Warm weather, friendly crowds, a plethora of street musicians, and free parking courtesy of Santa Cruz Patch made downtown a powerful contender for Black Friday bargain hunters, despite stiff competition from malls and big-box stores.
Many chose to shop downtown on Friday because the idea of being in line, indoors at the mall on a day off just seemed too much like work.
"We knew Santa Cruz was the destination when we woke up this morning," said Jessica Morgan, who came with Josh Friedman and their two children Jude and Jozy from Sunnyvale. "We don't go to the mall. That would be awful to go to the mall today."
The chance to shop in the sun and sample downtown's unique cultural flavors was more important than bargain prices for many people.
"I wanted to take the kids to be in the sun. I didn't want to be trapped in the Capitola mall," said Rachel Kuo, 45, of Scotts Valley. "We can shop local here, and it is so fun to see the Great Morgani."
Downtown's sunny vibe was enough to attract even the shopping-phobic, who cannot be swayed by once-a-year bargains.
"I always try shoppping," said Mallory Pickett, 22, a Santa Cruz native who is home for the holidays from UCSD. "I say to myself I need new things, but then I go out and it's like 'this sucks.'"
The warm weather was a bit of a novelty for Jocelyn Gwynn and Skye Henterly who came from the famously wet and dreary Humboldt county to shop downtown by bike.
"We are having a very selfish day, actually. It's great," said Gwynn. "We hit up a bunch of the used shops. Good bargain hunting around here. And the mall is just not as asscesable by bike."