Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cash registers ring

Local businesses report brisk holiday sales

By Linda Harmon

According to 14 out of 15 downtown businesses surveyed Monday, Ojai’s holiday shopping season is off to a robust start. Businesses noted a ground swell of local support as well as increased business from out-of-town residents and tourists spending their holiday in Ojai.
Rains department store, the traditional downtown anchor, was bustling with shoppers during its annual customer appreciation day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, offering a 20 percent discount.
“It was wonderful,” said Carol Kay, a Rains employee for over 20 years. “I heard so many people say they wanted to shop local and didn’t know what they’d do without us. We had three registers going all day and we actually did a little better this year than last.”
Kava Gifts, an Arcade gift, interiors and housewares store several shops down, also had a good beginning according to owner Hildegard Tallent.
“We had a sale too,” said Tallent, who added sales had been a little slower this year. “I think that made all the difference. People are not being as frivolous in their buying this year and want items that have more meaning and usefulness.”
According to owner Anne Helson, Down Home Furnishings, a 9-year-old home decor business in the Arcade, hasn’t even seen a downturn in sales this year.
“Things have been very good for us,” said Helson. “We have a lot of one-of-a-kind items, maybe that’s what saves me.”
At Kindred Spirit, a women’s clothing store in the Arcade, sales have also been brisk.
“We did beautifully this weekend,” said Kindred Spirit manager Mary Rynsoever. “We’ve been here 23 years and about 80 percent of our business is local.”
Rynsoever says she has had customers come in and say her prices are even $10 to $15 less than Ventura.
“They go there and then come back here,” said Rynsoever, who has worked for owners Kathy and Pat Francis for more than 12 years. “The whole year has been very good for us and we couldn’t have done that without our local shoppers. That makes us work harder for them. People comparison shop and we do it too. Kathy works at getting the best for the best price.”
Stan and Hallie Katz are the owners of another Arcade icon, Human Arts, and recently combined their two stores under one roof.
“Overall business for us has been very good and our strongest day was Saturday,” said Katz, also a fine artist in her own right. “There were lots of people on the street and we need people.”
According to the couple, they have many repeat customers and “a lot of local support.”
“We are very grateful for the momentum,” said Katz, adding, “and that Ojai is still attracting people.”
As for relative newcomer Vesta, a retail and restaurant establishment celebrating its first year in business in October, they had a very busy weekend too.
“Friday was really fabulous in the retail and the restaurant area,” said Shari Grant, manager. “Sales have really picked up in the last week.”
Off the Arcade, business seemed to be good as well.
“Sales were very, very good.” said Lilly Barthelemy, who, along with her husband, Joe, owns Serendipity Toys, behind the Arcade at 221 E. Matilija St. “Friday, Saturday and Sunday sales were actually ahead of last year’s.”
“November was the best November we’ve ever had,” said her husband with a laugh. “We had one guy who said he drives over 700 miles to shop here every year, but we’re pretty sure he has relatives here too.”
Across the parking lot at Ojai Electronics, Kelsey Martin, an employee of the Radio Shack franchise, says they met their sales goal for the weekend.
“We did really great Friday and Saturday. And Sunday we met our regular sales,” said Martin, who worked all weekend.
Around the corner, sales were also strong. Jones & Company, 307 N. Montgomery St., is a gift store offering jewelry, stationery and bath items. Ojai House, 304 N. Montgomery St., is an artist-friendly venue featuring furniture, wearable art and handmade items for the home and garden. Both are decked out for the holidays and the respective owners reported encouraging sales, with an increase over last year.
The best thing for Ojai shoppers is that almost every store has either had a sale, will have a sale or is offering a special event over the course of December. Vesta’s events will range from a holiday wine tasting Dec. 4 to a holiday tea, with Santa and a petting zoo, Dec. 14. Made in Ojai, located at 323 E. Matilija St., and featuring all local items, will have special patio sale where you can meet the artists every Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. throughout December. Ojai House will also have an artists’ boutique on their outside back patio with refreshments where customers can mingle and meet the artists, Dec. 13 and 14 from noon to 5 p.m.
Wherever you go to purchase this holiday season, the Ojai Valley Green Coalition would like you to remember to bring your own shopping bag. Don’t have one? Don’t worry. Get one at “A Day Without a Bag” Sunday, Dec. 20, where the OVGC will offer free reusable bags to the public at Vons, Starr Market, Rite Aid, Rainbow Bridge and Westridge Market while supplies last.


Anonymous said...

More stuff you could live with out
Happy Hanukkah!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Interesting to read this and then look at the current OVN poll that shows at this moment a mere 12% response of shopping to be done in Ojai.

Anonymous said...

I was one of the visitors over the Thanksgiving holiday. I enjoyed the visit except for an attempt to have lunch at a place called the Emporium(?) I was told before being seated that I had to turn off my cell phone. I was alone and expecting a call. The place was full of people happily and noisely talking to each other over lunch. I couldn't understand how my taking a cell phone call, on vibrate mode, could possibly bother anyone. Since I needed the call I left and went to a place called Jersey Mike's and got a really good sandwich. I received my call which took all of a minute or two and no one complained. The Emporium certainly did not provide a very visitor friendly experience for me.

Anonymous said...

Nice holiday spirit. Why bother responding if you are going to be nasty.

Anonymous said...

Nice holiday spirit. I hope you are not one of the many sole proprietors in Ojai. Why bother commenting if you are going to be nasty.

Anonymous said...

They give out tickets for a loud radio,but the cop had to yell over the live band that was playing for a restaurant nearby. lmao.
snobby controlling merfers!!

Ban Cells said...

Welcome to Ojai, now turn off your cell phone and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Anonymous said...

What i cant hear the peace the quiet is too loud!!!!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Made in Ojai, a great little store next to Java & Joe's on Matilija Street.

Susan said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



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