H-SANTA MARIA

Nov 9, 2011 9:35 PM by Ariel Wesler

Shop Santa Maria returns to give businesses a boost this holiday

Thanks for Shopping Santa Maria! The Central Coast city says the campaign it started last year worked, and they're hoping for the same magic this year.

The Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce unveiled the slogan last year. The hope was to increase sales tax revenue for the city. Chamber leaders say it worked. They saw about a seven percent jump in sales tax last year compared to the previous year.

The chamber is handing out 5,000 buttons and 100,000 stickers to local retailers to put on consumers' receipts with the hope they'll continue to shop in the city.

Whether you shop 'till you drop at big box stores or smaller retailers, the message is the same. Shop Santa Maria.

"We do all these little gingerbread cookies and our Christmas, we feel like the Keebler elves here," said Gina Martin of Santa Maria, who participated in the campaign last year.

She own's Gina's Piece of Cake in the Santa Maria Town Center Mall, where she bakes with her father.

It's really hard for small businesses when you have so many potential customers, but they're shopping outside the area," Martin said.

"If you buy local, your dollars stays here in Santa Maria and will be recycled among other businesses and the sales tax will be collected by the city," said City Spokesperson Mark van de Kamp.

Sales tax is the city's number one source for revenue and that money goes to support vital city services.

"It's right into the pockets of the police department, the fire department, and the recreation and parks," said Marcy Lariz, Marketing and Events Coordinator for the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.

But in the last five years, total city revenue has dropped about $10 million or 17 percent while the population continues to grow.

"We're doing the best we can to continue providing city services without significant cuts, but that's becoming increasingly difficult," Van de Kamp said.

The chamber says last year's campaign gave businesses a small boost and retailers are ready for round two.

"The more people shop in this community, the more stores will come to this community," Martin said. "We're hoping to increase our sales and become the go-to-place for holiday desserts."

The campaign kicks off next week. It's open to all retailers in Santa Maria, even if you're not a member of the Chamber of Commerce. Another big economic plus here in Santa Maria, parking is free.

A lot of cities around the Central and South Coast are planning parades, art walks and other holiday events in the hopes of bringing people out to shop locally.

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