Small independent stores don't even try to go head to head with the big chain stores.
"You don't even try to compete with it, you do what you do and stay open later for the customers that come into your store," Lauren's Closet owner Lisa Oyen said.
What many indie retailers have that the big boys don't is a more relaxed shopping experience along with extra customer service.
"You have to be everything that your competition is not; you have to be personable, customer service is key," Dwight Fisher of Rocket Reuse said.
Michelle Stibbs says she has freshly baked cookies for her customers.
"Most of my customers I know by name and face and so it's just a different kind of ballgame I guess," she said.
Park Street in Alameda is popular during the holidays because of all the independent stores. Many of them offer one-of-a-kind merchandise.
"They are one-of-a-kind certainly and I just think it is so important to support local," shopper Barbara Brown said.
Oyen says her clients know why it's important to buy local.
"To keep the money in the cities," she said.
Stibbs opened her store Silk Road four years ago, just as the recession began. She says for the first time, this year she overstocked and now she's nearly sold out.
"Last year and the year before I noticed people would say, 'Oh I like this, I like this,' but they wouldn't get as much; this year they are buying more," Stibbs said.
She says perhaps a sign that consumer confidence is finally back where it should be.