By Tim Hunt
An iconic Pleasanton retailer calling it quitsUploaded: May 20, 2021
When the letter from Christesen’s Western Wear arrived addressed to my late mother, my curiosity was piqued.
I opened it to learn that the story will have its going out-of-business sale starting formally next week. The letter was an invite to the sale for a week before the advertising hits. I was unable to reach the owner, who also operates Baughman’s in Livermore that has an even longer history than Christesen’s. It was also striking how far back their records go. My mother passed in 1993 and, to my knowledge, our only season of doing business with Christesen’s was when we were in 4-H in the 1960s. Yes, I know I’m dating myself big time.
I thought I’d have a scoop today until I drove down Main Street and saw the huge orange signs covering the windows at 633 Main Street proclaiming the store closing clearance sale. It’s actually amazing that the store, that handles western wear, tack and similar items, has survived as long as it did. I suspect the fairgrounds trainers and jockeys provided a steady source of business, but the rest of the western environment in Pleasanton has faded as the city evolved from a tiny town to a typical suburb to a job center and center of innovation.
It’s been more of a transformation than neighboring Livermore has undergone. Livermore has maintained its Old West culture even as it has added an increasingly vibrant business community and a burgeoning wine country. For those looking for western goods moving forward, Baughman’s is planned to remain open so the once-a-year cowboys can pick up a hat and boots for the annual rodeo once its returns next year and the true cowboy will have a source of clothing and gear.
The closure of Christesen’s marks the loss of another iconic local business in the Livermore Valley. Dom’s Outdoor Outfitters on First Street closed earlier this year, ending 51 years of retailing in downtown Livermore. The pandemic shutdown as well as key changes in how manufacturers are taking their goods direct to consumers and cutting out the retailers led to the Dom’s decision.
It was also notable to read about the mixed reactions of downtown Pleasanton retailers to the Friday to Sunday closure of Main Street that allows restaurants and retailers to serve from the sidewalk and the street. Restaurants obviously love it as well as some retailers.
For others, think the Wine Steward, believe they’re losing customers who are not interested in carrying a case of wine for a few blocks to their car instead of pulling up to the door for trunk delivery. The hardware store owner echoed that opinion as did a bridal shop owner who cited the parking challenge for her weekend customers when she does most of her business.
Just how city staff members and the Pleasanton Downtown Association leadership navigate this challenge, particularly after June 15 when the state is supposed to completely reopen, will be interesting to watch.