Poor economy hits La Jolla’s holiday season early

Holiday Tuesday night shopping program begins

Tuesday nights will be different in La Jolla’s downtown Village this December … and not just because Christmas is right around the corner.

In a move to promote business and ward off the economic doldrums that have gripped the nation - and the globe - these past couple months, longtime La Jolla bookstore owner Nancy Warwick is spearheading a “Shop Local” program the first four Tuesdays of December.

On those nights, retailers will be open an additional two hours - until 8 p.m. - and will offer food and entertainment as enticement to draw customers.

Participating merchants will also offer special discounts.

“Things really slowed down in October,” Warwick said about the new shopping-incentive program. “We (merchants) thought, ‘What can we do immediately?’ We came up with Tuesday nights in the Village.”

Why shop local?

With about 70 merchants participating, Warwick added the program is a good opportunity to educate the public about the benefits of shopping locally.

“Out of every $100 spent on local businesses, $68 will stay in the community, as studies have shown local businesses donate to community causes at twice the rate of chains,” she said.

The first evening of the event, Tuesday, Dec. 2, will feature a horse-drawn trolley offering free tours.

“It will fit 28 people,” said Warwick, “and will take a long time to get around the Village. People will be able to hop on and off.”

Warwick added there will also be live entertainment on Tuesday nights featuring local talent like the La Jolla Madrigals singers. She added she’s also working on another Tuesday night business promotion, Catch The Red Dot, in which participating businesses will have select items in their stores marked with a red dot offering 20 percent cost discounts.

Getting on board

Wayne Woods, owner of Burns Drugs, is on board with PLJ’s new shop local program.

“It’s fair to say we all want local people to shop locally,” he said. “We’re hoping this is something the community of La Jolla will embrace and participate in.”

Woods said the Tuesdays in December program will be similar to the open house Girard Avenue merchants host this time every year.

Woods noted that his pharmaceutical business, which is about 95 percent local, is down primarily due to mail-order competition.

“Things are going to be difficult for awhile, so this is really a good time to be promoting the shop-local concept,” Warwick said.

“People get it, it makes sense when you explain to them it’s not just helping a particular store when they shop at that store, but helping the whole community,” she added.

Something for all

Tiffany Sherer, executive director of Promote La Jolla, said the holiday season is the perfect time to promote local shopping. “It’s a great idea for merchants to come together and offer their customers a festive atmosphere around the holidays,” she said. “We really have something for everybody on your list.”

Sherer added that PLJ, as usual, will contribute to the holiday ambiance by installing Christmas decorations on Prospect and Girard. They’ll go up the weekend after Thanksgiving along with holiday banners decorated with the garlands that will be hung elsewhere in the Village.