Cheers for local Oktoberfest

MONTROSE — Saturday’s Oktoberfest drew a surge of shoppers to Honolulu Avenue, prompting more buying than store owners have seen from the annual event in years, area leaders said.

About 30,000 attendees streamed into Montrose for the German-inspired celebration, which featured beer on tap until 10 p.m., along with sausage, sauerkraut and other traditional components of Bavarian-style meals.

That total was more than double last year’s attendance, when rain hampered the event, and more than in 2007, when poor weather also affected the festival’s success.

“We had a lot of people,” said Jane Kane, president of the Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce, which organized the event. “We didn’t have too many leftovers.”

Kane would not confirm reports from a member of the chamber’s Board of Directors that Oktoberfest raked in more than $350,000.

She did say the chamber had ramped up advertising efforts to bring in more attendees.

Those increased promotions paid off, business owners said.

“Not every year has it been a big boon,” said Dale Dawson, president of the Montrose Shopping Park Assn., “but for some reason this year, I don’t know if it was the recession and everyone wanted to come out and party or what, but I think it was a big shot in the arm.”

Stores were filled with shoppers who had an interest in buying, Dawson said.

“It brought traffic in,” he said. “It brought shoppers into the stores and that was a good thing.”

Businesses did not have a pulse on how much sales figures had increased during the one-day event, but the increased traffic from active consumers was a major shift from trends in the area, which has been hit hard by dropping consumer demand during the recession, he said.

Oktoberfest was the second-largest event this year in the Glendale area, after Cruise Night, which draws about 60,000 attendees, said Councilman John Drayman, also a Montrose business owner.

The event is valuable to businesses because it brings many visitors to an area that they have not visited before and may come back to after they experience the atmosphere, Drayman said.

Deputy Development Services Director Emil Tatevosian agreed.

“I actually happened to go there and I saw a lot of new faces, a great deal of people from out of the city coming in,” Tatevosian said.

Still, Dawson admitted, one day of increased buying from prior years would not make up for a recessionary trend that has put some Honolulu stores out of business.

“We’re all so far in the hole right now, to be honest with you, that it didn’t dig us out, but it was a help,” he said.

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