Credit: Tiana Reber / Mustang News

The City of San Luis Obispo’s fourth annual “Buy Local Bonus” is returning on Nov. 24. The month-long program in partnership with the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce provides financial incentives to the community for shopping locally.

According to their website, the City will buy $625 worth of gift cards from local businesses that choose to participate. When shoppers spend a total of $100 of their own money on gifts or gift cards from a local retailer throughout the month, they can bring their receipts to the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center and pick up a $25 gift card for another local business.

The City said any retail, fitness or personal service business with a license and storefront in San Luis Obispo is eligible to engage in the program. Ineligible businesses include restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores, gas stations, lodging and big box stores like Target.

San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce Director of Communications Hollie West said Buy Local Bonus is a super popular program, and the community expresses consistent support and excitement. 

“Supporting small businesses is critical to a vibrant economy, and keeps the charm of San Luis Obispo intact,” West said. 

From Jan. 2 – 31, a similar program called “Eat Local Bonus” will follow the same rules as Buy Local Bonus, but qualifying purchases will include food from local restaurants and eateries instead of items from retail stores. 

During last year’s programs, more than 5,000 shoppers and diners spent a total of $826,197 on local businesses, and the City purchased $125,000 worth of gift cards, according to the Chamber of Commerce.

“Our community is always invested in supporting local businesses, but incentivizing it even further, especially during the holiday season, is key to small business success,” West said.

The Chamber of Commerce has received great feedback from both businesses and community members. Businesses appreciate the increased business from the program and shoppers love to be rewarded for shopping locally. 

Junk Girls Production Manager Ellen Nickerson said the Buy Local Bonus is positive for both local businesses and shoppers. 

“Everybody’s super excited, the customers when they hear about it,” Nickerson said. 

The bonus is exciting not only for customers but also for businesses because it helps them stay afloat, Nickerson said. 

According to Nickerson, Junk Girls was one of the most popular businesses during the program last year. She said she has noticed many San Luis Obispo residents love to shop locally and in-store.

Shoppers can redeem up to three gift cards and the program will end on Dec. 24 or when gift cards run out.

As a “gift to the community to help support local businesses,” the City said parking will be free in the downtown structures from Nov. 23 – 26 and every Sunday in December.

More information on the programs can be found on the City’s website, and questions can be emailed to