Capitola Mall: Big Box Convenience & Local Flavor

Capitola Mall SignMany Santa Cruzans take pride in doing everything local — we eat local, we drink local, and we shop local.

For that reason, the Capitola Mall might seem glaringly out of place on first look.

It’s true that the Capitola Mall does have many of the hallmarks of stereotypical suburban claptrap: teenybopper clothing stores, chain restaurants, anonymous flagship stores like Kohls and Sears, the As Seen on TV store, and greasy food court fare.

But this mall also has a few things that make it unique and Santa Cruz-oriented.

Shop Local

The mall has a handful of local Santa Cruz businesses that set it apart from every other mall in America.

Faust Salon is there to cater to your hair emergencies, and Santa Cruz Apparel is one store you won’t find in any other mall in America.  Starz Cupcakes, which has several locations throughout the county, has a shop there where you can try the Northern Lights Velvet, their very own take on a red velvet cupcake.

Even more tempting than those cupcakes might be that urge to adopt an adorable little kitty or puppy from the SPCA store located in the Capitola Mall.  I don’t know if this is something that can be scientifically proven, but somehow pets manage to look even cuter before they have permanent owners.

Whoever thought to put the SPCA in the mall, where they get tons of foot traffic every day, had plenty of foresight.  One can only hope some of the aimless window shoppers turn into new proud pet owners.

Big Box Stores

And of course, there’s Target.  Remember a couple years ago, before this Target opened?  Remember sitting through traffic that time you made the ill-advised choice to drive to the Watsonville Target at 5 p.m. on a weekday?

No matter how much you love to support local businesses, sometimes you need something you’re only going to find at Target.  Santa Cruzans proved as much In the July of 2012, when hundreds of people lined up for the store’s opening.  Seriously, Santa Cruz hadn’t experienced that kind of shared excitement since that one guy almost won American Idol.

The revenue a store like Target can bring into a community like Capitola can have a huge impact, and hopefully the wealth has spread to local stores as well.  Although some might see Target, and the Capitola Mall as a whole, as a sort of necessary evil, you can’t deny that it fulfills a definite need in Santa Cruz County.

About Blair Stenvick

Blair Stenvick is a freelance writer who has lived in Santa Cruz for four years.

  • Wanna know what I love at the Capitola Mall? The food vendor that sells fresh fruits and veggies with lime and chile sprinkled on top. It’s something I miss about living in Mexico, used to buy a cup of this stuff off the street daily. Also…can’t beat the $5 dollar 30 min. massage chairs! So worth it- I love meeting with a girlfriend, chatting and getting a decent massage.

  • Ethan Oates says:

    Those sound great. I haven’t tried either, but I have seen the food vendor you’re talking about and I’ve been intrigued. Look for me next time you got to the mall. I’ll be the guy eating chile covered fruit in the massage chair 🙂

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