As the excitement for the Butter & Eggs parade grew, my girlfriends and I took our seats in the front window of Della Fattoria. We had come to Petaluma to celebrate my birthday, as we did last year, and to do some shopping to support the local business. Sitting down to our meal, and the parade, we began to list stores we needed to go to:
Summer Cottage Antiques, for consignment jewelry and unique gifts
Copperfield's Books, for Neil Gaiman tickets, and manga
iLeoni, for chicks, a wok, a cast iron combo cooker, and a pasta cutter
Knitterly, for yarn and chicks
Bill's Comics, for comics, and general geeky gifts
The Seed Bank, for non-GMO seeds
I'd even bought all six of us parade buttons, with the intent to stop at any stores on the discount list to shop and explore new places, but what my friends and I found was far from a happy downtown ready to welcome shoppers after the parade had ended. Nearly all of the stores on our lists were closed at 3 p.m.!
I know that downtown Petaluma is known for becoming a party zone as the sun goes down, but as we walked from a closed iLeoni, to a closed Kitterly, we saw other people walk up to these businesses and pause as they realized the store was closed. There was not even a sign in the door explaining why the establishments were closed. I had a short conversation with a lady outside of the Kitterly about how they have chicks in the window, perfect for keeping children occupied while mother's grab a quick skein or two.
I think it is a shame that businesses downtown have chosen to close their doors rather then stay open for those of us that can only day trip it to the parade. The economy may be on the upswing, but for businesses to grow they need to be open so consumers can go in to spend money.
I understand many may point out that people begin drinking right after the parade, but could we perhaps give them a reason not to go straight to drinking? How about we give those that are not the partying type a reason to stay, and maybe balance out the drunks? We will never know unless businesses step up to the plate.
The buttons were a huge incentive for us to shop. At $5 a piece, I think it is a wonderful way to support the parade, and for businesses downtown to show their support by participating. If the buttons are well utilized I think many businesses could see an upswing in profits the weekend of the parade. I'm not looking for just discounts at stores, but The Seed Bank could give out seeds with purchase, the Knitterly could give out stitch markers, iLeoni could have a demo or some nibblers for shoppers.
Please leave comments regarding what you would like to see from the businesses, and how you think they could encourage shoppers to stay after the parades.