The current, urgent state of the economy has retailers everywhere feeling a bit anxious as the 2008 holiday shopping season rounds the corner.
Speculation is rampant that customers will be tight with their spending this year. Nevertheless, the season of giving dictates that we start shopping and, chances are, residents from our communities will be shopping and spending more than other areas.
So why not shop and spend downtown and in our other shopping districts? The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. For starters, there's available parking (most of the time) and far shorter lines. There's an opportunity to find specialty items you won't find in the big-box stores.
In the downtown, shoppers may choose from 11 women's clothing stores, eight jewelry stores, five children's stores and a toy store, Adventure Toys, that has recently expanded to include items you can't find anywhere else. The added bonus is that employees will wrap the gifts for you at the counter at no additional charge.
The downtown also has two shoe stores and two pet stores. There's a wide range of stores specializing in home accessories. Shoppers can visit Janus for tabletops and Cook's Junction for quality coffeepots, mixers and pasta claws.
Best of all is the customer service and the lack of someone who might say, "I don't know, I just work here."
"Customer service is really a cut above," said Nancy Dunaway, executive director of the Los Altos Village Association. "Nine times out of 10, you're dealing with a longtime employee or store owner. When you shop, you get more personalized service."
She suggested the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year, as the best day to shop downtown, "because most people are at the mall."
The horse carriage rides, tree-lighting event (Dec. 5) and the always popular Festival of Lights Parade (Nov. 30) make the downtown a nice holiday destination. The key is to lure the people who attend these events to the stores as well.
We advise shopping locally this holiday season for two big reasons. One, of course, is that you'll be helping the merchants who run the quaint retail stores we all love. But you'll also be helping yourself by shopping for quality items in a friendlier, less stressful environment.