Tampa Bay’s LocalShops1 created a great online marketplace to support local artists, makers and small businesses – and to help everyone find unique products. It’s a win-win for a healthy community!
The Tampa Bay online shopping site BuyLocalTampaBay.com started in the early days of the covid-19 pandemic in the US when the “Safer at Home” order was in place in Florida, essentially closing all non-essential businesses and open air market opportunities that so many local makers, creators and providers rely on.
Personally, I had just begun a few months prior to sell art and practical products at outdoor markets. To me those markets had felt like a total game changer as a person, as an artist, and as the owner of Happier Place, which up to that point was only selling products online. I truly believed that 2020 and my creative / business future looked bright.
Of course, in mid-March all that came to a screeching halt when all our upcoming markets were cancelled. Worse for many: small shops and other businesses had to close for the time being.
That’s when Ester from Gulfport-based LocalShops1 stepped up and launched the website in April to help the Tampa Bay community. She and her organization don’t even charge any fees or commissions! (Paypal just charges the seller the usual small percentage fee for items sold.)
When you buy from a local business, not only do you help preserve our community’s charm, but you also help the local economy: 70 cents of every dollar spent at a locally owned business stays in your local community; when you shop at Amazon or big box stores, less than half that stays local.– LocalShops1
It’s very fortunate that my livelihood didn’t depend on selling my photography or Happier Place products “in real life”. I had already been selling our outdoor leisure products online via the Happier Place website.
However, this is the only place where you can purchase my metal photo wall art made to sell at markets: Luci Westphal Photography – LS1 Store
But neither my company, nor my photography is only about “selling a product” – they’re about connecting to people and directly inspiring others to get happier outdoors.
So during this time of isolation (which is now in its 5th month here in Florida) it’s been especially rewarding when a local stranger discovered one of my items and decided to get it for themselves or to brighten someone else’s day.
Last but not least, local outdoor markets, small shops and bakeries, and service providers aren’t just there so someone can make a living, they enrich all of our lives as consumers, customers, and a community.
Until we can all meet in person again and inspire and support each other in person, the LocalShops1 Marketplace is the place to be to discover, inspire, and support each other!
No matter if you live in the Tampa Bay Area or not: check out the LocalShops1 online marketplace to discover something unique and support someone who probably will do an actual “happier dance” after making a sale.
If you are a local maker or service provider: come join the marketplace so we can discover your work.
And if you live elsewhere: maybe this will inspire you to seek out or even launch an online marketplace supporting small businesses in your area.
We all know that it’s theoretically easier to reach an audience and customers via the big platforms like amazon, etsy, fine art america, instagram, etc… but personally I keep shuddering at the cost of using those mass platforms… and I’m not just talking about money. (But I’m also talking about money.)
Thank you Ester and everyone else involved in making the LocalShops1 Marketplace happen!
Join us in spreading the word about the #MillionDollarMission: If we can get 50,000 people to spend $20 directly with a local business through www.buylocaltampabay.com, it’ll pump $1 million into our local economy.
Related reading: Why Local Matters – the benefits of local ownership