March 6, 2023

Indoor Marketplace Launches with 15 Vendors in Ave Maria

Young woman stands behind the counter at a creative gift shop.

Mercato at Ave, an indoor marketplace with 15 vendors, celebrated its grand opening Saturday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and live entertainment in Ave Maria.

The new business opened adjacent to Publix supermarket in La Piazza Publix Center, 5052 Pope John Paul II Blvd., just east of Ave Maria’s Town Center. Its vendors operate from “casitas,” kiosks that sell a variety of local products such as beauty supplies, candles, cupcakes, clothing, high-end sneakers, ice cream and soaps, as well as services such as a drop-off for dry-cleaning, a fragrance station and jewelry repair. Guests also can enjoy a wine and beer bar, hand-crafted coffee beverages, lounge areas, free Wi-Fi and a mural designed for photo opportunities.   

The new business is the inspiration of Jorge Arroyo and Reina Del Mar, the couple who owns the adjacent Hoja de Menta women’s boutique. Arroyo, who custom-designed the boutique and Oasis the Kitchen Lounge in the Town Center, also created the conceptual look of the new Mercato at Ave.

“We wanted the inspiration to be a chic country village in a very welcoming environment for the whole family to enjoy,” Del Mar said.

The couple’s new business celebrates local entrepreneurs and serves as a nod to their own humble beginnings selling clothing Saturdays at the Ave Maria Farmers Market. Their boutique grew from there and its success encouraged their second business in the growing community.

“We’re returning our gratitude,” Arroyo said. “Our goal is to have this indoor marketplace serve as a platform for small business.”

The couple has scores of businesses on a waiting list to participate in the new marketplace. Inaugural participants include Ani’s Fragrances Candle Co., Ave Maria Puess! Boutique, Ave Nutrition, Empanada Boutique, Eva’s Jewels & Repairs, GM Dry Cleaners, Haus of Ave, Meltz Ice Cream, Perfumes Andrea, Pop Love Gelato, Pure Beauty Hair & Supply Store, Sonia Tello Alterations, Stay & Play, Teily’s Golden Desserts, and Tia Raza’s.

The Southwest Florida-based band Bailanow performed Latin music at the grand opening event. Live music will be scheduled for other events at the indoor market.