Julie Olsson, a St. Augustine native of Minorcan decent, met Sloane Doucette, a transplant from New York, just after high school. Julie started working at a restaurant. Sloane’s family was in the restaurant business. Together, they learned the ins and outs of the restaurant industry and made careers together. About twelve years ago, Julie began selling handmade cutting boards at a local farmer’s market, and her perspective began to change.
Julie says the atmosphere of the market reminded her of days when people did their shopping in a town square, walking from store to store to buy different products, instead of in a supermarket shopping center. She loved the feeling of family that grew out of the market, and the fact that no matter what happened, these people were passionately selling their products. “Vendors at a farmer’s market are hardy people,” Julie says. “They stick with it through all seasons.”
One day, Julie mentioned to Sloane how “cool it would be” to have another farmer’s market in a different venue to expand the offerings. They spent hours researching how a typical farmer’s market works, what days were already taken by other markets, and the best locations for a new market. They attended markets and approached some of the vendors. They already knew they wanted the staples of seafood, bread, produce, locally-sourced honey. Sloane and Julie were also committed to staying with local artisans selling their craft. At last, everything fell into place, and they began their market down at the marina near Marineland.
It has been dubbed the “Sleepy Market” and the “Friendliest Market.” Boaters often stop there on Sundays to restock their wares, and locals have become regulars. Julie and Sloane were careful to not choose just any vendor, but hand-picked each one to keep the rhythm, flow, and balance they had created.
When the market at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre was up for renewal, Julie and Sloane decided to try adding a second market to their management company. They lost the bid but were soon given the opportunity to bid on the management of the Wednesday Market at the Pier. This time, they were successful and took over in October 2018. They have much to prove, they feel, in building a positive image and convincing the vendors and the community that not only do they have the best interests of the market at heart, but they also want to build it into something similar to their market down in Marineland.
Having forged a lifelong friendship right after high school, it seems the winning recipe for these two women is simply to keep cooking. Clearly the temperature is right for Julie and Sloane.