Take an active role in making sure that Mill Valley remains full of community vitality! Enjoy free parking from Nov. 29-Jan. 1 and do your holiday shopping in Mill Valley. #ShopMV!

Downtown Mill Valley from above.

“Shop Local. Shop Mill Valley.”

We say, write and post these words on social media all the time. 

Here in Mill Valley, those words mean resisting the urge to use your local stores to comparison shop before doing the seemingly inevitable: heading to Amazon, finding the product you spotted in your favorite local shop and buying it with one-click, knowing it’ll show up at your door within two days. It’s magic – a completely friction-less transaction, right?

While the purchase may seem like the pillar of tech-driven efficiency, it has its costs. Store owners in town say they see it every day: a potential customer walks in the door, finds just the product they’re looking for, hovers for a bit, whips out their phone and snaps a pic of the item and its price tag. Amazon or its big box brethren, here we come.

Let’s be clear: saving a few bucks is always important, but doing so runs the risk of losing some of what makes Mill Valley the truly special place we love. Local shop owners say that while the economy is doing well, competing on price with the likes of behemoth Amazon and the big box stores is nearly impossible, all while their fixed costs, particularly rent, utilities and the difficulty of hiring in a saturated employment market with skyrocketing home prices, continue to climb.

On top of that, the vast majority of businesses in Mill Valley are mom-and-pop shops. That means that the people who own it are likely your kid’s baseball or soccer coach, the dad who donates burritos for the end of season party or the mom who organizes the car pool to school.

And here’s one more for you: When you buy a product at a Mill Valley shop, you walk out the door with that product. Even Prime can’t beat that! You also skip the massive amounts of packaging waste – seriously, does a pair of shoes for your toddler need to arrive in a box that could fit a 55-inch TV in it? – that comes with ordering products online.

This is not an admonishment. It’s also not an all-or-nothing exercise. It’s just a challenge. And we’re here to help!

Know a local store that sells the product you want? Support them as often as possible. Not sure if anyone in Mill Valley carries the product you want? Lean on us – we can help be your Mill Valley shopping concierge! Email us at info@millvalley.org or call 415.388.9700 and we’ll set you straight.

​If you need any more incentive, there’s the City of Mill Valley’s annual tradition of waiving metered parking for the time allowed during the holidays. From Nov. 29 to Jan. 1, skip feeding the meter for allowable time. 

And let’s be clear about something: There’s nothing wrong whatsoever with online shopping!! In fact, the vast majority of Mill Valley retailers have much of their inventory available for purchase through their website, either to be shipped directly to you or have you come pick it up in the shop. For instance, Terrestra, the downtown Mill Valley shop that husband-and-wife owners Ray Kristof and Amy Satran describe as a “museum store without the museum,” has nearly 3000 of its items on terrestra.com, including its most popular designers, all of its dinnerware and glassware and linens and many of its one-of-a-kind handcrafted studio artworks.



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