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Shop Here Now: Capitola is jumping on the 'buy local' bandwagon with a new shopping campaign.

City Buy-the-Sea

Capitola tries to drum up revenue with a shop local campaign

By Kat Lynch

FOLLOWING the example of Santa Cruz's Think Local First campaign, the city of Capitola is now urging citizens to "Shop Capitola" and support local merchants. Shoppers should expect to see the emblem of a red and white life preserver popping up all around the city.

"We want to promote local business," says local architect and Councilmember Dennis Norton. "Using simple branding, we want to remind citizens that the city benefits from the sales tax of purchases they make within the city limits." Money from sales taxes funds the police, recreation, street maintenance, lifeguards and many other avenues of improvement and support within Capitola. Supporting local businesses also means more jobs are available locally.

Capitola gets 40 percent of its revenue through sales tax, and the recession has significantly impacted this revenue.

"Residents can get everything they need within the small two square miles of Capitola," says Planning Commissioner Gayle Ortiz, who owns Gayle's Bakery & Rosticceria. "Every little dollar spent will help, and not just on the big purchases. Buying even a meal or a book contributes to the city."

The decals serve as a reminder and a source of pride, participants say. "It tells those from outside the city limits that we're proud of our community," says Ted Burke, owner of the Shadowbrook Restaurant.

"There's no added benefit if people are already at a local restaurant or store, but it serves as a reminder that Capitola really has a lot to offer." Burke says he thinks the entire city will see the benefits of the campaign, not just local businesses.

"Fixing an economic downturn starts at home. People are spending smart, but they should also spend local first instead of going over the hill," he says.

"We expect to see some improvement when we check the sales tax total in the next financial quarter," says Toni Castro of the Chamber of Commerce. Window decals have already been distributed to the entire business community, and not just in Capitola Village. Mall stores and other 41st Avenue businesses are in on it. Businesses have also been asked to include the logo on their websites and in all their advertisements.

At its meeting on Thursday night, July 16, the Planning Commission approved posting Shop Capitola signs at all four entrances to the city to serve as an additional reminder to buy local and complement signs in business windows.

"I'm excited to put a sign in the bakery," Ortiz said.

At the City Council's prompting, a task force of Capitolans has been working on the project since January of this year. If they don't already have one, local merchants can pick up window decals at the Capitola Chamber of Commerce.

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