Streets lined with surf shops, gift stores and clothing boutiques have earned Laguna Beach the No.1 spot on Yelp’s list of top cities to shop local in 2018.
To design the list, Yelp first determined the type of businesses that are most popular during holiday season. Then, using only reviews with the words “gift,” “present,” “holiday,” “Christmas,” “Hanukkah” and “Kwanzaa,” Yelp chose one city from each state that has highest ratings in each category.
Out of those 50 cities, Laguna Beach ranks first.
Shopping locally applies to residents in Laguna as well as residents from neighboring cities who visit for specific items, said Vanessa Blaauw, manager at Toes on the Nose sportswear shop on Ocean Avenue.
She said she often helps people from neighboring cities find items in Laguna.
“You’re not going to always find the same thing in every store, which is nice,” said Blaauw, who has worked in the store for six years. “We have people that come in every time they’re in town, and this is their one stop when they try to make it.”
A customer from Thailand came in Monday because her husband requested that she buy the family Christmas presents from Toes on the Nose.
“Everybody pretty much becomes your family when you work here,” Blaauw said.
The Yelp list is based on analytics and online survey results of about 2,000 people provided by Harris Insights, a market research company.
Carol Murphy, operations manager at Thalia Surf Shop, said “shop local” means purchasing products that Laguna artists and designers crafted. She pointed to a row of surfboards shaped by several local surfers and a stack of shirts that say, “keep Laguna weird.”
“It’s the collaborations in here that really keep it community-driven,” she said.
Abbey Huffer, a keyholder at Thalia Surf Shop, said Laguna’s network of store owners and employees helps local designers and craftspeople get started in their industries.
“Growing up … we always had the mentality of ‘support small businesses and support the stores,’” the Laguna Beach High School graduate said. “We have some really great, original stores.”
At Landmark Surf Co., where a large canvas picture of a Laguna Beach lifeguard tower hangs over the counter, manager Julian Deline said tourist attractions, such as the La Casa Del Camino hotel across the street, bring in people from around the world who want to poke around Laguna’s many surf, gift and women’s clothing stores.
“It’s small, so it’s easy to get around, and we’ve got a lot of different shops,” he said.