Los Gatos Businesses
One of my favorite shops in downtown Los Gatos is Black Cat Hats, which features all kinds of accessories in addition to hats for men and women. The folks there are friendly and knowledgeable and take a personal interest in helping customers to find just the right item they want or need.
Yesterday I paid a visit to Aileen Larson, a co-owner of and buyer for Black Cat Hats, and got to browse the tempting inventory and ask her a few questions about her experience and working in the shop.
A little history
The business was established in 2007 by Janet Dashiell, whom Aileen met in 2008 at an exercise class at the JCC in Los Gatos. In 2014, Aileen stepped in as a co-owner with Janet. Janet now does the books and buys inventory with Aileen, but is mostly behind-the-scenes. Aileen is the warm proprietor you meet while browsing the offerings: jewelry, scarves, some clothing, handbags, umbrellas, but most of all, chapeaus of every kind for both men and women. There are Stetson hats for men, newsboy caps, knit hats, wide brimmed sun hats, pill box hats, and millinery of all types.
There are also some great employees, with low turnover, who seem to be like family to Aileen.
Prior to Black Cat Hats, Aileen had 30+ years in retail sales, including women’s clothing and makeup. That background has helped her to be comfortable working in close proximity to customers and to develop an eye for what will work well for each one.
Hats are important and sell well year round, whether for health reasons (keeping warm or keeping out of the sun), to cover the head when hair’s been lost due to cancer or other medical issues, and just for fun. Interestingly, the biggest season for the shop is Christmas and second is the Kentucky Derby. The latter surprised me, but Aileen explained that there are many themed parties and events around it, so people come in to snag the perfect apparel items.
Future trends anticipated include more items for outdoors recreation, such as hiking.
Fun & challenges
I asked Aileen about the things she enjoys most about Black Cat Hat, and the biggest challenges she faces.
“I am always excited about going to work every day. I love working with the customers, getting the right look and fit for them.” She does get a lot of repeat customers, but also tourists, so it’s a nice mix of people coming through the doors.
There are two main challenges. First, as with many stores or shops, there’s a risk that people will come in, try on the merchandise, and then go home to buy the same item online. Aileen called that the showroom challenge. (It’s a little similar in real estate when we show people homes, and at the last minute a different Realtor steps in to write the contract – truly frustrating.)
Second, sometimes people aren’t used to wearing hats, and initially they feel a little silly. In the worst cases, people get the giggles or put down others trying on hats or other merchandise. That can set a bad tone for the store, of course. Aileen tries to transform the mindset so that people find hats and accessories that do look good on them, and that in turn helps them to feel comfortable and better about themselves.
The atmosphere at Black Cat Hats is attractive but also homey and caring, which makes it a pleasant place to shop. If you have the opportunity to visit North Santa Cruz Avenue, do stop by Black Cat Hats and check out the wares.
Black Cat Hats
(Near the intersection of N Santa Cruz and Bean, across from We Olive)
59 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos, CA 95030
Related Reading on downtown LG businesses:
On Saturday, March 3rd, Southern Kitchen marks an impressive 25 years of service*. This family-owned restaurant has been providing savory and sweet flavors with a touch of the South on E. Main Street for years – if you don’t know them you should!
Southern Kitchen invites you to celebrate with them, with a ribbon cutting and champagne toast from noon to 1pm (details on the Los Gatos Chamber events page). The restaurant’s web page does not have any information on the event, but it is advertised some on their social media pages. Regular hours should still be in effect, so if you can’t make it Saturday at noon, drop by weekdays from 7am to 2pm and weekends from 7am to 3pm for a scrumptious meal.
Southern Kitchen’s website: http://www.southernkitchenlg.com/
*I just hit my 25th anniversary in real estate, too! Apparently 1993 was a very good year for beginnings!
Art lovers, this one’s for you! JCO Art Haus, an appointment-only gallery near Vasona Park in Los Gatos, will be open to the public for one weekend only selling their curated collection at studio prices. The Very Very Rare Affordable Art Fair goes on Thursday to Sunday, April 26-29 at the studio with a special Artist Meet and Greet on Thursday evening (RSVP required for the meet). The fair will represent local and international artists in a warehouse space.
Whether you’re planning on decorating your new home, or just want to window shop, this is a great opportunity to check out a large collection you might not otherwise see.
For more information and to RSVP, visit the JCO event page at this link: http://www.jcosplace.com/art-fair/
Planning on going? Check in or share your interest on the Facebook Event Page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/314816675694157/permalink/320539011788590/
December 05, 2017
Downtown Los Gatos has much to offer, particularly during the holidays, but now we can add one more thing for which to be grateful – downtown Los Gatos is working to bring the holiday joy into your shopping experience!
This Sunday, December 10, from 11am – 4pm Los Gatos encourages you to shop local for the holidays at the 2nd Annual Holiday Stroll. In addition to the seasonal decor, there will be carolers, hot chocolate sales, a visit from ol’ Saint Nick, and plenty of kids activities for revelers and shoppers alike. Additionally, there’s free valet parking!
More details on the Stroll at the event page.
For valet parking, check out the flier.
If you have been meaning to visit the new See’s Candies at 15466 Los Gatos Blvd., Los Gatos, tomorrow is the ideal day to do it. It is National Lollypop Day, and all See’s Candies are giving away one lollypop (or lollipop)* per person. The Mercury News says “Their “lollypops” come in four flavors — Chocolate, Butterscotch, Cafe Latte and Vanilla.” Buon Appetito! (All See’s are participating, by the way!)
Oh and it’s not a bad idea to visit the Sees.com website as they are also running a contest: enter to win a year’s worth of lollipops or a $50 gift card.
*Apparently, both spellings are correct: lollipop and lolypop
While doing a little research on an eatery recently, I stumbled upon the World Tomato Society. Turns out it is located right here in Los Gatos. The tagline is “Celebrating and exploring the world’s most popular fruit”. Just below it is their statement of purpose: Nourishing our planet through education, inspiration, and contribution for the betterment of humanity through all things tomato.
The website offers tips and information on tomato gardening, recipes for cooking and eating tomatoes, and education on nearly 6,000 tomato varieties.
Articles and social media accounts haven’t been updated in 2016 but the info there is quite good if you are interested at all in tomatoes, so I’d encourage anyone to check it out.
The World Tomato Society
720 University Avenue, Suite 100
Los Gatos, California 95032 USA
Hult’s has been mailing out 2 for 1 lunch coupons and a few days ago, my husband and I decided to indulge. The food, service, and environment were all great, so I wanted to give a little plug here.
We went on a Saturday in the very late morning, around 11:45. The restaurant had some patrons but it was early and uncrowded, and we were seated immediately.
The menu is anything but typical, and Jim and I both saw things we’d never heard of before. He ordered the Swedish Classic Pyttipanna, shown in the photo to the right. I will admit that this wasn’t visually appealling to me, as it was mostly shades of brown except for the fried egg on top and some beets on the side, but Jim said that it was delicious and didn’t leave a scrap behind.
As for me, I wanted to try the Lime Stuffed Pan Roasted Salmon(see photo below). My dish featured asapagus tips, melted leaks (I’d never heard of them served as melted before – it was a delicious leek mush) and trout caviar. Usually I don’t go out of my way to have caviar, but it was quite tasty and also gave the food a very nice splash of color.
It was too early for us to have wine with our meal, but I need to note that the Hult’s wine menu is quite extensive and that alone might be a reason to return.
The service was excellent. The atmosphere was quite pleasant. On the ceiling there were sound absorbing tiles that did a wonderful job of keeping the ambiant noise low. The food could not have been better. Prices were not low, but few places in Los Gatos will be described as affordable – and the quality is certainly there. For cost conscious consumers like me, the coupon was just the ticket to try the restaurant. I’m sure we’ll be back – with or without a coupon.
165 Saratoga Los Gatos Rd, Los Gatos, CA 95030
(locals: where Baker’s Square used to be, and long before that, Sambo’s)
*As always, this review is done only because I enjoyed the establishment. The good folks who run Hult’s did not know that I was going, nor that I would write a favorable review, and no compensation was made or received for this or any other review on this site.
Love fine art? A fun place to stop in and get tempted by the work of creative people can be found in downtown Los Gatos at JCO’S Place, which is just a few steps from the Los Gatos Theatre, literally under its marquee.
This afternoon I was strolling past this gallery with my daughter, plus my visiting neice and nephew, who hail from Boston, and noticed some beautiful, oversized paintings. I did a double take when I saw one of Tom Brady, # 12, as you don’t normally find a lot of Patriots art here in Los Gatos. Stepping in, that wasn’t the only piece from the Northeast. It was a surprising find!
Not everything is Brady, Patriots, and Boston – there was plenty of other football art on display to keep in the theme of the game for this season and the multiple celebrations of SuperBowl 50 here in Silicon Valley. To get a better sense of the diverse offerings, check out the blog portion of her website: http://www.jcosplace.com/art-blog .
Why the Tom Brady and Patriots focus? I wish it were because they would have been in tomorrow’s game. Instead, it turns out that the proprietor of the store, Julie Jenkins, hails from Boston. I had a fun talk with her. She is very warm and welcoming, and I’d love to come back to see what she brings in next.
The shop also had an artist painting and visible from the window, Nick Brown, a very talented guy. What I saw looked quite a bit like our eastern foothills, but I didn’t get a chance to talk much as my younger relatives were ready to continue our walk through downtown Los Gatos.
Next time you are out for fun on North Santa Cruz Avenue in LG, take a few minutes and stop by JCO’s Place. I think you will enjoy it!
JCO’s Place for Fine Art
45 N Santa Cruz Avenue
Hours: As of this writing, closed or by appointment Mon and Tues. Check the most current hours on the site: http://www.jcosplace.com/visit.html
We’ve experienced wonderful care for our very old black lab, Bella, at the Los Gatos Dog & Cat Hospital, for a few years now. This is a large practice of extremely well educated veterinarians (degrees are posted in the lobby) who are also very kind, caring, and have good “bedside manners” with people and pets both. The staff is also wonderful.
A bit on our dog and her needs:
Bella is a rescue dog whom we’ve had for 13.5 years, and when we got her, other vets estimated that she was between 2 and 4 years old. So today, in September of 2015, she is approximately 15.5 to 17.5 years old. Most labs live to be 12 or 13, so this is pretty amazing!
At her advanced age, which is probably something like 100 for a human, Bella has her share of troubles: thyroid issues, arthritis (see photo at left and notice her enlarged paw), some inflammation in her lower spine that’s causing trouble, vision loss, loss of hearing, loss of appetite / weight loss, and doggie dementia. Yes, she has some confusion and has managed to forget a few rules, now often “snubs” her meals (until we improve what’s offered) and too frequently needs a lot of trips outside (as opposed to fewer numbers when she was young and spry). But her disposition is as sweet as ever and most of the time she seems to be comfortable and content, so we try to keep her in that zone. The good people at Los Gatos Dog & Cat Hospital have been partners in that effort – and together we are pretty successful.
We’d been with a different practice for a few years but never felt like the care was all that great. In fact, a number of times we came away from the prior place feeling like the folks there were simply not on the ball.
Finding this special practice
I have a cousin who’s a fantastic vet, Colleen Brady DVM, but she doesn’t live too close by so I asked her for a suggestion on a great doctor for Bella here in Los Gatos or nearby when we came to the conclusion that we really needed to part ways with the other vet’s office. She suggested Gabrielle Ravina, DVM, with whom we’ve been exceedingly happy. This is a sharp doctor who knows her stuff, is incredibly good with animals and people, and is able to pull together a lot of info and synthisize it to make the whole picture more clear for us. Bella had some special issues and she recommended acupuncture with anther DVM at the same clinic, which was administered by Haleh Siahpolo, DVM, MPVM, CVA, another wonderful soul who cares deeply for her patients. Unfortunately we didn’t see the hoped for results but we would not hesitate to recommend her to families who feel that their dog or cat might benefit from this treatment. An added bonus for us has been that when we take Bella in on a day when Gabby cannot she her, often Haleh is there. For an old dog with memory issues, it’s helpful to have more familiarity (though this pooch does tend to love everyone).
Our pets really are family members, and we want them to be happy and healthy. It’s quite a big boon to find a veterinary practice which is full of techs, staff, and DVMs who are so very knowlegeable and caring, and who communicate easily with pets and people both. On a scale of 1 to 10, they’d be an 11 or 12 or more. Got a pet? I have the place for you!
17480 Shelburne Way (between University and Winchester)
Los Gatos, California, 95030
On Tuesday of this week, I dashed into the Whole Foods in Los Gatos to pick up a couple of items. It was more crowded than usual, apparently due to the Labor Day weekend we’d just finished. The staff was cheerful and moved fast. But when it got time to pay, the requests for donations came one after the other. I’d brought my bag from the trunk of my car and the first question I got was whether I wanted to donate the bag discount or take a few pennies off my bill. Then I was asked if I wanted to donate to a charity. And finally, I was asked if I wanted to “round up” my purchase price and give the rest to a worthy cause.
In short, within about 60 seconds, I was asked to donate three times.
That felt excessive, even though the amounts were small.
As I emerged from the store, I noticed for the first time a large placard, proudly notifying the consumers who shop at Whole Foods that they should ignore anyone asking them for money outside, that this shopping center, Cornerstone, supports a “distraction free” shopping experience.
What hit me, though, was the irony: Whole Foods doesn’t want veterants, Girl Scouts, Teen Challenge, or anyone else volunteering for a worthy cause asking for donations outside of their store.
No, they want you and me to donate inside, instead, through them.
Does that seem right to you?