The Coast News Group

Pets take center stage at evening walkabout

LEUCADIA — Despite the sluggish economy, businesses were bustling with customers and wagging dog tails during Leucadia Nights’ Howl O’ Ween on Oct. 24. The Leucadia Main Street Association and the Leucadia Town Council sponsored the event that featured a pet costume contest while encouraging residents to come early and shop late at local businesses.
Residents discovered numerous businesses they pass each day but can never quite manage to investigate further because many of the unique shops and spas are closed by 6 pm.
The association’s past board president, Patricia Bell, came up with the idea of encouraging residents to “walkabout” the community after traditional business hours as a way of promoting area businesses. Bell, a longtime Leucadia resident, owns Embellishments in the Gold Coast Design Center along Highway 101. Her second store in San Diego’s Southpark neighborhood has participated in similar events that are supported by the neighbors. “It’s a really good feeling for the neighborhood and for promoting our small businesses,” she said.
From 6 to 9 p.m. several businesses that normally close earlier kept their doors open. “We want to bring awareness to our businesses and have fun,” Bell said. Paula Kirpalani, the association’s current president, said one of the missions of the organization is to revitalize downtown Leucadia. “One of the best ways to do this is to keep the business in our town centers rather than see it go to the mall,” she said. Lost business opportunity can result in greater losses than declining revenue according to Kirpalani. “When this happens the town center culture and downtown sense of place is lost forever,” she said.
One of the ways to invigorate the downtown area is through community-oriented events. Along with evening hours for several shops, art galleries and spas, the event had a festive atmosphere while dogs and their owners showed off their costumes. “I love that I can walk a few blocks to shop and eat out and now I can do it later than usual,” said Leucadia resident Pam Foster. Her dog, Puddles, was dressed up as a ballerina for the event. “I’m not sure he likes the costume so much but he’s definitely enjoying the other dogs,” she said.
While Leucadia antique and art dealers celebrated similar late night openings in the 1970s, Bell said the current event is inclusive of the entire business community in the area. “Leucadia is still very mom and pop and we want to bring awareness about these businesses to the community to make it more vibrant,” she said. The association hopes to hold the event at least four times each year.