Original post made
by Fran, Foothill Place,
on Nov 11, 2008
I wish City of Pleasanton planners would take a close look at Burlingame and Los Gatos for ideas in planning our downtown shopping district. Both those cities have upscale boutiques and restaurants mixed with smaller well known chains like Sonoma Williams.
With that being said, I hate mall shopping and use the downtown businesses as often as I can. It's my first choice. They have everything I need, except hardware, and garden things and I find parking is easy.
The clothing stores actually help you; prices are comparable to the department stores, like Macy's and nice selections. When I needed a gift for a child, the toy store had great toys and they wrapped. I love the pet store, nice and it's so much closer instead of going to Petco for dog treats & toys. The lingerie store has a choice in my bra size and actually knows how to fit. I think they beat Nordstrom's and Victoria's. The gas station is cheap and the regular works just fine in my BMW, the shop next to them has all sorts of ideas for gifts and cards, the kitchen store has everything I need for cooking and the running store had shoes that were in my size.
All the complaining about the restaurants; sure, now and then you hit an off night, but you can't tell me the mall restaurants are better. I've eaten at almost every restaurant in downtown and they beat all the PF Chang's and the Cheesecake Factories. When's the last time an owner of a chain restaurant every came and asked how the meal was? Baroni's, Baci's, Stacy's have all asked. Don't use a mesg blog to complain, tell the owner or manager.
I'm sorry if I sound like a commercial for the downtown businesses, but I am tired of reading how everyone loves their cute downtown and doesn't want it change, or how some landlord is giving his opinion in the Weekly on what the retail businesses need to do to bring shoppers downtown. If he shopped downtown, he would already know that the retail businesses offer unique selections, personal service, special orders and actually care about you as a customer.
The public needs to realize that the small businesses offer choices, personal service and conveniences that the mall doesn't. On the subject of closing at 6pm, I asked the owners of my favorite stores why they close early, the answer is all the same, they tried staying open until 8pm and spent thousands of dollars in advertising, wages and overhead but hardly anyone shopped downtown after 6pm. I can't blame them. I do find a number of the clothing stores will stay later if I call and can't get there until after 6pm and no they don't ask my name before saying they will wait. That's the advantage of dealing with small businesses.
Most of the store owners live in Pleasanton and need the support of the community to stay in business. If you want your downtown to thrive and stay cute, you need to actually spend money in the stores.
Posted by Joe
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 19, 2008 at 10:42 am
Hello All, My name is Joe and I am the owner of The Wine Steward at 641 Main Street. I've watched the comments for some time regarding happiness and displeasure, regarding regarding Main Street businesses. I have resisted posting as I don't want to be percieved as using this forum inappropriately, but given this topic and prior postings feel I am in a unique position to comment.
We have been in business now since Dec. 18th 1999. I have participated in the P.D.A.'s economic vitality committee, sponsored downtown steet closure events, concerts in the park etc..... There are things that are awesome about being downtown, and others that make it difficult.
A bit about our original business plan and our goals.
I have been a wine fan, collector, foody etc... for almost 25 years of my life now. I had the good fortune of having a family member introduce me to his passion for all things wine about 25 years ago and we had always romanced about opening up a wine store to pursue our passion in earnest. We had grown up shopping at (still today), some of the best wine shops in the world on the peninsula in K &L Wine Merchants, Beltramo's and even Holiday Wines and Liquors. We both used to travel far and wide in pursuit of great selection, good prices and knowledable service. My wife and I were fortunate to find our 2nd home in Pleasanton back in 1988 and decided it would be an incredible place to raise our family.
Downtown in 1988 was not at all the desirable place it is today. It was dominated by small bars, lots of "antiques" stores a couple of restaurants and not much else. By 6:00PM on any night of the week the streets downtown were dark, somewhat dreary and not very inviting. For some reason in the discussions of downtown, there is an assumption that it has always been the way that it is today, but today's iteration of downtown, did not exist until the city, led by City Manager at the time Deborah Acosta (now Deborah McKeehan), led a charge to upgrade infrastructure, widen the streets, put in good lighting etc.... I remember what a disaster Main Street looked like for 12 to 18 months and lots of complaining by the businesses that no one could survive without foot traffic etc.... Somehow we made it through all of that, and the resulting finished project was a gem! Now all we needed were businesses to come.
BTW, I don't mean to put down the antiques stores and I do know that Pleasanton was identified as almost an antiques destination, but going into those businesses, most seemed more like garage sale enterprises with up to 20 or 30 vendors sharing a single retail space. It was in 1999 after one of those antiques shops (Main Street Antiques) was going out of business, that my wife noticed a "For Lease" sign being tacked to the front of the building.
When I met the owner (longtime resident Bob Byrd) to look at the building, he told me of its past as a movie theater (New Lincoln, and Roxy), its history as a variety story (Dochery's I think), and then as a carpet and flooring store, prior to becoming an antique store. I was thrilled to find the orignal movie screen and one of the projectors in the basement (since given to Charles Huff for historical preservation), and came up with the idea to restore the building to its theater heritage and open The Wine Steward. In hindsight the restoration of the building has done little for the business, but still brings attention back to the building for its history as the first movie theater in Pleasanton.
Fast forward to today. We are in a business that is based upon heavy competition, with wine available at every grocery store etc..... Our differentiation is our ability to find great wines at great prices and offer great service that you don't normally find anywhere else. What has allowed us to survive to this point is the loyalty of our customers! While every day retail traffic isn't the mainstay of our business, monthly wine clubs, special winery and industry tasting events, wine storage locker rentals etc... provide the basis for our existence. We do not advertise, and exist almost solely on word of mouth.
In hearing both the positive and the negatives of certain businesses downtown, please use this posting as an invitation to give me your comments both positive and negative regarding what we do well, or not so well, and what you'd like to see done differently. If you have never experienced our store and can take a minute to let me know why, I would appreciate that as well. If you are looking for great wines and wine related gifts at very competitive prices, please come pay myself, Jim, Steve, Kent, Eric, Erik, Lolo, or Judy and the rest of the crew a visit. I'd like to wish all of Pleasanton a happy, healthy and especially safe holiday season.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any input.
Happy Holidays and Thank You for your support.
Owner, The Wine Steward