The malls are full of eager shoppers — looking for leather coats, toys and jewelry — during the holiday shopping rush, a great sign for economy watchers.
Josh Kalkhorst, manager of The Village in Corte Madera, reported business was on pace to match, if not exceed, last year's holiday season. Corte Madera has two major shopping centers and a handful of car dealerships that are key contributors to the local economy.
A more important indicator for local economies could be found downtown, according to some financial experts. While Black Friday brought shoppers to the big box stores at midnight, Small Business Saturday was a key day for small store owners.
"It does have an effect," Dr. Robert Eyler, economics department chair at Sonoma State University, told The Bohemian. "In nonlocal businesses, the revenue goes away from the local area and any residual left remains outside."
A 2011 study by the Sonoma State University's School of Business and Economics reported that going local instead of shopping at national brands can have at least a 32 percent greater economic impact on the county. So, buying a cup of coffee at Bay Area-based Emporio Rulli instead of Peets, which is owned by a German corporation, can keep more money in town, according to the report.
There's a multipier effect if 32 cents of every dollar spent are recirculated into the local community. That reinvestment can add up to millions of dollars in local coffers.
Many communities like Marin County, Santa Cruz County and Hercules support programs that encourage shopping at locally-owned businesses.
"We do have a 'Think Local' campaign that is promoted by these articles and banners found around the city. We are working on several events for 2013 one of them being a Small Business Saturday," according to Sylvia Villa-Serrano of the Hercules Chamber of Commerce.
"We definitely want to support local businesses and the people operating stores within the local community. They're the essence of our community," said Carrie Arnone of the Capitola-Soquel Chamber of Commerce. "The success of our local stores reflects on the community in general. If that money is spent in local shops, it does stay where we work and where we live. We encourage people to support small businesses, local businesses."
Arnone suggests shopping at national-brand stores can still have a great impact in town.
"Even stores that aren't locally owned, but where the local people work, we support them. It helps our neighbors and our community. That's our take on it," Arnone said. "The Chamber of Commerce is 100 percent supportive of locally-owned small business. We want to keep our tax dollars here in Santa Cruz County."