After nearly 40 years on Park Avenue, Jacobson’s is leaving Winter Park.
The upscale women’s boutique is in the process of moving into a new location in Lake Mary and is offering discounts on its overstock and selling off the store’s fixtures before the shop’s lease ends Saturday, Dec. 31.
The store will move inventory progressively through December to its new location at The Shoppes of Oakmonte, 1210 S. International Parkway, Suite 170, in Lake Mary.
The store was originally operated as part of the longstanding Michigan-based department store Jacobson’s chain, but when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2002, owner Tammy Giaimo bought the rights to the name and continued the store with a focus on designer women’s wear.
Giaimo did not return requests for an interview. A manager at the store declined to comment for this story.
Bruce Kopytek, an architect living in Michigan, published a book in October documenting the history of the Jacobson’s chain as it stood both in the past for 134 years around the country and its present life in Winter Park.
“They tried very hard to become part of the local community,” Kopytek said, “and succeeded in ways many other department store chains did not.”
For more information on goings on at the store and up-to-date sales, visit Jacobson’s Winter Park on Facebook. To learn more about Jacobson’s history, visit http://tinyurl.com/Jacobsonhistory
Strands of garland and twinkling lights, piles of artificial snow and heights of fake Christmas trees fill the windows of many businesses on Park Avenue this holiday season.
In addition to spreading some holiday cheer — and declaring it once again Winter in the Park —local merchants hope the windows will help draw out shoppers to the Avenue to vote in the second annual Holiday Window Decorating Contest. Sponsored by the city, the event allows Park Avenue strollers to vote for their favorite windows.
“The windows are a great way to draw business out to the Avenue,” said Debra Hendrickson, vice president of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. “Anything that draws people downtown to shop is a good thing.”
Merchants say they hope the added charm of the decorated windows, along with other Winter in the Park-related deals, like the ongoing Skate! Shop! Dine! promotion and chamber-sponsored events such as the Merchant Open House coming up Thursday, Dec. 15, will keep their businesses going strong through the holiday season.
“I think everyone is feeling good about this season so far,” Hendrickson said.
Shops getting in the spirit
Susan Jacobson, owner of Bella, the winner of last year’s holiday window decorating contest, said her shop is out to win the contest again this year. And with a ceiling-skimming ornate Christmas tree, piles of fake snow and bedazzled ice skates in their windows, she thinks they’ve got a good shot.
“We take it pretty seriously,” Jacobson said, noting it took a team of six people and more than 10 hours to put their display together. “But I like to think the more we do it, the more it will encourage others to participate … and we really want this to become a thing that people come specifically to Winter Park to see.”
She says the decorating contest has the potential to grow into a big promotional event for downtown Winter Park as it continues to grow in coming years.
“I think it helps to remind people of how special the Avenue is,” she said. “There are truly very few places like Winter Park in the country. I think this could become another one of our signatures.”
Trina Spinelli, co-owner of new North Park Avenue home décor shop Rosey Wray’s Roost in Brandywine Square, said as a new business opening just before the holiday season kicks off, business has been growing steadily.
“We’re hoping that through word of mouth and by us participating in the window decorating contest that will continue,” Spinelli said. “We’ve had a lot of people come in and say ‘Wow! I saw your windows and I had to come in to see what else you had.’ ”
The store will hold its grand opening coinciding with the Park Avenue and Hannibal Square Merchant Open House on Thursday, Dec. 15, when local businesses will stay open late and offer special service and deals to shoppers.
Spinelli said she hopes once winter break starts for local schools the ice skating rink will draw more traffic to the area, and her store through the Shop! Skate! Dine! promotion that offers people with ice skating wristbands discounts at many participating Park Avenue stores.
Don Sexton, owner of Downeast Orvis on Park Avenue, has taken the garland and lights theme of his window display and carried it throughout his store, hoping it will draw customers to look beyond the window and inside the store to shop.
“If the contest wasn’t in effect, people might just walk right on by the displays,” Sexton said. “But this encourages them to stop and review it and makes them look a little harder at not only the decorations, but what’s inside the stores.”
Holiday shopping wrap-up
For more information on Park Avenue promotions, visit tinyurl.com/wpwindows. The Park Avenue and Hannibal Square Merchant Open House is Thursday, Dec. 15, from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
With barely a week until Christmas, businesses say they are not only preparing for the last-minute rush of shoppers, but also starting to look back at how business has done so far this shopping season.
“I think everyone is feeling good about this season so far,” Hendrickson said. “I’ve gotten some mixed reviews, but I think it depends on how well each of the merchants have worked to market their business.”
A big draw, and a new effort by the Chamber and Park Avenue Area Association this year, was local merchants participation on the American Express-sponsored Small Business Saturday on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Jacobson, Spinelli and Sexton all say they saw marginal increases in business on Small Business Saturday and hope that in coming years the day will continue to grow.
Sexton, who said he is anticipating a 10-percent increase in business this year compared with last, said though the Small Business Saturday turnout wasn’t sensational, it was an event he could see doing very well in future years on the Avenue.
“This year was pretty good, next year should be good, and I can see the years after being astounding,” he said.
He said anything that promotes businesses to work together for the benefit of Park Avenue as a whole is a step in the right direction.
“It’s not about just helping my store be more successful,” he said. “It’s about all of the avenue being successful. It’s programs like this that help make that happen.”