Montrose Shop Owners Lack Promotion Money : Merchants May Ask City’s Aid

Times Staff Writer

Merchants in the Montrose Shopping Park may need help from the City of Glendale to turn around their sagging fortunes, some village leaders say.

A city-funded study of the village’s economic woes, released last week, found that promotional campaigns are needed to raise public awareness of the park. The study also recommends that directories of shops be installed on streets and that other improvements be made to attract new customers to the three-block district along Honolulu Avenue west of Verdugo Road.

But all of that costs money, which merchants there say they lack. “We’re hoping we can get some help from the city,” said Jay Drayman, secretary of the Montrose Shopping Park Merchants Assn. and owner of a printing business there.

Both Drayman and Walt Hackman, an art dealer and president of the association, told shopkeepers at a meeting last week that they hope to raise some money from the city to help pay for promoting the village. But they also warned merchants that much of the money will have to come from local businesses.

At the request of village merchants, the Glendale City Council last year allocated $22,000 in city funds to determine why sales at the village have remained stagnant for four years. The stagnant period began shortly before the second phase of the modern, busy Glendale Galleria opened. Sales in the Galleria and nearby shopping areas have soared during the same period.

The study concluded that people who don’t shop at the shopping park perceive it to be smaller and more limited than it actually is. Martha Thayer of New Image Public Relations of Glendale, which conducted the study, said many people do not realize the village has 137 shops. That’s the same number as in the first phase of the Galleria project, which was developed with city assistance.

The merchants’ association is the only one of its kind in the city that levies a tax on itself to raise money for promotional campaigns, Drayman said. Taxes derived from a portion of sales are collected by the city and returned to the merchant group.

But Drayman said the association’s operating budget, which averages about $16,000 a year, is too small to take on any major promotional campaign or construction of amenities. He said the tax has remained unchanged since 1969 but that the costs of advertising and promotion have increased significantly.

He said merchants are considering expanding the boundaries of the shopping village to include about 50 nearby businesses, which would then expand the financial base of the association.

The study recommends that the park advertise in major local newspapers and regional editions of national magazines, and send mailers to area residents who do not subscribe to those publications. The cost of such promotions could more than triple the annual operating expenses of the village, Drayman said.

He told merchants last week, “It takes money to implement these recommendations, and somebody has to pay for it.” Merchant leaders have declined to say whether they will seek general tax revenues from the city to support the shopping park or how much the improvements and street directories might cost. Drayman said proposals could be implemented in stages over several years.

Hackman said directors of the merchant group will meet next month to discuss the recommendations. He said the group will then discuss the proposals with city officials to determine how they might be implemented.