Five downtown Tracy shop owners are joining forces to offer extended shopping hours until 9 p.m. the third Friday of each month, starting Feb. 21, according to Mia Bella’s Boutique owner Anna Craig.
“Everybody closes at 5 p.m., but we’re changing it,” she said. “People shouldn’t have to go to Livermore or Discovery Bay. They can spend their money here. I think if we’re open, they will come.”
The first businesses to sign up are Mia Bella’s at 110 W. 10th St., My Best Friend’s Closet at 821 N Central Ave., 2nd Avenue at 61 W. 10th St., Photographic Art Studio at 44 W. 10th St., and Melissa’s Flower Shop at 828 N. Central Ave.
“The merchants are willing to stay open if people come and if people want it,” Craig said. “We’re willing to work with the community.”
The idea behind the later hours is to give those residents who commute out of the city daily a place to go when they return in the evenings, said Liz Garcia of My Best Friend’s Closet.
“When they get home, everything is closed,” she said, referring to all but a few restaurants downtown. “Now they can plan on that time to come down here and go shopping. They can have a bite to eat and get a drink somewhere in downtown Tracy.”
Craig and Garcia said they hoped other businesses would follow their lead, particularly after three new downtown restaurants open their doors in the coming months to join the existing restaurants that keep late hours.
“It’s only one Friday a month,” Garcia said. “It’s for whoever wants to participate and stay open later.”
The four women said they hope the new eateries will add even more to the evening atmosphere.
Connie Barding, owner of Photographic Art Studio, said she regularly stays open late and feels the new program will help people discover the uniqueness of Tracy’s downtown.
“People have to realize we have things downtown that you can’t find elsewhere,” she said. “We will each do something to entice people to come in during 6 to 9 p.m.”
Patti Blabnick, who owns 2nd Avenue, said people visit her shop almost daily who haven’t been downtown before and don’t know what it has to offer.
“I hope it catches on,” she said. “I’m excited. The merchants are more than willing to give people more (shopping) hours.”
While shopping in 2nd Avenue on Tuesday, resident Roe Bridges said she would use the extra hours for shopping.
“Everybody needs to work together,” Bridges said. “I came downtown on a Saturday for dinner and I could have rolled a bowling ball down 10th Street. I think it’s a great idea.”
Melissa’s Flower Shop owner Janeth Ramerez said she was happy to join the other merchants in their quest to bring more people downtown in the evenings.
“I am very excited about it,” she said. “It’s a very good idea.”
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or email@example.com.