Shopapalooza Shines Spotlight on Value of Shopping Local
Shopapalooza event returns November 27-28, 2021, to St. Pete’s Vinoy Park for two days of celebrating the impact of communities supporting local businesses. The event is held annually in conjunction with the nationally recognized consumer awareness day, Small Business Saturday, which encourages community members to go out to their local, independently owned shops, restaurants and other service providers and show their support through their spending dollars.
Over 300 local businesses are taking part in this year’s Shopapalooza Festival produced by LocalShops1, a longtime advocate and promoter of the Shop Local movement across the Tampa Bay area. The event, now in its 11th year following a break in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is an opportunity for the community to give back to those businesses which made it through the challenges of the pandemic and to meet newcomers to the local business community.
Shopapalooza is open to the public and free to attend. The event offers visitors an opportunity to get a head start on holiday shopping while showing their support to local businesses, artists, musicians, restaurants and food truck vendors, nonprofits and more. Shopapalooza 2021 will run all weekend long from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the downtown St. Petersburg park located at 701 Bayshore Drive NE.
“This past year, especially, we all saw how much we depend on small businesses and all they do to keep our communities going, from giving meals to schoolchildren and first responders, to raising funds and donating supplies to neighbors in need,” says Ester Venouziou, founder of LocalShops1, which launched in 2008. “The local business community went above and beyond, and it’s time for us all to give back and support them as much as we can.”
The City of St. Petersburg continues to be a co-sponsor of Shopapalooza and has been since its start, though the event has expanded significantly over the years as Venouziou’s grass roots organization grew. Over Shopapalooza’s 11 years of becoming a signature St. Petersburg community-wide event, Local Shops1 has served as a source of support, promotion and advocacy to area businesses year-round and encouraged collaboration on different levels to spread the message that when communities shop local, they support both the businesses and the communities where those funds are being reinvested. Those who visit the LocalShops1 website will find the group’s ‘Call to Action’ to all families in the Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area to move $10 from their monthly budget spent away from national chains and into the pockets of local, independently owned businesses.
This year’s festivities promise to be bigger and better than ever – with 75 more businesses taking part than in 2019 – and covering a wide range of products such as handcrafted jewelry, clothing and accessories, home décor, health and beauty products, vintage finds, pet treats and toys, candles, fair trade goods, gourmet foods, and more. The event also features an eclectic mix of activities — everything from mobile axe throwing and street performers to live music and an expanded kid zone with arts and crafts, face painting and learning stations sponsored by Great Explorations Children’s Museum.
New this year is a second performance space, high atop the deck of a Victorian Tiny House. Lucky guests might even get a chance to mingle with Santa and Mrs. Claus, who will be on hand throughout the weekend at a full Santa Station, complete with holiday story reading courtesy of Mrs. Claus, an area for writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in his mailbox, a coloring station, and photo opps with the popular couple. Another new addition is a Christmas village designed by local artist Elke Lockert and featuring a 10’x10’ gingerbread house that guests can walk through (but not for snacking!), a Peace Tree, and trees representing each continent. When guests need a break from browsing, they can take a tour of Shorty Robbins’ Victorian Tiny House or catch up with friends at the unique 10,000-square foot Chillounge Seating area, courtesy of La Budde & Sons.
Guests will meet up with another newbie at this year’s Shopapalooza, The Book Rescuers, regarded by some as the largest mobile bookstore in the world. The group will setup for the weekend at Vinoy Park with its own Pop-up Bookstore, offering more than 8,000 titles across genres and age groups with each book priced at only $1. A portion of the proceeds will benefit local teachers and their efforts to furnish classrooms with adequate supplies. (Dancing at the event-right)
Another departure this year from past Shopapalooza events will be a new redesigned food vendor setup. Participating food vendors will be spread across four outdoor “halls” rather than in just one space to spread the possibility of experiencing the many flavors of the Bay area – literally – wherever you may be roaming at the event. Over 30 food stations (for vegans and carnivores alike) and 18 vendors offering pre-packaged food items will be available to keep hungry guests nourished and ready to resume shopping.
Though there may be some expansions and new additions to the Shopapalooza event, the core focus remains the same: this is an event for everyone. Shopapalooza is family-friendly and pet-friendly for well-behaved pets on leashes. Admission has always been free and remains free.
This year’s live entertainment lineup on the Main Stage features a variety of music genres from local bands and performers including Leon Vincent, Rebekah Pulley, Ocean Road Band, Laura Shepherd, Jennifer Real and Urban Gypsies of Florida. That Steel Drum Girl will be providing additional musical entertainment on the new stage deck at the Victorian Tiny House.
One special promotion taking place could benefit two lucky attendees. Each day, the festival will choose one shopper randomly to win a $500 Shopping Spree. It is free to enter but to win, guests must register in advance and must be present to receive their prize. For more information or to register, go to shopapaloozafestival.com/win-500.html. The event will announce winners on both days, Saturday, November 27 and Sunday, November 28.
A free trolley from Sundial Garage to Vinoy Park will be running regularly throughout the weekend. Event organizers encourage guests to consider using rideshare services or public transportation to attend the event. Coast Bike Share will have a station at the north end of the park and offer bike valet services to those interested.
LocalShops1 will be following COVID-19 safety protocols based on the CDC, federal, state, county and city recommended guidelines for large events. While event organizers welcome face masks, they are not required. “Being in a wide, open space, the festival provides a fun, safe place to shop,” Venouziou says. “Most vendors offer touchless/cashless payment options and have sanitizer available. Also, many are setting up their booths so people can shop without having to go inside their booths.”
The event founder is looking forward to seeing the community have a fun, safe opportunity to come together again after what has been a challenging time for many during the pandemic. “After these crazy past 18+ months, I hope the Shopapalooza Festival provides a great opportunity for the community to reconnect, have fun, and support local makers and small businesses,” Venouziou says. “I want everyone to set aside politics, remember we’re all in this together, and refocus on how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place.”
For more information about this year’s Shopapalooza event, visit the event website at ShopapaloozaFestival.com. At the site, visitors have access to an online map of all vendors and activities and their locations. Attendees also can stop by the event’s Facebook page by clicking here for the latest event updates.
Content written by By Chris Kuhn for Destination Tampa Bay™. Photos were supplied by the event promotor for editorial purposes only, all right reserved. Looking for another fun event to attend? Check out Second Friday in Dunedin here. Interested in learning more about our Shop Local efforts at Destination Tampa Bay™? Learn more on Shop Local here.