Biz Beat

Halloween over, time to head into holiday season

Santa Claus, pictured in 2014 at Vintage Faire Mall’s Santa HQ, is set to swoop down again for an extended visit there.
Santa Claus, pictured in 2014 at Vintage Faire Mall’s Santa HQ, is set to swoop down again for an extended visit there. Modesto Bee file

The candy has been collected, the jack-o’-lanterns burned down, and the ghosts and goblins retired for the night. With Halloween only a few hours gone, it seems we immediately get smacked with all things Christmas.

Though there has been some backlash against what seems like an ever-growing holiday season, it makes sense that retailers would want to stretch out the most profitable time of year as long as possible. To that end, you can visit Santa at Modesto’s Vintage Faire Mall starting Thursday.

The HGTV Santa HQ, which includes such amenities as a Naughty-or-Nice Meter and Elf-Ray Vision, makes its return to the mall. A “Santa Arrival Breakfast” is set for Saturday.

Santa also makes an annual appearance at McHenry Village shopping center. Last year, he arrived the second week in December. I can remember going to McHenry Village to see Santa when I was little.

The mall isn’t alone in turning its attention to Christmas, of course. The owner of Keller’s gift store told me a few weeks ago that their holiday display would be up and going by Halloween. And look in our Living section for a story by Pat Clark on a bevy of Christmas boutiques that get going next weekend.

ELSEWHERE AROUND THE BUSINESS BEAT: On the other side of the holiday spectrum, outdoor retailer Recreational Equipment Inc., or REI, made headlines last week when it announced that it would not be open on Thanksgiving and will remain closed on Black Friday, as well. Using the hashtag #optoutside, the retailer said it would pay its employees not to come to work that day, allowing them time to spend in the great outdoors.

It’s an admirable move, as some retailers have been getting significant backlash from consumer and employee groups upset about what they see as further infringement on the Thanksgiving holiday. Though REI said Black Friday is one of its biggest days, I suspect the customer of a specialty store like that will just pick another day to make purchases. And you have to think that the press the company got for its action is some good advertising.

I wonder if the idea will catch on, though it seems doubtful; several big-box retailers, including Macy’s and Target, reportedly plan to open up Thursday – Thanksgiving – evening.

▪ Modesto’s Barnes & Noble bookstore is planning a Mini Makers Faire next weekend, with activities and demonstrations aimed at children of all ages.

Participants include the Beyer High robotics team and the Sylvan Learning Center’s STEM robotics and coding program. Attendees can learn about programming, coding and 3-D printing. For more information, call the store at 209-521-1118.

▪ Galletto Ristorante really knows how to hurt a girl. The downtown Modesto restaurant last week announced it added a new catering drop-off service.

The restaurant sent out its newsletter, which includes menu items such as bolognese penne pasta and housemade chocolate brownies, on Thursday morning. It was my poor timing to read the notice at lunchtime, making it a challenge to keep from drooling on my keyboard.

For more information, call the restaurant at 209-523-3165 or email