Oakland merchants hope to draw in holiday shoppers

December 18, 2010 4:56:36 PM PST
A reputation for crime certainly does not help lure holiday shoppers to stores in Oakland, but merchants are hoping shoppers are not scared away this holiday season.

The tree is up and the ornaments are out in Jack London Square. It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but in some parts, Oakland also looks like a ghost town.

When it comes to checking off the shopping list, for many the city just does not seem to make the cut. In one of the most dangerous places in the country, convincing shoppers to come to Oakland can be a tough sell.

"Well, you kind of have to go through a little riff-raff to get here," San Jose resident Martha Bachman said.

This time of year, that is exactly what local merchants do not want to hear.

In the Rockridge neighborhood, the campaign to shop local is in overdrive. Store owners like Dan Merritt say there is something there for everyone.

"It always is difficult in Oakland because it is so easy to go to malls, it's easy to go to San Francisco, but there are a lot of really great little neighborhoods and I think it's up to them to really make it appealing to shop locally," he said.

Boutique owner Liz Taylor says the trick is to offer competitive prices with nearby big box stores along with friendly service customers will not find among the masses.

"We're always talking about how it really does put money back into the local economy," she said.

This year there is even a new push among local merchants to have shoppers buy online from Oakland stores so they keep the profits.

Shopper Cecily Berberat plans to do all of her shopping in Oakland. For store owners, not even Santa could deliver a better present.


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