Do you enjoy having a gorgeous downtown filled with quaint shops and amazing restaurants, as well as a number of neighborhood commercial districts scattered throughout the 94941? Take an active role in keeping it that way! Enjoy free parking from Nov. 23-Jan. 1 and do your holiday shopping in Mill Valley. #ShopMV!
“Shop Local. Shop Mill Valley.”

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

But what do they really mean? 

Here in Mill Valley, particularly among retailers, those words mean resisting the urge to use your local stores to comparison shop before doing the seemingly inevitable: heading to, 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. (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 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 Friday, Nov. 23 to Sunday, Dec. 31, skip feeding the meter for allowable time. 



Mill Valley Chamber Co-Director Paula Reynolds, as she often does, practiced what we preach this week, doing her holiday shopping exclusively in the 94941. We thought you might get some great ideas from the list below:

  • From Woodland Pets, nutritious “Orijen” cat treats and a “Jackson Galaxy” toy for my daughter’s new kitten, as well as a “Kurgo” dog camping/hiking harness for my son’s new german shepherd.
  • From The Goods, a cashmere poncho, a cashmere scarf for my husband, a cashmere scarf for my son, and a lightweight cotton scarf from Nepal. Also several boxes of 20 Copper LED string lights for my sister in law, who will use them to decorate her holiday table.
  • From Spot Pet Care, two bone treats for my son’s dog. (They directed me to Woodlands Pets for the harness. Nice “locals helping locals”.)


  • From Proof Lab, $10 Board shorts on sale for my son, as well a copy of Yvon Chouinard’s “Let my People go Surfing.” I also bought him a $40 Excel rash guard on sale for $10, and surfer boxer shorts for my sons’ stockings. They also make amazing signs out of cut up license plates. I bought one that just had the letters “Marin,” pictured at right. They have other great ones like Stinson Beach, Mount Tam etc.
  • From Once Around, a leather pencil/brush bag and Johanna Bashford adult coloring book for my daughter, who has taken up drawing as a hobby in the evenings after work.
  • From Terrestra, a hair clip wrapped in Japanese Obi material for people with thick long hair and a wooden salt and pepper shaker.
  • From Two Neat, doggie patterned socks for Peter and Carrie.
  • At the MV Lumber Yard, our Thanksgiving center piece from Bloomingayles and a namesake “Charles” chocolate bar from Makers Market for my son stocking. 

Between this list and our Winter Must Haves feature in the 2018-19 Enjoy Mill Valley Winter Guide, you’ve got plenty to choose from! Have other recommendations? Let your neighbors know in the comments below. And again, if you aren’t sure where to go in town for that special item you need, email us at or call 415.388.9700 and we’ll set you straight.

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