Viewpoint: Envisioning a brighter future for our Village

The Rotary Club of Claremont’s annual tasting event, Taste of Claremont, continues to draw large crowds every year. Courier photo/Peter Weinberger

By the Village Mouse | Special to the Courier

Hi, everyone! This month, as promised, we will delve into the concept of space and how we can creatively use it within our Village. This is a big subject, but it requires all of us to look at what we have and how we can better utilize it creatively. Let’s brainstorm and come up with some fresh ideas.

Often when I wander through the Village I’m intrigued by our spaces and their role in attracting and retaining visitors. Remember, folks, our goal is to sustain our businesses (hint: encouraging locals to shop here) and welcome new customers regularly. This calls for innovative thinking and collaboration.

We have Claremont Village Marketing Group orchestrating magnificent events like the wine and beer walks, and other events. We have Claremont Chamber of Commerce’s Village Venture, monthly breakfasts, and so much more. These are not just events, but a testament to our community’s creativity and collaboration. But imagine the possibilities if we could increase foot traffic here during the week, not just for weekend visitors. The potential is immense.

For example, Donna Daniel shared an insightful perspective with me. The owner of Grove Home and Grove Clothing pointed out that we already have the space we need, it’s just that we’re not making the most of it. This highlights the untapped potential of our underused spaces, which can be a catalyst for our community to think creatively and explore new possibilities.

The patio in front of the Laemmle Theatre could host various events, Donna said, from grassroots types like movie discussions and book clubs to knitting and exercise groups. She felt this space could be immersive, visual, and visionary. How about an art piece or mural where families could take photos to share? How about more family-friendly activities in addition to Friday Nights Live, which presents music in the plaza in the spring and summer months? Let’s diversify our offerings and attract a wider audience. This is a suggestion and a necessity for our community to adapt and grow. Donna and her daughter Katie are forward-thinking, positive, and willing to collaborate with other merchants. I love that they think we can have small events. They want people to come to the Village daily.

Kim and her son Neal, who own Noren’s Nursery, have an inviting space for plants and for people. They have a large table, the “planting station,” that can accommodate up to 20 people for gardening classes. They also host groups of people with disabilities from OPARC twice monthly. Classes are free; participants only pay for materials. Noren’s is open daily, and they also provide rocks and soil so anyone can pot a plant. Kim told me she would love to host book clubs or family celebrations to take advantage of this fun and educational space.

Last week, I talked to Claremont Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Randy Lopez. It was amazing to hear the extent of Claremont’s influence beyond the Village. All businesses in Claremont are vital and must be supported, including larger businesses like the markets and the hotels. He said we have an “experiential economy,” meaning people like to come here because local businesses want to create unique, personalized, and meaningful experiences and interactions. He also clarified that Claremont is a gateway to LA County, not just the last city in LA County. I love this. We will explore this further next month.

Our amazing city is filled with incredible knowledge, resources, and content. Perhaps a shift in our perception is what’s needed, and new lenses to gain fresh insight into ways of looking at our city. There are certainly challenges, but there’s also optimism.

Next week, I will chat with more store owners and get their ideas. I bet you have some, too. Please get in touch with me through the Courier if you have suggestions. In the meantime, let’s continue to wear our rose colored glasses and envision a vibrant future for our Village.


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