Localtopia hopes to bring much-needed boost to small businesses in St. Pete

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Localtopia is back for it’s eighth year in downtown St. Petersburg.

Its focus is bringing attention and revenue to local businesses, which is important in the middle of a pandemic.

There were some changes at this year’s festival. Following Pinellas County Order No. 21-3, the whole festival footprint was enclosed. Masks were mandatory, except for when eating or drinking in a no-mask designated area, and everyone had to get their temperature taken. There was also one main entrance and exit.

For the last eight years now, Localtopia puts a spotlight on local shops, food vendors and artists in St. Petersburg.

Julie Dye is the owner of Blossom and Shine, a handmade jewelry store in St. Pete. She’s participated in the festival several times and says it’s the biggest event she does all year.

“Every year I sell more than the year before so it’s amazing we keep growing,” Dye said.

Localtopia had one of it’s biggest years in 2020, having an economic impact of nearly $4 million on just Localtopia Day. The pandemic hit soon after.

Many of this year’s participants’ livelihoods depended upon markets and events, which have not taken place this past year. Due to spikes in the area’s COVID-19 case numbers after the holidays, many events at which they were hoping to participate had been cancelled.

“If we as humans have had the toughest year imagine what a business owner has gone through this past year,” Executive Director of Keep St. Petersburg Local Olga Bof said.

Bof told 8 On Your Side that she considered cancelling this year’s festival because of coronavirus. But ultimately, she pressed forward in hopes of helping all local owners in the area.

“It’s actually our most important year because we want these businesses to survive, to be here after, and to make it to next year’s festival,” Bof said.

Many vendors said their participation in last year’s festival is what’s kept them in business. Dye, like everyone else, hopes for the same success again this year, especially since many of these in-person events are hard to come by.

“It’ll definitely be a boost for all of us, to make some sales and get to be in person with customers again,” Dye said. “It’ll be a great example of how events can be run in the future.”

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