Local shopping encouraged this season

Virginia McCormick

As Black Friday and the gift-giving season approaches, stores are gearing up for the influx of holiday shoppers.

That includes Midtown Sacramento brick-and-mortar stores, of which 12 have decided to try fighting back the online shopping buzz by drumming up some unique business offers.

During the month of November, the inaugural Midtown Boutique Holiday Hunt aims to encourage holiday shoppers to support their local businesses instead of turning to places like Amazon or Overstock.com.

Each of the 12 stores participating will be hosting a variety of in-store promotions, holiday events and sales.

In addition to a boost in marketing for the 12 local stores, the hunt features an enticing prize drawing. Shoppers who spend $15 or more in at least six of the stores will be entered into a drawing to win a $50 gift certificate to each of the participating stores, totaling up to $600.

Shoppers planning on participating will be given a scavenger-hunt style card, where stores will stamp their name after a purchase. The card can be picked up and dropped off at any participating store.

“It honestly sounds like a lot of fun,” said sophomore Lorena Sanchez. “I think it’s great that they’re trying to get more people to spend money in Sacramento. But I’m not sure it’s going to work.”

The boutique hunt highlights a problem facing many local businesses. Instead of spending the time to go out and shop, many people are turning toward online methods to fill their holiday wish lists, especially college students.

In 2013, U.S. retailers received about half the holiday foot traffic they experienced just three years ago, according to ShopperTrak.

“I’d love to shop in local businesses,” said sophomore history major James Burk. “But I don’t have time to drive into the city, find parking and then walk around the shops. And there’s no guarantee I’ll even find something.”

Burk is one of the many college students who turn to online shopping to fulfill their holiday shopping list.

In addition to the time saved by online shopping, college students say they appreciate being able to read multiple reviews of a product before putting down the money.

“I only have so much money to spend,” said Burk. “I like knowing that what I do end up buying is at least good quality, and Amazon makes that easy with all the reviews they provide.”

Amazon is often seen by college students as a top contender in the fight between brick-and-mortar and online commerce.

Sacramento State students even have the convenience of using the new Amazon Locker, located in the University Union, to ship their holiday gifts to a secure location.

Instead of going to Midtown boutiques or the mall with a vague idea of what a family member or friend might like, many students feel online commerce is more time-effective and more simple in the long run.

“I understand that it’s important to shop around local because it benefits our area, but I’d honestly prefer paying shipping and handling to avoid the Christmas shoppers,” said freshman business administration major John Ferderer. “I just don’t have the time or patience to deal with that, along with work and school.”

However, supporters argue that online-exclusive shoppers run the risk of missing out on the unique deals, free services like gift wrapping, and the chance to support local shops directly by investing into the community.

The Midtown Boutique Holiday Hunt runs until Nov. 29, the same day as National Small Business Day. The winner of the raffle prize will be announced on the same day.

A full list of the participating stores can be found by searching the event name through Google.com.