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Small Business Saturday sees local success

Tampa Bay shopped local over the weekend to help small businesses during what's been a difficult year.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The pandemic has made for a tough year for small businesses. Many had to shut down or haven't been able to get recover. 

Small Business Saturday was over the weekend. It went better than expected -- that's what the group LocalShops 1 is hearing from businesses. LocalShops1 advocates for small businesses in and around St Petersburg.

Typically on Small Business Saturday, it hosts "Shopapalooza," which is a massive small business shopping festival, one of the largest local events in the country. That obviously wouldn't work this year with COVID. 

So instead, it hosted the Shop Small Holiday Market in Gulfport. 

There were more than 100 local businesses that set up shop, socially distanced of course.

Patrick Largo with LocalShops1 says traffic was steady all throughout the day and vendors were happy with the number of people who came out.

He says it's been a really unpredictable year, but hopefully, this weekend gets some momentum going. 

"You're not just buying from local businesses, it's your neighbors you're buying from," Largo said. It's the people you know who own the stores, you want to help them, they're like family."

And it has to continue into January, February and March.

So what can you do to help? 

There's a website called BuyLocalTampaBay.com. Local businesses can sell their stuff and they get to keep all the money. So you can still do online shopping but support local. 

Patrick also told me that if every family in Tampa Bay spent just $10 a month on a local business, that's an estimated $90 million annually that could stay in our area.

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