Ready, Set, Shop Local!

Organizers from the Gulfport Merchants Association, from left to right, GMA board members Daniel Hodge and Paul Ray, with GMA social media coordinator Terry Foster. Photo courtesy of Justin Shea, City of Gulfport.  

Organizers from the Gulfport Merchants Association, from left to right, GMA board members Daniel Hodge and Paul Ray, with GMA social media coordinator Terry Foster. Photo courtesy of Justin Shea, City of Gulfport.

Thousands of shoppers kicked off the holiday shopping season early this year at Shopapalooza, held on Saturday November 19 at South Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg. The annual event, sponsored  by LocalShops1, promotes holiday spending with local, independent businesses in the Tampa Bay area to help keep more money within the local economy. At Shopapalooza, visitors browsed items sold by vendors offering art and unique handcrafted gifts not found in the mall or big box stores.

“Almost 130 local businesses, artists and nonprofits helped make the first part of the Shopapalooza festival such a wonderful event last Saturday,” says Ester Venouziou, LocalShops1 founder. “We are looking forward to once again packing South Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg next Saturday, November 26, for Shopapalooza Part 2. The event is truly a community celebration, with local businesses from throughout the Tampa Bay region coming together to show everyone how awesome it is to shop, dine and live local!”

Representatives from the Gulfport Merchants Association (GMA) set up an information booth outside and inside the Gulfport trolley while attendees spun the wheel for free prizes, toured the trolley and
took home information about Gulfport’s local businesses and events.

“It’s a wonderful way to promote Gulfport to a wide variety of people outside the city, some of whom have visited Gulfport previously, and many who have not,” says Daniel Hodge, vice president of the GMA.

Opportunities abound for shopping local throughout the area on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday on November 26, and year-round. Thriving regional shopping areas, each with their own unique vibe, include Corey Avenue and Pass-A-Grille in St. Pete Beach, The Edge and Grand Central districts in St. Petersburg and Gulfport’s shopping districts.

“Many of the merchants in Gulfport will be actively promoting their participation in Small Business Saturday on November 26, as always,” says Hodge. “This will kick off the gift-buying season locally in a big way. We are also expecting thousands of visitors to Gulfport for our annual Holiday Hoopla event on Saturday, December 10, which is another way to attract visitors for shopping and dining in Gulfport.”

LocalShops1, whose mission is to provide support, advocacy and education to small businesses throughout the region, opened a storefront this year at 2908 Beach Blvd. S. in Gulfport.

“Having a brick and mortar location has been a huge boost in raising the profile of LocalShops1, Shopapalooza festival and all our efforts to spread the word about why local matters,” says Venouziou. “Beach Boulevard is a quintessential main street, filled with locally owned shops and restaurants, and it represents what the local movement is all about: the community supporting each other and making Tampa Bay a better place every day.”

 

 

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