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


Delicious and Beautiful Drinks

Business #1: Umami Burger
Business #2: Snug Harbor
Business #3: Urth Cafe

Why I can't live without these three businesses: Entering Fred Segal on 4th street can be intimidating. Surrounding yourself with clothes worth more than a house is often painful. Yet, when entering Umami Burger, an extension of the Fred Segal building, the grandest of all worries is the fear of missing out. 13 burger options provide 13 reasons to come back. As an avid burger eater, I am qualified to say that the only way to explore the fifth taste, is at Umami Burger in Santa Monica.

Friendly, an adverb we would all like to be, and that Snug Harbor epitomizes. Delicious food aside, the service at Snug Harbor is incomparable. Walking in, you do not only enter a restaurant, but a family. You become a regular within minutes, learning names and eventually memorizing the menu. Proudly, I can walk in, be directed to my seat, and get my regular order without saying a word (although they're so nice that I have to say hello).

Urth(e) Cafe spelled out reads "You are the Urth." How could I not love a place that cares about me as much as one should care about mother nature? Although overpriced, my week is not satisfied with out a green tea or moroccan mint boba or latte. Famous for their delightful designs, Urth consistently delivers not only delicious, but beautiful drinks. Yum.

Submitted by: Tiana Kadkhoda


A lively place for a snack

Business #1: Menchies
Business #2: Panera Bread
Business #3: Trader Joes

Why I can't live without these three businessesMenchies is a frozen yogurt place located on the corner of Montana Ave. It's a lively place with friendly colors that pop out at you and make you want to enter. There's a wide variety of flavors to choose from and they are always changing. Menchie's is also open until pretty late compared to many other stores on Montana. It's right by my house so whenever I feel like having a late night snack I just have to drive over and get myself some.

Panera Bread is a cute little chain restaurant located on Wilshire Blvd. I love the atmosphere of this place because it's always very relaxing. They have amazing panini's, bread, and pastries. Sometimes I come here when I want to study or do my homework, because it's a relaxing and quiet environment. They have free wifi so it also really helps. They're prices are also pretty reasonable.

Trader Joes is a grocery store located on Pico Blvd. It's kind of small but I absolutely love this place. I come here about once every two weeks to stack up on groceries. They always have samples to eat and they're prices are also really good. I love their mochi ice cream, cheeto puffs, and Jojo's. Their staff is also always very friendly and always want to help out which is a plus. Forgot to mention that they also have all healthy food!

Submitted by: Anonymous


A Hidden Gem

Business #1: Urth Cafe 
Business #2: Infuzion Cafe
Business #3: Chipotle

Why I can't live without these three businesses: Urth Café is one of the best places for Sunday brunch or really just any time of any day. They always have the freshest pastries and yummiest coffees and teas. Although they are usually busy, it is definitely worth the wait, even if for just a cup of coffee. The staff is normally very organized and it doesn’t usually take too long to find a table and receive your food.

Infuzion Café is an awesome place adjacent to the Promenade. It’s great for getting a drink to walk around to promenade or to stay and study. They have very friendly staff that is happy to customize drinks for their customers in any way they’d like. It is definitely a hidden gem in Santa Monica.

Chipotle is fantastic for satisfying an empty stomach or a very strong craving for Mexican food. All their ingredients are fresh and delicious. The restaurant is centered on the customer, allowing them to customize their burritos any way they’d like. Additionally, their prices are very reasonable. Overall, a great place to eat.

Submitted by: Anonymous 


A mellow and friendly vibe

Business #3: STATION 26

Why I can't live without these three businesses: Gilbert’s El Indio is a family run restaurant located on Pico and 26th Street. All of the workers are relatives of the owners and it causes the environment to feel like home. Inside the restaurant, photos of customers and seasonal decorations cover every inch of space. Gilbert’s serves Mexican food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I enjoy the Machaca, shredded beef and eggs, Huevos Indios, eggs and chilaquiles and for lunch and dinner I enjoy eating the hard shell tacos or the Mule Burrito. Every Tuesday, they sell tacos for one dollar; chicken, beef, potato and the tacos are a huge success.

Ocean Park Pizza, formerly known as Gary’s Grill, is located on Ocean Park and 29th Street. It is a small place that makes burgers, pizza, wings, potato wedges, and much more. OPP is a spot that serves their food as hot as can be and the people are always friendly. With an outdoor patio area, OPP is a perfect place to eat with friends for lunch or dinner. The hamburger special or pizza special is a personal favorite that never gets old. Every time I go there, the food is always prepared the same and is never a dull meal.

Station 26, located on Main Street, off of Ocean Park, is a clothing boutique store that offers a variety of designer clothes and shoes. The store is a young brand that creates t-shirts and is located across from Undefeated, the unique shoe store. The vibe of Station 26 is mellow and friendly and the employees are happy to help out. Companies such as Stussy and Huf can be shopped at Station 26 and after you are done shopping at Station 26, you can walk down the street and soak up the sun at beach station 26.

Submitted by: Anonymous


Artist Inspiration

Business #1: Rip City Skates
Business #2: Hennessey and Ingalls

Why I can't live without these businesses: Rip City Skates is an exclusive Santa Monica skate shop. With great deals and experienced skaters behind the counter, Rip City is by far one of the best skate shops left. Their stock includes old-school and new design decks, all the kinds of trucks, bearings, and wheels that you would need for anything from downhill shredding to pool skating. Rip City is also one of the only places to buy Santa Monica Airport brand skateboards and apparel so, in their own way, they are already promoting a sustainable Santa Monica.

Hennessey and Ingalls is quite an eclectic bookstore; they have everything from classical to contemporary art, from photography to fashion, from culinary arts to books on transportation, and from architectural to abstract publications. However, all of their books share a common theme - art. Any one of their books can provide inspiration and amazement. Hennessey and Ingalls also has an amazing foreign collection as well as an exclusive “rare or out-of-print” section. Since it is the only bookstore of its kind, and was founded in the Santa Monica area, they have become the main source of design inspiration for architects and artists in the Southern California and especially the Los Angeles area.

Submitted by: Declan Knight


For the breakfast enthusiast

Business #1: Bru's Wiffle: A Waffle Joint
Business #2: Marmalade Cafe
Business #3: The Novel Cafe

Why I can't live without these three businesses: Bru’s Wiffle is my favorite place on the westside to get waffles. Their waffles are perfectly crisp on the outside, but light and airy on the inside. Not only are their sweet waffles amazing, especially the churro waffle, but even their savory waffles are to die for. Which in my opinion, makes Bru’s Wiffle the perfect restaurant for waffle-lovers any time of day.

Marmalade Café is located on 7th Street and Montana Ave. The café is packed with amazing staff and even better food. I personally recommend anything off the menu. And while you’re there, make sure to try some of their fragrant jams and marmalades. They also have a wide array of pastries you can select from to pair with their awesome lattes and coffees.

The Novel Café is the only restaurant in Santa Monica I want to go to when I am in the mood to have an omelet. My favorite omelet is the veggie omelet, but my absolute favorite part of the meal is the roasted potatoes. They have an amazingly wide array of dishes that range from pancakes and omelets, to burgers, pasta, and salads, and even tacos. They conveniently have three locations in Santa Monica- one on Lincoln Blvd., one on Main St., and the other on Ocean Park Blvd.

Submitted by: Sarah Meshkanian


Enter a new world

Business #1: AMC 7 
Business #2: Ice at Santa Monica
Business #3: Starbucks

Why I can't live without these three businesses: The AMC 7 at the corner of Arizona and 3rd Street Promenade is the perfect place to go watch the movie that you have long anticipated for. They have great customer service and make sure that the theaters are always kept clean. They also have great deals they have for your favorite movie snacks, to munch on while you are watching your movie. It is a great place to go watch a movie with your friends or family and gives you a moment where you leave your own world and enter into a new world undiscovered before.

Ice at Santa Monica is a great place to go to especially during the holidays when it is open. The ice skating rink is only open from November to late January, perfectly aligned with the winter season. Although it is a small ice skating rink, it never gets crowded, giving you enough space to show off your moves. And if you get tired or hungry you can just step out and buy a nice hot chocolate or a sandwich. Compared to any other ice skating rink this one is closest to home, making it easier to get to. If you have children they make special events for children where they can take picture with Santa or even create crafts.

Starbucks, as we all know, is a coffee shop that is located in different places all throughout Santa Monica. On a cold day or even on a hot day they have the drink that is just right for you. Right now during the winter season, they have a great deal, where you buy one holiday drink and get the second free. Their calming environment gives you a time of peace, and even a place where you can continue to socialize with your friends and family through the free wifi service they offer.

Submitted by: Anonymous


Celebrate with Japanese cuisine

Business #1: Wokano
Business #2: Donut King

Why I can't live without these businesses: Wokano - This is my favorite and apparently only Japanese restaurant that I have been to in Santa Monica. Japanese cuisine is one of my favorite and my family likes it too. My family usually goes there to eat if we have to celebrate something, we do not like to go out randomly to a restaurant and eat on any day of the week. If this place were to disappear then I would lose my Japanese restaurant! I would never be able to have Japanese again!

Donut King - Donut King is where my friends and I go to eat at lunch when we are in school. It is the healthiest place there is on our block that's the reason why we always eat at Donut King, all the other stores or places to eat are very greasy and fattening. If this place were to disappear then my friends and I would not have a place to eat at lunch when we are in school. I would really like to have something even healthier than Donut King in the vicinity so if I were able to open up my own little restaurant there then I would probably eat there everyday.

Submitted by: Anonymous