December 2021

Supporting Local Businesses This Holiday Season

by Zach Friend, Santa Cruz County Supervisor

The holiday season is traditionally one of the largest sales times for many retailers. Over the last year and a half, local businesses have been facing additional pressures as a result of the pandemic and subsequent economic downturn. Many have faced declines in sales as online retailing has increased and others are having staffing challenges that have required hours to change or owners to work multiple shifts. As a community we have a unique opportunity to show support for our small, locally-owned businesses as they compete with national online retailers – especially during the holiday season.

In Santa Cruz County, 82 percent of local businesses have less than 9 employees. Many in the mid and south county work for locally-owned businesses and our local economy is dependent upon a robust small business sector. Some of the local businesses offer online ordering (with same day pick-up) and there are many options (from traditional retail items, to bakery items to hardware) that you can order locally online and pick up straight from the local business. Many in our area are working with local Chambers of Commerce to advertise extended holiday specials that extend beyond the traditional Black Friday or Small Business Saturday events.

According to an analysis by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, “locally owned businesses play a central role in healthy communities and are among the best engines that cities and towns have for advancing economic opportunity and building resilient places.” Specifically, they note work from an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta that showed that counties with larger shares of local small businesses outperform their peers on three critical economic indicators: they have stronger per capita income growth, faster employment growth and lower poverty rates.

Additionally, an analysis from the Government Finance Review, found that smaller-local businesses (versus box stores) provide more tax revenue on the aggregate while costing less in government services.

We have many locally-owned businesses that provide a variety of options for our holiday shopping including kid’s stores, restaurant gift certificates, great coffee shops, clothing stores, jewelers, locally-owned hotel getaway options and more. Some of these small businesses have been recognized nationally for their unique options and all of these businesses employ local residents and many are owned by residents right here in the mid and south county. A number of these businesses are now offering shipping options to you or to those you are purchasing gifts for to save you a trip out and provide an extra layer of safety this holiday season. For example, you can use a local photo store to print your holiday cards or pick up wine at one of our many local wineries as gifts.

If you’d like additional information, the Aptos Chamber of Commerce has a businesses directory and holiday specials at or the Capitola/Soquel Chamber at and the Pajaro Valley Chamber at

As always, I appreciate hearing from you. I’m maintaining regular updates on social media at and you can always call me at 454-2200.

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