—By Bay City News Service
For those working to cross off items on holiday shopping lists, many Bay Area stores are participating in Small Business Saturday to encourage consumers to support local businesses.
As part of the national event, Patch and American Exoreas are offering free parking in 50 towns, including on Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz and on Burlingame Avenue in Burlingame.
Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown is scheduled to kick off the local business event by shopping at Book Passage at the Ferry Building around 10 a.m.
In the city's Noe Valley neighborhood, many 24th Street businesses are hosting a toy drive and Santa letter-writing event while residents shop at businesses in the area.
In San Jose, the city's Office of Economic Development is urging residents to shop and eat locally as part of a city initiative to bolster small business growth.
Downtown Los Gatos retailers will also be participating, many offering clients great deals to also take advantage of the holiday shopping season.
The Los Gatos Visitor's Bureau, a partnership between the Los Gatos Chamber and Town of Los Gatos presents "Holiday Shopping Stroll" Dec. 5, 12 and 19.
More than 50 of Los Gatos finest merchants welcome you to shop downtown Los Gatos until 9 p.m.
From Nov. 29 to Dec. 24, there will be free unlimited valet parking in lot #4 off North Santa Cruz Avenue between Grays Lane & Elm Street.
Downtown Pleasanton businesses are hoping residents will shop "small" during holiday shopping sprees.
The Pleasanton Downtown Association is asking locals to find retailers in the region, many of which are offering discounts during the shopping event.
The benefits of shopping local have been touted as creating jobs, boosting the local economy and creating a sense of community, according to the Pleasanton business association.
To promote downtown businesses in Morgan Hill, the community is also participating in Small Business Saturday. Starting at 9 a.m. a downtown shopping event on Monterey Road between Second and Thirds streets is scheduled, and includes parking spaces converted into street art.
Small Business Saturday is a four-year tradition founded by American Express to create more demand for small businesses products and services. In 2012, an estimated $5.5 billion was spent locally during Small Business Saturday at stores throughout the country, according to American Express.
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