About Think Local First

In the spring of 2007, a half dozen Santa Cruz business owners came together around a common concern: the global trend of proliferating chain stores and concerns around the rise of online shopping. In an era where downtown shopping districts increasingly fall victim to big-box stores and franchises, these business owners collectively recognized the need strengthen the locally owned business community.

Think Local First (TLF) formed around its mission to promote and sustain economic vitality while preserving the unique character of Santa Cruz County. Its founding members believed that if the community rallied around locally owned businesses and made a conscious effort to shop at local stores then everyone would benefit. Locally owned business would prosper and more of the residents hard-earned money would continue to circulate within the community—a huge benefit to the local infrastructure and community health.

TLF started as an all-volunteer organization with hundreds of member businesses, all of which understand the link between a unique, thriving local economy and nurturing a vibrant locale.  It’s a simple concept, really: what goes around, comes around. It’s about creating community together!




  • Helped to preserve the distinctive character of Santa Cruz’ business community
  • Established the TLF brand to promote purchasing from local businesses
  • Increased consumer awareness of Thinking Local from nearly zero
  • Championed the adoption of Local Business Preference Ordinances in the City and County
  • Built a community of local business owners
  • Promoted Santa Cruz County as a shopping destination
  • Created a business directory that has become a staple for local and visiting shoppers
  • Changed consumers’ shopping habits


  • Peter Beckmann, Beckmann’s Bakery
  • Karl Heiman, Caffe Pergolesi
  • Eric & Ellen Gil, Sockshop & Shoe Company
  • Michael Olson, KSCO
  • Casey Coonerty-Protti, Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • Rex Stewart, New Leaf Community Markets
  • Gary Bascou, Staff of Life
  • John Benedetti, Illuminada Design
  • Debra Whizin, Metro Santa Cruz
  • Chuck Tremper, Attorney

Plans For The Future

The TLF board and its team of volunteers will continue on its mission to grow a healthy and strong locally owned, business community. Not only will TLF focus on providing guidance to local business owners, but the team will so aim to drive greater consumer awareness within Santa Cruz County.

Volunteer Or Become A Member

For more information, please reach out via email and a we will respond promptly.

To become a member, visit Join the Movement for membership criteria and the application form.