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Small Business Saturday highlights Tampa Bay area's small, local businesses

"The reason that we're here is because of the community. Not only of St. Pete, but Tampa Bay," said Liza Fleming, owner of Zaa Dress Up Studio.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — After Thanksgiving passes, people tend to look forward to Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping. But, Small Business Saturday offers not only a way to find unique gifts, but also a way to support local entrepreneurs within your own community.

"I am excited about Small Business Saturday," said Liza Fleming, owner of Zaa Dress Up Studio in downtown St. Petersburg. "It's been...two tough years, but we're just happy and glad we're a part of this community." 

The annual shopping day falls on Nov. 27 this year, and encourages people to support local businesses, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC) reports.

Fleming's women's clothing boutique has been in downtown St. Pete for three years, and she says her journey would not be possible without the support of the local community.

"The reason what we're here is because of the community. Not only of St. Pete, but Tampa Bay," she said. "The idea here that people really want us to be here and they show that love and support every single day, really it makes a difference."

According to the USCC, American Express first launched Small Business Saturday in 2010 as a way to redirect holiday shopping to local stores. In 2011, the Senate passed a resolution officially recognizing Small Business Saturday.

With this in mind, people may be asking: What are some small, local businesses to go to this Saturday?

Here's a list of some places to check out on Small Business Saturday in the Tampa Bay area:

Book + Bottle 

Located just off Central Avenue in downtown St. Pete, this new bookstore and wine bar opened just a few months before the pandemic. However, tenacity and the local community helped it not only to survive, but thrive.

"I would say it's actually been a joy because people really needed to root themselves during the pandemic," said founder and owner Terra Dunham. "And so, having the store and having this be a place that people could not only gather together, but kind of rally behind has been a really amazing journey."

Dunham says she hopes those who come to shop with her this holiday season find reason to shop with intention.

"As small businesses, we have this power and responsibility to create the kind of world that we want, and I don't particularly want to live in a world of shopping frenzy and consumerism," she said. "Even though I am in retail, I like more deliberate, intentional spending time together rather than buying things for people."

Because wine is something you can share and books sharpen the mind, they make perfect gifts with meaning.

Zaa Dress Up Studio

For just a little more than three years, Zaa Dress Up Studio has made its home in downtown St. Petersburg. The women's fashion boutique offers a range of trendy pieces for every occasion.

"We just don't sell clothes. We sell compliments," said owner Liza Fleming. "So, my goal is that when a girl goes out of that door, they get as many compliments as possible."

Fleming said despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, the local community has kept her business afloat. She's already offering discounts for Black Friday and looks forward to helping shoppers pic out gifts this through the weekend and the rest of the holiday season.

"We're just thankful that we're part of this community that truly embraces and supports small businesses. We've definitely felt the love," said Fleming.

Don Me Now

This fashion-forward clothing store offers customers "on-trend styles as well as personal styling services," according to the boutique's online description.

After spending almost five years in Hyde Park Village, Don Me Now moved over to Kennedy Boulevard.

Modern Paws

This pet supply store has two locations in Tampa, offering knowledge, unique pet products, natural and holistic food, and treats directly to your home.

"Our company strives in providing excellent customer service, as well as offering the highest quality of pet products for cats and dogs alike," the shop wrote on its website

"Our mission is to raise awareness on the importance of pet health and nutrition in the community."

Thanksgiving Arts & Crafts Festival

This festival sponsored by the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce encourages holiday shoppers to shop with small and local stores.

This free event starts at 10 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

During one of the busiest shopping periods of the year, there will be a wide selection of fine art to crafts being offered from independent business owners. People can do holiday shopping here with local vendors instead of heading to the busy malls.

Admission and parking for this event are free.

For more information, click here.

Shopapalooza Festival

LocalShops1 hosts its signature event in downtown St. Petersburg featuring more than 250 vendors, the event's Facebook page says.

There will be live music, free kid zones, free raffles, and a food hall.

This event will take place on Saturday and Sunday at Vinoy Park in Downtown St. Petersburg.

For more information on this event, click here.

Make sure to go out and give some love to the shops around the Tampa Bay area!