We hit both downtown Grass Valley and Nevada City. I did some shopping in Truckee earlier in the week. As always, the two of us did some “gumshoe” reporting, and the merchants we spoke to — from book stores to clothing stores to chocolate shops to jewelers —reported robust Christmas sales. Stores were downright crowded.
A big boost came from Cornish and Victorian Christmas, where shoppers spent money instead of just “window shopping.” One benefit, as I reported earlier, was that you could see the shops more clearly, because the streets weren’t so jammed with vendor booths that blocked your view. More details are here.
I also think the beautiful weather has helped get people out and about.
In addition, the economic shakeout has led to a revitalization of the downtowns with some new shops and choices. To be sure, I also think merchants have adjusted their expectations because of the prolonged economic downturn. There was a “smile meter,” not a “pout meter” on their faces.
The Grass Valley Downtown Association offered free Christmas wrapping at its “Santa’s Workshop” on Mill Street. Its most successful wrapping day was Thursday, with more than 40 presents wrapped. Some of them were ours. (Our magazine was a proud sponsor of “Santa’s Workshop,” which included a visit with Santa).
I found the customer service excellent this holiday season, including free gift wrapping — not so common at a “big box” stores. There were some creative selections too. This year’s Christmas Coffee from Carolines Coffee, for example, featured “faces of our community,” which included photos of the owners, workers and regular customers on the 12 ounce bag.
I also liked the new shop in Grass Valley called “True Grit,” “a nostalgic photo parlour” where you can get your family picture taken in Western-style garb.
In Nevada City, both Clavey and Szabo have cool, new wine tasting rooms. There’s lots of new energy around.
The last Cornish Christmas in Grass Valley is tonight.