Wed03042015

News

Council considers freezing First St. development

Council considers freezing First St. development


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A pedestrian walks along First Street in downtown Los Altos last week. Future construction on the street could soon be barred by an emergency moratorium on development.

Further construction along First Street could be t...

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Schools

Former NFL player huddles with Blach students about life choices

Former NFL player huddles with Blach students about life choices


Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier
Former NFL tight end Eason Ramson visited with Blach Intermediate School students, Feb. 13 to share the perils of drug use. Now a motivational speaker, Ramson works with at-risk teens in San Francisco.

Although former ...

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Community

Music for Minors partners with Harvard to expand efforts

Music for Minors partners with Harvard to expand efforts


Palmer

When the thriving Music for Minors began to outgrow its capacity, the local nonprofit organization made new friends.

Beginning in late February, Music for Minors – a Town Crier Holiday Fund recipient – partnered with Harvard Business Sch...

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Comment

Dangerous streets: A Piece of My Mind

I’m driving along El Monte Avenue between Foothill Expressway and Springer Road at approximately 6 p.m. on a midwinter evening. In keeping with the “village feeling” of our town, there are no sidewalks and no streetlights.

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Special Sections

Lions, lambs and Cab Franc for March

Lions, lambs and Cab Franc for March


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Oven fries, a slice of feta cheese and the bite of harissa mayonnaise make for a late-winter, early-spring dinner perfectly paired with Cabernet Franc.

I can’t help but wonder whether March will come in ...

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Business

Los Altos scientist named Inventor of the Year

Los Altos scientist named Inventor of the Year


Above Photo by Alicia Castro/Town Crier; Below Rendering Courtesy of SST inc.
Robert Showen, above, the Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Lawyers Association’s Inventor of the Year, began researching his ShotSpotter technology in his Los A...

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Books

French novel

French novel "Hunting and Gathering" offers character-driven suspense


Anna Gavalda is a well-known author in her native France, where she has published six books, most of which have met with considerable praise and commercial success. Her fourth novel, “Hunting and Gathering” (Riverhead Books, 2007), is filled ...

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People

HELEN KNOFLOCH

HELEN KNOFLOCH

Aug. 14, 1920 – Feb.12, 2015

Resident of Cupertino

Helen Knofloch, 94, loving wife and devoted mother passed away on Feb. 12th. She was born in Vienna, Austria and moved to Los Altos in 1949, where she met Andy, the love of her life. They resided...

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Travel

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon public recreation space, above, features an elevated pedestrian bridge.

Seoul, South Korea, is a study in contrasts. Having grown quickly, the city is a mix of old and new.

Using...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks jumps into ‘Lake’

TheatreWorks jumps into ‘Lake’


Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
Jason Bowen, from left, Adam Poss and Nilanjana Bose star in “The Lake Effect,” opening this weekend at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto and running through March 29.

The TheatreWorks production ...

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Spiritual Life

Is your thought life sabotaging your spiritual journey?

My computer started having problems – there seemed to be some sort of malware running in the background. At first it was just annoying, then it began to slow down my computer, interfering with its basic operations. What is it doing? Why can...

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Magazine

Local events serve up family fun

Local events serve up family fun


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Pecos Bill: A Tall Tale” is slated to open March 20 in Mountain View.

For families seeking a break from the daily routine, events abound this month and next in Los Alto...

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Retailers forecast a merry holiday shopping season

NEWS DowntownBusinesse fmt
Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Jim Daley, right, co-owner of Present, said this year’s Holiday Stroll proved the shop’s single busiest sales day of 2013.

If you ask downtown retailers how business has been, most will respond that sales are on the upswing.

“So far things are steady,” said Belinda Chung of BK Collections, a specialty gift and jewelry shop in business in Los Altos for 35 years. “People are picking things up and buying them.”

Chung’s regular customers are already visiting the store to purchase hand-blown glass ornaments for their children and grandchildren, but she said it’s a little too early to predict overall sales for the holiday season.

Consumer spending in Los Altos has remained relatively steady year-to-year at just below $2,000 per capita, according to the city of Los Altos’ sales tax data for the second quarter of 2013 (April through June).

Restaurants and consumer-goods sectors saw the highest increase over 2012 numbers at 23 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

Family apparel, women’s apparel, sporting goods and restaurants serving no alcohol all experienced increases in sales of more than 20 percent – a number that exceeds county and state increases by more than double digits.

The city has yet to release its third-quarter results.

Proof in the pudding

The city’s revenue data rings true for many retailers, including Jim Daley, co-owner of Present, an artisanal food, beauty and spa business that has been in Los Altos for just more than a year.

“We tripled what we did last year,” said Daley of sales during the Holiday Stroll in comparison to last year.

The Nov. 8 Holiday Stroll was the shop’s busiest day of the year, and Daley is struggling to get products out of boxes and onto shelves fast enough. Even though he ordered three times more inventory this year than last, he’s already had to reorder more product for the holiday season.

High-end businesses, including jewelry retailer Smythe & Cross, are also experiencing indications of a positive holiday sales season. President Khatchig Jingirian Jr. reports a steady increase in shoppers and sales. More customers are making early seasonal purchases, a trend that is unusual for his business. Khatchig expects a fair share of men rushing into the store to purchase last-minute gifts in the two to three weeks before Christmas.

“I want to be in the position to have to camp out back because business is so good,” he said.

Restaurants are also seeing more green this season. With two rooms to fill, First & Main Sports Lounge is booking more parties this year, according to owner Jeff Weinberg.

“It’s the time of year when people need to escape the office or out-of-town guests,” he said.

With so many sports on the schedule and holiday-themed beverages on the menu, Weinberg expects to keep busy this season.

Although overall reaction to the economic data and retailer interviews conducted by the Town Crier were positive, some retailers lament the lost sales opportunities attributable to ongoing construction projects along First and State streets and the shortage of downtown parking at peak times of day.

Chung said most of her loyal shoppers overlook the obstacles because they take pride in patronizing local businesses.

“The best part of running a small business is making connections with people,” Chung said of the second-generation customers who return to the store to purchase holiday gifts. “For the community to survive, they need to support us.”


Small businesses open their doors for holiday shoppers - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

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