightsville Beach Farmers Market kicks off with nine new vendors

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Monday, May 16, 20 craft and food vendors will sell their wares in Wrightsville Beach Park, marking the first day of the island’s summer farmers market.

This year’s market, held every Monday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. through September 26, includes longtime participants like Sea Love Sea Salt and Hanchey’s Produce as well as nine new vendors.

Potential vendors must apply for the market every year, and town staff aims to create a relatively equal balance of craft, food and produce vendors for residents and visitors. This year’s market has 10 vendors selling crafts, four selling edible items and seven selling local produce.

Several of the new vendors are either new businesses or new to Wilmington. Many of them, like The Pepper Mill Shop’s Kelly Sweitzer, started selling their goods online and are now transitioning to the market setting.

Sweitzer said she particularly likes actually seeing customers’ reactions to her crafts, which are whimsical illustrated renderings of food puns like “I don’t wanna taco ‘bout it,” “I barley know you” and “I don’t carrot all.”

“I enjoy when people cry-laugh, or when they laugh so hard they snort,” she said. “I especially love it when the kids get them.”

She paints the characters on lightweight plywood and then digitizes the paintings in Photoshop to print the images on tote bags, shirts, onesies, buttons and magnets. As for coming up with the food puns, she said in the beginning she held a few brainstorming sessions with friends, but now concepts just come to her.

“They just pop out of thin air, like when I’m walking down the grocery store aisle,” she said, adding that ideas are also inspired by cooking with her husband.

Rachel Archer is also participating in Wrightsville Beach’s market for the first time after several years of selling her wares online. For her business, Bows on Arrows, she makes jewelry out of distressed metal and gemstones.

She just moved to the area from West Virginia, she said, and she applied to be in the Wrightsville Beach Farmers Market because she thought it would be a good fit for her product, and she liked its proximity to the ocean.

Archer is a self-taught jewelry maker. She has a degree in graphic design, but she found she enjoyed making art with her hands instead of working all day on a computer. She started painting wine glasses, but one day stumbled across a photo of a wire-wrapped pendant.

“I just thought it was so interesting, but I didn’t really understand how it was done,” she said. “I made it my mission to figure it out.”

She’s only been making the jewelry for about six months, she said, but she loves the process and how unique each piece turns out depending on the materials she uses. Another benefit, she added, “is now I have jewelry all the time.”

New vendor Andrea Martin has sold her line of handcrafted skincare, Seagrass Naturals, in hair salons, but this will be her first time selling at a farmers market. She hopes to reach a wider audience and introduce herself to more people in the community.

She started making skincare products as a hobby, she said, but friends and family encouraged her to turn it into a business. She described the products she’ll be selling at the Wrightsville Beach Farmer’s Market as “handmade soaps, sea salt scrubs, body butter and all-natural shower gels.”

Other new vendors are Lunchbox Pickles, selling pickled vegetables, Island Roast Coffee and Barren Inlet Creek Designs, selling hand-woven doormats. Several more produce vendors are also taking part this year. For the full list, visit www.townofwrightsvillebeach.com

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