News

Local shops prepare for the holidays

'Small business Saturday' helps, say local retailers

With less than a month to go until Christmas, local retailers are looking forward to increasing sales as they close out 2013, a year which saw sales increase over previous years.

"The last five weeks of the year are critical," said Glen Robbe, store manager of the Books Inc. at 301 Castro St. "We just do way more business than we normally would."

According to Robbe, the Castro Street location of Books Inc., has been doing well over the past few years, despite the slowed national economy -- a fact he attributes to Silicon Valley's relative stability compared to the rest of the country. Still, he noted, the recession did cause people to "put their wallets away."

Of late, however, Robbe said numbers have been up at his store.

Tamara Michel is the owner of Boutique 4 at 279 Castro St., which sells clothing and accessories. She said the end of the year isn't a "make or break" time for her business. Nonetheless, she does see more customers in the run up to the holidays, and that's a good thing as far as she is concerned.

Michel said Boutique 4 felt the pinch of the recession -- especially the during the "hardest years" of 2009 and 2010. But things seem to be back on track. "Compared to then, business has doubled," which she views as a sign the local economy is going strong.

"Every day I have people walking in that just joined a company or just started a company," Michel said. "A lot of people are hiring."

Both Robbe and Michel said they appreciate the efforts of American Express, which since 2010 has promoted the Saturday after Thanksgiving as "Small Business Saturday."

"It's gotten a lot of traction over the last three years," Robbe said, noting that he believes the event has brought customers into the store. "We definitely see people with their American Express cards."

Wayne Whelan, co-owner of the Therapy clothing and accessory boutique at 250 Castro St., said he appreciates the effort the credit card company is making, but added that he'd like to see every day be a "local business day."

"It would be better if they did that as a part of their daily routine," Whelan said. He said he is concerned that people don't shop locally frequently enough, even if there is more awareness around the movement.

Shopping at locally owned stores or small, local chains -- like Therapy or Books Inc. -- helps ensure that the customer's money stays in the local economy, he said. "When people call us a 'chain,' I kind of gulp."

Though Therapy just opened its 10th location in Berkeley, Whelan doesn't consider his company a chain -- at least not in the sense that big box retailers are chains. "They could be sharing the revenues with dictators and despots, heaven forbid," he chuckled.

Whelan said he thinks people get a more intimate experience shopping at a small store like his, or at Boutique 4 -- unlike at the mall, which can feel claustrophobic.

"I think when people come into the Therapy store and it's crowded, they don't feel they are being imposed upon," he said. "It's more of a party atmosphere."

Comments

There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Cho's, beloved dim sum spot, to reopen in Los Altos
By Elena Kadvany | 8 comments | 5,881 views

Why I Became Active in Palo Alto Forward
By Steve Levy | 12 comments | 2,295 views

Early Decision Blues
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 1,918 views

Death with Dignity
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,086 views

With a Perspective....
By Ms. Jenson | 0 comments | 400 views