'An uphill battle': How retailers in Menlo Park are preparing to attract holiday shoppers | Town Square | Almanac Online |

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'An uphill battle': How retailers in Menlo Park are preparing to attract holiday shoppers

Original post made on Nov 29, 2019

Throughout downtown Menlo Park, retailers are bracing for the holiday shopping season. As they face increasing competition from online retailers, local businesses are coming up with ways to attract shoppers.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, November 29, 2019, 9:27 AM

Comments (10)

17 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 29, 2019 at 10:38 am

Downtown Menlo Park relies on pedestrians for its business, but why is the street so pedestrian unfriendly? Cars and subsidized car parking clog the streets, blocking the view of retail businesses and endangering pedestrians that are trying to cross the streets around distracted drivers. Menlo Park should ban cars from Santa Cruz Ave, at least during normal business hours. Cars can park in the parking lots off of side streets. Making the street safer and more inviting to pedestrians will bring more customers to local businesses.

2 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 29, 2019 at 1:45 pm

Assuming I am not a fashionista, lack pets, and do not require additional furniture, what retail is left? Other than basic necessities (such as grocery / drugstore / coffee), we have:

Kepler's - Not bad, not really a destination (Borderlands is better for fiction, City Lights for non-fiction)
Ace Hardware - Super convenient, but not that many people want a drill for xmas
Pet Stores (Bow Wow Meow, etc) - great for gifts for friends/family with pets but not a regular stop

What else is actually worth visiting for something other than food and drink?

And even if I visit, I concur the cars are a problem - the driving is at "If you don't like my driving, get off the sidewalk" standards at best.

5 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Nov 29, 2019 at 2:01 pm

pearl is a registered user.

Unfortunately for small business owners, online shopping for everything is frequently the most convenient means of shopping for people in this day and age, especially if you work full-time. When I was working 40 hours a week, there's no way I felt like going shopping for groceries at Safeway after an exhausting work day, or spending my time off on weekends shopping. Much easier to order groceries online and have Safeway deliver them right to my front door. Ditto everything else. I do all my shopping online, haven't been to a store or shopping mall for at least 20 years. Among the many great features of online shopping is that you don't have to drive from store to store looking for stuff. Sitting at your computer, you can do a "Search" for the items you want, view the information that displays, compare quality, features and prices, and order right there, online, from the comfort of your home! Can't beat that! It's just a different day and age, given the technology of today.

9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 29, 2019 at 7:07 pm

Shopped at Gitane today. What a wonderful shopping experience. The whole store is on sale and the staff is lovely and helpful.
Shopping locally is a social experience. The other patrons are your neighbors and visiting local stores makes you part of your community.
Step away from your computer and meet your neighbors!

11 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 30, 2019 at 10:17 am

Agree with Resident! I hardly ever buy online. When I stop into our local stores, I'm often "just looking" and I never feel pressured to buy something.

Kepler's is great for books and their boxed card (everyday) collection is excellent. For gifts, the Allied Arts gift shop has unusual and reasonably priced items. The Draeger's upstairs housewares department is also filled with interesting items. If I need something special for cooking, I'm sure to find it there! When buying a gift for a child, I head first to Cheeky Monkey's. There are other nice local stores that I visit for gift items.

For women's clothing, I like Gitane, Angela's, Alys Grace, Kicks (ask for the shoe or purchase cards) and Ela Lingere! I've also found nice purses and jewelry at Afterwards, Discovery Shop and Goodwill! I hardly ever need to visit our local shopping mall as I find most of what I need downtown! For more "mundane" but essential needs, I like Staples, Ace Hardware, Walgreens, Trader Joes, Bevmo and CVS!

Our downtown could be a real destination. Other cities have created exciting and vibrant downtown areas that draw in people to see a movie, eat dinner and shop! Menlo Park's downtown, and the business areas in Belle Haven and the Willows, all need a concerted plan! It's time to update the Downtown specific plan and to develop a plan for the City's other business areas! Concerned parties, please write City Council with your ideas and thoughts. You can reach them all, and the senior management-level staff, by sending an email to city.council@menlopark.org.

At the Thanksgiving dinner I attended (in San Mateo), I heard rave reviews for the new Hillsdale Mall. Apparently, the place has been completely redone and added a movie theater, new shops, restaurants, etc. It's also apparently quite aesthetically pleasing now. I was told that the place is packed with kids, along with adults, and that the Hillsdale Mall now rivals the Stanford Shopping Center in quality of the overall experience.

A concerted planning effort for our downtown can also include building housing on top of the stores, like they do in Europe and elsewhere. My family spent a year living downtown in Turku, Finland where our apartment building was above the street-level shops. It was this way for the entire Turku downtown, which had a large market square in the middle. Later, the town built a huge underground parking area underneath the market square. Our apartment building had a little playground in the back for the children, but this need could be better met with a central play area for kids. Housing above shops naturally provides a local customer base for the shops!

A proactive planning effort is needed, along with the will of a Council majority to make this happen! Over time, Menlo Park can bring a new vision for our downtown (and other retail areas) to fruition!

11 people like this
Posted by Mark Dinan
a resident of another community
on Nov 30, 2019 at 4:09 pm

A great way to boost retail sales in Menlo Park would be to zone Santa Cruz Avenue and other parts of downtown for 5 to 10 story buildings. Single story buildings simply do not provide the built in sales that higher density housing enables.

14 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Nov 30, 2019 at 4:59 pm

pearl is a registered user.

Mark Dinan:

"...5 to 10 story buildings" on Santa Cruz Avenue and other parts of downtown?!? You're joking! Forgive me, but if you're serious, I'm going to weep! We're talking Menlo Park here, not New York City!


6 people like this
Posted by Carl
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 1, 2019 at 12:57 am

Tried the shop local Menlo thing once, had a hard time getting there due to poor traffic light timing causing self induced gridlock.
Picked up the item I needed, had a cup of coffee returned to my car to find an overtime parking ticket.
Very efficient parking enforcement

4 people like this
Posted by smallbusinessownerCZ
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 1, 2019 at 9:31 pm

smallbusinessownerCZ is a registered user.

Thank you Lynne. These are great suggestions and wonderful ideas to help keep small business and the vibrancy of community alive.

2 people like this
Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Dec 6, 2019 at 12:56 pm

I’m sorry but it is time to find another place for our homeless population to reside. You don’t see homeless folk along the clean sidewalks of San Carlos and Los Altos downtowns. The sidewalks should also be power washed. Let’s clean it up and make an effort to fill the empty store fronts with new and exciting businesses. Sometime trendy for the teens - TinPot Creamery or BobaGuys. Some more good restaurants. Our downtown needs some sprucing up to help bring people in.

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