ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — This year, St. Petersburg is getting a jump start on Small Business Saturday with a three-day long St. Pete Main Streets Gobble Gobble event.
The event is part of an effort to keep mom and pop shops alive as they struggle to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic and this year, your holiday shopping spree could make all the difference.
More than 100 St. Pete businesses from 5 shopping districts (the Deuces Live, EDGE, Grand Central, St. Pete Market District and Skyway Marina District) are taking part in the gobble gobble event and they tell ABC Action News this year shopping small is more crucial than ever.
Outside Matter Of Fact Men’s Clothing Store in St. Pete’s Edge District, Lincoln the yellow lab waits to great customers. His human dad, Matthew Baker, is stunned that 9 months later we’re still dealing with this COVID-19 pandemic.
“Back in March, I thought ‘yeah we’ll be closed for like 5 days. We’ll be fine.’ A week goes by, two weeks, 6 weeks. I thought man, please no more of this,” he recalled.
But now, there’s renewed hope. Customers are flooding back into stores including Round Again Retro in the Skyway Marina Mall.
Michael Bonaddio says he and the 50 shop owners inside the Skyway Marina Mall got lucky. Their landlord decided to waive rent during months where the stores were closed for the pandemic.
Now, he says it is crucial for small shops to catch up so they can pay ongoing rent payments.
“Just to stay in business and keep our doors open you have to make a minimum, and if you’re not making your rent, you can only survive so long,” he explained.
St. Pete Main Streets leaders decided this year that Small Business Saturday wouldn’t be enough to keep mom and pop shops afloat, so they expanded the Shop Small Initiative into 3 days.
It’s something that Patti Bradfield at Pieces of a Dream in the Grand Central District says is working.
“We’ve already had quite a few people that have come in and they don’t necessarily come in for the sales, they just come in to support us which is really wonderful,” she added.
For every dollar spent at small retailers, $3 is returned to the local economy…and mom and pop shops say that is more important this year than ever before.
“We’re all a big happy family here and we want everybody to survive,” Bonaddio elaborated.
You can click here to find a full list of St. Pete small shops participating in the weekend Gobble Gobble event and the special promotions they're offering.
Tampa also launched a shop small online directory to help guide your holiday shopping spree. You can check that out here.