The Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce put on a Holiday Passport Event on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28.
More than 100 families traveled throughout commercial Scotts Valley to 36 local businesses in a safe and spirited fashion. At each business, households received a stamp, children were gifted a stocking to fill with sweets and all were greeted by live music on their way.
Danny Reber, the Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce executive director and last passport stop, said, “So many people had no idea these businesses exist. I heard a lot of, ‘I didn’t buy anything today, but I’m going back soon.’ It’s great to show people what’s in their own backyard.”
The event was the brainchild of the Scotts Valley Economic Task Force, a committee of business owners, Chamber members and City of Scotts Valley officials that meet weekly. The task force was founded after the first shelter-in-place order, when many local businesses began to feel the negative impact of Covid-19.
In addition to events like these, the committee has created many more opportunities for small businesses, such as a series of TV commercials from Tam Communications. While each business walked away with their own individual commercial, extra shots were taken for a commercial running on the local news encouraging individuals to “Come see what Scotts Valley is all about.”
The task force has also created a Shop Local Directory, sent out many surveys to “understand which businesses are struggling most,” and helped the City earn a $1 million loan from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
Reber’s ultimate goal for the Holiday Passport Event was “to encourage folks to continue to shop locally.”
“You can find everything you need in town and these businesses are in survival mode,” he said. “Whenever there has been a need in our community, usually it’s our local businesses that step up first, with gift cards to your softball game or charity. They need your help in return and you can get shopping done. Kill two birds with one stone.”
The Boulder Creek Business Association (BCBA) is also encouraging local shopping this season, but with a virtual spin.
“It’s more like badgering than encouraging,” Karen Edwards, the BCBA treasurer, joked. “When the weather is nice and people are able, we hope people will go downtown and see the new displays. Obviously, people can’t go in big groups and gather, but there will be a lot of fun in-person.”
The BCBA expects many shoppers to be hesitant entering stores, so they have pushed for businesses to expand online shopping opportunities this year.
“We are encouraging the shops to provide an online platform with gift certificates and have partnered with Visit Santa Cruz’ Ride Out The Wave Program,” Edwards said. “We also have many businesses with curbside pickup available.”
Along with its business partnerships, the BCBA uses many resources to encourage shoppers, such as its Shop and Dine Boulder Creek Facebook page, with daily deals. The BCBA also has a sign at the south end of town that local businesses can rent for the week. They’re also hosting an online Ugly Sweater and Christmas Decoration contest with a gift certificate for the winners.
While several businesses have recently closed in Boulder Creek, Edwards feels optimistic as a few more have moved in. Both Colorwheel, an arts and crafts store, and Keep Wild, an adventure gift store, have opened their doors in the past few months.
“We need people to stay in town when they shop,” she said. “I know how easy it is to shop at mega-businesses online, but if we keep doing that, we’re going to lose our businesses. And it’s not just the Boulder Creek community. It’s every community out there—especially small towns that are so reliant on their businesses.”