Retail renaissance takes place in the village

RANCHO SANTA FE — Retailers are stirring things up in the Ranch with sidewalk sales, businesses playing musical chairs and new retail outlets springing up. What’s going on?
The sidewalk sale that took place Feb. 27 was the brainchild of Courtney McDonald, owner of Plume Fine Stationery. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if we all put our stuff outside and had a sidewalk sale?’” McDonald said.
The idea was intriguing and supported by fellow retailers, but nothing comes easy in the Ranch, a town known for its restrictions, rules and regulations. Permissions were necessary to pull it off. But McDonald knocked on doors, made calls and made it happen.
The idea was also a good opportunity to meet new neighbors such as Jakki’s Closet and Daniela Boutique, both stores located on La Granada at Paseo Delicias. McDonald introduced herself to the owners of both stores and asked them to participate in the sidewalk sale, which they were glad to do. “I wish we could do it more often,” said Jakki Hill, owner of Jakki’s Closet. Both Jakki’s Closet and Daniela Boutique opened their doors last October.
“Fridays are usually pretty quiet, so this helped stir up interest,” Hill said. “It drew people inside.”
Organizing the sidewalk sale was just one of the projects McDonald is juggling. She recently moved her store from a small space behind Willis Allen to a more prominent position on Paseo Delicias, formerly home to Gracie’s. McDonald did a complete renovation of the store, top to bottom, and opened the door March 2. “I’m planning a Grand Opening in April,” McDonald said. The new store offers fine stationery, as well as clothing and giftware. “It’s been fun putting it together,” McDonald said.
Renovations are taking place outside, too. In a courtyard behind Plume Fine Stationary and adjacent to The Pantry, a fountain is being built along with benches, beautiful flowers and potted plants. “It will be beautiful,” McDonald said.
Meanwhile, on April 1, Marilyn Mulloy Estate and Fine Jewelry will move from its present location to the premises behind Willis Allen that used to house Plume Fine Stationery. What will occupy the space that is currently Marilyn Mulloy’s? “We hope to have an announcement next week,” property owner Susan Woolley said. “We’re still in negotiations.”
Woolley and her husband Roger are longtime members of the community who have seen many changes in retail in the Ranch. “These ladies are a treasure,” Woolley said of McDonald and Mulloy. “Courtney has put in a high-end, Fifth Avenue-style store, yet her prices are very reasonable. And Marilyn has been in retail in the Ranch for the past 28 years. She has done so many great things. She takes care of everybody. Where else can you get that kind of service? I hope the community supports them.”
Woolley continues to investigate new ideas and opportunities in retail for the Ranch. With new shops opening, some businesses expanding, some shrinking, some find it comforting to know that, despite these economically challenging times, retailers and service providers are still looking forward.

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