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New owners infuse old-style market with innovative ideas

ENCINITAS — While the core of the familiar European-style open-air market will stay the same, Josiah Sharmahd and Emily Matson are already implementing changes after less than a month as the new owners of Seaside Bazaar. Situated along scenic Coast Highway 101, the bazaar has offered a unique alternative for locals and tourists since 1985.
Offering an array of imports from around the world including arts and crafts, clothing, jewelry and accessories, as well as other merchandise from local artisans such as hats, bags, ceramics and one-of-a-kind gifts, there’s always something new to view as the selection is ever-changing explained Sharmahd.
“We really like to keep it as local as possible and change up what’s offered,” he said.
Known to some as the old Leucadia Flea Market, which ended its long run in 1983, the lot has undergone several changes. It was formerly home to a lumberyard and an A&W drive-in.
Sharmahd and Matson took over the downtown outdoor market from former owner Steve Olson in June. The couple is integrating live music and expanded selections to create a “focal point for the community,” rather than merely a shopping destination, Sharmahd said.
“We think it’s the heart of Encinitas, where all these small business people have the opportunity to show their wares where otherwise they can’t afford to do so,” he said.
The Ecotopiia owners got their start as bazaar vendors, hawking unique blown glass each weekend since 2005. Three years later they took over EnvironGentle and eventually changed the name of the storefront on Coast Highway 101 in downtown Encinitas.
The pair continues to maintain a presence at the bazaar, both as vendors selling organic clothing and as advocates of community-based businesses.
“They are breathing new life into (the bazaar),” said Karen Barmakian, who operates the Cappuccino in the Park coffee cart at the bazaar. “They’re young, they have business sense and they work their butts off.”
The music and vendor line up are constantly in flux despite the perception that the bazaar is a static shopping experience.
“We envision (the bazaar) to be much more than a place to buy items, even though they are unique and eclectic, we want this to be a more integral part of the entire community,” Sharmahd said.
To that end, musicians and DJs from around Southern California, Arizona and Nevada are lining up for a chance to play afternoon gigs at the market.
“It’s so hot where they are in the summer they really like coming here to play,” Sharmahd said. “There’s this preconceived notion that the bazaar is the same stuff all the time. But that’s not what’s going on here now.”
He said new vendors are always approaching the duo with new ideas for products and activities to incorporate into the bazaar weekends.
“It is a different bazaar every day,” Sharmahd said.
“We come here whenever we’re in Encinitas and we go to the beach,” Cindy Pasko said. The Escondido resident said the summer months are her favorite time to shop at the bazaar.
“It definitely seems more lively down here,” she said as she perused the wide selection of sunglasses. “I think I need a new pair for the beach,” she said smiling.
Seaside Bazaar is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May through August and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. the remainder of the year. For more information, call (760) 753-1611 or email