With the holiday shopping season well underway, local retailers say they are offering discounts to lure shoppers who, like them, are weathering a stormy economy.
Most say they just want locals to think of them before heading to Reno - or a big box store.
"There is local shopping here, people just don't know it," said Nanette Toland, owner of It's All About Me Fine Clothing in the Topsy Lane Shopping Center. "It's a challenge for people to come in local and not go to Reno."
Campaigns urging people to shop local have come and gone in Carson City, but in this recession the idea of keeping dollars in town has been elevated to a new level of importance as more and more storefronts go vacant.
Cinda Baxter, a retail consultant from Minnesota, generated national headlines this year after promoting an idea that stemmed from a blog post: If half of the employed population spent $50 in three independently owned businesses each month, it would generate $42.6 billion in revenues and help keep local businesses afloat. The project is referred to as the 3/50 Project.
"If consumers don't shop and don't spend those businesses go away," said Baxter, who spent 14 years running a stationary and gift store. "But that's a hard message to sell without sounding desperate or like you're on you're last dime."
Hence the 3/50 Project, which prompts local businesses to post fliers in their windows promoting the $50 idea.
That idea has attracted about 230,000 visitors to Baxter's Web site, www.the350project.net, as well as 13,900 business supporters and 26,200 fans on Facebook. She said the campaign also urges shoppers to visit national chains as well as locally-owned stores.
"The whole idea is about balance," Baxter said "It's not about all or nothing, it's just about balance and not forgetting the little guys."
In January, the Minnesota nonprofit Institute for Local Self Reliance reported that cities and towns that promoted "buy local" campaigns had an average drop in sales of 3.2 percent versus 5.6 percent for cities and towns that didn't have one in 2008.
Karen Soohoo, 43, decided to stop by the Greenhouse Garden Center on Wednesday during a trip to Carson City. She lives in Sparks, but used to work in the capital.
"I definitely try to make an effort to shop at local places," Soohoo said. "It helps the local economy instead of Walmart, even if it's a couple dollars more."
Ronni Hannaman, executive director of the Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce, said state furloughs to high unemployment have area merchants fighting an uphill battle this season.
"Everyone in business is having its challenges right now," Hannaman said. "I think the bottom line is keeping those doors open with as many staff as they possibly can."
As she was window shopping at Puppy Town on North Carson Street on Tuesday, Mary Meckler, 62, who comes into Carson City from Fallon each week to pick up her grandchildren from school, said local shopping is important.
"Especially with the economy as bad as it is, we need to help support our own area," Meckler said.
Here is a sampling of local merchants where you might just find that perfect holiday gift. As the old saying goes, if they don't have it, you probably don't need it:
Art and Antiques
201 W. King St.
With a large collection of books on the Civil War and the West, Art and Antiques specializes in Western and military items such as guns and saddles that are more than 100 years old. "We're really heavy into Nevada items," said owner Bud Klette.
935 Topsy Lane, suite 432
This shops carries Brighton Jewelry, known for its belts and purses, and Sid Dickens Memory Blocks, which are decorative tile art.
Brewery Arts Center & Artisan Center
449 W. King St.
A variety of original artwork is offered here by 25 artists, including pottery, jewelry and painting. On Dec. 17 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., the Artisan Cafe will be open with entertainment provided by Backstage Kids and Bac Pac, a theater group.
Bella Fiore Wines
224 S. Carson St.
This local wine merchant will stage a wine tasting on Dec. 17 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Cost is $15 and is open to the public. Co-owner Debbie Boehner said Rieslings, a German white wine, pair well with turkey and ham dinners.
1501 N Carson St.
In Carson City since 1997, the Bicycle Authority has BMX bikes with discounts of up to 20 percent.
911 Topsy Lane, next to Best Buy
Don't know what to get your bike-enthusiast friend? Gift cards fit everyone, and Bike Habitat has them.
The Bike Smith
900 N. Carson St.
Some items are up to 25 percent off this holiday shopping season, including small gift items such as gloves.
1215 S. Carson St., inside the Carson Mall
From tutus to leotards, this dance shop features shoes and gear for dancers.
Capital Jewelers Salon
808 N. Curry St.
This longtime jeweler in Carson City will hold its annual Christmas Eve party as well as have Santa Claus home deliver gifts that are $1,000 or more. Various items are also discounted by 35 percent throughout the store.**
Carson Cigar Company
318 N. Carson St. #101
This smoke shop and bar offers a variety of hand-carved pipes, cigars and hookah tobacco. Pipes run the gamut, from a $5 corncob pipe to a $169 Meerschaum Turkish pipe. Cigars also run from $3 to $25 with brands such as Rocky Patel and Torano Cigars. For the aficionado, humidors are also available for $85 to $200.
Carson-Tahoe Regional Healthcare Auxiliary Gift Shop
at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center
Proceeds from gift shop sales go to the auxiliary, which supports nursing scholarship, patient support services and more, so you'll be doing a good deed while getting a good gift.
Cherokee Scents Candle Company
1215 N. Carson St. in the Carson Mall
Owner Jolene Miley said her line of Christmas-themed Salt City Candles are selling well this season. Her company will have a grand reopening on Dec. 22 at 5:30 p.m. in the store.
County Purr Farm Scrapbooking
3220 Highway 50 East
911 Topsy Lane
Clothing and equipment for your favorite skier, boarder, hiker, biker, jogger, walker ...
111 W. Telegraph St.
Gifts for the expert to beginner numismatist.
4250 Cochise St.
Brothers Donald and Tim Karter opened their comic book store last month, featuring traditional comic books to Japanese anime to memorabilia from the "Twilight" and "Harry Potter" movies.
Essential Kneads Wellness Spa, Inc.
377 S. Nevada St.
Jo Stokes, owner and massage therapist at this Carson City spa, said she is offering a $50 special on all one-hour massages this month - from Swedish to hot stone massages. The spa also offers candles, traditional Chinese spa items and discounts on ionic detox.
Evergreen Gene's, Inc.
1811 N. Carson St.
Primarily a nursery, Evergreen Gene's also offers Christmas decor and other gift items, such as books and collectibles.
Great Basin Gallery
110 South Curry St.
This gallery, in business for 23 years, features Nevada landscape art by local artists.
Greenhouse Garden Center Gift Shop
2450 S. Curry St.
With 19 themed Christmas trees that feature various ornaments for sale, this local nursery also has many home decor gift items as well as live Christmas trees for sale.
210 N. Carson St.
This antique shop, which features items such as 18th century French furniture and old mining tools from Nevada, is offering a 30-percent-off sale on all items - the biggest discount in its 10-year history in Carson City, said owner Michael Robbins.
1221 S. Carson St., inside Carson Mall
From clothing to home decor, this store recently opened its doors in the Carson Mall.
It's A Girl Thang
1921 N. Carson St., Frontier Plaza
A boutique-like consignment store for girls and women.
320 N. Carson St.
Custom jewelry designs and fine watches.
933 Topsy Lane Ste. 422
As they say give the gift of relaxation. Massage Envy specializes in massages that are customized to your specific needs.
Naughty or Nice
4375 South Carson Street
This lingerie shop in Carson City is offering 25-percent to 50-percent off on some items this holiday season. Other popular gift items include Kama Sutra gift sets or seasonal boots.
Nono's Home Decor and It's All About Me Fine Clothing
3790 Highway 395, near Trader Joe's
This clothing and gift shop offers "blingy" shoes to faux fur coats this year, including 30-percent discounts on some items, said Nanette Toland, owner of It's All About Me. Gifts include locally-made jewelry, bookmarks and beaded pens.
Northern Nevada Coin
601 North Carson St.
Dealers in rare coins, with a large selection of Carson City Mint coins.
Play It Again Sports
911 Topsy Lane
Is there a couch potato on your Christmas list? Try this emporium of new and gently used sports and exercise equipment - inspiration to get in shape in the new year.
904 N. Curry St.
This gift boutique specializes in the eclectic gifts, including hand lotions, ornaments and collectibles.
1221 S. Carson St., inside Carson Mall
An eclectic boutique that features vintage clothing and jewelry. It's a consignment shop on Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.
S and W Feed & Supply Inc.
2292 S. Carson St.
This store, which specializes in animal feed and tractors, also has a gift store that is offering 20-percent off all women's jeans and some men's jeans as well as all boots. The store also offers baby clothes, jewelry and toys for children.
Shahrams Fine Persian Rugs
411A N. Curry St.
While owner Maziar Mahjoobi said most people don't buy Persian rugs until after the holiday shopping season, he is offering a 70-percent discount on all shawls through Christmas. The cashmere or silk shawls, made in places such as India and Turkey, run about $90 to $100 normally.
Sierra Gifts and Collectibles
911 Topsy Lane
A gift store that features holiday gift items to collectible sets. Popular items include NFL-themed wreaths.
Sugar Pine Cove
1910 College Parkway, Suite 130
Gift shop with a variety of items for the home and personal use.
202 N Curry St.
Two Sisters offers "everything I love," said owner Julie Gravy, including vintage clothing, candles and home and garden items.
The Yarn Niche
512 N. Curry St.
Located inside White Cat Antiques, this shop offers handcrafted hats, gloves and other garments made by Ranee Ceglia. Ceglia, who also teaches knitting and crocheting at the library and a middle school, said her most popular item are hand muffs, which run for $29. Hats go for $35 to $40. The antique shop also offers a variety of collectible items, such as china sets, books and linens, all under $500.