“We’re very optimistic, to be honest with you,” Karapedian said.
The village will host weekend Christmas carolers and will offer children the chance to visit Santa Claus on Kenneth throughout December, Karapedian said.
Those additions, combined with holiday decorations and a new advertising campaign, could help bring more people to the area, he said.
Karapedian hoped visitors to the village’s Fall Festival last month would return to the area during the holiday season, helping to boost foot traffic during a time that could help some businesses turn around, he said.
“People are coming back, people are seeing the changes here,” he said. “I think overall they like what they see. They like what we’re doing here.”
More visitors to the area during the holidays will likely help all merchants on the road by bringing more passing traffic, he said.
Business had dropped about 90% since the summer at Kenneth Village Meat and Produce Market, where Sarkis Militonyan was seeing some shoppers return to his renovated store since a recently ended farmers market and construction pushed customers away, he said.
But Militonyan feared having to shut down his market and its state-of-the-art refrigerators and new kitchen if more visitors did not start coming through his doors.
Traffic at nearby Itza Knitterie has fallen by about 50% over the last year, with employees hoping for a rebound during the holidays, sales representative Melissa Sasaki said.
“It’s really hard because it’s kind of dead out here,” Sasaki said of foot traffic around the store, which sells yarn and needles.
Other businesses have seen some stability in sales, and most stores don’t expect to be threatened if they don’t make large gains during the year-end holiday stretch, Karapedian said.
But finding a way to make Kenneth Village a destination for visitors to walk and, perhaps, spend their holiday dollars has been a key focus, he said.
“I think pretty much every one of us are in the same boat,” he said. “Every one of us could use more business. Every one of us needs more business.”
Merchants, stifled by the construction at the Grandview intersection, had heavily criticized the city for not taking early measures to redirect potential shoppers around closed roads and to the area. Their complaints earned a concession from the Redevelopment Agency, which offered to pay for some advertising for the area to help make up for lost business.