Woman creates platform making it easier for customers to find, support Bay Area businesses

Business has been booming for Jerry Hopson at his small boutique store Blue Cottage.  

"I actually offer services of custom drapes, pillows to staging a home, or just going in and giving you advice by the hour," Hopson said.  

His notoriety is partly thanks to Local Shops One, a social media source for all things local in the Bay Area. 

"It’s just wonderful to see people supporting businesses and seeing the customers supporting the local businesses," shared Pat Largo, spokesperson for LocalShops1. 

The website was launched in 2008 by Esther Venouziou to encourage people to shop at small local businesses. 

"One thing that I heard from a lot of people, including my parents when they visited, they didn't know where to go. So they were just going to the mall or going to like, you know, chain stores and chain restaurants.  So, I wanted to make it easier. So, I started making a list for them and it really just kind of grew totally organically from there," said Venouziou. 

The initiative seems to be working for shoppers.

"I feel like I get better service coming to a locally owned business," stated shopper Jennifer Whidden.  

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Pat Largo works for Local Shops1 and helps spread the word about the more than 400 businesses on the website.  

"So roughly about 70 cents for each dollar spent locally at local businesses will stay in that particular community. So, we like that ratio," Largo explained. 

A ratio that store owner Patti Bradfield enjoys too. 

"It brings a lot of people here," Bradfield stated. "People go one to there you know see something interesting and that brings them into town." 

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Small businesses working together to help each other become successful in the community. 

Later, this month Venouziou and her crew will be helping out with Shopapapooza, an outdoor festival where more than 300 small business vendors come together in Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg.

LINK: Learn more about localshops1 here

LINK: Learn more about shopapalooza here

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