A grass roots group held a festive celebration about a week ago at the St. Petersburg Museum of History to honor community businesses and leaders.
The event featured 120 local and nonprofit leaders in attendance. The goal of the evening was to spotlight the contributions locally owned businesses make to the community.
Days later, that same outfit formed a partnership with the Pinellas Park/Gateway Chamber of Commerce to launch the "Buy Local Pinellas Park" program.
It's hard to believe, but LocalShops1 has been around for four years.
Started in August 2008, LocalShops1 is considered the region's most active voice for small businesses.
Founder Ester Venouziou has been a trendsetter. The former Tampa Bay Times copy editor/designer started LocalShops1 long before others groups started to take root.
Knowing a good thing when they see it, the folks in Pinellas Park are jumping on the bandwagon.
LocalShops1 is basically a coalition of a few hundred independently owned businesses and patrons who advocate supporting local shops throughout the Tampa Bay area.
Just over a week ago, eight businesses, one shopper and a politician received "best of" honors during LocalShops1's annual Business and Shopper Awards.
• Best New Business: T and Me, Gulfport, and the Peaceful Warrior Massage, St. Petersburg.
• Best Established Business: Being, St. Petersburg, and Domain Home Accessories, Gulfport.
• Most Community-Minded Business: Gulfport Tuesday Market and St. Pete Community Acupuncture.
• Grassroots Marketing: Hartley Chiropractic Center, St. Petersburg, and St. Pete Bagel.
• Local Shopper: Sandy Hanna-Duffy, Gulfport.
St. Petersburg City Council member Karl Nurse earned the first Floppy Hat Award, given to the elected official dedicated to small businesses and the "buy local" movement.
Salt Creek closes
Aug. 11 marked the end of an era.
Artists at Salt Creek Artworks at 1600 Fourth St. S were initially told that the building was being sold and they had to be out of there by July 15. The date was extended to Aug. 11.
So the artists, some who have called Salt Creek Artworks home for decades, have moved on.
"Salt Creek is no more," said Herb Snitzer. "We're hanging tough. We're like weeds; you can't get rid of us."
There's still no word on a new home for the displaced artists, who were trying to move as a group, although the old Silvernail building at 2235 First Ave. S is still an option.
"We're giving it a few weeks to a month," Snitzer said. "If nothing develops from that, we'll be on our own. But we're hopeful.
Others agree. Despite being forced to move, some artists are optimistic that the core group will land on their feet.
"We've all moved to our own spaces (temporarily)," said Lance Rodgers, artist and curator at Salt Creek for 30 years.
"It's really been heartening to see how everyone is pulling together. Our next move is to try to get a building."
Burger wars begin
If you have a hankering for a burger with a twist, head over to the trendy Grand Central District, which is hosting a monthlong contest to determine which participating restaurant serves the best hamburger.
I'm intrigued by the possibilities of some of the participants — especially Nitally's Thai-Mex and the QueensHead Eurobar. But with nine eateries to choose from, it would be quite an adventure to organize a group of friends and graze your way through the district.
Participating restaurants are:
• Craftsman House Gallery & Café, 2955 Central Ave.
• Georgie's Alibi, 3100 Third Ave. N
• Beak's Old Florida, 2451 Central Ave.
• The QueensHead Eurobar, 2501 Central Ave.
• Mayster's Café, 2444 Central Ave.
• Cappy's Pizza, 2900 First Ave. N
• The Burg Bar & Grill, 1752 Central Ave.
• Picnics & More, 1939 Central Ave.
• Nitally's Thai-Mex Cuisine, 2462 Central Ave.
The contest runs through Sept. 15 and patrons can vote online at grandcentraldistrict.org.
Sandra J. Gadsden can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8874 or on Twitter at @StPeteSandi.