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Thread: Monday, December 05, 2005 Noontime (Christmas in Downtown) Question from Michaelskis

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Monday, December 05, 2005 Noontime (Christmas in Downtown) Question from Michaelskis

    Over the past two weekends, I have made a feeble attempt to do my most of my Christmas Shopping in Downtown Kalamazoo, but alas, most of the places downtown where closed on a Sunday, then this past Saturday was a special event to bring shoppers into downtown. I was severely disappointed to see so few people. We then had to stop at a bookstore in a local mall, and the place was packed.

    I know that this question is as old as dirt, and if we knew the answer, and how to change it we would be filthy rich, but why don’t people do their Christmas shopping in downtowns. What can be done do encourage people to go back downtown, at least for the holiday season?
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    The only stores in our "downtown" are antique stores, something I avoid like the plague.

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    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    What kind of businesses are downtown? In my suburban village we have a business district but most of the shops tend to be either gift shops or clothing boutiques aimed at upper middle class women. The fact is these shops are generally quite small and don't do a high volume of business. Thus they can get by without parking.

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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    I think it depends on the size of the community, and consequently the number of shops available. For example, in my small town, there isn't a whole lot to choose from. A place like downtown Chicago, on the other hand, is quite a different story, as it has just about everything under the sun and is the place to be during the holiday season.

    When people go Christmas shopping, they get in a frenzy and think of the cheapest place, the place they know will have whatever is on the list of the person they are buying for, the easiest-to-get-to place, and the most familiar place.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    For a town of 7,000 people we have tons of specialty retail, drugstores (3) and antique stores (5) in our 10 block downtown area. During the holiday season they tend to stay open into the evening (don't get me started on this point) and this past weekend there were carolers (sp?), horse drawn carriage rides, the GPTF had a play, and the Heritage Homes tour. I always look downtown first and live only 3 blocks from downtown. The pub, liquor store and work are all within 2 blocks of here. I am not a hypocrite when it comes to downtown. I will own and live in a building downtown by the end of 2007. Prana's got dibs on the retail space for his brewery.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

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    A lot of the reasons downtowns are used have already been stated - lack of convenience, hours of operation, lack of variety and high cost. The downtown here in this city puts out $50k in advertising and special events and the area does very well...a tthe same time it is specialty shopping. I think these downtowns need advertising, special events (carollers, decorations, events, etc) to get the community down there. Many times these "main streets" advertise to a demographic beyond what will do "local" shopping, thus are packed with visitors and tourist and local residents don't want to fight the crowds and parking problems.

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    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    Shops that aren't open on Sunday drive me bananas. So many little places shoot themselves in the foot by not being open when their customers are needing things. Yes, being a shopkeeper means some sacrifices. Working folks generally need things at lunch, after 6PM, and on the weekends.

    In fact I'll let you in on my plan for world domination. I have a whole plan for a development called and advertised as, oddly enough, "Open Sunday". It would be a normal retail center of whatever style, but as part of the lease each business would have to be open Sundays at least from 10AM until 8PM. They can do what they want other days, close on Monday/Tues, whatever. But they have to be ready to go, fully staffed, on Sundays. I believe this would get alot of traffic that has nowhere else to go. Now, malls are competition for retail so that's somewhat out, but service things can be very hard to find on Sundays. Even the kiosks inside the Wal-marts have bad hours. Among the uses could be doctor, dentist, vet, hair, dry cleaner, bank (!!), auto service, liquor store - anything that I've gone looking for and been unable to find open on Sundays.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Budgie
    I am not a hypocrite when it comes to downtown. I will own and live in a building downtown by the end of 2007. Prana's got dibs on the retail space for his brewery.
    Kalamazoo needs more people like you this time of year!


    Quote Originally posted by Random Traffic Guy
    In fact I'll let you in on my plan for world domination. I have a whole plan for a development called and advertised as, oddly enough, "Open Sunday". It would be a normal retail center of whatever style, but as part of the lease each business would have to be open Sundays at least from 10AM until 8PM. They can do what they want other days, close on Monday/Tues, whatever. But they have to be ready to go, fully staffed, on Sundays. I believe this would get alot of traffic that has nowhere else to go. Now, malls are competition for retail so that's somewhat out, but service things can be very hard to find on Sundays. Even the kiosks inside the Wal-marts have bad hours. Among the uses could be doctor, dentist, vet, hair, dry cleaner, bank (!!), auto service, liquor store - anything that I've gone looking for and been unable to find open on Sundays.
    I think that is a great idea!
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Random Traffic Guy
    In fact I'll let you in on my plan for world domination. I have a whole plan for a development called and advertised as, oddly enough, "Open Sunday". It would be a normal retail center of whatever style, but as part of the lease each business would have to be open Sundays at least from 10AM until 8PM. They can do what they want other days, close on Monday/Tues, whatever. But they have to be ready to go, fully staffed, on Sundays. I believe this would get alot of traffic that has nowhere else to go. Now, malls are competition for retail so that's somewhat out, but service things can be very hard to find on Sundays. Even the kiosks inside the Wal-marts have bad hours. Among the uses could be doctor, dentist, vet, hair, dry cleaner, bank (!!), auto service, liquor store - anything that I've gone looking for and been unable to find open on Sundays.
    Shoot, I want to open up a franchise right now! Where do I sign?

    This is a great idea - just because the creator of the universe didn't do squat on the seventh day shouldn't mean everyone has to loaf piously every seventh day. I can't tell you how many times we have needed to take a family member to a doctor, dentist, or vet for a non-life threatening health condition on a Sunday and ended up having nowhere else to go than the emergency room.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I shopped downtown Detroit Saturday, got mom out of her house. Together we dropped a couple of hundred dollars. I wish it could have been more, while Detroit does have a reviving Downtown, its still has many closed stores on the weekends.

    The following I tried to get into, but were closed:
    Brooks Brothers,
    Casual Corner,
    Potbelly's Sandwiches

  11. #11
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    We have ideas that are only seen in old black and white movies where people are walking down snow covered sidewalks from shop to shop as the Christmas lights shine on the fronts of each store window. Parents have their arms full of bags and boxes from multiple stores where they know the clerks by name. Kids crowd in front of a store window to see the newest and greatest toy. From steel plates with gears and cranks so they can make their own city, or train sets that have tracks that go though tunnels will fill their Christmas Eve dreams in hopes that Santa will be able to get them what their heart desires. Bells from the trolleys play along to Salvation Army collectors, provide rhythms for Christmas Carolers as they walk down the sidewalks.

    But in reality was it ever like that? Where stores really open late? Or as a society that has more free time than before, are we expecting something from our city centers that they have never been able to provide. With the exception of movie theaters, concern halls, a few stores, restaurants, and the occasional pub, how many places where actually open after 5 or 6 at night? I do think that these places should be open on the weekends, but are places being open at night something that is relatively new in society or have they always been there?
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    The downtown area in the community that I live in now doesn't have much of a retail base. You can not buy any clothing unless its a t-shirt or is used from Goodwill or the Salvation Army. One small book store, one shoe store, a couple of jewelry stores, a hobby store, an antique mall, and a used art store is about all the retail that is left. Only the book store is open on Sunday and most other stores close by 6:00 p.m. or before on the other nights. The rest either went out of business because of the big boxes, mall and strip malls or left to join them. Its quite sad and even millions in public funding in the last few years to improve the area has not stopped the merchants from fleeing. The town I grew up in had a great downtown before they bulldozed half of it to build an indoor mall 20 years ago. Merchants stayed open late on Thursday nights when I was a kid for people who worked during the day. The indoor mall now blocks traffic to the rest of downtown and the streets are a lot less vibrant in that town. Many stores moved to the mall or went out of business. I was in downtown Denver this weekend and did a little shopping. There is an authentic western wear store/manufacturer in Lodo that had a perfect shirt for a friend who is trying to relive the hippie goat roper days of his youth. Even Denver could use more retail downtown. The last downtown department store closed in the 1990s.

  13. #13
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    We have ideas that are only seen in old black and white movies where people are walking down snow covered sidewalks from shop to shop as the Christmas lights shine on the fronts of each store window. Parents have their arms full of bags and boxes from multiple stores where they know the clerks by name. Kids crowd in front of a store window to see the newest and greatest toy. From steel plates with gears and cranks so they can make their own city, or train sets that have tracks that go though tunnels will fill their Christmas Eve dreams in hopes that Santa will be able to get them what their heart desires. Bells from the trolleys play along to Salvation Army collectors, provide rhythms for Christmas Carolers as they walk down the sidewalks.

    But in reality was it ever like that? Where stores really open late? Or as a society that has more free time than before, are we expecting something from our city centers that they have never been able to provide. With the exception of movie theaters, concern halls, a few stores, restaurants, and the occasional pub, how many places where actually open after 5 or 6 at night? I do think that these places should be open on the weekends, but are places being open at night something that is relatively new in society or have they always been there?
    What an amazing coincidence you should ask this. Why, just the other night after the lodge meeting (or was it after bowling league - no, wait, that's on Wednesdays), as my wife was fixing my evening martini and getting my slippers, while I read the paper it occured to me that it would be really swell if my wife could do the Christmas shopping in the evening....but then it dawned to me, how could she have my pork roast dinner waiting on the table for me if she was out shopping in the evening? No, I figure it's best the little woman does all our shopping downtown during the daytime and gets home where she belongs in time to fix dinner and wash the childrens' faces. Speaking of washing, can anyone recommend a good car wax? I need to put a real shine on the ol' Studebaker this Saturday, so the family can arrive to church in style on Sunday morning.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Senior Jefe
    The downtown area in the community that I live in now doesn't have much of a retail base. You can not buy any clothing unless its a t-shirt or is used from Goodwill or the Salvation Army. One small book store, one shoe store, a couple of jewelry stores, a hobby store, an antique mall, and a used art store is about all the retail that is left. Only the book store is open on Sunday and most other stores close by 6:00 p.m. or before on the other nights. The rest either went out of business because of the big boxes, mall and strip malls or left to join them. Its quite sad and even millions in public funding in the last few years to improve the area has not stopped the merchants from fleeing.
    Good place to drink though. I had a friend that lived in an apartment above a vacant business in said downtown. One block away had some good bars, but his block was dead at night, and had a bunch of teens running around being jerks. There was just nothing open at all.

    Even Denver could use more retail downtown. The last downtown department store closed in the 1990s.
    I was thinking about this as I passed an old Dave Cook (now Gart Sports) sporting goods (if anyone goes back THAT far) in Downtown Denver. I was talking to my friend about how it was a good location a long time ago, but it closed because people did not care and there were locations out in the 'burbs they could travel to.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    We have ideas that are only seen in old black and white movies where people are walking down snow covered sidewalks from shop to shop as the Christmas lights shine on the fronts of each store window. Parents have their arms full of bags and boxes from multiple stores where they know the clerks by name. Kids crowd in front of a store window to see the newest and greatest toy. From steel plates with gears and cranks so they can make their own city, or train sets that have tracks that go though tunnels will fill their Christmas Eve dreams in hopes that Santa will be able to get them what their heart desires. Bells from the trolleys play along to Salvation Army collectors, provide rhythms for Christmas Carolers as they walk down the sidewalks.

    But in reality was it ever like that? Where stores really open late?
    Yes, I can assure you that even Downtown Detroit was a very busy place on Christmas, even in the mid 1970's. The picture you pain was my experience. There were two Crowley Dept Stores, a Saks, a two million square foot behemouth known as Hudson's department store, several woolworths and kresgees as well as all of the smaller, more specialized stores. These stores were open late during December. The sickening thing this that many neighborhoods also had large shopping districts with several Department Stroes as well. These were all quite crowded. We would take the bus down with mom after school, and dad would meet us for shopping/seeing santa/eating at a coney island. Then we would all pile into the Pontiac and go back home. The salvation army band was at several corners and the windows would have ornate displays. Ahh those were the days.

    Downtown stores should be open late a couple of nights a week. The reality is that households are not the same as what they once were, while we can wax nostalgicly about Miester's comments, that is increasingly becoming an exception more than a rule. I was one of the few on my block at the time whose mom did not work outside of the home.

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    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    We have ideas that are only seen in old black and white movies where people are walking down snow covered sidewalks from shop to shop as the Christmas lights shine on the fronts of each store window. Parents have their arms full of bags and boxes from multiple stores where they know the clerks by name. Kids crowd in front of a store window to see the newest and greatest toy. From steel plates with gears and cranks so they can make their own city, or train sets that have tracks that go though tunnels will fill their Christmas Eve dreams in hopes that Santa will be able to get them what their heart desires. Bells from the trolleys play along to Salvation Army collectors, provide rhythms for Christmas Carolers as they walk down the sidewalks.

    But in reality was it ever like that? With the exception of movie theaters, concern halls, a few stores, restaurants, and the occasional pub, how many places where actually open after 5 or 6 at night?
    MULTIPLE SNIPPING BY BEAR.

    Downtown Toledo in the 1950's. Huge, multi-storied department stores (Lasalles, Lion Store, Tiedtkes, Lamsons, Sears). Smaller "dime stores" (Woolworths, Kresges). Multiple specialty stores such as B. R. Baker (men and boy's clothing), lots of shoe stores, a real barber college (with about 9 chairs), about a dozen theaters.

    During Christmas season we would ride the bus downtown (with Mom) and hit all of these stores. Downtown Toledo had just about all of those goodies mentioned by michaelskis. The stores stayed open at night during the holiday season. (But Sunday shopping was a no-no.)

    This Bear sat on Santa's lap in a couple of those big stores.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  17. #17
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Christmas in downtown! Quick retitle this thread "Winter holiday in downtown" Or you're going to be hearing from my lawyers!

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Downtown, I'm lucky to get my Christmas shopping done at the big boxes in the strip commercial area. As it is, I'll have to go out of town to get some of my shopping done.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

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    Good Question!

    It just so happened I journeyed to downtown Denver for that specific purpose Sunday.

    Why downtown?

    It had everything I was looking for - books (courtesy of the Tattered Cover Bookstore) and some beer drinking accessories (courtesy of the Falling Rock Tap House) to fill in the blanks on my list. I'll be returning next weekend for the annual "Tubafest" in Larimer Square.

    It's obvious that the mix of retail and ease of access (free parking on Sundays, although I took light rail) plus "eye" appeal will keep me coming back.

  20. #20

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    No real retail at all in either my city of residence (Vacaville) or where I work. Heck, I would, love a bookstore downtown in Vacaville.

    All shopping in Solano County occurs at the mall (Westfield "Shoppingtowne" (thanks, Aussies for some of the tackiest brand names ) or a very large "factory outlets" glorified strip mall by the freeway. I see no reason or hope for the revival of real downtown retail in either city. Heck, if the few restaurants and bars we have can hold on and survive, I'll be satisfied.

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