By Mary O’KEEFE
Have you been in Montrose on a Friday night lately? Stroll along Honolulu Avenue and you will hear music, see sidewalks filled with families and shops open for business.
“We are trying a new promotion on Friday nights to get people to shop and dine locally,” said Linda McMenamin, events coordinator/marketplace manager for the Montrose Shopping Park Association. “We have live music in each block, including strolling musicians.” Last week the MSPA added food trucks at the corners of Honolulu Avenue and Ocean View Boulevard.
When one walks Honolulu Avenue in the shopping park, it is obvious that the music and hometown atmosphere are attracting crowds that increase each Friday. Some stores have taken advantage of the increased foot traffic and stay open until 8 p.m.
“We are hoping that more stores join us,” said GiGi Garcia, owner of It Takes a Village children’s clothing store and MSPA vice president. “Not all the retail stores are open, but a good amount are.”
Garcia said she feels the strolling musicians are a great addition to the Friday night experience.
“The strolling musicians were Maureen’s [Palacios] idea,” Garcia said crediting the owner of Once Upon A Time bookstore.
The concept was to bring what is the best of the Montrose Shopping Park and then add to it.
On a recent Friday night, families seemed to be enjoying the additions to the park as children walked a few feet in front of their parents eating ice cream or frozen yogurt, teens were laughing with friends, enjoying the last few days of summer vacation and pet parents stopped to chat while their dogs patiently waited for them to say their goodbyes and finish their walk.
“People used to think the (Montrose Shopping Park) rolled up the sidewalks on Friday night,” Garcia said. But restaurants along Honolulu Avenue have been increasingly busy on Friday nights and with the added music and longer shop hours the shopping park is a real Friday night destination.
“The first couple of weeks were slow but the third week was phenomenal,” Garcia said of her business. “Now it is a steady [flow of customers].”
She has taken advantage of the activity on Friday nights by offering special deals.
“I have been doing Happy Hour specials from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.,” she said. “My regular customers will walk in on a Friday night just to find out what those specials are.”
Garcia said other shop owners have been doing the same type of offers and the MSPA is encouraging others to add something special like offering refreshments or discounts.
Having the opportunity to shop later in the evening gives parents an opportunity to shop with their children after getting off work.
“Friday night is a whole experience. You can have dinner, then grab an ice cream and stop in the shops,” she said.
MSPA will be keeping the Friday night shop-and-dine event ongoing through August.
“Hopefully it will continue through the fall,” Garcia said.
The strolling musicians have become very popular. The type of music ranges from jazz to banjo.
“Everyone loves the banjos,” Garcia added.