s we all know by now, the day after Thanksgiving marks the official opening of the holiday shopping season.
But in your chain-store shopping plans for Black Friday, don’t forget to visit your friendly local stores and restaurants in and around Pasadena on Nov. 30, Small Business Saturday.
“Pasadena’s uniqueness and attraction for visitors are dependent on our excellent local restaurants and small retailers.” wrote Paul Little, president and CEO of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce. Not only that, “Local small businesses are owned and operated by our neighbors, they employ local people and they are very generous in supporting nonprofits that enhance the quality of life for Pasadenans.”
Shopping small and dining local, however, are important for other reasons as well.
“The marketplace in Pasadena is very competitive,” Little noted. “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 was initiated by American Express 10 years ago. Old Pasadena (oldpasadena.org) is officially participating, with merchants offering special promotions, discounts and treats. You can find a list of Only in Old Pasadena at oldpasadena.org.
Begin your shopping in Old Pas by picking up free Shop Small Saturday tote bags and other freebies at three Welcome Stations:
• Homage Pasadena — 100 N. Fair Oaks Ave.; (626) 440-7244; homagepasadena.com
• We Olive & Wine Bar — 32 E. Colorado Blvd.; 32 E. Colorado Blvd., (626) 787-1000;
• Whimsy Pasadena — 40 Mills Place; (213) 334-6345; whimsypsadena.com
You can have breakfast near Tiffany & Co.’s (68 W. Colorado Blvd.; 68 W. Colorado Blvd.; 626/793-7424; tiffany.com) before it opens. But afterward, if you really want to spoil your best gal or guy, check out their new T collection with bracelets and rings that run small enough for an 8-year-old.
Sur la Table (161 W. Colorado Blvd.; 161 W Colorado Blvd.; 626/744-9987; surlatable.com) is another favorite and the first stop for you before a family dinner. While you’re there, check out their knives, knife sharpeners, quirky cookie cutters and other kitschy kitchen items.
And by all means don’t forget Gold Bug (34 Union St.; 626/744-9963; goldbugpasadena.com) for your insect and creepy crawly fans, as well steampunk and Goth friends.
On Dec. 7, check out the Groovy Holiday Kick-Off at One Colorado (41 Hugus Alley, Pasadena; 626/564-1066; onecolorado.com) from 7 to 9 p.m. with Nutty playing their “martini mix” of jazz and swing. Santa will be there and Sage Vegan Bistro will be mixing drinks for adults and kids. Parking here is free on Black Friday.
Other One Colorado events include Holiday Ornament Making from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 8, the Bob Baker Marionette Holiday Show from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. Dec. 10, the Open House and Artisan Market on Dec. 14, and the Pasadena Symphony & POPS Random Acts of Music on Dec. 22. Visit OldPasadena.org/visit/events for more info.
Also in Old Pas, a tour of Castle Green (99 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; 626/793-0359; firstname.lastname@example.org) is set for Dec. 8. Call or write for more information.
When you are ready to relax after a hard day of shopping visit Edwin Mills by Equator for a bracing cocktail and a delicious meal. You’ll be glad you did. Edwin Mills by Equator is located at 22 Mills Place, Pasadena. Call (626) 564-8656 or visit edwinmills.com for more information.
South Lake Avenue
Try on some bling at Pasadena’s oldest jewelry store, Arnold’s Fine Jewelry, at the Collonade on South Lake Avenue (350 S. Lake, Suite 110; 626/795-8647; arnoldsjewelry.com).
There is also Jewels on Lake (415 S. Lake Ave., Suite 101, 626/356-4242; jewelsonlake.com ), featuring dazzling settings by owner Sam Babikian.
While not a boutique, Williams Sonoma (142 S. Lake Ave.; 626/795-5045; williams-sonoma.com) gives you that personal service, and for Star Wars fans it has exclusives like a $100 R2D2 popcorn popper and other Star Wars-related stuff.
At Burlington Arcade, Kimono no Kobeya (380 S. Lake Ave., No. 109; 626/796-8881; kimononokobeya.com) features the largest selection of authentic Japanese kimonos this side of the Pacific.
Next door, Contessa Foods (380 S. Lake Ave. No. 111; 626/793-7761; conbtessfoods.com) is a small boutique with non-GMO Italian specialties like olive oils, grain pastas and sauces that you can sample for lunch.
And while you’re on South Lake, be sure to visit The Bee Cottage (496 S. Lake Ave.: 626/396-9007; beecottagepasadena.com), Float Pasadena (380 S. Lake Ave.; 626/844-3488; floatpasadena.com) and Republik Coffee Lounge (854 E. Green St.; 626/529-3714; republikcoffee.com).
South Lake’s Holidayfest will be on Dec. 7 from noon to 5 p.m. at 345 S. Lake Ave. Admission is free and there will be photos with Santa, in-store specials and promotions, live music, crafts for kids and a scavenger hunt (visit southlakeavenue.org).
Holiday shoppers might also consider showing some love to the city’s Lamanda Commercial Area. Many people may not know this, but PooBah Record Shop (2636 E. Colorado Blvd.; 626/ 449-3359; poobah.com) was used as a double in a scene involving the South Central record shop Dolphin’s of Hollywood, portrayed in the Eddie Murphy movie, “My Name Is Dolemite.”
And speaking of music, Guitar Center (2660 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626/535-0108; guitarcenter.com) 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.
Plus, there’s the personal service available at bigger-ticket merchants like Pasadena Yamaha (2650 E. Colorado Blvd., (626) 577-3000; pasadenayamaha.com) and Kel McIntee and his family. They’ve been in the business for 20 years.
If you’re truly toy train crazy, then stop by The Original Whistle Stop shop (2490 E. Colorado Blvd., 626/796-7791; thewhistlestop.com). This is a hobby shot with modeling materials, railroad literature and, of course, model trains.
The Playhouse District
The district has been actively promoting Shop Small Saturday. Every weekend in November, its Ambassador Guide team members have been surprising unsuspecting guests with Visa Gift Card prizes from $20 to $75 at select district businesses. That means Small Business Saturday is your last weekend to get lucky.
While you’re there, pick up season tickets for the Pasadena Playhouse (39 S. El Molino Ave.; 626/356-7529; pasadenaplayhouse.org) for your melodramatic friends, passes to the lovely Laemmle Playhouse 7 (673 E. Colorado Blvd.; 673 E. Colorado Blvd.; lammle.com) or get lost in Canterbury Records (805 E. Colorado Blvd.; (626) 792-7184; canterburyrecords.com), and Vroman’s Bookstore (695 E. Colorado Blvd., 626/449-5320; vromansbookstore.com). Vroman’s, Southern California’s oldest and largest independent bookstore, just turned 125 years old!
After that leisurely walk, stop in at El Portal Restaurant (695 E. Green St.; (626) 795-8553; elportalrestaurant.com) for lunch or dinner or one of their famous Cadillac Margaritas.
Vroman’s Bookstore has many festive activities planned for all ages: a holiday happy hour (Dec. 5), a holiday stuffed animal slumber party and their 14th annual gingerbread house decorating party (Dec. 8), Winter Wonderland Santa photo ops (Dec. 7) and a Hanukkah story time (Dec. 15). Other activities are available at the Hastings Ranch location at 3729 E. Foothill Blvd. Call (626) 351-0828 or visit the website for more information.
Other Pasadena Places
Think about spreading holiday cheer (and cash) at Europane Bakery & Café (345 E. Colorado Blvd.; 626/844-8804), and Europane Bakery (950 E. Colorado Blvd. No. 107, Pasadena; 626/577-1828; europanebakery.com); FrenchiFornia (247 E. Colorado Blvd.; 626/319-3031; frenchifornia.business.site); Lovebirds Café & Bakery (921 E. Colorado Blvd.; 626/583-8888; lovebirdscafe.com), Milkcow Café (1517 E. Colorado Blvd.; 747/221-9708; milkcowcafe.ca), Samy’s Camera (1759 E. Colorado Blvd.; 626/796-3300; samys.com), Bloomfield Creamery (1727 E. Washington Blvd.; 626/714-7750; bloomfieldcreamery.com) , Southern Roots Gifts (1387 E. Washington Blvd.; 626/486-2260; southernroots.com), Colette (975 N. Michillinda Ave.; 626/ 836-0111; gocollette.com) and Foothill Restaurant (2835 E. Foothill Blvd.; 626/449-2337; foothill.co).
Complete your Yuletide mission on Mission Street. To get in the mood for the season head to the Fair Oaks Pharmacy, a favorite corner soda fountain and pharmacy (1526 Mission St.; 626/799-1414; fairoakspharmacy.net). Get your energy up on ice cream and their wonderful floats and then check out their many differently themed Christmas trees.
At the Dinosaur Farm (1510 Mission St.; 626/441-2767; dinosaurfarm.com) you’ll find dinos, unicorns and other fanciful creatures, puppets, plushies, games and books. For your dancer, try Red Shoes (1018 Mission St.; 626/799-8615; theredshoes.com). For your collector there’s Hodgson’s Antiques (1005 Mission St.; 626/799-0229) or Yoko Antiques (1018 Mission St., No. 2). Own large carp? Want to spoil your dog or cat? Jump over to Fair Oaks for the Urban Pet store (900 Fair Oaks Ave.; 626/403-9100; theurbanpet.net).
And finally, don’t forget to shop at the gift shops of local museums. They include:
The Bunny Museum, 2605 Lake Ave., Altadena; (626) 798-8848; thebunnymuseum.com
Gamble House, 4 Westmoreland Place; gamblehouse.org
Huntington Library, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino; (626) 405-2100; thehuntington.org
Norton Simon Museum, 411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 449-6840; nortonsimon.org
Pasadena Museum of History, 470 W. Walnut St., Pasadena; (626) 577-1660; pasadenahistory.org
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,” Little stated.