Saturday, November 24th, 2018 marks the eighth annual Small Business Saturday since American Express launched the day in 2010. To date,  it has earned an impressive $85 billion in small business revenue. This “shop small” initiative is actually a movement within a movement, helping communities thrive while supporting individual, entrepreneurial efforts.

Gulfport, St. Petersburg, Dunedin, Largo and all of the Tampa Bay area, is home to a number of LGBTQ owned small business brands. They draw a minimum of 20,000 visitors annually that swells to over 200,000 leading up to Gay Pride.

All LGBTQ small business owners stand firm on the front-lines of commerce, sharing the collective power of their independent, free-standing, and personal brands, and acting as demographic standard bearers for LGBTQ business commerce.  For some consumers, it may be their first experience transacting with LGBTQ owned businesses whose entrepreneurial style, sense of inclusiveness, and professionalism can make the experience unique and perhaps attitude, heart and mind changing.

Successful small business owners are self-starters, possessing a deep knowledge of their business and customers.  Their very survival and ultimate success depend on a high level of professionalism and commitment.

Barbara Banno, founder of Stella’s Deli, in diverse and charming Gulfport Florida,  understands first-hand the important contribution and responsibility of being part of the LGBTQ community and a small business owner.  Banno, active in local politics and currently serving as the President of the Gulfport Merchants Chamber,  explains how she branded her popular breakfast and lunch eatery to the public.

“After 9 successful years, Stella’s is known as a Lesbian owned, LGBTQ friendly business. My marketing approach was more strategic in the early stages, supporting and being active in LGBTQ organizations, like the Sonia Plotnick Foundation, Metro, ASAP Dining Outand St. Petersburg Gay Pride. Now, as an established business owner,  I utilize traditional advertising and advocacy.”

Banno continues, “I am a hand’s on owner and I immerse myself in community and all the people that support my business which is key to being successful. Stella’s continues to grow each year and we will be moving to a larger location in Gulfport, right after the New Year.”

Jeremy Dolan, a hardworking area business owner has been out as a Gay entrepreneur for the past 5 years.  His newest business, Ohana Coffee, Kava Tea in Largo, FL  taps into the all-inclusive kava and ethnobotanical teas demographic that boasts a 30 to 40 percent LGBTQ membership.  Dolan states, “we are extremely active and open minded about social and political issues. We see our customers as family. We host themed LGBTQ nights and we partner with Equality Florida to sponsor efforts to insure equality for all.”

For small business owners, interested in participating in special programs, American Express maintains a Shop Small Studio on their website that provides marketing tips, materials and ways to get involved and cultivate the throngs of traffic that prefer a shop small. So, get out and get selling.

For those interested in supporting local LGBTQ-owned businesses this Saturday, here’s a small list to help get you started. We also included a few businesses that actively promote and support LGBTQ initiatives through events, products, services, and employment practices.

Stella’s Deli in Gulfport
Salty’s in Gulfport
Cider-Press Cafe. St. Petersburg
Community Cafe, St Petersburg
Punky’s Bar in St Petersburg
Queens Head, St Petersburg
LGBTQ Welcome Center Gift Shop, St Petersburg
Gay St Pete House, St Petersburg
Old Key West Bar and Grill, St Petersburg
Gayest Store on Earth, Various Locations
Kalmazoo Olive Company
The Perfect Gift  at Wagon Wheel Booth BC 187-188
Sticks and Stones Collection, Naples
Bambusa Bar and Grille, Naples
Eye on Printing (Holiday Cards), Tampa

Don’t see your business listing here? Let us know and we’ll add it!