Buy Local Challenge Blog

Buy Local Santa Monica has partnered with the 3/50 Project.TM  What three local businesses would you miss if they disappeared?  Your purchases keep them around, supporting our local economy and a unique, thriving community of businesses. 

It's simple to participate - pick three businesses you absolutely can't live without, and commit to stopping by, saying hello and spending $50 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


Start your day off with a kick

Business #1: Chipotle
Business #2: Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Business #3: Trader Joe's

Why I can't live without these three businesses: Chipotle - Being the picky eater that I am, it is hard to find new places to eat with fresh flavors and delicious meals that even I will enjoy. Walking into Chipotle for the first time the incredible aroma of various spices and ingredients delighted my nose and made my mouth begin to water. The unique style in which Chipotle prepares your meal made it really easy for me to avoid the types of food I do not like, but get all of the different ingredients that to me make the perfect burrito and taco. When ordering something such as a chicken burrito, I do not have to say no onions, no peppers, etc, instead I get to walk through the line selecting only the items I would like in my burrito and watch them prepare it before my eyes. This service alone makes my experience at Chipotle great as well as the amazing tastes of their marinated steak, chicken, etc and friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf - Us humans usually have a very busy schedule and not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Most of the time it is hard for us to pick ourselves up out of bed and start the busy day we have ahead of us. Being tired is yet another obstacle we face when trying to accomplish these various tasks. Starting the day off with a nice cool ice blended coffee, or warm satisfying latté is just what we need to get the day going. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has so many different types of coffees that are all equally great tasting and an amazing way to start your day off with a kick. This business not only gives me a burst in energy that allows me to confidently face my demanding day, but also pleases my taste buds every time.

Trader Joe's - This is a very unique market. Unlike most markets Trader Joe's has a very distinct and Hawaiian like atmosphere. It also carries it's own line of delicious products that you cannot find at other markets. I could not imagine being without Trader Joe's Mac'n'Cheese, enchiladas, Olive Oil Popcorn, etc and without Trader Joe's there would be nowhere else to purchase these items. Sure I can get these types of foods at other places, but they do not have the same amazing tastes as the ones from Trader Joe's. Their produce is always fresh and great tasting as well. If this alone doesn't cause Trader Joe's to be one of the best markets around, their low prices also makes Trader Joe's affordable!

Submitted by: Amanda Pallett


A selection for hungry beach-goers

Business #1: Hot Dog on a Stick
Business #2: L&L's Hawaii'n Barbecue
Business #3: Bay Cities

Why I can't live without these three businesses: Hot Dog on a Stick is a hive of business with constant customers and hungry/thirsty beach-goers. Whether purchasing a fresh ice-cold lemonade on a hot day or buying a delicious hot dog on a stick with fries, the place is bound to satisfy your needs. The selection there is not as vast as say a Denny's or a McDonald's, but there is enough to bring happiness to every customer. There is of course the traditional hot dog on a stick, cheese (American or Pepperjack) on a stick, veggie dog on a stick, french fries, funnel cake sticks, and a selection of lemonade flavors like mango, cherry, lime, tea, etc. The prices are pretty high, but the customers never seem to care because of the satisfaction the food brings. Trust me, I work there! I can probably eat something there every day and never get tired of it; however, I'd probably end up very overweight, so I wouldn't recommend doing that...

L&L's Hawaii'n Barbecue is a haven of tasty Hawaiian food. Located at the perfect spot for Santa Monica High School students, L&L's is the destination for many students during their lunch period. Consequently, the place is usually always busy during that time. Before going, I'd recommend pre-ordering by phone before you get there, or go at an hour where Samohi students wouldn't be overflowing the store's doors. If you love good food and wouldn't mind trying new things, L&L's is the place for you.

Bay Cities is by far the BEST sandwich place I have ever had the pleasure of eating at, and I've eaten at a lot of sandwich places. The bread is, as most Santa Monica people will testify, is heavenly. Fluffy and crunchy at the same time, Bay Cities' bread can be eaten as a sandwich, a platform for Nutella, or just simply by itself, because it's THAT good. If you're a picky one, you can always choose your own type of sandwich, but the "Godmother with the works" is definitely the way to go for people looking for harmony in their mouth. I am blessed enough to live right next to this place, and as lazy as I am, I am never lazy enough to walk down to Bay Cities to eat some of their delicious bread and sandwiches.

Submitted by: Tristan Leigh


Home away from home

Business #1: Coffee Bean
Business #2: Menchies
Business #3: NY+C

Why I can't live without these three businesses:

1. Coffee Bean on 9th and Wilshire is my escape. It is where I go to do my homework and relax. I am there most weeknights and I live right near it. Ever since I can remember this Coffee Bean has been my favorite place to go. There is a giant fireplace in the middle and nothing is more relaxing then sitting in front of it clearing my mind and doing homework. Coffee Bean is my home away from home.

2. Menchies is a place I always go with my friends. The frozen yogurt is really good, and it is welcoming with familiar faces, and warm-hearted people. It’s open late, and always a good place to meet with friends and plan what we are doing.  Menchies is a local place with positive people.

3. NY+C. The place I always find myself on late weekend nights. When all else fails this is where me and my friends turn. Great food and an even better atmosphere. It is local and always open. Its how we cap our nights, and they have the best pizza in Santa Monica. Definitely my favorite place to go late at night!

Submitted by: Anonymous


Fresh Food Fast

Business #1: Poquito Mas
Business #2: Big Jo's
Business #3: PCMall / MacMall

Why I can't live without these three businesses: As I walk in, I am overwhelmed with the smell of fresh baked tortilla chips and fresh salsa. Yes, I am in Poquito Mas. Located on Wilshire Blvd., Poquito Mas is a different type of Mexican fast food chain, one where the tortillas are made fresh as you watch, and where the salsa bar contains a large array of tasty options. Whether I am in the mood for a few chicken tacos or a large “Mucho Mas” burrito, I can always expect a tasty and satisfying meal that does not taste in the least bit greasy or not fresh. In addition, the complimentary tortilla chips that are served with one's meal are warm and crispy, evidencing their freshly baked nature. Poquito Mas truly lives up to its slogan: “We do not serve fast food, we serve fresh food fast,” and for that reason is certainly a Santa Monica business I could not live without. 

Another favorite business of mine is Big Jo's, a fast food burger joint located on the corner of 20th and Broadway (only a few blocks from my home). Whenever I drive by, the unique and wonderful smell of their freshly grilled burgers wafts through my open windows, and the taste of their burgers is equally unique and wonderful. I have frequented this local “Mom and Pop” burger joint with my father for over eight years, and we have enjoyed every single burger and fry that we've ever purchased. Thus, I could not see myself living without these great burgers only a few blocks away from me.

Finally, moving to the world of electronics, a third business I could not live without are the MacMall and PCMall stores located on the corner of 15th and Wilshire. Although I do the majority of my electronics shopping online, it is wonderful to have an electronics store a few blocks from home to which I can go to present specific electronics questions and receive helpful advice from the knowledgeable and friendly staff. In addition, this business often holds sales of highly demanded items, another great reason as to why I could not live without it.

Submitted by: Vytautas Sipila


Attentive and Friendly Staff

Business #1: Gilbert's El Indio
Business #2: Joe's Pizza
Business #3: Pinkberry

Why I can't live without these three businesses: Gilberts El Indio located in Santa Monica is hands down the best MEXICAN food in the whole city. From burritos to Enchildas's. The best place to go to after a girls night out with attentive and friendly staff you can't leave the place unhappy. As soon as you walk in its's alive, from the welcoming greetings and the people waiting to be seated. The endless photos on the wall just create a family vibe and are unforgettable

Joe's Pizza located on Broadway is another delious place to grab a bite to eat. Its garlic balls are the best! After a late night at work Joe's pizza is always open with its great pizza and vibrant people. The HUGE slices of pizza's are well worth the wait

Pinkberry def hits the spot anytime of the day weather it be the original frozen yogurt or a pinkberry smoothie, pinkberry is like no other. Pinkberry is just heaven. Its unforgettable and its customer service is great, well at least on 3rd street. The employees know me by name and always know my order.

Submitted by: Anonymous