Shopapalooza is the highlight of the year for many small businesses

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — This weekend, more than 350 Tampa Bay small businesses will set up shop at Vinoy Park in St. Pete for Shopapalooza.

Everything from one-of-a-kind fashion and jewelry to eco-friendly sun protection apparel and delicious St. Pete’s ice cream will be available, with each of these companies providing an inspirational story to accompany their products.

What started as a series of artistic doodles turned into a small business run by a husband and wife called Shape Shifter Fish and Friends.

“I literally started moving shapes around, circles, half circles, triangles, to create a manatee, a pelican, a dolphin,” owner Maria Aller said.

Like many of these entrepreneurs who have pursued their dreams during the pandemic, Aller has faced his share of challenges and more.

“So in June of this year I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which forced me to call it quits,” Aller said. “So an event like this is great for us because we’re not able to do so many events now.”

Since 2009, Shopapalooza has grown from 40 to nearly 400 businesses.

“Vendors say, ‘This is the best event I’ve ever been to’ or ‘I’ve had more action in the last two days than I’ve had in the last six months hosting events’ “, said Pat Largo of LocalShops1. , which organizes the event.

Ray and Alyssa Wyatt, owners of Churned Ice Cream, were forced out of their jobs at an upscale hotel during the pandemic and now serve ice cream at St. Pete in a refurbished 1971 Volkswagen van.

“We could incorporate his chef and kitchen experience, along with my marketing and a bit of hospitality experience, and we could do something that we really wanted to do together,” Alyssa said.

They predict that tens of thousands of potential customers will pass by them this weekend.

“You meet customers who have followed you on Instagram or Facebook. You can meet them individually,” Ray said.

Then there is Moda Galleria Boutique. They said that unlike your big box stores, when you buy from Shopapalooza, you’re not just supporting a local business; you are supporting a local family.

“And we can’t thank you enough, for everyone who shop with our small business, because this is us,” owner Cara Scott said. “We are the ones who literally put blood, sweat and tears into our business day in and day out, supporting our families.”

For more on these local businesses, check out Moda Galleria, ShapeShifter Fish and Friends, and Baratté Ice Cream.

Shopapalooza operates 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Vinoy Park.

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