Sunday, November 27, 2011

Some Very Good Reasons For Doing Your Christmas Shopping In Sierra Madre This Year

I was out riding my bike with the missus yesterday afternoon and we couldn't help but admire the industry and care that was going into creating the Dickens Village celebration downtown. Sierra Madre's historic creche has been beautifully restored, the work of local artists. You really need to see it. Colorful shopping kiosks and tables were being set up in Kersting Court, stores were all decked out in their Christmas finest, and the spot where kids would soon be hanging out with Santa Claus and getting their wish lists heard was in place and just about ready for business.

Which is why this Yahoo News article (click) I am posting here seems even more unbelievable than it already is. The contrast between the cheerful serene atmosphere of our downtown shopping district and what went on elsewhere over this long 4-day holiday weekend couldn't be more stark or disturbing.

How much crazier can Black Friday get? Pepper-sprayed customers, smash-and-grab looters and bloody scenes in the shopping aisles. How did Black Friday devolve into this?

As reports of shopping-related violence rolled in this week from Los Angeles to New York, experts say a volatile mix of desperate retailers and cutthroat marketing has hyped the traditional post-Thanksgiving sales to increasingly frenzied levels. With stores opening earlier, bargain-obsessed shoppers often are sleep-deprived and short-tempered. Arriving in darkness, they also find themselves vulnerable to savvy parking-lot muggers.

Across the country on Thursday and Friday, there were signs that tensions had ratcheted up a notch or two, with violence resulting in several instances.

A woman turned herself in to police after allegedly pepper-spraying 20 other customers at a Los Angeles-area Walmart on Thursday in what investigators said was an attempt to get at a crate of Xbox video game consoles. In Kinston, N.C., a security guard also pepper-sprayed customers seeking electronics before the start of a midnight sale.

In New York, crowds reportedly looted a clothing store in Soho. At a Walmart near Phoenix a man was bloodied while being subdued by police officers on suspicion of shoplifting a video game. There was a shooting outside a store in San Leandro, Calif., shots were fired at a mall in Fayetteville, N.C., and a stabbing outside a store in Sacramento, N.Y.

If you go over to Youtube and type in the words "Black Friday," dozens of shocking videos showing chaos and mayhem become immediately available for your viewing. As an example, if you click here you can witness what went on at a Walmart not that far away in Porter Ranch.

Later that evening we decided to walk with our kids (and their friends, which our house seems to attract far too many) downtown to Mother Moo Creamery. A place that serves handmade ice cream they now ask for a lot. And because we were there I can tell you that there were no such scenes of mayhem or chaos in Sierra Madre last night. The shopping was orderly, the crowds convivial and happy, the streets brightly lit and cheery, and none of us were either pepper-sprayed or arrested.

The only real danger that I was able to see was the possibility of tipping over on the authentic snow sled run set up on the incline next to the Bank of the West.

Which is why I will be doing my Christmas shopping in Sierra Madre this year. I'm not going to take any chances out there past the Michillinda Curtain. Nobody should. It is far too dangerous if you ask me. I don't know how you see all of this, but I'm staying right here.


  1. A couple of his helpers,,,November 27, 2011 at 6:44 AM

    The wife and I had the same experience when we went down town. Seeing all the work that had been put into creating a fun time for the families and the fun that all were having just warmed the cockles of our hearts. What a great town we live in. You have a good point Tattler and were going to try and do as much of our shopping in Sierra Madre as possible. A merry wish to all.

  2. I was not pepper sprayed either, though there was pepper available on my table at the Wistaria.

  3. We were downtown for a while, looked like everyone was enjoying themselves.

    Now, Iwe're going to give an endorsement for Arnold's Ace Hardware in town.
    John's been doing home repairs since he is nearly recovered from his accident and has been shopping at Arnold's.
    Prices are competitive with the larger stores and the help is really helpful(what a concept)!
    They have some unique gift items as well.
    No need to drive to Monrovia or Pasadena.
    Check it out!

  4. We're a big giver of E Waldo Ward for holidays! Kids far from home are always receptive; former neighbors like a reminder on toast Christmas morning. And they ship! In the past I've given my hard to buy for in-laws Taylor's steaks. No electronics or video games, but in the old fashioned spirit of Christmas, small gifts of love and remembrance for family and friends.

  5. Simple gifts are what make Christmas best. People ask what is the reason for the season. I don't think it has anything to do with squabbling over video games at a Walmart.

  6. Gangster Christmas. Coming to a shopping mall near you.

  7. Arnolds is great, and another place in town to buy gifts you might not know about - it's the Mailbox & Postal store, a couple of stores east of Bank of the West. You've got to keep your eye on the price tag, but the cards and some of the gifts are interesting and the store is kept in an immaculate condition.

  8. If you follow the link to the Black Friday mayhem vid? You may want to avoid the comments. Don't know which is more discouraging - the fact that people are willing to turn into hamsters on the wheel of excessive consumption, or the fury and obscenity that's released in comments on youtube.

  9. Not sure any of that is what Jesus had in mind.

  10. Jesus is here for the hamsters.

  11. When the next American revolution is fought, it will be for plasma screen TVs and video games. Occupy Best Buy.

  12. Depending on your gift list and those to receive it, the idea is good, and a great place to start. I would observe that Ruskin said "a fool is one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing". Thus the birth of WalMart who achieved dominance through the control of supply (on foreign shores) and then negotiated everyone else out of the competition. Thousands perhaps hundered of thousands of small town businesses across America were driven out by WalMart. This was done through low prices and low wage jobs and very efficiently, in towns targeted by WalMart.

    You want to make a point and reward small and local businesses? Look carefully at labels and tags reqired by the FTC (yes governmental regulation not always a bad thing) and see where it was made. Example. The best trimmers, lopers, and tree trimmers are made by a New England Firm, "Florian" whose ratchet tools make gardening work an effortless task and are reasonable priced. Great tools! But check out all the big gardening supply stores here and all you will find are foreign made tools, China, Sri Lanka, manufactured, nothing made here (mostly).

    My point? Read Labels and Tags and reward those who support American Made Stuff. Hopefully you will find these in Sierra Madre.

    It was always about "supply" not "retail".

  13. Buy art from Sierra Madre artists. Why isn't there a store like that? How about the empty part of Howie's for a gallery?

  14. 6:44 I like your logic but I would like you better if you refered to your wife as "Edna, Marsha, or Emily. "The Wife" seems so impersonal and at arms length. I bet she would love you more if you referred to her by her name.

  15. Mary's Market has crafts from local artists: tie died t- shirts, ceramic plaques, earrings, some antiques I believe are for sale, stained glass sun catchers you can use for ornaments. She makes candy and cookies that you can give as gits, too.

    Mother Moos does jams and gives canning lessons -- give the gitf of preserving food. Food items always nice!

    I buy gifts for my family in the form of goats, sheep, llamas, chickens through a program called The Heffer Project and these animals go to farmers around the world.

  16. 6:06 check out Belle's Nest next to the shoe repair store on Baldwin for local artists' wares.
    Thanks Mr. Engle for the reminder. I know many people here in town who care enough to check labels.

  17. So you wouldn't recommend "the old ball and chain," 6:21?

  18. 6:21, and greetings to you. As far as "the old ball and chain" funny 7:02, an old term that I'm sure is fading away as lingo goes but good to keep the phrase in circulation. Actually sometimes we both may feel like we have a ball and chain holding us back! Anyway 6:21 I usually call her the Little Bride which at this age is even more funny but have used that one for many years. The Boss, Department of War and Piece, Director of Activities and of course the always acceptable "Better Half". Actually the wife is glad I don't call her by name as she is very low key and noncontroversial. Wifey does not like a lot of the problems we are having in SM and is disgusted by the local politicians but wouldn't say shit if she had a mouth full. It took about 7 years but I learned not to piss her off and life stays good, oh yea, I always call her when dinner is done. Hope she doesn't read this!

  19. If you are here in Sierra Madre when ordering Xmas presents from Amazon, is that considered doing your shopping in town? It is safer than going to Wal*Mart.


The Tattler is a moderated blog. Annoying delays when posting comments can happen. Thank you for your patience and understanding.