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

Entries in Pico (82)


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


Surf boards galore

Santa Monica Business #1:  Sweet Rose

Santa Monica Business #2:  Whole Foods

Santa Monica Business #3:  ZJ's Boarding House

Why I can't live without these three businessesSweet Rose on San Vicente (and Pico Blvd) is the perfect place to go hang out with your friends and family. Not only is their ice cream the best I've ever had, but they are also constantly changing their flavors with the seasons, giving people like me (a regular), a variety of ever changing options.

I probably go to Whole Foods at least 4 times a week.  Whether I'm just getting a snack, a meal, or enough to sustain me for the coming week, they have so many options of healthy foods that make me feel great! Whether the food is already prepared or not, it's all delicious and I have so much fun going there.

Surfing is such a huge part of my life, and ZJ's is both in the perfect location and never fails to impress me with new products.  Even if I'm just making a quick stop to grab a bar of wax, I can't help but admire the hundreds of pristine boards, that one day I hope to have.

Submitted by: Elliot Fleck


Where everyone is treated as a friend

Santa Monica Business #1:  The Slice

Santa Monica Business #2:  Campos Tacos

Santa Monica Business #3:  ZJ's

Why I can't live without these three businessesThe Slice has pretty much been the go-to pizza place for as long as I can remember.  Plus they have fries, wings, pasta, salad and plenty of other delicious options.  Whether it's after baseball or soccer practice, or a last minute dinner, Slice never disappoints.

One of the first foods I can remember eating is a bean, rice and cheese burrito from Campos.  While back then I could barely finish half of the burrito, I have finally worked my way up to a full one, and could probably eat two.  Especially since the one in Venice closed, we need the Santa Monica one more than ever.

Last but not least ZJ's Boarding House is a staple in the Santa Monica (mainly Ocean Park) community.  Everyone who works or generally hangs out there will instantly treat you as friend and offer great advice on surfing, skating or pretty much anything.  

Submitted by: Paul Miller


Family dinners + frozen yogurt treats

Santa Monica Business #1:  Bob's Market

Santa Monica Business #2:  Treats

Santa Monica Business #3:  Gilberts

Why I can't live without these three businessesBob's is super convenient for my family's grocery shopping.  It's close and the service is great.  We go there about once a week and rely on it for snacks and meals when I'm on work breaks!  If it was gone I wouldn't be able to enjoy my fresh quinoa and almond salad, something I look forward to every week.  My family has been going to Bob's for as long as we've lived in Santa Monica.

Treats is the local frozen yogurt/ shaved ice spot, and after coming often to enjoy their well known salted caramel flavor, I started working there and love it!  We get kids coming in after school (John Adams is right across the street), local families, couples, and people just driving by.   It has a great atmosphere, great product, and I couldn't live without it.

I grew up with Gilbert's.  I remember family dinners going back to when I was elementary school.  I would go after soccer games, concerts, volleyball practice, birthday celebrations, just about any time we needed to meet 

Submitted by: Cora Schutz


Tacos please! The best donuts & omusubi's so good that I decided to work there

Santa Monica Business #1:  Tacos Por Favor

Santa Monica Business #2:  Sunny Blue

Santa Monica Business #3:  Donut King

Why I can't live without these three businessesTacos Por Favor, where do I start?  You've been in my life since 2nd grade.  Ten years later, and you're still in my life. I remember when the french fries I bought from you were $0.60 and the bag was filled to the very top of the bag.  But now they cost $1.76 and are only half way filled.  But that doesn't matter! We grew up together so it only makes sense that we change together.  I have so many memories with  you and one of my fondest memories of us is walking in for the first time, going to the cashier and saying "Tacos please!'

Sunny Blue, it all started last year, when I first tried your omusubi's.  I thought, "Oh boy, I could eat these all day everyday."  And so I decided to work there.  Because I started working with you, I literally ate your omusubis every single day and never got tired of them.  Working with you made my summer one to remember.  From eating the food when no one was watching, to slacking off in the kitchen with David, it sure was fun.  I don't know what I would do if I lost you.

Donut King aka DK aka Second Home, you are my favorite business in all of Santa Monica!  Because you are right across the street from my school, for the past 4 years I have 3 of your delicious donuts almost everyday not including the weekends, and I have enjoyed every bit of it.  At the beginning of my second year in High School, something interesting happened.  Since I was now a regular customer, it was like you could read my mind, and I didn't have to say my order out loud.  I'd walk in, you'd say, Crumb Bear Claw with Glazed Twist in your pleasing Chinese accent and I'd say "Yup." Donut King, YOU ARE THE GREATEST!

Submitted by: Ayinde Shofu


Amazing jewelry + my favorite ice cream in town

Santa Monica Business #1:  Didio's

Santa Monica Business #2:  Bamboora

Santa Monica Business #3:  Foster's Freeze

Why I can't live without these three businessesDidio's has been my brother's and my favorite ice cream shop our whole lives. We used to roller blade down there with our dad on Saturdays and get their vanilla chip shaved ice. When we pass that place now, we love to look at all the candy they have there and get our favorite vanilla chip. Not to mention my mother loves having the only store that still carries razzles close too!

Bamboora is an amazing jewelry store where they sell beautiful Southeast Asian-inspired handmade jewelry that my mom and I fell in love with when we were walking by. This is now my go-to store when holidays come around to shop for gifts.  The owner is a sweet woman whose kids I coached in water polo and is always happy to see people coming in.  Without Bamboora, I don't know what I would do for Mother's Day!

To my friends and I, nothing marks the end of a long swim meet like a chocolate-dipped cone from Foster's Freeze.  From when I started swimming competitively when I was 11, Foster's Freeze was our place to wind down after the stress of racing.  Walking into Foster's Freeze fills me with memories of the excitement and fun that came with swimming.

Submitted by: Lauren


A must for tourists, an essential for every local....

Santa Monica Business #1:  Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery

Santa Monica Business #2:  Gilbert's El Indio Restaurant

Santa Monica Business #3:  Sunny Blue

Why I can't live without these three businesses: Nothing screams out Santa Monica like the famous Godmother sandwich from Bay Cities.  As a matter of fact, nothing in general can scream Santa Monica any better than this Deli and Bakery located in the heart of Santa Monica.  Today, I woke up, went to the beach with my friends for 4 hours, and then we all mobbed to Bay Cities.  Santa Monican's have so much pride in their local Deli, and if Bay Cities were to disappear I know Santa Monica would not be the same.

Same goes for Gilbert's.  When a local Santa Monican walks into Gilbert's, they feel safe; they feel at home. One of my most fond memories of growing up in Santa Monica is attending Taco Tuesday at my local Mexican Restaurant with all my friends and family.

What makes Sunny Blue a special local business is that it takes omusubi and Main Street dining to a new level. Sunny Blue defines Santa Monica as a laid back, hip, and young town through it's small decor and friendly managers. Sunny Blue is a must for every tourist, and an essential for every local.

Submitted by: Paria Sheshpari


Good quality Mexican food at a good price

Santa Monica Business #1: Bay Cities

Santa Monica Business #2: El Pollo Loco

Santa Monica Business #3: Holy Guacamole

Why I can't live without these three businesses: 1) Basically, without Bay Cities around, there is no other place to go to find a great sandwich.  Jersey Mikes or any other sandwich place around doesn't do anyone justice like Bay Cities. It also brings in business around the area because the place is always packed.

2)The only reason El Pollo Loco is on my list is that it is the only decent place to eat around my High School.  You can actually find somewhat healthy things to eat unlike some of the other places around the area.

3)Holy Guacamole is probably the only good Mexican food that I can find in the Santa Monica region.  It's not too expensive and it's the perfect spot if your're looking for a burrito, tacos, quesadillas, etc.  I can't think of any other mexican place that will serve as good quality food for the price.

Submitted by: Matt Sherman