Now open in its first phase – Artegon Marketplace, I-Drive’s newest shopping experience – culls together 165 artisan and craftsman vendors in airy, climate-controlled space. It's turning a neighborhood already rife with retail and outlet venues into an Orlando shop-local haven of epic proportions.
Florida Soap Company's wares are handcrafted, vegan and all-natural — Photo courtesy of A.D Thompson
Inspired by famous city markets such as Seattle’s Pike Place and Boston’s Faneuil Hall, Artegon – which breathes new life into what long time Orlandoans remember as Festival Bay – opened its doors this November, just in time for the holiday season.
“It’s all unique,” says Thearon Scurlock, the property’s director of marketing. “We don’t have the traditional stores like Gap or Banana Republic. Shoppers are going to find something they’re not going to find anywhere else.”
Artegon was 95% full at press time; leasing, says Scurlock, has been strong.
Pepper Palace showcases seemingly innumerable varieties, many of which are Florida-centric — Photo courtesy of A.D Thompson
“Most of these people are local, Central Florida-sourced artists, people who would never be able to lease a traditional space in a mall," says Scurlock.
Indeed, six- or 12-month lease terms make it easier for small businesses – such as the all-natural Florida Soap Company or Elemental Nursery, a bonsai and plant purveyor from Kissimmee – to get a foothold. Artists are encouraged to expand into the space outside their stalls for an uptick in the market atmosphere.
An on-site event space will allow for classes and demos in various mediums, as well.
Recycled materials, from construction refuse to shotgun shells, are repurposed into beauty at KRaP Art — Photo courtesy of A.D Thompson
Kimberly Wyant – an artist whose Lakeland-based KRaP Art (Kimberly's Recycled Art Projects) is branching out into a colorful stall – was immediately struck by both the Artegon layout and model.
"It was structured to be affordable for an artist who is starting out small," says Wyant. "And it's great to see how hard everyone is working to make it successful for the people who are leasing space here."
With phase one's 165 vendor spaces now open – along with Sky Trail, an on-site. indoor ropes course attraction, and retail anchors such as Ron Jon Surf Shop and Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World – Orlando is ready to get its spend on.
Before year's end, more in-line retailers, including geek mecca Gods and Monsters (a high-end comics and collectibles store), will be hanging "open" signs, as well.
Artegon will expand in early 2015 with additional market stalls, retailers, restaurants and attractions — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
Phase two, scheduled to open in the first quarter of next year, will see the addition of 135 more artisan stalls, an indoor-outdoor skate park and a trampoline-based attraction, along with Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Berghoff's Oktoberfest.
Be on the lookout for interactive entertainment, jugglers, stiltwalkers and the like, for additional color and fun.
Artist Wyant, a veteran of the farmers market, says Artegon is singular.
"There is nothing else like this. And it’s local art. People can come from all over the world and buy something local. Local people can shop local." She laughs. "Plus, my stuff doesn’t blow over anymore. No breakage!"