LocalShops1’s annual, weekend-long Shopapalooza is cancelled this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t support local business during the holidays. A one-day Shop Small Holiday Market replaces Shopapalooza this November, with a focus on Gulfport.
Gulfport will close Beach Blvd. S. to vehicle traffic on November 28, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and transform into a wonderland of local makers, selling goods they’ve crafted in their workshops all year long.
“Shopapalooza has been canceled this year, but we plan to be back at Vinoy Park in downtown St. Pete Thanksgiving weekend 2021,” LocalShops1 founder Ester Venouziou told the Gabber. “The festival is just too big and has too many interactive components – children’s zone, activity zone for adults, lots of tastings at the food booths – for a pandemic year.”
“Since the GMC has already started the Tuesday market and the monthly art walks, they have the proper CDC safety protocols and trained volunteers for events. So partnering with them and having the event here logistically made a lot of sense, rather than us having to ‘reinvent the wheel,’” said Venouziou. “I talked with several business owners along Beach Boulevard to get their input on whether having a holiday market here would benefit their business. Everyone was happy to hear about this possibility and told me to go for it.”
The market will top out at 100 local makers and small businesses – 150 fewer vendors than the traditional Shopapalooza event.
Along with distancing requirements, vendors will wear masks and organizers highly encourage guests to wear masks as well. Gulfport STRONG volunteers will distribute free masks, courtesy of Visit St. Pete-Clearwater and the City of Gulfport. Guests can avail themselves of hand sanitizer and hand washing stations throughout.
“We have a really great selection of vendors, and I think shoppers will be impressed,” said Venouziou. “In addition to the awesome vendor lineup, I’d like to remind everyone who comes to our holiday market to support the brick-and-mortar shops and restaurants.”
The event is free and so is the parking. Guests can park on Shore Blvd. S. or at the Gulfport Recreation Center, Gulfport Public Library and the Catherine Hickman Theater. Gulfport’s event trolley also offers free service to and from off-site parking areas.
“With the holidays right around the corner, the Shop Small Holiday Market is the ideal occasion for shoppers to support local businesses and makers for their gift giving needs,” said Suzanne King, president of SIK Promotions. “Shop small and don’t get mauled at the mall!”
Venouziou echoed that sentiment in these pandemic times, encouraging folks to “think local first, and support small businesses in Gulfport, St. Pete, and throughout the Tampa Bay region. They need you a lot more than Amazon does.”
For folks who might be a little skittish about in-person shopping, there is another local option. Since leaving her brick-and-mortar location in Gulfport this year, Venouziou launched an online marketplace for local businesses: buylocaltampabay.com, with all money going to the businesses, after transaction fees.