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Montana Avenue Holiday Walk 2008:

For over 20 years the annual Montana Avenue Holiday Walk has been a tradition for both the Montana Avenue businesses and the community.

It’s an event where the avenue’s more than 150 stores between 6th and 17th Streets give the community a chance to see what they have to offer in a festive atmosphere of twinkling lights, tasty treats, and musical performances.

Thousands mobbed Montana Avenue on December 5, despite the downturn in the economy. Several shopkeepers told the Mirror that the crowd this year was larger than in years past. The owner of the La Partie card shop stated that her business has been a little slower, but she hopes holiday spending will still be good. However, she is not expecting her sales to be as strong as in the past few years.

The District Manager of Nadeau Furniture, Natalie Van Winkle, stated that her store sells solid wood furniture at wholesale prices so her store is actually “doing better this year than last year.”

Montana Avenue is also the home to many upscale boutique clothing stores. Meg King, the manager of Little Aura, told the Mirror that her store has “not been hit by the bad economy,” but she has noticed over the “last couple of months her customers are not spending as frivolously as they did in the past.” Instead, her customers were saving up for Christmas, so her sales figures have been up noticeably over the last two weeks.

King also mentioned that her store competes with Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. The retail giants are having 50 percent off sales, so she has reduced her $5,000 gowns by 50 percent in order to remain competitive.

Lisa Norman, who has owned a self-named lingerie store on Montana for 30 years, stated that lately her sales have been quieter, but things always pick up in December since “the rich are rich” and are less affected by the ups and downs of the economy.

The Mirror also spoke with Jane Kennedy who owns the Palmetto Bath Shop–a Montana staple for 22 years. She stated that the downturn in the economy has been “nerve-wracking for small businesses” but she and many others are doing the best they can to “hang in there.”

Realtor Red Erickson of Erickson Realty who has been in business for 45 years also spoke with the Mirror. He emphasized that properties in Santa Monica are holding their value, and as far as he knows there have been no foreclosures. However, the properties that are on the market are taking longer to sell but “they sell quite well when they do sell, said Erickson.”

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