Shop Talk readers, you are a talkative bunch.

I have enjoyed reading your comments and thoughts on the Shop Talk blog, Twitter and Facebook pages; it’s nice to know that you all are reading and responding to my columns, Facebook posts and blogs.

So for this week’s Reporter’s Notebook, I want to share and respond to some your thoughts.

Sara Carlenius sent me an email expressing her concern over retailers deciding to open earlier on Thanksgiving:

“Ridiculous! Thanksgiving is a time for family, for spending time together with people you care about. Time for reflection, counting blessings, being thankful for what you have — not thinking about all the things you want to purchase.

The commercialization of Christmas by retailers makes me sick. It was a religious holiday originally and has been hijacked by retailers who promote an overtly materialistic society. And now they have also managed to hijack Thanksgiving, which was a day set aside to give thanks to God.

Can’t people just take one day off from shopping? One day! Is that too much to ask?”

Thanks for your email, Sara. As I’ve written in the past, there has been some backlash, particularly from retail employees, over retailers’ decisions to open earlier every year.

One thing I did find interesting when I was out on Thanksgiving is finding shoppers who agreed with Sara in principle, but still went out and shopped because they believed they needed to take advantage of discounts so they could stay within their holiday gift budgets.

And others I talk to admit that while they were glad to spend time with family, after awhile it was nice to get out of the house and do something.

I feel like these earlier openings are a chicken-and-egg situation. I can see how the long lines of shoppers year after year have convinced retailers that it’s OK to open earlier on Thanksgiving. On the other hand, perhaps the fact that retailers made themselves available on Thanksgiving has prompted people to shop.

Last week, I posted a New York Times article on the Shop Talk Facebook page that talked about how toys have become yet another indicator of class separation. In the article, author Ginia Bellafante writes of how smaller-batch educational toys tend to be available in boutique toy stores, which tend to be located in more affluent neighborhoods.

That post prompted an interesting discussion from Shop Talk readers, not on class division but on the value of educational toys. Matthew Mead of Selah came to this conclusion:

“I suppose it could be a type of class divide, but I think the explanation for this occurrence is the fact that educational-type toys aren’t great sellers. A big city can get away with it because there are enough people seeking these toys out. In small-town America, it’s harder to make a go of it. ... I know when I was a kid, educational toys weren’t my favorite. My daughter didn’t get much use out of hers, either. We are brainwashed to have to have the latest and greatest Barbie/Hot Wheels/G.I. Joe or whatever the top sellers are! Educational toys are feel-good toys for adults.”

Kimberly Ruck, also of Selah, took issue with that opinion:

“I disagree completely. Educational toys are not just “feel good toys” for adults. We used to shop at Toys that Teach in Bothell (where we used to live) and our son loved everything that we bought there for him. We also used to buy birthday presents for our friends’ children from that store, too. As long as I had a good idea of what the child liked, I was always able to find a gift that brought a big smile and “Wow! Thank you!” from the child.”

For what it’s worth, some educational toys can be found in different speciality retailers in the Yakima Valley.

Joanne Elliott emailed me responding to my recent column on a study that looked at how scent influences shoppers:

“I wish to point out there is another aspect to scents in stores. Those of us with chemical sensitivities, have asthma or deal with migraines become ill when we encounter scents in stores or even when near individuals with perfume or scented lotions. If I enter a store with scents, I quickly exit. Thank goodness for online shopping.”

Joanne’s email got me thinking about a point in the study that states how complex scents can often overwhelm shoppers.

That reminded me of those advertisements that department stores send in the mail. Oftentime, those ads come with scented inserts of different perfumes and colognes. I have to admit all those different smells were so overwhelming that I’d end up throwing the ad away before I looked through it.

Thanks for your email, Joanne.


Casa VittoRe is expected to open this week at the former Tuxedo Place building at 212 E. Yakima Ave., owner Victor Renteria said. The cafe will offer a variety of coffee drinks and entrees, including crepes and paninis. Renteria runs a similar cafe by the same name in the Mexican city of Colima and decided to open a second location in downtown Yakima because he has family in the area.

Once open, the cafe’s hours will be 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 to 10 p.m. Sundays.

• Unforgettable, a new bridal shop, will open Wednesday at the Chalet Place shopping center at 56th and Summitview avenues. Along with bridal, bridesmaid and prom dresses, the shop will carry decorations, accessories and gifts. The store is located in part of the space once occupied by Blockbuster Video. John Gasperetti’s Floral Design recently relocated from the Westpark Shopping Center at 40th and Summitview avenues to a storefront that took up the other part of the Blockbuster space. The store’s hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. The shop will also be open from noon to 5 p.m. the last two Sundays of this year and may be open Sundays in the future if demand warrants.

• Mai Hoang’s Reporter’s Notebook is published Mondays in the Marketplace section. To reach her, call 509-759-7851 or email