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Executive Chef Michael Stern cuts up an octopus in the kitchen at Michael's Restaurant on Third Street on Thursday afternoon. The restaurant, along with other Santa Monica businesses, will be offering a special deal on Super Saturday Ñ Oct. 3 Ñ as part of the 'Buy Local' campaign. (photo by Brandon Wise)

DOWNTOWN — It’s usually only good for transporting groceries and helping the environment but carrying a reusable bag could also score discounts.

More than 40 businesses will offer special deals to customers who bring in the eco-friendly bags during the Buy Local Santa Monica Super Saturday on Oct. 3, ranging from samples to free appetizers to discounts.

The event is part of the Buy Local campaign, which encourages residents to support their neighborhood businesses, keeping dollars in the community and boosting the local economy all while minimizing their carbon footprint. The marketing campaign is sponsored by City Hall and area business organizations.

Super Saturday promotes merchants during a time when overall activity has been low in the city, resulting in unusually high retail turnover in some of the major business districts like Main Street and Montana Avenue, which just recently started seeing signs of recovery with the signing of new commercial leases.

“It’s to get the message out about sustainability and how by supporting local businesses and shopping where you live and work, it keeps money in the local economy,” Jennifer Taylor, a senior development analyst with City Hall’s Economic Development Division, said.

Super Saturday will serve as the grand finale to City Hall’s Sustainability Week, which for the past five years has been made up of different events to raise the profile of the Sustainable City Plan, including the release of a report card that grades local efforts on environmentalism. After four consecutive years, the Sustainable City Report Card will not be issued this year and will instead be released biennially starting in 2010 because of the labor-intensive nature of its compilation, Andrew Basmajian, the environmental outreach coordinator with City Hall, said.

He called the event a nice marriage between environmental awareness and business promotion.

“It’s about raising people’s awareness about how their dollars matter and keeping their dollars at home,” he said. “It’s also a way of reducing the impact that our economic system has on the environment.”

City officials said they expect the number of Super Saturday businesses to jump by Monday’s filing deadline, which was pushed from Thursday. Participating merchants are required to offer special deals to customers who bring in a reusable bag. In exchange, they’ll receive a marketing package.

Taylor said that restaurants will not be held to the reusable bag requirement and will instead only need the consumer to mention “Buy Local.”

Upscale Michael’s Restaurant will offer a free glass of the specialty Malibu Vineyard Rambla Pacifico Pinot Noir 2005 with a purchase. The wine is made at owner Michael McCarty’s personal vineyard.

Michael Nichol, the restaurant’s general manager, said that Super Saturday is keeping with the owner’s philosophy of incorporating sustainability into his menu.

“Michael’s California cuisine is all about seasonal and local products and we have been doing farm to table for 30 years now,” Nichol said. “Michael was one of the first in the United States to actually bring about this movement of very local, seasonal dishes.”

The participating businesses includes T. Heritage Art gallery on Pico Boulevard, which will give customers 20 percent off everything in the frame store throughout the whole day.

Tim Heritage, the owner, said his hope is Super Saturday will help bring more attention to Pico Boulevard and draw more foot traffic to the area.

“We’re not expecting results overnight but I think in the next five years, this could be a good program,” he said.

The list also includes hair salons like The Doves Studio on Main Street, which will offer 20 percent off on all retail items purchased that day and a 40 percent discount card for a future salon trip.

Antonio Vega, the managing director, said the salon has been incorporating sustainability into its business practices, including shifting to reusable bags and adopting local beaches. The salon also collects hair clippings and donates them to nonprofit organization Matter of Trust, which turns them into mats that are used to soak up oil during spills.

“Our initial goal is to get people to use their recyclable bags and know who we are and know that we’re a green salon and care about the environment,” he said.

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