Industries:

Retail

The Scene

Innovation and creativity might be surprising characteristics for a retail sector; however, Santa Cruz businesses are constantly reimagining their storefronts to create a shopping experience with an emphasis on “experience". This is a place where shopping is more than simply a transaction. Instead, we feel connected to the unique stores, and get to know the owners, creating strong customer loyalty and community. Walk into a place like the True Olive Connection with its wall to wall cylinders of Olive Oils and Vinegars, and you just know you’re in for a special shopping experience.

The mix of inventive new and long-standing businesses in the main shopping districts demonstrates the strength of our retail legacy and future potential. Downtown landmark Bookshop Santa Cruz has been around since 1973, and was supported by the community after the store collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 - when it operated out of temporary tents. Shopper’s Corner, has been on the same corner since 1938. Newer businesses, like Berdels surf lifestyle shop and Sawyer Land and Sea, are pushing the expectations of the shopping experience, creating retail environments that draw people in on a number of levels.

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The Roots

The 1870s saw unprecedented growth in Santa Cruz businesses, services, and shops in the Downtown, Soquel Avenue, and Seabright areas. With the rise of tourism and agriculture in the early 1900s, businesses supporting these industries took off: restaurants, hotels, casinos, and retail. The next wave of retail and industrial growth came in during the post-war era...
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The 1870s saw unprecedented growth in Santa Cruz businesses, services, and shops in the Downtown, Soquel Avenue, and Seabright areas. With the rise of tourism and agriculture in the early 1900s, businesses supporting these industries took off: restaurants, hotels, casinos, and retail. The next wave of retail and industrial growth came in during the post-war era population boom.

The modern retail era has brought not only new growth but a more diverse retail scene. Artisanal and specialty shops have taken off, and those speciality stores have worked hard to differentiate their products, build off the internationally recognized Santa Cruz brand, and create a unique shopping landscape.

4

distinct retail commercial zones

200+

restaurants and shops in the Downtown Area

44%

of consumers classified as Urban Chic

Creative

Feeding off of the culture of the community and the talent drawn from renowned UCSC programs, the growing creative economy in Santa Cruz provides opportunities for freelancers, firms, artists, and craftspeople to prosper.

Tech

The tech ecosystem in Santa Cruz is thriving. It attracts talent from across the country who immerse themselves in our network of coworking spaces, meetups, and burgeoning companies.