Throughout the country “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving, is the kick off to holiday shopping season but in Crescenta Valley the holiday spirit truly comes alive with the Montrose Christmas Parade.
It may have been a little chilly and the wait for those participating in the Montrose Christmas Parade may have been a little long, but there was no doubt this was a hometown parade that typifies the community.
Girl and Boy Scout troops, city and Los Angeles County officials, organizations,
marching bands and even fire breathers strolled down Honolulu Avenue on Saturday night. Participants waved at friends and community members as those sitting along the parade route were bundled under cozy blankets while drinking
The parade launches the holiday season and the start of holiday shopping at Montrose Shopping Park. Every weekend through Christmas, the shopping park association gifts the community with free horse drawn wagon rides and holiday jazz by the Martini Kings, and seemingly every inch of Honolulu Avenue is
covered with twinkle lights. “There is a real sense of community here,” said Alyce Russell, president of the Montrose Shopping Park Association. Russell added the shopping park offers a variety of stores and have shop owners that greet customers with a smile.
“We offer customer service by the owners of the business, which is something you generally will not find at malls. We offer a high level of customer service and unique products,” agreed Dale Dawson, the executive director of the association.
There are a variety of shops in Montrose with merchandise that ranges from footwear to dazzling dresses. Once Upon A Time, recently named the oldest children’s bookstore in the nation, offers an eclectic array of titles for kids and adults.
Mountain Rose Gifts’ shop window echoes the classic holiday décor that is offered throughout the shopping park. “I think people may not be spending as much this year but they have the Christmas spirit and appreciate what [we offer]. Like comfort food, this is comfort shopping,” Russell said.
Early reports seem to indicate that shoppers are coming back slowly. According to ShopperTrak, Black Friday weekend showed retail sales increased 1.6%. At Annie’s Scandal in Montrose, shop owner Annie Clarke has “the 3/50 Project” flyers displayed. The flyer highlights the advantages of shopping at independent
stores, what the 3/50 project calls the “brick and mortars.” “If just half the employed U.S. population spent $50 each month in independently owned stores,” states the flyer, “their purchases would generate $43,629,700 in revenue.”
It also states how shopping locally helps the community, Clarke added.
“For every $100 spent in independently owned stores, $68 of it returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here,” the 3/50 project flyer adds.
The shopping park association promotes shopping locally and supporting the community. “Many of the malls and shopping areas like Americana
are trying to recreate the ambiance we have here naturally,” Dawson said.
The traditional feel is why Dawson said he lobbied the city of Glendale to designate the area as the Historic Old\ Town Montrose. “We don’t do a lot of weird glitzy things. We just light our trees along [Honolulu]. It is simple elegance and we give our customers something that will remind them of better times,” Dawson said.
Montrose Old Town Christmas activities take place Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Christmas.