Pleasanton to fund major marketing survey, strategy to boost retail sectors

Plan calls for creating robust image, memorable shopping, dining experiences

The city of Pleasanton's Economic Development department and its Economic Vitality Committee are preparing to kick off a new marketing campaign for its retail sectors.

Working with EMC Creative, a Danville-based marketing group, the plans include retail seminars for the local businesses and a long-range plan to create a more robust image and memorable shopping experience for Pleasanton and its visitors.

Because it's a city-financed effort, EMC won't limit its strategic thinking to just the downtown, but will also include retail centers in other parts of Pleasanton, including the Stoneridge Shopping Center.

Since its founding in 1980, EMC has specialized in master-planned and urban/suburban communities in Northern California. Its professionals are now interviewing Realtors, commercial brokers, and other stakeholders, including building owners who need tenants. When sales tax figures are announced for the fourth quarter of 2009 in a week or two, EMC also will analyze that data to see what sells the best downtown and, based on its survey work in other retail centers, what downtown Pleasanton could do to attract more shoppers.

Pamela Ott, director of economic development for the city of Pleasanton, said the online research study will explore consumer retail habits and could provide answers about how and why people choose Pleasanton for shopping, dining and for doing business.

"The responses from consumers and other stakeholders of Pleasanton will influence future strategy and recommendations," she said.

The survey will begin next Friday with anyone regardless of where they live invited to log on to Those who complete the five to ten minute online survey will be entered to win a $100 downtown Pleasanton gift card from the Pleasanton Downtown Association or a $100 American Express Simon gift card from Stoneridge Shopping Center.

"The survey will give us data that we can effectively use to improve and position our Pleasanton brand," Ott said. "Pleasanton has so many successful retailers and business owners who count on support from the community. We hope for a large response to the survey so that we will be better able to address our challenges and create successful solutions for our future."

EMC Creative began working with Pleasanton when it hosted a "how to" holiday seminar last year for Pleasanton merchants. A series of four seminars will be offered this year.

Ott's announcement followed by two days a closed-door meeting Wednesday with a select group invited by the Pleasanton Downtown Association to discuss adding more downtown entertainment. The consulting firm hired by the PDA to lead the effort is Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) out of Santa Cruz.

Although nighttime music and dancing have given North Main Street greater nighttime appeal, the PDA wants the nightlife extended and expanded. With the $10-million Firehouse Arts Center scheduled to open in September, it's expected there will be several hundred theater-goers walking down Railroad Avenue, Main Street and the side streets after the performances. Already there have been inquiries from cafes and bars about opening on those streets and the PDA wants to be ready.

RHI is being considered for handling those initiatives with, presumably, downtown merchants financing the effort although no public report was issued after the meeting by either RHI or the PDA.

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Like this comment
Posted by Lee
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2010 at 11:00 am

For Pamela Ott: A number of us women in our 50's are always on the look out for a shop that would have reasonable clothes for people our age. The Mall has much for young women, but not much for our age bracket. I know people in San Jose that complain of the same clothes for us!! If someone had a shop like this it would attract a lot of women downtown!! We are tired of having to look all over and finding very little anyway. I hope this helps.

Like this comment
Posted by Karen
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 5, 2010 at 11:46 am

[Post removed for being commercial in nature]

Like this comment
Posted by Lori J. Rice
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Apr 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm

For years I have wondered why the city does not move it's office buildings to another part of town. The current location is right downtown taking up prime real estate. That land could be sold (for a good profit) to a developer who could put in a movie theater or some other big "draw" to downtown. That in turn would bring more people to downtown which would then make downtown more desirable to new and interesting restaurants and stores. With so much office space available throughout Pleasanton it would be not be difficult for the city to find a new home. It might even make sense for the city to relocate the library instead of going through a remodel.

I hope that Pam, the PDA and EMC Creative will look at this as a viable option in their long-range planning for the City of Pleasanton.

Like this comment
Posted by Karen
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 5, 2010 at 2:39 pm


I completely agree. The office buildings could be located on the new Bernal property along with a civic center and free up the valuable downtown property to sell and balance the budget for years to come.

Like this comment
Posted by MainStreetDiva
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 5, 2010 at 6:10 pm

MainStreetDiva is a registered user.

Pleasanton should look into whatever Livermore has done to expand its downtown area. Over the past 10 years, Livermore has turned their downtown into a wonderful shopping & dining mecca. I'm sure their City Planners would be willing to share how they attracted so many retail shops - was it financial incentives? Marketing assistance? Tax breaks? Lease rebates?

If you haven't been over there lately, check it out. It's amazing the job they've done revitalizing that area, unlike our downtown, with its empty storefronts and plethora of banks.

Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 6, 2010 at 8:20 am

They could also take a look at other communities, Burlingame is another good example. They have big chain retailers in small spaces that draw people. Frankly, with only restaurants, I'm on Main St. if I'm having a meal with friends or family. Otherwise I go elsewhere. And if I go elsewhere, I often find nice restaurants where I already happen to be.

Like this comment
Posted by Qwerty
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 6, 2010 at 9:15 am

I agree with the comments about Livermore's downtown. They have done a great job revitalizing the area.

It would be interesting to compare the average rent for a retail space in the two towns. I imagine that most of the shops people would like to see in Pleasanton would have a tough time affording the rent. In Livermore's downtown area there are a lot of fun restaurants that are reasonably priced. Compare that to Pleasanton and you find a lot of places that are overpriced for what you get. I generally go elsewhere when I want to eat out, except on those occasions when I can justify the calories in the yummy pizza at Gay 90's.

Like this comment
Posted by Local
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 6, 2010 at 1:19 pm

The situation in Pleasanton is not unique. In fact retail sales are down throughout the state. People will eat locally, but taxable items now either fall into the cute/cheap/impulse purchase category, or they are most often purchased from an out of state (and in some cases out of country) on-line retailer to avoid the 9.75% sales tax. This provides instant access to thousands of sources so you can pick the lowest price. Many offer free shipping and hassle free returns. And even if the shipping is not free, it is usually far less than the ridiculous assessment in place within the County and State. California is basically out of business until the local tax penalty dilemma is resolved.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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