In an effort to increase sales tax revenue, a consortium of five agencies has launched Shop Solana Beach First, an awareness campaign encouraging residents to buy everything from groceries to gadgets within city limits.
The coalition includes the city, Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce, Highway 101 Association, Cedros Merchants Association and American Assets, which owns the city’s major shopping centers.
“We decided, under the leadership of the city, to get together to stimulate people to shop in Solana Beach,” David Carroll, Chamber of Commerce president, said.
According to Carroll, a 20-year Solana Beach resident, the concept isn’t new. “It’s a resurrected idea from years ago,” he said. “We’ve all been on the same page collectively. This is the first time five major entities have coordinated into one solid effort.”
The idea was given new life in February during the chamber’s 2008 installation dinner. “Joe Kellejian announced, ‘Shop Solana first,’ to the audience,” Carroll said. “Out of that there has now been formed a coalition of five agencies with a common goal.”
Although Kellejian may have created the slogan, the councilman credits his colleagues for helping to get the campaign off the ground. “I brought it to the council during our work plan,” Kellejian said. “The council ended up taking it as a project for the city. They moved it along to the next stage.”
The five agencies coordinated their efforts after sales tax revenue in the city began dropping earlier this year.
“Sales tax supports the infrastructure of the city,” Carroll said. “That means essential services like the police and firefighters. Tax revenue drives the engine for these services,” he said.
“So that’s the stimulus behind our organization — to get people to shop locally whenever possible to keep the tax dollars in Solana Beach.
“People form habits,” Carroll said. “They’re hard to break. Sometimes they don’t think twice about running to neighboring cities to shop.” Carroll said he has faith in the residents and their willingness to respond to the program.
“People in Solana Beach can do anything,” he said. “We have remarkable citizens. With everyone pulling together, we can solve the tax problem, and we can do it in a community manner.”
Working with a marketing agency, the five groups meet weekly to create what Carroll describes as a “concentrated program to enlighten the citizens.” The campaign will be advertised in local newspapers and bulletins and on Web sites of the participating agencies. Decals with the Shop Solana Beach First logo will also be used. Various reward programs for participating merchants are being discussed as well, although nothing has been finalized, Carroll said.
“There’s lots of pride in Solana Beach,” Carroll said. “Our citizens respond to challenges. This one is to keep tax money in the city and let our tax dollars work for us here.”
“So far, it’s been very successful,” Carroll said. “We’re pleased with the results.” “This is a serious campaign to define our citizens and what their shopping habits are. It’s being developed in a professional way. It’s not a hit-or-miss program.”
As proof that council members practice what they preach, when Dave Roberts was appointed mayor in June, he presented the outgoing Kellejian with a bowl created by a Solana Beach artist.
For more information, visit the chamber Web site at www.solanabeachchamber.com or call Frida Silveira at (858) 755-4775.