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.