|Who We Are|
LocalShops1 is the area’s most active advocate for local, independently owned businesses in the Tampa Bay area. We work with businesses, artists, non-profits, and other cool groups to come up with creative ways to make our neighborhoods better. Shopping locally has the economic advantages, of course: Money spent locally is more likely to stay locally. But it's not just about money. These are the businesses that link us to the past, and ensure our communities will have lots of character in the future.
LocalShops1 grew out of a list founder Ester Venouziou kept on a scrap piece of paper at home, to help her parents find cool shops and restaurants when they were visiting from New Jersey. Ester then started a group on Facebook, asking for suggestions on shops and restaurants to add to the list. Soon LocalShops1 was born.
The staff now includes Ester's brother, Mo Venouziou, who serves as vice-president; and Billie Jo Bell, former member-turned-membership director.
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We launched in August 2008 in St. Petersburg and Gulfport and just two years later were voted the Best of the Bay: Best Voice for Small Businesses by readers and editors of Creative Loafing magazine in the Tampa Bay area. LocalShops1 has also been honored by the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Sustainable Florida, Small Business Influencer Awards and various regional Chambers of Commerce.
LocalShops1 hosts educational workshops, networking socials, store promotions, shopping expos, evening socials, business seminars and community events. In 2009 we introduced Shopapalooza Festival, the local alternative to Black Friday, which has now become one of the signature holiday annual events in St. Petersburg. That takes place the Saturday before Thanksgiving and the Saturday after! In 2010, we brought Top Local Chef, now a much-anticipated event that highlights local chefs every spring; and the Best in Biz Awards, later renamed the LocalShop1 Community Awards, which spotlight the best of the best.
Most recently, summer 2016, we opened our brick-and-mortar location, at 2908 Beach Blvd S in Gulfport. Our shop features display space for member brochures, plus space for resident artists, one-day pop-ups, and collaborative shopping events and mini-expos. The store is only 450 square feet or so, but we have maximized the space!
LocalShops1 also offers editing, writing, design, website, social media and marketing services through our division, Hire a Journalist; and we publish the Live Local! series, which includes the bimonthly Live Local Buzz and the annual Live Local! Year-in-Review.
Come visit! Our office and pop-up shop is at 2908 Beach Blvd S, Gulfport FL 33707