In business: Shady Lane moves to Menlo Park


After 40 years on University Avenue in Palo Alto, the eclectic Shady Lane gift shop and boutique is moving to a new home in Menlo Park.

"It was a door that opened in an octagonal building," said owner Alice Deutscher about her shop's upcoming transfer to the Sharon Heights shopping center. "Going from a known to an unknown is always challenging for a business owner. But it seems right in my heart."

The move comes in the wake of a changing economy and a changing downtown Palo Alto. The landlord wants to tear down the building that currently houses Shady Lane (at 441 University Ave. near Waverley Street) to make room for a new two-story structure with underground parking. And keeping up with rent is always a challenge for a small business owner.

"It's not easy. Our kind of store -- gift shops in general -- have a tough go of it. People will mention some of their favorite shops that have closed and I know how hard it is. I'm in there six days a week to make sure things are running smoothly, to greet customers, to remember what they bought before, to make special orders," Ms. Deutscher said.

An artist who made a living at craft fairs for 20 years by creating batik clothing, Ms. Deutscher and her husband forged deep connections with the local artisan community, links that extended into Shady Lane when the couple opened the shop. Developer Roxy Rapp helped it get off the ground in 1975, giving the store a prime location on University Avenue, she said.

"We tore down a house that was going to be destroyed for the wood, and built the first store from recycled wood before it was trendy. We had a winding brick pathway -- that was our 'lane.' And we had hanging plants, that was our 'shade,'" Ms. Deutscher said, explaining how Shady Lane got its name.

In looking for a new location recently, she initially explored options in the same neighborhood. "I have customers now in their 30s, 40s, 50s who have always known Shady Lane on University Avenue and have a history of going there with their moms, and now come in with their children," she said. "That's what having a heritage is like. I'm happy that we're able to continue our business, but a little bit sad that we won't be on University Avenue."

Still, Menlo Park beckons. The new store will be slightly smaller than the current location's 1,000 square feet, with more parking and easier access to the highways for out-of-town customers. The courtyard in front of the shop is framed by trees, and has enough space for Shady Lane to host 10 artisan events a year, "which is pretty darn wonderful," Ms. Deutscher said.

Shady Lane is expected to open in the Sharon Heights center in early March.

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9 people like this
Posted by Stu Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 17, 2015 at 10:19 am

Stu Soffer is a registered user.

Good news, and a good location for you.

6 people like this
Posted by shady lane artist
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 17, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Looking forward to Shady Lane's new location! Best of luck!

4 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2015 at 10:27 am

I've loved Shady Lane on University, but am truly excited for the new location with abundant parking and a unique building for a unique shop.

The attractions that drew me to downtown Palo Alto have dwindled over the years, so that I found only two reasons to venture to University Ave: Shady Lane and Siam Royal.

Fortunately, Siam Royal will call me as long as it's there, but I'll happily make the trip to Sharon Heights and am eager to see Alice's artistic touch expressed in a new location.

See you soon!

4 people like this
Posted by Sandra Farrell
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2015 at 10:52 am

I have found myself in Downtown Palo Alto on a regular basis because of my work. I have always been a staunch supporter of Shady Lane since it opened in 1975 on the corner of University & Waverley where Chico's is now. (3 or4 years later the gallery moved to it's current historical building at University and Kipling). I have been following Shady Lane's move and I understand that the new building replacing the current building has been approved for 4 stories and not 2. It looks like another ugly glass box from the picture in the Post. I will be very happy to see the new gallery in it's sweet little octagonal building at Sharon Heights Shopping Center. I will continue to seek Shady Lane out wherever it is. The sweet tree lined street that beckons shoppers for me has disappeared. Good fortune, Alice and all. Thanks for 40 wonderful years.

1 person likes this
Posted by Memories
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2015 at 6:35 pm

I recall that Shady Kane was just off of Univ Ave for awhile, no? Maybe on High near Univ?

1 person likes this
Posted by Gerry Gilchrist
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 26, 2015 at 1:03 pm

I can hardly wait. Since I live in Menlo Park off of Sand HillRd. It will be convenient.
gerry gilchrist

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