Business & Real Estate

Changes to downtown Los Altos businesses ring in the new year

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Signs – and signs of the times – are posted around downtown Los Altos in the new year. Cooks’ Junction, sells items for 50%off before owner Linda Janes hands her business down to her daughters.

Whether it’s through a temporary pop-up installation, ownership change or retirement, the retail landscape in downtown Los Altos enters 2020 looking different than it did a year ago.

The old makes way for the new

Loyal customers of Kids Only, formerly located at 248 Main St., said goodbye to the shop when longtime operator Rita Tjhoi was forced to close its doors last October. But those customers can now rejoice: Tjhoi’s son, Kevin, is selling merchandise from the old location in a pop-up shop at the former home of Kitchens of Los Altos at 155 Main St.

After 35 years in business, Kitchens of Los Altos designer Ingrid Curran moved on to her next challenge – retirement – just before the year ended, leaving the space open. Tjhoi said the landlord allowed the mother-son duo to sign a lease lasting approximately one month while seeking a permanent tenant. The day preconstruction work was considered complete, Tjhoi and her son were at the shop with merchandise in hand, she said with a laugh.

Tjhoi was eager to sell her remaining stock when she left her old location, the new home of Sky Martial Arts, a taekwondo studio set to open Jan. 18. Tjhoi said she has bigger plans and new items in mind to sell. A new, more modern Kids Only will open in an undisclosed Los Altos location in March.

“I can’t say (where it) is now, but it’s not going to look the same,” Tjhoi said in late December. “We want to keep up with the (retail) look.”

Balloons and a small storefront sign are the only indications that Kids Only is making a quick reappearance before settling into its permanent new home. Tjhoi said she can feel the customer support and has followed up with some of her clients. People are shocked, Kevin said, to see the Kids Only name again.

“We had no advertising for the pop-up,” he said. “They’re happy we are still in town. We are excited to be here more permanently.”

The pop-up is set to close Feb. 5, but he added that an extension remains a possibility.

Sales, sales, sales

Nellie Kumagai, owner of Stuart’s Apparel by Nellie K, and Linda Janes, owner of Cooks’ Junction, are taking Curran’s cue: The fellow Main Street entrepreneurs announced last year that they would retire as the new decade arrived.

Kumagai told the Town Crier in November that she planned to exit following her “massive” after-Christmas sale, taking place now with clothing discounted by 40% as of the Town Crier’s press deadline. There’s no word yet of who may be taking her place at 157 Main St. After 50 total years in business between her locations in Palo Alto and Los Altos, Kumagai looks forward to traveling abroad with her siblings and in-state to spend time with her grandkids in Southern California.

Janes’ retirement is more of a question mark. No determination has been made regarding the 2020 date she will pass the business down to her daughters, Katherine and Emma. Inventory at the 261 Main St. cookware shop is currently marked down to half-price before the transition occurs.

Changing faces

Skip’s Place Pizza, which has changed hands at least three times in the past 12 years, has been sold again. An Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control notice on a window of the pizzeria at 299 First St. indicates that John Juhun Lee and Hyun Jung Lee requested transfer of the business’s current beer and wine license in late November.

A call to the eatery yielded little information; the employee who answered said she believed the new owners would take over this week, but she wouldn’t say more than that.

A familiar face at one bank in Los Altos will now be working at another. Heritage Bank of Commerce regional vice president Kelly Davis, promoted to her position in 2007, is starting fresh with Boston Private Bank at 345 S. San Antonio Road.

After 15 years with Heritage Bank, Davis told the Town Crier she’s excited about the opportunity and thinks “it’s a great move.”

“I look forward to continuing to serve my community and my clients,” Davis said.

According to a statement from when she was hired at Heritage Bank, Davis previously spent 25 years at its competitor, Santa Clara Valley Bank.

A local resident, Davis has served on the Los Altos Village Association Board of Directors and is a member of the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce.


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