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Million Dollar Mission


Almost 20 local business organizations and neighborhood associations have joined the Million Dollar Mission, a plan to encourage 50,000 locals to each spend $20 (or more!) on a local business through a new online marketplace,, and help pump $1 million into the local economy.

The Million Dollar Mission, started by LocalShops1 and I Love the Burg and endorsed by the City of St. Petersburg City Council, encourages consumers to shop local and invites every local business organization, civic group, industry trade group, and other local municipalities to join as a promotional partner. There is no financial cost involved.

LocalShops1 launched in mid-April, smack in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, with the support of WannaGo St. Pete. LocalShops1 does not charge listing fees and it does not take cuts from sales. All local artists, makers and locally owned businesses in the greater Tampa Bay region may participate, at no charge. Payment goes directly to the sellers.

Now six weeks in, features more than 750 listings from more than 200 local makers and small businesses. Since last month’s launch, there have been 398 transactions, totaling more than $12,000. More than that, many businesses have reported new customers and custom orders outside the marketplace. Almost 800 locals (consumers + businesses) are registered on the marketplace.

 “The Million Dollar Mission idea came to me when I saw a post on Facebook, someone was all excited about TJ Maxx opening again. That post got like 200 responses in a few minutes, all people eager to shop,” said Ester Venouziou, founder of LocalShops1. “So that got me thinking, ‘What if these people shifted some of their budget to local businesses?’ We just need 50,000 locals, spending $20 each. That’s all it takes to pump $1 million directly into local businesses.”

 Councilwoman Brandi Gabbard reached out to LocalShops1 and offered to bring up a resolution to the City Council. The resolution passed unanimously.

“I am honored to partner with Ester and LocalShops1, I Love the Burg and so many others to support our small business community. Small business is the backbone of our local economy and what makes St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay such a special place to live.” Gabbard said. “When social gatherings, festivals, events and storefronts were forced to close due to the pandemic, the financial toll on our business owners was felt the most by those we know as our makers, creators and sole entrepreneurs. With limited access to federal, state and local government funding, the home-based business community has been hit especially hard and will be the last to see full recovery. They needed an advocate and they found that in Ester. Through this online marketplace, we the people have the opportunity to infuse $1 million into our local economy by spending just $20 each! So I say, Shop Tampa Bay! Shop often and share with your friends. Help us help those who have meant so much to us for so long.”

In addition to LocalShops1, I Love the Burg and the City of St. Petersburg, Million Dollar Mission coalition members include St. Petersburg Chamber, That’s So Tampa, St. Petersburg Greenhouse, St. Pete Store and Visitor Center, Grow Smarter St. Petersburg, Deuces Live,  EDGE District, The Grand Central District, St. Pete Downtown Neighborhood Association, Lakewood Estates Civic Association, Disston Heights Civic Association, St. Pete Innovation District, Broadwater Civic Association, Barcley Estates Homeowners Association, and WannaGo St Pete.  

About LocalShops1
LocalShops1 is a coalition of hundreds of independently owned businesses and tens of thousands of shoppers with the mission of advocating, promoting and offering support services to companies throughout Tampa Bay. Founded in August 2008, LocalShops1 is the region’s most active voice for small businesses.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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