The holiday season is here, and for The Junior League of Tampa that means one thing – Holiday Gift Market. The Holiday Gift Market is a 17-year-old tradition curating a unique group of specialty merchants from the Tampa Bay region and beyond.
In past years the event has hosted more 20,000 people at the Florida State Fairgrounds for a four-day shopping event. However given the state of the pandemic, JLT leaders looked to transform the event this year. In its place, a month long virtual shopping experience was created. The new format provides the same great array of vendors while preserving the health and safety of our community.
This transformation is possible through the collective effort of our volunteers, vendors, and sponsors. Presenting Sponsor Publix Super Markets, has been a longtime supporter of the Holiday Gift Market and enthusiastically threw their support behind the move to virtual. They recognized the change as necessary in our shared desire to serve the Tampa Bay community.
Other sponsors participated in underwriting new virtual opportunities such as South Tampa Kids Dental Krewe sponsoring the inaugural Zoom with Santa. Our sponsors ability to embrace the virtual climate, has enabled us to raise more than $30,000 so far.
Additionally our merchants partnered with us through this change. Returning and new merchants jumped at the change to participate in the Market. While the in person interactions are not possible with a virtual format, innovative opportunities like Merchant Infomercials have reached thousands on social media, connecting shoppers and makers.
“I have really enjoyed talking and meeting with merchants, learning about their businesses and what makes them unique,” said Co-Chair Laura Walsh. “I am proud of our event for supporting the community in so many ways.”
Together our sponsors, merchants, volunteers, and community have embraced the changes. Through our collaboration, the Holiday Gift Market continues to support small businesses and raise vital community funds.