Merchants and locals stroll through Avenida Del Mar to help support small business and other charities. (Courtesy of Downtown Business Association/ file photo)
The opening of the San Clemente Outlets have sparked more fierce competition from the Downtown Business Association of San Clemente during this years “Puttin’ on the Glitz.”
Avenida Del Mar was blocked off by The Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Youth Explorers for people to enjoy a safe stroll, shop small businesses and eat among the 13 restaurants on the street.
The city has also provided several food trucks such as Dogzilla, food stands like popcorn and chestnuts, free films, photos with Santa Claus and Disney characters, horse-drawn buggy rides and other entertainment.
Local Erica Florimonte attended the 2014 and 2015 ‘Puttin’ on the Glitz’ and believes 2015 has been the best yet. Also, she says the DBA has stepped it up this year because of the new Outlets off Avenida Vista Hermosa.
“There is a lot going on this year. There are more people, more photo booths and they even have a huge projector screen playing movies,” Florimonte said. “They have probably done this so they can prove that smaller business can compete with the bigger outlet stores.”
The stores along Avenida Del Mar have seen an increase in profit and clientele from the previous year.
Denise O’Donnell, owner of Three Dog Bakery, located on Avenida Del Mar, says that this year they did a little bit better than last year and that is because many of the shops also set up tents to become vendors in order to maximize their space on the street.
“It was crazy busy, I didn’t even have a chance to sit down, we were giving all the dogs cookies and refrigerated treats,” said Hailey, who works at the bakery.
Other businesses like Hobie Surf Shop attracted customers by providing a bake sale that would benefit the Boys and Girls Club of America. In addition, customers could also donate to a specific child in need of financial assistance. As of Nov. 29 all children had been supported but one.
“I think people were stoked to help others,” said Bri Latendresse, assistant manager at Hobie Surf Shop, talking about their bake sale.
Vendors and business did not seem concerned or intimidated by the new stores opening in the Outlets. In fact, some shops on Avenida Del Mar will use the Outlets as a way for marketing and plan to cooperate with them.
“Everything with the outlets will be positive, we plan on building a relationship with them and cross advertise,” O’Donnell said.
Latendresse doesn’t fear her clientele will shift to the outlets because she has helped build routine customers to her shop.
“We will combat the Outlets by providing great customer service and top-quality products,” Latendresse said .
San Clemente merchants can only wait to see if combat or cooperation will further their dominance in the city.