Once Black Friday has come and gone – once the madding crowds are done with pushing, shoving and fighting over big box goods at low, low prices – there’ll be Small Business Saturday.
Localshops1, the 10-year-old local-biz advocacy group, is taking full advantage of Small Business Saturday, a national movement, to remind the first rush of holiday shoppers that buying local can be a very, very good thing.
“It helps remind people that supporting local businesses helps the community, it keeps the money local, and that small businesses add character to your neighborhood,” says Localshops1 founder Ester Venouziou. “Even though it’s one day – and people shouldn’t just focus on one day and forget about them the rest of the year.”
Venouziou’s group began Shopapalooza, a locally-focused outdoor festival, in 2009. A few years ago – before Small Business Saturday even existed – the event was extended to two Saturdays, one before Thanksgiving, the other after.
The 2018 Shopapalooza continues Saturday (Nov. 24, aka Small Business Saturday) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at South Straub Park (some of the 150 local vendors have vowed to stay open through the city’s adjacent 5:30-8 p.m. holiday parade and festival).
Localshops1 has more than 400 members throughout the bay area. “The benefit, I believe, is the strength in numbers,” Venouziou says. “Each individual business on its own can’t be very influential. With government, or with buying power. One small business often gets overlooked. I think the greatest strength with any business organization is the power that you get as being part of a group.”
Members can seek advice, kibitz and, as Venouziou says, “share horror stories” via a private Facebook messenger board. “A lot of members just like working with each other. There’s a marketing aspect, and there’s the feeling of unity.”
If every family in the Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area spent just $10 a month with a locally owned, independent business instead of a national chain, almost $90 million would be directly returned to our community. That means more money for schools, roads and police. In short, a stronger local economy.
LocalShops1 asks you to shift your spending: Move $10 of your weekly budget from a national corporation to a local business, and see the difference you can make!
Venouziou, a longtime copy editor and page designer for the Tampa Bay Times, began LocalShops1 as sort of hobby. When she lost her job in 2011, part of one of the newspaper’s legendary mass layoffs, she shifted her entire focus to the small business advocacy group.
Among its many contributions to the local cultural fabric, Localshops1 organizes the Food and Brews Festival (the next one happens Feb. 29, 2019) and the Tiny Homes Festival (look for the second annual in March).
St. Petersburg’s meteoric growth, Venouziou believes, should – and will – include small, local businesses alongside the tech, development and other industry giants moving in.
There’s no reason we can’t have it all.
The City, she says, has always been extremely supportive of her group and its mission. “With the mayor’s efforts for the Central Avenue corridor, he reaches out to us, and to the chambers, to get our input on things,” Venouziou explains. “Which is nice.
“I think it’s hard to balance things in any city, because they also need bigger businesses too. So they’re kind of in a tough situation – they like small businesses, they like to support small businesses, but they also don’t want to seem like they don’t want to attract large businesses.”