By Nicole Shine/Garden Grove Journal
The holiday season isn’t bringing much cheer to local shopkeepers despite the city’s “Buy in Garden Grove” program, which promotes local businesses and provides shopper discounts.
Some participating stores like U.S. Toy on Garden Grove Boulevard have seen fewer shoppers compared to last year.
“I think they’re waiting later this year,” toy store Manager Anne Mucha said.
The toy store gives a 10 percent discount as part of the buy-local program, though Mucha rarely hears it requested.
That discount, along with deals from other participating businesses, are posted on the city’s website, where residents can view and print them.
Buy in Garden Grove (BIGG) dates back to the 1990s, but faded when the economy was good. The city resurrected it in 2008.
“Each year, we’ve added at least 10 new businesses,” said Ana Pulido, who runs the program. “However, this year there have been fewer new participants. So far, we’re at exactly 100 businesses, and I expect to see a few more join before the end of the year.”
Businesses sign up through a simple online form. Besides promoting them on its website, the city uses fliers and street banners, particularly during the holidays.
One of those banners hangs a few steps away from Louie’s on Main, a downtown bar-restaurant and program participant.
“When it first came out, we got some people coming in,” restaurant owner Angelo Tavarides said of the program.
He offers 10 percent off dinners Sunday through Thursday, though patrons rarely request the discount nowadays, he said. This month, he’s had one catering job, compared to five last year.
But for some, this season’s lackluster sales are more a sign of the weak economy, rather than the city’s lack of effort.
“The good times are over,” said David Zlaket, at Zlaket’s Market, a Main Street fixture that offers $5 deli sandwiches on Fridays. “That’s what my dad always says.”
Still, it’s not all grim news for Garden Grove businesses. Across town off of Knott Street, Heavenly Perks Christian Bookstore is seeing one top-seller.
“We go through a lot of Bibles this time of year,” said Manager Carla Frazier, though only one shopper has taken advantage of the store’s 40 percent discount on the holy books.