To entice shoppers this Saturday, many small businesses are rolling out special promotions: Sierra Hay and Feed in Lincoln is dangling 10 percent off all pet collars, leashes or harnesses. Complete Ponds, a water-garden supply store in Roseville, will knock 15 percent off an entire purchase. In midtown Sacramento, the Birkenstock store is shaving 10 percent off Naot shoes, which typically run $100 or more a pair. At Revolution Wines, a Sacramento urban winery, they're offering a six-bottle case of chardonnay and red wines for $99, normally $159.
Beyond a one-day "shop local" reminder, some retailers are banding together in an effort to get shoppers to think a little more broadly about the impact of their shopping choices.
In Sacramento, three local business districts downtown, midtown and Old Sacramento are asking shoppers to "Keep Your Green on the Grid," by taking a Facebook pledge to shift two of their holiday purchases to a small, independent retailer between now and Dec. 31.
"If a thousand people commit to spending just $25 worth of their holiday spending at a local, independent retailer, that's $25,000 we generate in sales that stays in our local economy," said Heather Philpott, community and events manager for the Midtown Business Association.
Some consumers have already embraced that notion. Rebecca Sturges, a Sacramento marriage and family therapist, decided several months ago that all of her holiday purchases for family and friends will be done locally.
She's buying cycling gear at local bike shops for her husband. She's gone to the kitchenware section of Hollywood Hardware, a neighborhood store, to look for "girlfriend gifts." And to fill two outdoor camping gift boxes for her college-age children, she's even scoured local Goodwill outlets.
Why? "I like the idea that the money I spend stays here in Sacramento, rather than some online retailer 2,000 miles away," said Sturges, a Land Park resident. "It's not all about price or saving a couple dollars online."
The "buy local" effort by the downtown partnership in Sacramento is part of a nationwide push by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a Washington, D.C., policy and research group.
According to its recent survey, independent businesses in communities with an active "buy indie/buy local" campaign run by local business and civic groups saw year-over-year revenue growth in the last three years. In 2011, those sales hit 7.2 percent, compared to 2.6 percent in communities without such campaigns, it reported.
Another burst of shop-local enthusiasts are so-called "cash mobs," groups of Facebook friends that descend cash in hand on a designated small business on a given day to plump up sales. The idea got started in 2011 and has caught on in dozens of cities across the country. Under unofficial "mob rules," participants are asked to spend $20 each and meet afterward at a local bar to celebrate.
In Sacramento, a Facebook cash-mob group is still trying to get 100 "likes" in order to activate its first event. But it already has a handful of local businesses nominated for the economic honor, including Momo's Meat Market, Time Tested Books and Danny's Mini Donuts in Old Sac.
For devotees of the shop-local movement, it's a way to ensure their local business community stays healthy, lively and profitable. As Sturges put it: "If we're not their customers, who will be?"