Market Day at Florida Tech All About Student Connection
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Market Day at Florida Tech All About Student Connection

Market Day at Florida Tech All About Student Connection

TCS Food Commissary Kitchen owners Tim and Karen Shea have been operating successful markets across the Space Coast for close to 20 years. But Market Day at Florida Tech holds a special place in their hearts.

WFIT radio station manager Terri Wright first contacted the Sheas about eight years ago when the college was looking for ways to help freshmen find connection. With a large population of international students, it is often difficult for those new to campus to assimilate and start to feel at home here on the Space Coast. A monthly market was one of their ideas. 

Meanwhile, the Sheas had seen how the Downtown Melbourne Farmer’s Market built camaraderie and relationships between customers and vendors. And they knew this could work on the campus with a bit of careful planning.

Karen hand selects each vendor who sells at Market Day. There are usually between 40 and 45 booths plus seven or eight food trucks each month. She gives thought to what products will appeal to college students, but even more thought to which vendors will best help build that sense of community they are striving for. 

“The market is a way to get everyone out, and all the vendors I sign up know the purpose,” Karen said. “They know they have to be really friendly and smile and try to make the kids feel comfortable. It’s business, but there is also a bigger reason that we are there.”

Fresh locally made and grown foods, jewelry, plants, crystals, and coffee all are popular with students and faculty. In the beginning, most of the students were shy, but after months of seeing the same faces, casual conversation led to more substantial relationships. 

“For me as a vendor, the thing that is so special about FIT is the interaction with all of the students,” said Laurel Earls, owner of Mt. Laurel Organic Peruvian Coffee. “We meet these kids from all over the world and develop relationships. We ask them about their grades, how their holidays were, almost like we are their local parents. It’s much more than a shopping opportunity.”

“It’s many vendors' favorite market,” Karen said. “Just being around the young people makes you feel good. It’s a beautiful lawn, and everyone’s skateboarding and riding bikes and waving. It’s a really positive, happy vibe.”

Florida Tech Market Day is held one Wednesday each month from September through April. The Sheas plan alongside Wright to choose dates that work with the academic calendar, keeping in mind exam schedules and school breaks. The market is open to the public with free parking available in the parking garage. A trolley brings customers from the garage to the market on Crawford Green. 

“All markets are about a sense of community, but this one is that on steroids,” Karen said. “It's purpose driven. It’s not just business. The vendors know why they are there and they see that it is working. The kids are engaging. At Florida Tech Market Day, we are trying to make a connection for a reason.”

Florida Tech Market Day 

Farmer's market held on Crawford Lawn on Florida Tech campus in front of WFIT radio station.
150 West University Blvd., Melbourne, FL
Check Market Day at Florida Tech Facebook page for market dates.

Other area TCS Foods Markets

Viera Park Market and Food Trucks 
1st Friday of each month, 4-8 p.m.
2300 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Melbourne, FL 32940

Dowtown Melbourne Farmer’s Market at Riverview Park 
Every Saturday, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
2400 Riverview Drive, Melbourne, FL 32901

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