In December, the City of San Luis Obispo in partnership with the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce launched ‘Buy Local Bonus’, a campaign to encourage the support of local businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Our goal when we created this program was to positively impact our local businesses and reward locals for investing in our community,” said Derek Johnson, SLO City Manager. “As a City, we are thrilled that the shop local program accomplished this goal.”

The Buy Local Bonus Program ran from December 14 through the end of April and resulted in $728,334 in direct local spending. Gift cards were purchased from 146 unique businesses ranging from restaurants to retail to personal service. Those gift cards were then offered as incentives for people to turn in their receipts totaling $100 or more. At program end, there were 4,474 qualified entries from shoppers with 7,028 receipts submitted — the average receipt total being $172, well above the $100 minimum. 

“The Buy Local Bonus program really carried us through a typically slow period in retail,” said Marianne Seaborne, owner of Maison Marianne. “We are so grateful for the support and for this shopping incentive to keep money in our community!”

The positive effects of shopping local are extensive and reach beyond what we are able to see when our items are getting rung up at the cash register. For every $100 spent at a small business in the U.S., approximately $68 stay in the local community. Supporting local retailers doesn’t just help the business, it keeps people employed, supports local families, it’s better for the environment, encourages entrepreneurship, and it helps keep our community unique. 

“San Luis Obispo steps up to support each other through tough times, and the community showed us that again by shopping locally and investing in our local businesses.” said Jim Dantona, President/CEO of the SLO Chamber. “We’re proud to have been part of the Buy Local Bonus program that helped our businesses persevere during this challenging year.”

Buy Local Bonus was solely funded by the recently passed Measure G sales tax. The City still has funds set aside for future shop local incentive programs that will continue to roll out through the economic recovery.