Oakland mayor encourages shopping locally

November 14, 2012 7:13:55 PM PST
Trendy boutiques and one-of-a-kind craft shops are taking on big box retailers in Oakland with the support of city officials. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan led the charge today, encouraging people to do their holiday shopping in Oakland.

"Oaklanders, it's estimated, spend $28 million in gift cards," said Quan.

And according to the mayor, that's major buying power for the city, but most of it is being spent somewhere else. She hopes to change that. Surrounded by small business owners, an event on Wednesday was the mayor's kick-off for "Shop Oakland Grown" -- a push to strengthen Oakland's local economy through consumer purchasing power.

"We generated 5,200 new jobs just in the last year, the unemployment is down over 3 percent and retail shopping, in terms of sales tax, is up 4.5 percent," said Quan.

"I'm really blessed to be able to do everything that I'm doing," said Tamika Anderson, the owner, operator of Topps Salon and Day Spa. She has experienced the benefits of being part of the city's Shop Oakland Grown program, first hand.

"I've got tons of new customers that come in... that didn't know about me before," said Anderson.

New customers and a new source of revenue are coming in through the doors. This has allowed her to hire and expand her business.

"It's really introducing people to come out and see how Oakland is growing and how beautiful the neighborhoods are here," said Anderson.

But shopping in Oakland neighborhoods can create challenges that many argue the malls and big box stores do not, like finding free parking and avoiding crime. We spotted Ramona Siverls strolling Oakland's Piedmont Avenue, she says she's turned-off by the crowds at malls and like the small shops.

"When they approach you when you come to their shops, it's an intimate shopping experience," said Siverls. She is also aware of the city's efforts to fight crime that she believes can happen anywhere. So, as a shopper, she stays alert. "You have to have a defensive disposition at certain hours and you can't live like that."

Quan agrees. She says tax dollars generated by shopping locally allows her to hire more police officers and it all starts one transaction at a time.


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