If you’re looking for fresh produce, local art and handmade goods wrapped in a funky urban vibe, you don’t want to miss the monthly Jaxsons Night Market, Downtown’s newest open-air market in the core of the River City.
Founded by Downtown advocate Mike Field, the market takes place the third Thursday of every month in the Laura Street Trio lot at the corner of Adams and Laura streets. We recently chatted with Field about the market’s founding and future:
How did the idea for Jaxsons Night Market come about?
I was doing a lot of work on the West Coast, and night markets were starting to gain popularity throughout California. Night bazaars are prevalent in the Far East, and the concept just started to catch fire in California. I really liked the diversity found at these markets and thought the concept would work well in Jacksonville but with a more refined Southern twist that is indicative of the unique flavors of our region.
Explain the term “Jaxsons” to those that might not be familiar. When and where did you hear it initially, or is it a term the Market coined?
Jaxsons is a moniker for people who live in Jacksonville, and the concept of the market follows the tagline “For Jaxsons, by Jaxsons from the people that make Jacksonville unique.” The market is filled with small businesses that are unique to our community. The terms “Jaxsons” and “Jacksonvillians” are both used in various historical texts when referring to Jacksonville residents. The late Bill Foley used the term Jaxson, and our NFL team’s mascot is named Jaxson De Ville. I think Jaxsons just sounds a little more elegant.
Describe the Jaxsons Night Market experience – what will people see (or smell or taste) when they go?
We have street food vendors, local farmers, artisan food producers, a craft beer garden by Intuition Ale Works and even a fashion truck roundup. Many of our street food vendors prepare meals based on items sourced from night market vendors, including Black Hog Farms, Down To Earth Farms, Fresh Jax and others.
What’s been the response so far?
Market attendance has scaled up rapidly each month since we started in April. By design, we opened the market right off the heels of One Spark. People really want to feel that exciting experience Downtown more than just a few times a year. Every Jaxson has a role to play in keeping that spark alive.
Why did you want to bring this event Downtown specifically, and why do you think events like these are so important to the urban environment?
The market focuses on the kinds of retailers that are presently absent from Downtown’s retail mix. If you live or work Downtown, you should be able to buy things like fresh produce, meats, cheeses, spices, baked goods and prepared meals without having to get into your car and drive elsewhere. We also have many fashion retailers at the market, so ladies can shop for high quality dresses and accessories that you just can’t find in department stores.
The goal of the market has always been to bring in the kinds of businesses that Downtown needs in order to be a thriving neighborhood. The market allows these businesses to dip their toes in the water so they can get comfortable knowing that there is a market for their product Downtown. Pop-up events like these are designed to get existing businesses interested in establishing a permanent brick-and-mortar location Downtown.
What’s next for Jaxsons Night Market? Any new things to come you’re able to share?
The next stage for the market is helping some of the vendors take that next step to having a permanent presence Downtown. We have some plans to help that transition occur and will just have to let the process play out.