Downtown Shops Bank on Charm to Draw Xmas Shoppers

The San Clemente Downtown Business Association is encouraging stores to stay open late on weekends, among other measures, to draw Christmas shopping crowds.

San Clemente's small downtown retailers figure trying to lure Black Friday crowds away from big corporate retailers with lots of resources is a losing proposition; that's why they've instituted Sunset Shopping Saturdays and post Thanksgiving festival "Puttin' on the Glitz."

"We did not want to compete with the malls that are typically open on Friday," said Downtown Business Association spokeswoman Marie Luna. "We want to create a reason for people to have an alternative. They can actually make more of an evening of it where they can come to the downtown to have dinner."

Luna said the strength of San Clemente's downtown is its village character, and retailers hope to parlay that into sales.

"People like to tout downtown Santa Barbara, but it's 90 percent corporate stores you find in any shopping mall," she said. "I think really what our downtown offers is more of an experience."

Puttin' on the Glitz Nov. 24, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, will include music and food up and down the street, as well as booths for local non-profits and youth sports boosters. Stores will remain open until at least 8 p.m., Luna said.

Some 25 stores up and down Del Mar will remain open until at least 8 p.m. every Saturday through Dec. 21.


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