Shopapalooza returns to St. Pete's Vinoy Park bigger than ever

Shopapalooza is back and it’s bigger than ever.

The annual festival over Small Business Saturday weekend - it’s a two-day extravaganza spanning Saturday and Sunday- returns to downtown St. Petersburg’s waterfront Vinoy Park on November 25th and 26th with an all-time high of 365 vendors.

The event has come a long way since 2010, when Ester Venouziou of LocalShops1 launched Shopapalooza as a showcase market for local small businesses and artists during the holiday season. There were 35 vendors that first year. Today, tens of thousands of people visit the festival over the weekend.

Venouziou says the crowd and the eclectic mix of vendors combine to create a “high energy” event. There are vendors selling arts and crafts, jewelry, clothing, candles, accessories, food and drink, beauty and skin care products, pet treats, plants. The list goes on. 

There are brick and mortar stores who come to pitch a tent, along with artists and artisans who regularly sell their work at weekly and monthly markets. There are vendors of all ages. This year, a seven-year-old is setting up shop along with her mother’s business. There are businesses just starting out and businesses, like Arnold Jewelers of Largo, that have been in business for decades. There is an artist from Zimbabwe and an artitst born and raised in Peru, Monica Guerrero of Designs by Moni. 

Guerrero, an illustrator who creates whimsical characters and scenes for greetings cards, pottery and prints, first came to Shopapalooza in the festival’s early days with a group of Etsy vendors. She returned as a vendor in 2021 when she won a space in a raffle sponsored by Treehouse Gallery furniture, one of Shopapalooza’s sponsors. 

Monica Guerrero of Designs by Moni.The event is great for sales, she says. But it’s also an opportunity to get direct feedback from the public on what they like, and what they might not like so much, about her artwork. Guerrero does not do a lot of shows or markets, with her work typically sold in galleries around Florida and some in North Carolina. That feedback helps guide her work as she strikes a balance between what she wants to create and what the public wants to buy.

At this year’s Shopapalooza, Guerrero is selling greetings cards and prints. She’s also selling a new coloring book she just put out. It has a “12 Days of Christmas” theme  with animal illustrations for each day. 

Before she returned as an artist and vendor, Guerrero would come to Shopapalooza with friends. They would make a full day out of it and then maybe have dinner in downtown St. Pete. She expects two full days this year, but she won’t be checking out all that Shopapalooza has to offer.

“When you become vendor there are no more chances to go and explore,” she says. “You have to be at the booth and the crowds come in waves. As a vendor, it’s great. But it’s a marathon. You’re interacting with people for two days straight. It’s a marathon.”

Venouziou says this year’s Shopapalooza will be bigger and better than ever. In addition to the record number of vendors, the kids zone, with activities and crafts for children, is larger this year. Ink the Bay, which runs an annual tattoo convention in Tampa Bay, will run a live art demonstration area with a graffiti wall, wood carving and more to create  “an outdoor art gallery,” Venouzio says. There is a stage with live music both days, roaming entertainment, Christmas carolers, four food halls and a beer garden.  

The vendors, Venouziou says,  are also “going all out decorating their booths” in a holiday theme.

Shopapalooza runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, November 25th and Sunday, November 26th at Vinoy Park, 701 Bayshore Dr. NE, in St. Petersburg. Admission is free. The City of St. Petersburg co-sponsors the event. Visit St. Pete/Clearwater is the official tourism sponsor.

A free trolley to and from Shopapalooza is available from the city’s South Core Parking Garage, which is on Second Street between Central Avenue and First Avenue South. The trolley stops will be the garage and Vinoy Park at Seventh Avenue Northeast and Bayshore Drive.

For more information, go to Shopapalooza.
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Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry has been a writer for the 83 Degrees Media team since 2017. Chris also served as the development editor for a time before assuming the role of managing editor in May 2022. Chris lives in Clearwater. His professional career includes more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys the local music scene, the warm winters and Tampa Bay's abundance of outdoor festivals and events. When he's not working or spending time with family, he can frequently be found hoofing the trails at one of Pinellas County's nature parks.