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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 has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including
Tampa Bay Times, Creative Loafing, Bay News 9, 10News, Fox News, and more. You can find a link to some of the stories and broadcasts in the In the News section.


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.


 

 

 Ester Venouziou

founder + president 

 

Ester Venouziou started LocalShops1 in 2008 while working full-time as a copy editor and designer at the Tampa Bay Times. Three years later, after losing her job in a round of layoffs, Ester decided to focus her time on LocalShops1. Ester, who has degrees in psychology and journalism from Boston University, moved to Florida in the early 1990s and to the Tampa Bay region in 2003. She has won numerous awards through her work at LocalShops1, which now offers advocacy, support, marketing and educational services.

 

Mo Venouziou
vice president

 

Mo joined his sister at LocalShops1 in November 2011, with the goal of integrating the efforts of buy local advocates and business groups across the Tampa Bay. He has a doctorate in mathematics from Syracuse University and bachelor's degrees in economics and mathematics from the University of Rochester. In addition to serving as vice president for LocalShops1, Mo is the events and marketing specialist at CASA in St. Petersburg.

Billie Jo Bell
membership director

 

Billie Jo joined LocalShops1 in 2009, as a business member. Three years later she joined our team as the North Pinellas director, and two years later she was promoted to membership director. Billie Jo, a lifelong resident of the Tampa Bay region, has a degree from St. Petersburg College and runs her own food blog, Cooking with Billie Jo.

 

 

Come visit! Our office and pop-up shop is at 2908 Beach Blvd S, Gulfport FL 33707


Our mailing address: PO Box 530144, St Petersburg FL 33747

 

 

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