Tampa area shopping events bypass Black Friday mayhem
Black Friday is not for everyone. The huge crowds, cramped store aisles and food hangover from the prior day's Thanksgiving feast can make even the thriftiest of shoppers opt to bypass the mega-sale retail holiday. Luckily, there are some great local alternatives to buying your holiday gifts on Black Friday. Here are five Tampa Bay area, holiday shopping events that offer not only deals, but also convenience, uniqueness and local craftsmanship: Shopapalooza, Nov. 17 – St. Petersburg's small business-focused alternative to Black Friday brings the inside of local clothing boutiques, cafes, spas, book stores and art galleries outside to Straub Park for a fresh-air market. Organizers are advertising deals of up to 70 percent off from the participating shops, in addition to live music, raffles and cash prizes of up to $1,000 for lucky shoppers. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Straub Park, 400 Bayshore Drive N.E., St. PetersburgBuckler's Annual Holiday Craft Fair, Nov. 24-25, – The yearly, two-day event features handmade specialty items from hundreds of local and statewide vendors. The wide-ranging variety of items offered at the fair includes jewelry, fudge, live plants, wrought iron sculptures and dog sweaters, among the many other unique gifts. The fair charges a $6 admission, but bringing a canned food item to donate will get you a buy one, get one free admission. Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. Highway 301 N., Tampa. Think Pink Holiday Shopping, Nov. 28 – Working Women of Tampa Bay, a networking group for local entrepreneurs, brings back its anti-Black Friday shopping event for the third year. The event will offer deals from woman-owned and woman-focused area businesses, in a relaxed setting. Included with the $10 admission, guests will be treated to food samples, mini spa treatments and make-up applications. The first 150 paid guests also get a special Working Women shopping bag. 6 to 9 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111North McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater Holiday Shopping and Wellness, Dec. 1 – The joint effort between Uncle Mike's Smokehouse and Harley Davidson Brandon puts a healthy spin on holiday shopping by having health professionals on hand to give free wellness screenings at the event. Meanwhile, nearly 200 vendors will have gift cards and one-day-only specials available for purchase. There will also be raffles to support A Kids Place Brandon charity, including one raffle to win a ride in a NASCAR race car. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Uncle Mike's Smokehouse, 9847 E. Adamo Drive, Tampa Happy Holly Day, Dec. 8 – The inaugural Happy Holly Day in Tampa's Carrollwood neighborhood aims to make holiday shopping fun by offering food trucks and live music along with chances to win cash prizes in the ugliest sweater and best fruitcake contests. They'll also have a Santa Claus and crafts activities to keep the children busy. That's all in addition to the more than 100 vendors selling gift-ready items at special prices. 1 to 8 p.m., Northdale Park, 15550 Spring Pine Drive, Tampa
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