By Mary O’KEEFE
The holiday celebration that kicked off on Nov. 28 with Montrose’s “White Friday” and annual tree lighting ceremony continues on Honolulu Avenue until Christmas with the Montrose Shopping Park Association’s gifts to the community of free rides on a horse drawn carriage, Santa strolling along the avenue and live music.
White Friday is when many Montrose merchants “white out” the sales tax for the day after Thanksgiving hoping to encourage shoppers to look local when buying holiday gifts. White Friday ended with Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan welcoming visitors to the shopping park while officiating over the Christmas tree lighting ceremony accompanied by bubble snow falling from the trees and holiday carols being sung.
This year, the White Friday event was successful with many shoppers choosing to shop local. Maureen Palacios, owner of Once Upon a Time bookstore, said she didn’t have the exact figures but was certain sales at her store were at least 12% to 15% higher than last year.
“Friday we were up in sales and then Saturday [that success] spilled over,” Palacios said.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving is known as Small Business Saturday, a program started by American Express to help support small mom and pop shop owners. In addition to Small Business Saturday, Palacios enjoyed an uptick in sales from The Indies First Campaign. The Indies First Campaign is supported by the American Booksellers Association and author Sherman Alexie, who last year came up with the idea of having authors sell books at independently owned bookstores. Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer joined the movement as spokespeople, writing letters to fellow authors asking them to participate and encouraging bookstore owners to invite authors to be part of the program. Throughout the day on Saturday, Nov. 29 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., authors were found behind the counter at Once Upon a Time, selling books to their readers.
For Palacios, White Friday, Small Business Saturday and Indies First Campaign made for a very successful kick off of the holiday season. Many of the other stores in the shopping park reported a steady stream of customers as well.
Shoppers can find Santa Claus along the streets of the Montrose Shopping Park in the 2100-2400 blocks of Honolulu Avenue from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Free horse drawn trolley rides along Honolulu Avenue are weekends from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and free pony rides are from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Sundays include the Montrose Harvest Market with ponies and a petting zoo from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Both days feature live holiday music.