With herds of shoppers flooding malls on Black Friday for the best retail deals of the year, downtown Los Gatos stores will be competing by offering some bargains of their own, as well as providing a pleasant shopping experience and other perks.
According to Susan Testa, owner of the Romantiques lingerie boutique located on University Avenue, shopping in the town’s commercial business district will be more desirable after Turkey Day because of smaller crowds and retailers offering the same products for supposedly less money than corporate stores such as Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus.
“We don’t get super amounts of customers on Black Friday, that’s something for the malls,” Testa said.
Romantiques, which has been serving downtown for 17 years, will be offering a 20 percent discount on all boutique merchandise as well as complimentary champagne, wine and snacks.
“Shoppers will be going all day and most won’t stop to get lunch,” Testa said. “This will give them a boost of energy to keep them going the rest of the day and you can’t find that kind of service in the malls.”
According to Ashley Dong, events and marketing director for Time Out Clothing, the resort and swimwear boutique also located on North Santa Cruz Avenue, the business will be offering a sale through Sunday, Nov. 27 that includes $30, $50 and $80 off for $150, $250 and $450 store expenditures, respectively.
“It’s essentially 20 percent off,” Dong explained.
Dong said that Time Out Clothing, which has been in business for 18 years, does not expect Black Friday to bring a significant increase in sales for the boutique, but said the shop gets major foot traffic when hosting a sale.
“When small businesses like ours offer promotions to customers, they get excited,” Dong said. “The customers seem to be more optimistic this year. They are taking more vacations so they are buying more resort and swimwear.”
While several large South Bay retailers will open as early as midnight for thrifty shoppers, Romantiques and Time Out Clothing will operate under normal businesses hours Friday and Saturday for the nation’s second annual Small Business Saturday.
According to Ronee Nassi, executive director of the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce, downtown retailers don’t have the staff capacity to open early for Black Friday like larger retailers do—however there are great benefits to shopping downtown, like personalized service and free valet parking sponsored by the Town of Los Gatos.
The parking lot used is behind and and there will be signs leading shoppers to the location, which begins at 9 a.m. and goes until 9 p.m. The service continues through Christmas Eve, Nassi said. Tipping is optional.
“By shopping downtown, you are getting to know the business owners and receiving personalized service, which is priceless,” Nassi said. “With the free valet parking provided by the town, you can park all day and shop, eat and get your hair and nails done.”
Nassi also noted downtown shops carry items customers wouldn’t find in corporate stores and revenue generated from local retail sales keeps the shopping atmosphere convenient and exclusive.
“It’s critical for people to come out and shop here because the sales tax helps keep Los Gatos what it is. There are people who work really hard to make this town really special and it’s important that we support our small businesses,” Nassi stressed.
Although most downtown businesses will not be modifying their store hours, men’s clothing retailer Jos. A. Bank, located on West Main Street, will be opening at 5 a.m. and will have several “door buster” sales until 1 p.m.
According to its website, American Express OPEN, the business wing of the popular credit company introduced Small Business Saturday in 2010, providing a counterpart to the well-known Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping events that occur over Thanksgiving weekend.
OPEN supported Small Business Saturday participants with advertising, social media, charitable giving and produced strong results and widespread consciousness of the benefits of supporting small business, according to the event's website.
Testa and Dong said their shops would be participating in the American Express’ Small Business Saturday promotion where the credit company will give a $25 statement credit to up to 100,000 cardholders who register and make a purchase at a small business on Saturday.
Time Out Clothing does not have an online catalogue and will not have any sales for Cyber Monday, a popular shopping holiday where retailers give deals to consumers who shop on-line the Monday after Thanksgiving.