As part of the City of San Luis Obispo’s program to incentivize buying local during the holidays, shoppers spent 19% more at local businesses than last year, according to a city press release. 

During the 2021 Holiday Buy Local Bonus Program, a partnership between the Chamber of Commerce and San Luis Obispo City, shoppers spent $868,522. 

“Thank you to all community members who showed up to support San Luis Obispo businesses and boost our local economy by buying local during the holidays last year,” San Luis Obispo City Manager Derek Johnson said in a recent press release.

Buy Local Bonus was created to incentivize and reward shoppers for buying local during the holiday season, Mustang News previously reported.

The City utilized local revenue to purchase $110,900 in gift cards from local businesses. Each gift card was worth $25 and awarded to shoppers who spent $100 at a local business. The program began in mid November and continued through Christmas Eve 2021. 

The program was a huge success and is supported by both shoppers and businesses, according to the City’s tourism manager, Molly Cano. Each business that is chosen receives $625 upfront when the city purchases gift cards from them. They then receive more business when shoppers come to shop small and spend their gift card. 

One business that participated and benefitted from the program was Old SLO BBQ.

“The community of SLO has a love for small businesses that is uncommon in other cities and towns,” Old SLO BBQ owner Matt Pearce said in the press release. “Being able to participate in the Buy Local Program was a great way to connect with locals, attract new customers, and provide an incentive for our customers to support other local businesses.”

Especially during COVID-19, small businesses need the support of the community to recover and survive, Cano said. 

“Buying local doesn’t just help the business; it keeps people employed, supports local families, it’s better for the environment, encourages entrepreneurship, and it helps keep our community unique,” President and CEO of the SLO Chamber of Commerce Jim Dantona said in the press release.

After a positive response, the City of San Luis Obispo hopes to hold the Buy Local Bonus incentive program again next year, Cano said. 

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