Somewhere between the protests and politics that have consumed Sanford in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, there's a vibrant little downtown scene in Sanford that's trying hard not to get lost in the shuffle. Downtown Sanford's commercial artery, First Street, is a quaint, brick-lined thoroughfare with a surprisingly eclectic mix of businesses – there's Jeanine Taylor Folk Art gallery, which specializes in original, Southern outsider art, Maya Books and Music, one of the few independent booksellers in the area and Hollerbach's Willow Tree Café, a German beer hall that's been dishing up wursts, singalongs and accordian music since 2001. Then there are the bars – Sanford has enough drinking establishments that it's got its own weird little scene going on. One that, depending on your taste, could give the Orlando scene a run for its money.
We talked with Moire “Mo” Wisdom, owner of Little Fish Huge Pond on First Street in Sanford, an eccentric bar full of kitschy toys and tchochkes (baby-doll heads, board games, toys from the 1980s) that hosts nights like the WTF Theater Film Series, which screens all-but-forgotten batshit crazy films and the Those Are my Words! spoken-word workshops. Wisdom says she hopes that, despite the recent onslaught of negative press Sanford has received, people will support Sanford's businesses, some of which have been hurting since the media onslaught began.
You have a lot of toys and dolls and crazy art in the bar. Who's your decorator?
I am the bizarre decorator of my place and sometimes the customers bring in and create things of their own. … The pub is a living piece of ever-changing art. It also helps that my sister, Liz Watkins, is a very talented person and contributes her art and touches to the place. We are a gallery, and different artists grace our walls every month. My son has added his own handiwork to our recent remodel. Where do you get most of your stuff?
I find my stuff all over the place. I frequent yard sales and thrift stores all over Central Florida. People know to save the truly odd stuff for me.
Why did you open a bar in Sanford?
I lost my job in the pool business, so with encouragement from my family, I decided to open something that would encompass all of our interests. That is, acting, writing, art and music. We sell beer to support our passion.
Why did you call it Little Fish Huge Pond?
I called it Little Fish Huge Pond because I feel I really am. You always hear ‘little fish in a big pond' or ‘big fish in a little pond.' I truly am a little fish in a huge effin' pond, but you can't put fuckin' on the LLC.
If your bar had a theme song, what would it be?
If we had a theme song it would probably be the H.R. Pufnstuf theme song. That might cover it!
Why would anyone who's not from Sanford go to Sanford? Besides to visit your bar, of course.
There are 15 bars in three blocks, four great restaurants, monthly pub crawls, the Alive After Five monthly street party, there's free parking, a waterfront, a historic district, an airport, a state college, a great mall, an industrial district, a zoo, an airport, easy access to the 417 and I-4. And we are the county seat.
What do you think the official drink of Sanford should be?
I think the official beer of Sanford should be Mickey's Malt liquor. It used to be a contender, it has a good punch that stands on its own, and it's making its own comeback!
Who's your favorite member of Duran Duran?
Oh, hell, I guess Simon. You have to admire anyone who can go through the jungle, drink ditch water, survive the tigers and hot women and still have the best hair on the planet.
When can people find you at the bar?
We are open seven days a week, and you can find me there every night but Sunday. That's my night for guilty-pleasure TV watching.
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