[This article was written for another publication so sorry if you missed it, but worth knowing for next year!] Thanksgiving marks the official open of holiday shopping season. You’re probably making plans for Black Friday but after you hit the big box chain stores, remember Pasadena’s local stores on Nov. 30, Small Business Saturday.
Paul Little, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, wrote via email, “Pasadena’s uniqueness and attraction for visitors are dependent on our excellent local restaurants and small retailers. Not only that, local small businesses are owned and operated by our neighbors, they employ local people and they are very generous in supporting non-profits that enhance the quality of life for Pasadenans.”
But shopping small and dining local is important for other reasons. Little said, “The marketplace in Pasadena is very competitive. For a variety of reasons, some of our national retailers, such as Forever 21, are closing or have closed recently and we have seen a spike in the number of local restaurants closing in recent months.
It is as important as ever to spend money with local eateries, shop in local stores and support our small businesses and the local economy.”
Small Business Saturday didn’t begin in Pasadena and was actually initiated by a national company: American Express. This year marks Small Business Saturday’s tenth anniversary; it’s always on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Old Pasadena (OldPasadena.org) is officially participating and merchants will over special promotions, discounts and treats. You can find a list of Only in Old Pasadena (https://www.oldpasadena.org/visit/directory/only-in-old-pasadena/) and on Saturday, you can begin your shopping by picking up free Shop Small Saturday tote bags and other freebies at three Welcome stations:
- Homage Pasadena- 100 N. Fair Oaks Avenue
- We Olive & Wine Bar- 32 E. Colorado Blvd.
- Whimsy Pasadena- 40 Mills Place
The Playhouse District has already started promotions. Every weekend in November, its Ambassador Guides team have been surprising unsuspecting guests with Visa Gift Card prizes from $20 – $75 at select district businesses. That means Small Business Saturday is your last weekend to get lucky.
- El Portal Restaurant, 695 East Green Street
- Run With Us, 235 North Lake Avenue
And although more and more people are shopping online, there’s an advantage to visiting a physical store, Little noted, “Brick-and-mortar retailers offer a shopping experience that cannot be found online. More and more it seems customers are finding that the personal touch, the individualized service, the added benefits of working with a person and the overall retail experience are valuable. Our restaurants continue to be culinary innovators offering excellent food and service at a wide range of price points.”
You might consider giving some love to the Lamanda area. PooBah was the used as the scene for the South Central record shop, Dolphin’s of Hollywood, in the Eddie Murphy movie, “My Name Is Dolemite.”
There’s personal service at Pasadena Yamaha (2650 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107, (626) 577-3000) from Kel McIntee and his family. They’ve been in the biz for 20 years.
The Guitar Center ( 2660 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107, (626) 535-0108) has more than guitars and ukuleles. According to the sales clerk, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers dropped by to buy his daughter a guitar and gifted a lucky guitarist with a pricey guitar.
If you’re truly train crazy, then stop by The Original Whistle Stop shop (2490 E Colorado Blvd, (626) 796-7791). This is a hobby shot with projects, model materials, railroad literature and, of course, model trains.
Lamanda Commercial Area
- Bowhaus Pet Company, 2472 East Colorado
- Poo-Bah Record Shop, 2636 East Colorado
- STEM World, 2245 East Colorado
Instead of going to Tiffany’s, try some sparked at Pasadena’s oldest jewelry store, Arnold’s Fine Jewelry at the Collonade ((350 S. Lake, Suite 110, 626-795-8647). Jewels on Lake (415 South Lake Ave., Suite 101, (626) 356-4242) features dazzling settings by owner Sam Babikian. Ophidiophiles, you can make your friends green with envy over the apple green enamel on gold ring snake ring he has.
South Lake Avenue
- The Bee Cottage, 496 South Lake Avenue
- Float Pasadena, 380 South Lake Avenue
- Republik Coffee Lounge, 854 East Green Street
Other Welcome Centers in Pasadena offering free tote bags (while supplies last):
Civic Center Area
- Europane Bakery & Café, 345 East Colorado Boulevard
- FrenchiFornia, 247 East Colorado Boulevard
College Commercial Area
- Lovebirds Café & Bakery, 921 East Colorado Boulevard
- Milkcow Café, 1517 East Colorado Boulevard
- Samy’s Camera, 1759 East Colorado Boulevard
- Bloomfield Creamery, 1727 East Washington Boulevard
- Southern Roots Gifts, 1387 East Washington Boulevard
Hastings Commercial Area
- Colette, 975 North Michillinda
- Foothill Restaurant, 2835 East Foothill Boulevard
- Vromans Bookstore East Pasadena, 3729 East Foothill Boulevard
HeArt (South Fair Oaks Health & Arts District)
- Jones Coffee Roasters, 693 South Raymond
- Porta Via, 1 West California Boulevard
Lincoln Commercial Area
- Lincoln Pasadena, 1992 Lincoln Avenue
- Perry’s Joint, 2051 Lincoln Avenue
North Lake Commercial Area
- Bessy’s Boutique, 1353 North Lake Avenue
- Maquina,1274 North Lake Avenue
- Polkatots Cupcakes, 720 North Lake Avenue
Walnut Commercial Area
- The Flowerman, 2450 East Foothill Boulevard
- Namaste Spiceland, 270 North Hill
Shop small, dine local to support Pasadena’s own.