Tropical Fever

By Hannah Wallace April 30, 2006

On Saturday mornings, Tropical Sands Re/Max agent Eve Howes rises at 3:30, throws on comfortable clothes, loads her trunk with brilliant blossoms and heads downtown to peddle orchids at the Sarasota Farmer's Market. For six years, in all kinds of weather, Howes has sold a vibrant, multicolored range of phalaenopsis, vandas and ladyslippers. For this busy realtor, it's the perfect way to relax.

"Real estate development absorbs all your time, and before you know it, you're living and breathing it," Howes says. "I finally realized I needed to get out and do something different." Saturday is her time to forget about rigid dress codes and sales contract deadlines, sit back and nurture her artistic soul.

"I get to indulge all my creative senses. I can dress however I want. I love it," she says.

Not that selling orchids is stress free. It takes nearly three hours to set up the orchid booth between Mattison's City Grille and Whole Foods Market on Lemon Avenue, north of Main Street. "You're bringing your little store," she says.

Helped by her husband, Alan, and sometimes her nephew and brother-in-law, she arranges her stock of nearly 100 orchids, which sell from $14 to more than $100.

"I want to sell plants that people can grow in Sarasota in their back yards reasonably and successfully. We've got a really nice group of customers," she says.

But profits are not the motive. "The farmer's market is not really a money thing for me. It's a fun thing."

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