Chamber of Commerce creates "The St. Pete Store"

With most tourists now planning their outings online, many brick and mortar visitor centers are falling by the wayside.  But the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce is leveraging some of its space into "The St. Pete Store". 

It is located right across the street from the Sundial shopping complex, and gets about 10,000 visitors a year.  Everything in the store will be made in St. Petersburg, with a heavy emphasis on artistic objects. 

"Our goal is to take the art that's there, the existing makers, the designs, the logos, the look, the feel that's reflective of the vibe here and help promote it through this space," the Chamber's Kristina Alspaw explained.

The city contributed $10,000 towards renovation of the space.  "One of the things that we wanted to do was to create an outlet for St. Petersburg artists to be able to display their wares, to be able to sell their wares, but have it St. Petersburg branded," the city's Wayne Atherholt told FOX 13 News.  He thinks the merchandise will appeal to tourists.  "This is something that's not made in China, not made in the Philippines, and it's an authentic St. Petersburg souvenir" Atherholt said.

There are numerous examples of potential merchandise in several shops in the 600 block of Central Avenue.  At the White Owl Market, Randy James said St. Petersburg pillows designed by a local artist sell as quickly as he can get them.  He also said many artists have already tuned into consumer desires.  "Most artists are doing their craft and their passion, but in order for them to pay their rent and eat, they're actually doing things that have something to do with a local vibe" he said.

The Local Longboard Company offers handmade skate decks etched with its "local" logo, plus a lot of T-shirts designed by local artists.  "When we started really realizing how everyone here in St. Petersburg is really into the local scene, it just really made sense to start something that was made by us here in St. Petersburg" Shaggy Davidson explained.

The Chamber is now soliciting merchandise suggestions from the arts community, with a top price point of $50 and a preferred price pojnt of under $25.  "It is a jury selection process, we're going to be constantly kind of rotating in and out new products, keeping it fresh always" Alspaw said. 

The store received its certificate of occupancy from the city Thursday, and plans to be open by the end of October.