‘Tis the Season in Old Town Monrovia; the streets are decorated, carolers are roaming through town, and the Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon horse-drawn carriage rides are a big hit, as always. But I’m a bit sad: we’ve lost another two retailers (Empire Bikes in the 600 block of S. Myrtle, and Saga Art Gallery on W. Lime). Sometime in January 2018 Family Affair Music will forever close its doors. Clearly, Amazon and other online retailers are taking a big bite out of little community gathering place.
This morning, in an attempt to creatively strengthen our retail, I supported a proposal at our monthly MOTAB (Monrovia Old Town Merchants) meeting to add tattooing to the permitted ancillary services in Old Town. Currently, “microblading,” which is a form of tattooing of eyebrows, is a permitted use in Old Town, but tattooing on other parts of the body is not allowed. Funny how stereotypes are so hard to erase, but the image of bad guys on motorcycles is somehow implanted in our minds. I do believe that if retail is going to survive, it will have to be creative, allowing for services and positive experiences to draw in the customers. You just can’t get a tattoo on Amazon…….
As for Empire Bikes, I’m not exactly clear why we lost them. Word on the street is that their rent (or lease) payments were raised from $6,000/month to $8,000/month, and they just decided to pack everything up and take it to their Chino Hills location. Whatever the reason, their loss will be felt in town. My concern is that the size of that space (625 S. Myrtle) lends itself to restaurant/bar use rather than retail, and we absolutely are full up with those in Old Town.
The Santa Breakfasts are always a charmer: just to see the look on the faces of the little ones when Santa arrives with gifts and photo ops will warm the coldest of hearts. I have an inside track with Santa, and he tells me how he loves to tease the stoic adults (usually males….) who refuse to smile or acknowledge his presence. Our Old Town Santa has a winning sense of humor (and I will add, he dances like no other Santa I know).
At the meeting this morning we got an update on this year’s “New Year’s Eve on Myrtle,” an event that was started years ago by City staff in partnership with the local merchants, and is now a City staff and MOTAB Board (which is a City Commission) project. We’re told that local restaurants/bars will be invited to participate by serving liquor and small bites in a fenced area in front of their establishments. In addition, Myrtle Avenue will again be blocked off for safety. The band (Night Owl) and the Ball Raising will be moved to center of the street on Myrtle at Lemon. The event runs from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., and there will be child care at the Library Community Room for $20 per child.
See you all in Old Town!