Lompoc has a new Friday evening shopping experience called TGI Friday Fun, in which businesses that normally close at 5 p.m. will stay open three hours later.
The first TGI Friday Fun occurred last week, and another is planned for today with businesses staying open until 8 p.m.
“A lot of people work out of town, and they want to be able to shop on Friday evenings after they get home,” said Sue Manning of Sue’s Place, 101 North H St.
“So we want to give them another shopping opportunity that they normally don’t have.”
The word needs to get out, Manning said, so shoppers get used to the later hours on Fridays.
Many local businesses are taking part in TGI Friday Fun. The list includes the Surf Connection, Lompoc Valley Florist and Home Decor, Anything Athletic, Sweet Repeats, Bumatay Jewelers, The UPS Store, Keepsake Ceramics Etc., and Sue’s Place.
Ocean Sports Scuba will join the program April 19, and the Cypress Gallery will be taking part on the first Friday of each month.
The idea for TGI Friday Fun came through the Lompoc Cash Mob committee, a group that meets once a month at the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce to brainstorm ideas for small businesses. Cash mob events are coordinated through Facebook, a social media website. In the cash mob events, shoppers converge on a preselected small business, and spend $10. The owners of the business are informed beforehand, so they can prepare.
Robin Dunaetz, owner of the Surf Connection, started the Lompoc Cash Mob last year after hearing about one happening in another area.
One cash mob even took place at last year’s Flower Festival, Dunaetz said.
“We met at the DeWees center, and cash mobbed the Flower Festival food booths. They mostly do fundraising, so we thought it would be nice to help out those who benefit our community.”
Ten cash mob events have been held so far and another is planned for May, said Ken Ostini, president of the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce.
The first cash mob event took place in February 2012 at Lompoc Valley Florist and Home Decor, 1026 North H St.
The owner of the florist business, Connie Clancy, was reportedly very pleased with that event, and looks forward to the TGI Friday Fun evenings to be big, too.
Clancy said she will be holding design classes during the TGI Friday Fun events, but they haven’t started up yet. She took sign-ups last Friday, the first TGI Friday Fun, and will do so again today.
Later hours and cash mobs aren’t the only ways Lompoc businesses and customers have been working together.
A movement to boost shopping at smaller, brick-and-mortar stores was spearheaded in 2010 by American Express, the giant financial firm. They came up with a day called “Small Business Saturday,” which Lompoc joined last November.
Small Business Saturday is supposed get people shopping at smaller brick-and-mortar stores on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and Cyber Monday, are usually associated with big business; in contrast, Small Business Saturday is supposed to encourage people to shop at smaller, local stores.
The Small Business Saturday in November got a big reception in Lompoc. It was so popular that local businesses decided to have another one in March. It, too, was very popular.
“Small Business Saturday has been a huge, huge success,” said Connie Clancy, owner of Lompoc Valley Florist and Home Decor. “It’s been so big, we’re going to hold another one in July.”