San Jose wants families to shop local for the holidays

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday fast approaching, San Jose officials are asking residents to lay off the clicks this year and spend some time shopping with their families in San Jose neighborhoods to support local businesses.

“It’s obviously been a tough 2½, 3 years with the pandemic, but our businesses are resilient and we want to continue to support them jumping into this holiday season,” said Blage Zelalich, deputy director of economic development and cultural affairs for the city. “Finally, we’re going to have a real holiday season where we’re out and about together, where we’re out shopping not just online but out in our great neighborhoods.”

The six-week “Holiday San Jose” campaign launched Friday is hardly a new idea, but the city has rarely made such a strong push for not only downtown retail but mom-and-pop stores and restaurants in 12 shopping districts in the city, including Alum Rock, Winchester, Willow Glen, The Alameda and Japantown. The marketing team of Ani + Cat created map that makes San Jose look more like Bedford Falls than a city of 1 million people crisscrossed by freeways, but it definitely gets the message across.

The map, which is being distributed to neighborhood business associations but also is available on the city’s website (, details the places shoppers can go as they “Unwrap Japantown” or “Unwrap Berryessa Flea Market,” whether it’s for a bite to eat or a trip to the Winchester Mystery House or Children’s Discovery Museum. Zelalich said there will be a social media campaign to go with it, using the hashtag #HolidaySanJose, which could be a good way to get shopping ideas.

Chris Patterson Simmons, who is president of the East Santa Clara Street Business Association and owns two businesses there, Neu2U Thrift Boutique and Urban Kiosk, said she is happy to see the city taking a positive step toward helping small business owners.

“This to me is like Christmas, this is a blessing,” she said. “Not every business in our corridor is on here yet, but it’s just a pilot program. This can go nowhere but up. It’ll get better and even stronger.”

RADIO HOST EXPANDS HIS REACH: Gary Scott Thomas has been a fixture for San Jose country music fans for more than two decades, but over the past couple of years, he has been building his audience in the world of podcasting, too.

Thomas hosted a get-together last Monday for community partners of his podcast, “Here’s What We Know.” The longtime radio host has banked more than 100 episodes of the interview show, which is ranked by Listen Score in the top 5 percent of nearly 3 million podcasts globally, with guests including executive coach David Taylor-Klaus, country music singers Ashley Cooke and William Lee Golden and psychic lawyer Mark Anthony. “We’ve talked to MIT physicists, we’ve talked to authors. It’s been crazy and next year it’s going to be even bigger and better,” said Thomas, who has lined up “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery and country singer Elle King.

Thomas says he loves interviewing because he has a natural curiosity about people, but he doesn’t plan to abandon his role at KRTY, which this year moved from a terrestrial signal to streaming at “I love being part of,” he said. “But who knew at my age — 60 — I’d be starting a new business?”

CELEBRATING CHANGEMAKERS: Catalyze SV is a relatively new organization, but it’s already making an impact on San Jose’s future. It aims to engage the community and developers to influence projects so they get built in a way that’s aligned with the values of equity, sustainability and vibrancy, and you can tell the group is making a difference from the crowd that showed up Thursday night at the San Jose Woman’s Club for the inaugural Catalyzing Change Awards.

Executive Director Alex Shoor handed out awards to developers, elected officials, community organizations and even media members who have helped create change in the community, with awardees including San Jose Jazz, Garden at the Flea, CommUniverCity and Google. Addressing the crowd, San Jose Mayor Liccardo said Catalyze SV has come a long way since it started as an experiment in Shoor’s living room, expanding to a citywide engagement player that doesn’t always come to the city council meetings to object to projects.

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