Hidden away in the nooks and crannies of Tampa/St. Pete are the local shops and businesses that make the city tick. These tiny treasures are anchored by the continuous support of the community.
For six years, one of the city’s biggest proponents of buying locally has been LocalShops1. Through co-op advertising, vendor events and cross promotion, the advocacy group has been a leading supporter of locally owned, small businesses in Tampa Bay.
On Aug. 7, LocalShops1 celebrated its sixth birthday by honoring 26 businesses with the annual Best in Biz Awards. Taking place at the St. Pete Museum of History and presented by C1 Bank, the banquet recognized the very best in Tampa Bay's independent endeavors.
Over 2,000 people participated in an online poll to determine the winners, in conjunction with a panel of media judges who reviewed the finalists’ written applications. The event was attended by over 100 people, and featured keynote speaker Stephanie Hayes (novelist, art critic and blogger).
The annual Floppy Hat Award for Community Service was given to both Lori Rosso (owner of Sea Breeze Manor Bed & Breakfast and president of Gulfport Merchants Association) and C1 Bank (a community-centric bank based in St. Pete with locations across the West Coast of Florida). The award recognizes a community member who exemplifies the “Buy Local” ideal.
Veering on the side of whimsy, the ceremony also featured a Best Decorated Floppy Hat Contest — won by Lucinda Johnston (executive director of the St. Pete environmental nonprofit, Chart 411) and presented by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and wife Kerry Kriseman.
Winners in the four major categories are listed below:
Best Established Business
Popular Vote (tie): Bananas Music & Sunshine Automotive
Judges’ Choice (tie): Moorman Photographics & Northstar Realty
Best New Business
Popular Vote: Bellezza Tan & Spa
Judges’ Choice (tie): Growing Up and Wine Madonna
Best at Grassroots Marketing
Popular Vote: Shubee Shack
Judges’ Choice: The Kind Mouse Productions
Most Community-Minded Business
Popular Vote: Smokin’ J’s
Judges’ Choice: Time Systems