While the information age and the Internet are drawing customers away online, there's still huge value — and an entertaining personal experience — to be had shopping the old-fashioned way, with boots-on-the-ground browsing of brick-and-mortar establishments.
Nowhere is that as true as in Pacific and Mission beaches served by San Diego Community Newspaper Group's Beach & Bay Press.
According to the federal Small Business Administration, small businesses, so-called “mom and pops,” defined in the United States as having fewer than 25 full-time employees with annual wages below $50,000, employ more than half our nation's working class.
Why shop local?
Sara Berns, executive director of Discover PB, Pacific Beach's business improvement district, noted it's critical to get word out that homegrown small businesses are essential to providing a healthy, innovative local economy creating jobs and opportunities and generating wealth.
“Shopping local is important all year-round, but this time of year more than ever as our retails get one last push before the slow season to get through the year,” said Berns. “Shopping local means the stores you love to see in your neighborhood will 'stay' in your neighborhood. But even more so, it means jobs for your local community members and students and money that stays in the community, while strengthening the support between the businesses and the community-at-large.”
Added Berns: “When your school has a fundraiser, a local shop will support it. Or, when your community group is looking for a venue to host their next meeting — a local business will be there. Shopping local is a long-term investment in Pacific Beach.”
Following are snapshots of local businesses and what they're doing special during the holidays:
Patricia Benesh, Ed.D, self-employed owner of 7Memories.com, whose business involves partnering with clients to write their memoirs, said her business “has gone full speed ahead with three books, workshops, and numerous collaborations. Of note are the unique gifts we offer: written memoirs and video memoirs so as to leave a legacy.”
Contact: email@example.com, 7Memories.com, 858-232-2293.
The Gallery At Lands End “Sells only gifts and goods hand made here in San Diego year-round, so were doing more of the same,” said owner Thayne Yungman. “We represent more than 40 local artists and makers… ceramics, jewelry, blown glass, painters, photographers, woodworkers, soapmakers…you name it.”
The gallery is holding a shopping night to benefit Friends of Pacific Beach Schools on Dec. 14 from 5 to 8 p.m., with 10 percent of that day's sales donated to schools.
Yungman added: “The last thing that I'm very excited about is we are donating 5 percent of all retail purchases this holiday season to the Concerts on the Green live music series at Kate Sessions. It’s a wonderful event that everyone seems to love supporting.”
This gallery, exhibiting work from local artists, offers handmade gifts and custom framing.
Contact: galleryatlandsend.com, 858-270-7820.
Cruisin the bay
Hot Tub Cruisin Inc., which hosts tours of Mission Bay on its hot tub-equipped craft noted: “Hot Tub Cruisin is a year- round, one-of-a-kind boat rental operation on beautiful Mission Bay. This holiday season we are offering a 30 percent off discount through the end of February (which brings the price of a cruise to $149/hour from the normal rate of $215/hour).”
Contact: Info@hottubcruisin.com, hottubcruisin.com, 619-905-5100.
For the children
Children's boutique Petite Street “has a few events this time of year to keep people coming into the store,” said owner Kimberly Brophy, adding one is “Doodlebug Designs, which makes impressions of children's hand prints and footprints onto ceramic plates in varying styles such as surfboards, ornaments or traditional plates.
“We are also having Santa and free photos on Dec. 16. We offer free gift wrap to help encourage people to shop at our local store. Our store is very festive in decorations and there is just something magical about a children's toy store at Christmas.”
Contact: 858-539-0052, firstname.lastname@example.org, petitestkids.com.
Randall Engstrom, owner of Randall's Sandals, said: “As always we accept any old shoes or sandals and get those redistributed to the needy. We focus on positive products only, so everything is either local, eco-friendly, or charitable.
“We have a 15 percent discount through the holidays with a local ID or shop local discount card. Also, we will be having our second annual Packages for a Purpose event where we wrap essentials (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, toy, etc.) for San Diego's homeless children. We are also excited to participate in the PB Holiday Parade again on Dec 9.”
Pamela Taylor, proprietor of Crystal Pier Bait and Tackle, said her business is “offering a big 25 percent discount to all locals. We also make sure to ask people what they are looking for. If we do not have it, we tell them where they can find it locally. We are also paying it forward this year when we feel it will help make someone's holiday happier and less stressful by picking up the bill on occasion.”
Keep your hat on
Patrick McCormick, manager of the Village Hat Shop, said the first thing his firm did for the holiday season was to "take part in Small Business Saturday, Nov. 25. We encourage people to stop in and check us out. We offer a 15 percent discount to all guests as a thank you for supporting small PB businesses.
“We've decorated our store for the holiday season and taken part in Discover PB's wreath-making contest. During the PB Holiday Parade we will be opening early to accommodate early shoppers and those who've taken part in the Santa Run 5K, which will be right outside our store. We have a lot of Santa hats for sale.
“We are also on the local business discount card that Discover PB has put out and are offering a 15 percent discount with that card. We are participating in the annual Toys for Tots program. When a customer brings in a new, unwrapped toy, we offer them a 20 percent off coupon good for anything at our PB or other San Diego locations."
"There are so many reasons to shop locally, especially during the holidays," said Dawn Reily, project administrator for Beautiful MB, Inc.
"When you shop local, you are supporting a business that employs local people, has chosen to be part of the fabric of your community and is more likely to give back to the neighborhood. Studies show that approximately 70 percent of what you spend at a local shop stays in the local economy, as opposed to less than 40 percent when you shop a big-box store, even less when you shop online.
“There is the added bonus of avoiding the stress of holiday traffic and holiday crowds, which also frees up some of your time.
“Eat at that local restaurant you've been wanting to try, explore some shops near you, meet your neighbors, I bet you'll discover a unique gift for that special someone."