The Cambrian

It's your business: Let’s boost Cambria’s off-season business

Come Tuesday, Sept. 7, the Cambria Lions Club will be busily mopping the Pinedorado grounds, while most of our shops, restaurants and hostelries quietly slide into the off-season.

That’s bad enough during boom economies, let alone hard times, as evidenced by several closures. Fortunately, we can do a lot to help sustain Cambria businesses until June. Some suggestions:

—Start your holiday gift shopping now. Many retailers mark down merchandise to clear space for holiday shipments on the way.

—Visit new shops and galleries, and established ones periodically, to update your knowledge of their inventories. This will make future searches for specific items much easier. It will also suggest which shop a friend or relative would enjoy visiting while here.

—Vow to visit every antiques shop in town, even if you’re not into antiques. My décor is modern, and one Saturday I set out to browse patiently alongside a relative with Victorian tastes. Guess who spent the most money?

—Learn which jewelry stores design and make custom jewelry, and ask to see some examples. Keep this in mind for an upcoming wedding anniversary, or for old jewelry that you’d like updated.

—Check out spa services. Several nice day spas have popped up recently, offering compelling menus. Facials, massages, and other pampering are perfect for a dreary day, or to elevate your mood. If a friend or relative is going through a difficult time, invite him or her along to share the relaxation.

—Research local restaurant offerings. Menus change periodically, and prices can drop after summer. Many eateries also have takeout menus, even some you’d never think of. Collect these, so you can enjoy something beyond pizza.

Also, find out which restaurants offer early-bird dinners. You can eat quite well, and more often at many fine places, if you arrive before 6 p.m. And, learn who offers catering services. Some places are predictably pricey, but others are an outright bargain. I hosted a buffet dinner for 20, based on the takeout menu prices of a moderately priced restaurant. I was informed that if I could send someone in to pick up the food, they would lend me the chafing dishes for the buffet. The evening was a huge hit.

—Look for opportunities to bring people to Cambria. Most of us extend open invitations to friends and relatives, but this doesn’t always work. A friend once revealed that she’d be more comfortable if I called to invite her for a specific weekend. I found this more effective with other friends and relatives too.

Family reunions and girlfriends getaways are also perfect for Cambria’s off-season, as room rates are lower. In fact, many hostelries offer significant discounts for reservations made by locals, whether for one room or several.

So, after the Pinedorado grounds are nailed down, please join me in some leisurely sleuthing among Cambria’s retailers, restaurants, spas, and hostelries. The only risk is discovering something you don’t really need, but that you simply must have.

E-mail Cambria resident, business writer and Chamber of Commerce member Vicki Clift at