Local businesses and non-profits were recognized at the eighth annual LocalShops 1 Community Awards on Sunday, August 14. The ceremony, held at Marchand’s restaurant at the Vinoy Hotel in downtown St. Petersburg, had over 150 attendees representing businesses and organizations throughout the Bay area. Addressing the crowd, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman praised their contributions to the community and reiterated the city’s support.
Founded in 2008, LocalShops 1 is a coalition of independent businesses throughout the Bay area. Every year, they celebrate their anniversary by honoring local businesses and non-profits.
“Locally owned businesses are the foundation of our local communities, and we’re excited to be able to honor Tampa Bay’s best of the best during the LocalShops1 Community Awards,” said Ester Venouziou, founder of LocalShops1. “Local businesses add charm to our neighborhoods, contribute the most to local causes, and keep our money local. Studies show that of every dollar spent at a national corporate store, less than 40 cents stays local. Of every dollar spent at a local business, 70 cents stays right here in the Tampa Bay region. That’s money that goes for our schools, police and roads. Without our local businesses, our communities would crumble.”
The awards process and event were truly a community affair. Voters throughout the region chose their favorites in sixteen different categories for the Best in Biz award. The finalists were selected by committee from a list of over 500 nominees. The winners in those categories were then selected via an online poll on LocalShops1.com. Over two dozen local businesses contributed prizes. Community Award recipients were selected by a committee of LocalShops1 members. Each Community Award honoree received a custom mosaic created by Gulfport artist Susanne Vernon.
Gulfport winners included Red Hot Tiki Spicy Gourmet Market for Best Branding; Mermaid Bay Mercantile Company for Best Newcomer; Stella’s for Most Dog-Friendly; and Gini Carroll and Mike Fagan, Gulfport Beach Bazaar owners, for Best Power Couple. The best 501(c)(3) non-profit was awarded to CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse).
“The award was a great honor,” said Andrea Farnum, owner of Mermaid Bay Mercantile Company. “It is great to be acknowledged by businesspeople who know what it takes to open a new business.”