Ester worked full-time at the Tampa Bay Times (then the St. Petersburg Times) when she started LocalShops1. After she was laid off in October 2011, she decided to focus full time on growing the Buy Local movement in the Tampa Bay region.
The efforts paid off. What started as a handwritten list to help her parents find local businesses when they were visiting from New Jersey has become Tampa Bay's leading advocate for small businesses. The organization has more than 500 active shopper and business members and is often recognized for its efforts to support the mom-and-pop stores.
Ester, a Tampa Bay-area resident since January 2003, has been honored by several organizations and local media, including the Tampa Bay Business Journal and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. She has a huge social media following and is the go-to-source for all things local.
- Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
- Gulfport Chamber of Commerce
- St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce
Through LocalShops1, Ester has been able to mobilize the Tampa Bay community to raise awareness to the importance of shopping local. LocalShops1 brought cash mobs to the Tampa Bay region and organizes the annual Shopapalooza, the local alternative to Black Friday, plus networking events, educational workshops and more. Ester has been recognized for her efforts by the City of St. Petersburg, several media outlets and several business organizations.
Ester works non-stop to help raise awareness for the importance of shopping locally, through in-person networking events and expos, co-op advertising and a hugely successful Why Local Matters social media campaign. Ester helps bring together like-minded people and organizations to create a powerful voice for the little guys, and has personally invested her savings and all her free time to create a powerful platform in which small businesses can have a fighting chance against the big guys.