Above photo: Lorielle Hollaway was inspired to start her business, Cultured Books, after taking an anthropology course in college. Aside from social media, Localtopia is one of her leading marketing strategies because it enables her to educate the public while supporting the local economy. Brianna Rodriguez | The Crow’s Nest
By Brianna Rodriguez
Independent businesses appear to be dwindling in a globally focused culture, but Localtopia hosted its fifth annual event which showed that independents continue to thrive despite corporate competitors.
Localtopia hosted almost 200 vendors at Williams Park in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. The annual event focuses on bringing the community together to celebrate local companies and their positive impact on the community.
“I have been in the business for 40 years,” said Louise Hamilton, store owner of Great American Natural Products. “We started off by sampling, educating and being service oriented. Because of that, we have people who tell other people about us so I have never had to advertise.”
The event is organized by a non-profit organization called Keep St. Petersburg Local, which promotes buying and selling locally in order to sustain the local economy.
Localtopia gave businesses the opportunity to educate the public about their services while selling their products.
Hamilton has owned her natural products store for almost 35 years. The most advertising that she’s had to do was provide a few free lectures to educate others.
She has traveled all over the country educating people on the benefits of using herbs and oils to heal the body. Her products currently cannot be purchased online but the option is in the making.
Small businesses sometimes need to get creative with their marketing strategies. Lorielle Hollaway, owner of Cultured Books, uses social media to promote her business.
“I have gotten a lot of feedback from people liking and sharing on Facebook,” said Hollaway.
Her business focuses on promoting multicultural books to the community.
She was first inspired by this idea after taking an anthropology class in college. She began to search for her own way to promote her activism in a way that inspired others to do the same.
Hollaway began her business with her two daughters to promote diversity through children’s books. She currently sells her books at markets and events but aims to open up a local shop and sell online.
An invaluable aspect of promoting small, local businesses is networking. Small businesses target the idea of creating a community.
Melane Nelson, owner of Growing Up, took the initiative to start her own business after her son was born because she wanted to use renewable cloth diapers, but there was no place that sold these items locally.
She then created her business, which emphasizes using parent-owned companies as the source of her products.
She then created her business and aimed to source parent-owned companies. She began with mother-owned companies, such as Free To Be Kids, that focus on non-gender specific items.
Nelson then also included father-owned companies. Nelson explained that all of the toys sold at her store are focused on imagine play and don’t require batteries and aren’t electronic.
“Majority of our business is local,” said Nelson. “We are more of a touch and feel business. We also have a play space in our shop. It is really about building community with us.”