WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Southend neighborhood of West Palm Beach was beginning to look a lot like Christmas on Sunday for the neighborhood's first-ever holiday market.
The market ran from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the parking lots of SoSo and Palm Beach Meats off South Dixie Highway.
Around 20 area vendors sold everything from artisan breads and local honey to hot sauces and spices.
The market comes as a survey this year from the National Federation of Independent Business shows nearly 80% of small business owners say the rising costs of fuel, inventory, supplies and other materials has hit them hard this year.
"It's the pricing of our paper products all the way to our produce, our meat," said Kye Akavia, co-owner of the SoSo Neighborhood Kitchen, a restaurant in Southend.
Akavia and his business partner, Alex Dischino, opened up their restaurant eight months ago and know well the impacts inflation can have on a small employer.
"Prices now are not what they were eight months ago," said Akavia.
Akavia and Dischino knew they needed to offset those costs, both for themselves and their neighboring business owners, many of whom they said don't get as much exposure here in the Southend area versus other areas of the city.
"I feel undiscovered still," said Dischino.
Akavia and Dischino partnered with their friend Eric San Pedro, who owns Palm Beach Meats next door, to come up with a plan.
"One word — pivot," said Akavia.
The plan was to create the holiday market spanning the two business' parking lots. In addition to the 20 vendors, children and their families got a chance to meet Santa Claus, play in a designated play area, enjoy both sweet and savory treats, and listen to a children's choir perform.
"We wanted to have it here on our property to bring our local neighbors, our southend community and our broader community down here to both experience our two businesses and shop vendors in the area," said Dischino.
"It would mean the world to us for the community to come and show us some support, and not just us but all the local vendors," said Akavia. "It's been a tough couple of years for small businesses."
San Pedro added the market really is more about the vendors, many of whom may not get the opportunity to showcase their products without local markets like these.
"All of the vendors here really are our friends," said San Pedro. "It's really about the idea of community, and we're hoping the community can enjoy some of the vendors that may not be at the same markets."
Jonathan Richards agreed. Richards owns Palm Beach Salt Company and makes salt from Palm Beach County's own shores.
He doesn't yet have a brick and mortar store and said events like these are crucial for meeting customers face to face.
"It's integral. We depend on customers coming in," said Richards. "It's an opportunity we don't get many other places."
Families attending the market, including Stephanie Springmyer and her family, said it's an opportunity they like to take advantage of.
"We're always trying to go into local restaurants or retailers to give back," said Springmyer. "We want this area to continue to grow."
Akavia said that reaction is what the market is really all about: supporting local vendors and supporting loyal customers who come out in return.
"It's really just that, just making sure the people around you are smiling and happy, and being a part of that, that's what it is for me," said Akavia.
The SoSo Neighborhood Kitchen hosts local vendors Thursday nights all year round.