Buy Local Challenge Blog

Buy Local Santa Monica has partnered with the 3/50 ProjectTM and students from Santa Monica High School.  What three local businesses would you miss if they disappeared?  Your purchases keep these businesses around, supporting our local economy and a unique, thriving community of businesses.  Your purchases also make a difference to our schools, our parks and our community.  In 2013, purchases made at Santa Monica businesses raised $7.2 million for our schools. Buying local truly makes a difference.

It's simple to participate - pick three businesses you absolutely can't live without, and commit to stopping by, saying hello and spending money among the three this month to spur our local economy.  Then, go even further to support your favorites by telling us which ones you picked and why


Key traits of a good local pizza joint

Santa Monica Business #1: Dagwoods Pizza

Santa Monica Business #2: Santa Monica Farmer's Market

Santa Monica Business #3: Big Blue Bus

Why I can't live without these three businesses: Dagwoods: Santa Monica has a lot of pizzeria's to choose from, and as a result it is important to look for several key traits of a good pizza joint, traits that I believe Dagwoods symbolizes perfectly.  Firstly, a pizzeria must treat their customers with the upmost respect, whether it be how helpful and cooperative they are over the phone, how the deliverers greet the customer at their door, or how they talk with them in person at their shop. Secondly, the pizza joint must charge fair prices for their product: two large pizza's and a 2L soda for $30 and 10% off any purchase over $30 cover that point. And most importantly, the pizza must be TOP quality. With a perfect ratio of cheese to toppings to crust, and the care with which each pizza is cooked in only 20 minutes, I have yet to see another pizza place get both of these aspects down perfectly. Dagwoods, I am so glad to have been a loyal customer over the years and will continue to eat your delicious grub every time I desire that fine Italian cuisine.

Santa Monica Farmers Market: I grew up eating food from here. The sheer variety in vegetable, fruit, and other grown items available is absolutely astounding. To this day, all the fruit in my home comes from the Farmers Market. Not only do these growers deserve every penny they get, but I feel satisfied as a customer to each vendor because I know I am getting some of the best food I have ever eaten in California. From their strawberries to their apples and exquisite grapes, there's never a shortage of yummy eats at the Farmers Market.

Big Blue Bus: This is by far the cleanest busing service I have ever seen.  Not only is each bus kept sparkling clean by a dedicated staff, but BBB is constantly refining and upgrading their fleet of blue machines in order to prove to the rest of the world that Santa Monica stands firmly on our title as a clean city. It is nice to be able to ride public transportation that you know is not causing nearly as much harm as the car you could be driving. With routes all across LA county, I can't wait to see what the next great leap they make will be!

Submitted by: Maximilian Daggy


A family tradition

Santa Monica Business #1: Bay Cities

Santa Monica Business #2: Hot Dog on a Stick

Santa Monica Business #3: Gilbert's

Why I can't live without these three businesses: Bay Cities: This is one of the best sandwich places I have ever been to. I have been going here for as long as I can remember. When I enter the store, it is more than just a store to me but I know it has history in Santa Monica. My parents before me tell me about how they went here when they were kids. I can't live without this place because of the quality and history it holds in Santa Monica.

Hot Dog on a Stick: I was very sad when I found out the one at the mall moved, and so the one at the beach is the last one in Santa Monica. Hot Dog on a Stick is Santa Monica, I can't think of the beach without the fact that I want to go to Hot Dog on a Stick as well. They have the best lemonades and their corn dogs and French fries are delicious too. I can't live without this place because Hot Dog on a Stick represents the Santa Monica Beach aspect of this city and there is no better place to pick up a nice cool lemonade on a sunny day.

Gilbert's: Gilbert's to me represents more than just a Mexican style restaurant, there is so much more there than just a restaurant. When I go there, they know my Dad and they know me by the many times we go there to eat. They have great food, but also they have a friendly atmosphere that is welcoming and it delivers meals that are plentiful and the quality is well worth the price. I can't live without Gilbert's because it holds a historic place in Santa Monica and it is hard for me to think of another quality Mexican restaurant besides it.

Submitted by: Nicolas Breceda


All about the bread

Santa Monica Business #1: Sunny Blue

Santa Monica Business #2: Bay Cities

Santa Monica Business #3: Treats

Why I can't live without these three businesses:   Sunny Blue is a very cute, quick, and thoroughly enjoyable experience. Any time I crave something, but nothing too big and time consuming, I run over to Sunny Blue's and am always greeted with friendly people. I think it is a staple to Santa Monica now, and a place that should be cherished due to its friendly and tasty addition to the community. It's also so good, very addicting- and I may or may not have gone there more than twice a week at one point..

Bay Cities is an institution to Santa Monica, and without it's bread- I just can't imagine a future without Bay Cities bread. Walking in there is always a fun experience, dodging through the tiny store and the copious amounts of people. It's a place that Santa Monica would seem so empty without, the same kind of feeling without the Omelette Parlor. It's also fairly priced, which makes it easy to over indulge ( I don't mind that one bit).

Treats is a great, neighborhood oriented, and teenage employee welcoming place with really good frozen yogurt. I love going there to hang out with my friends and have a very neat, and pretty looking cup of frozen yogurt. I like their unique touch of putting the toppings in the middle of the cup of yogurt and, even better, on top. You really do get nice quality stuff from there, and it is always milling with people from the community on a hot day. I especially like that it brings the sunset park community together more than it has been before, and much more centralized in one place.

Submitted by: Aoife Hayes



Great deals on vintage while reducing pollution

Santa Monica Business #1: Buffalo Exchange

Santa Monica Business #2: Main Squeeze

Santa Monica Business #3: Urth Cafe

Why I can't live without these three businesses: The one thing these places share in common and keep me coming back is their hospitality and great service. At Buffalo Exchange, not only am I getting a great deal on vintage and one of a kind clothing but being able to buy and sell clothing makes me feel a bit more close to others in the community.  Knowing that there could be a reduction in pollution, congestion, habitat loss and urban sprawl for choosing to shop here over retail stores gives a good feeling.

As for Main Squeeze and Urth Cafe I know that I can't live without these places because I'm always coming back for more. Whether it be an early breakfast run or a casual night out dining with friends I can count on these places for their quality of taste.

Submitted by: Gilda


The place to go after at 12 mile run

Santa Monica Business #1: Superfood Express

Santa Monica Business #2: Sunny Blue

Santa Monica Business #3: Roadrunner Sports

Why I can't live without these three businesses: Superfood Express is where I go almost every saturday morning. This is the place to go after every 12 mile long run, and every time I go I get one thing and the one thing I have only ever gotten: the Acai Brazilian Breakfast Bowl.

Sunny Blue astonishes me, and as to think that I have only recently discovered this place. The food is simple and flavorful, and the people that work there are very kind and welcoming. For me, this has definitely become the weekend lunch spot.

Roadrunner Sports is where I go to get great deals on quality items that I need. The service is very friendly and they always have a good understanding on every item they have and what will work for you.



Food recs from the hungriest kid on the west side

Santa Monica Business #1: Bagel Nosh

Santa Monica Business #2: Tacos Por Favor

Santa Monica Business #3: Umami Burger

Why I can't live without these three businesses: I can't live without these businesses for many reasons, but the main one is I love my food!

As one of the hungriest kids on the west side, these three local restaurants have become a part of my schedule and eating habit.  Every Wednesday before school, a group of buddies and I would meet at Bagel Nosh. The #4 is what I order with a glass of fresh OJ. Couldn't start the morning any other way. The smiles and local quality of the joint really keeps people coming back. It has a nice mix of LA and New York vibes, allowing people to enjoy their meal, make it feel like a Sunday brunch, and keep the day moving.

Tacos Por Favor is without a doubt, my favorite Mexican food source in Santa Monica. Ever since the skateboard park opened up across the street, Tacos has been feeding me weekly since the age of 11. Its authentic music, banners, and beer really make the place. Make sure you try the carrots too; my mom goes crazy for them!

Lastly, my friends and I always order from Umami Burger. They're located in the back of Fred Segal. I love this smaller, urban burger place. They take a cool-hipster twist on the healthy organic American delicacy. Their Burgers are amazingly explosive with taste, and the home-made ketchup is almost like a sweet tomato paste that lightens the fluffy meat.

Santa Monica is the home of more than just these 3 great restaurants. You should consider visiting all if not one of these listings!  I also have the munchies right now....As a hungry kid, I must buy local.

Submitted by: Ben



Check out the fantastic bargain bin

Santa Monica Business #1: Busy Bee Hardware

Santa Monica Business #2: Brat

Santa Monica Business #3: Santa Monica Seafood

Why I can't live without these three businesses: Busy Bee packs tons of handy items in a tiny space.  At a time when so much home improvement depends on mega-stores, I appreciate the personalized attention and eclecticism of the store and how the staff makes daunting projects seem manageable.

I hate to shop, but Brat makes the activity actually fun, and as an ex-punk rocker I love interacting with Nancy and her staff.  It's great that she knows the designers and designs so well.  Even though I wish they stocked larger ladies sizes, there's always a range of expressive styles that highlight the LA fashion aesthetic.  It's become a Christmas tradition that always is full of the holiday feel.  The bargain bin is particularly fantastic.

We all know that eating seafood is healthy for us, but it's hard to get motivated when the fish in the supermarket looks (and smells) so unappetizing.  The staff of Santa Monica Seafood always have good ideas for recipes and preparation, and there is usually affordable fish that will work for a dinner.

Bonus: The Aero Theater is a critical local institution that we all should support.  The pleasures of a revival theater within walking/biking distance is a great resource for people of all generations.

Submitted by: Liz Horan


Good places for a hungry stomach

Santa Monica Business #1: Pavillions

Santa Monica Business #2: Panda Express

Santa Monica Business #3: Menchies

Why I can't live without these three businesses: These businesses I visit frequently and they provide me with much of the food I buy.  Pavilion's has great people and a variety of the foods I eat that combine for a pleasant shopping experience.  Panda Express and Menchies are convenient and quick for when I am hungry and don't have time to make food myself.

Submitted by: Jonathan Rakuljic