Locals for Laguna Beach was created to help businesses in town during recent times of trouble.
By Tanya A. Yacina
Before the COVID-19 outbreak was officially declared a global pandemic, longtime Laguna Beach resident Jason Garza and his fiancee, Ashley Moseley, saw the writing on the wall—local businesses were about to need the support of the community. Garza and Moseley quickly took action, founding Locals for Laguna Beach in January 2020 and setting up a website with free membership for the town’s business owners, where they could promote their companies.
“Locals for Laguna Beach is about honoring the men and women who came … to town when it was nothing and [were] chasing their dreams,” Garza says. “Almost every shop, restaurant, gallery, et cetera, is owned by a family. … The income and success, or lack of, for each business directly feeds and supports these people.”
Garza says these local businesses are the “keepers of the stoke,” or culture, and they remind us just how special Laguna Beach is. His vision to help these businesses thrive, especially in the midst of a pandemic, includes offering professional services for free to help in any way that he and his crew can, including developing promotions, creating commercials, power-washing sidewalks and entrances, participating in social media campaigns and finding ways to get people through the doors of each business.
Garza and Moseley took money from their own savings, originally earmarked for traveling, and instead put it into the project.
“We worked with a professional artist who helped us conceptualize the logo we wanted to represent this movement,” Garza explains. “This project—this grassroots pure act of love—we knew that we wanted it to be easy to put on a hat or shirt, and not isolate or deter certain types of folks from liking it or wearing it.”
The trademarked logo is a few simple waves, representing the ocean, inside of a circle, which stands for Laguna Beach’s “little circle of family.” The name itself is based on the close-knit nature of the community, with locals coming together organically to step up and help the town survive and thrive.
The group added its logo to hats and shirts, and wanted to keep it local, so they partnered with several businesses in town—including Laguna Surf and Sport, The Soul Project and more—to help spread the word about the organization’s Locals Card and apparel fundraising initiatives.
Thus far, volunteers and businesses who want to be part of the movement have been signing up via word of mouth and through referrals. However, companies can also go to the Locals for Laguna Beach website, localsforlagunabeach.com, to sign up for the program.
Love Thy Neighbor
Whether through clothing sales, discounts for locals or simply acts of kindness, Locals for Laguna Beach demonstrates what it means to be part of a community.
Many businesses in town are now selling Locals for Laguna Beach’s signature hats and shirts in their stores, which not only helps drive traffic to the business, but also provides them with a new stream of revenue. Retailers that sell these imprinted LFLB goods keep 100% of the sale, minus the cost of production. In addition, profits from online sales of these items go to local organizations as well, with Locals for Laguna Beach choosing one to feature each month, such as the Laguna Dance Festival, Pacific Marine Mammal Center, Laguna Food Pantry, Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach and more.
To drive the desire for the signature hats and shirts, each purchase comes with a Locals Card that provides the buyer with access to discounts or giveaways around town. Organization co-founder Jason Garza notes that locals are excited to take hold of the cards, which enable them to save money, earn gifts and help their community all at the same time. “Last I checked, over two dozen shops and restaurants [are selling] our apparel, and over 50 are offering a Locals for Laguna Beach discount,” he explains. “We have over 1,000 discount cards in circulation.” A list of participating businesses can be found on the website, and deals have included things like a free candle or ring with a $50 purchase at Amenah, 15% off at Skyloft and many more.
Helping from the Heart
Locals for Laguna Beach has been involved in many notable activities, from teaming up with May Contractors and Ganahl Lumber to build picnic tables and organizing the Keep It Dirty fundraiser with Mozambique in support of The Sandpiper Lounge to working with the Laguna Beach Police Department to aid local families with clothing and gift card donations during the holiday season. The group also joined forces with Coast Film Festival to create to-go menus featuring dishes from local restaurants for those viewing movies off-site, and sourced donations for gift baskets that were auctioned off during the event. Aside from that, LFLB has power-washed sidewalks for Laguna’s businesses, cleaned up local beaches and even set up outdoor dining areas when COVID-19 restrictions began, and is talking with Pageant of the Masters, Laguna Beach Beer Co. and more about future partnerships.“We get things done and no act is too small or insignificant,” Garza says. “[It’s] real family and friends and community work.”