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Monday, December 12, 2016

What happened to Christmas downtown? What happened to downtown in general?

Going downtown during Christmas was one of the highlights of my childhood. My Mother and I would go to Woolworths for lunch then poke around The Arcade, go to the Mount Cashel Raffle and buy a ticket hoping to win a turkey. Then we would go window to window looking at the decorations and displays.
You can’t do that with your kids anymore because none of it exists!

Granted Mount Cashel is a bad memory, The Arcade and Woolworths are long gone, and downtown is fading from our vibrant history.

It has turned into boutique stores, pricy restaurants and tourist traps. Businesses are closing down and a reasonably priced fish and chips is as hard to find as a parking spot.

There was a time when the downtown businesses only had to compete with the Avalon and Village Malls. Now it’s Stavanger Drive and Kelsey Drive with their big free parking lots where you don’t have to worry about getting a ticket. Then there’s internet shopping!

People need a reason to go back downtown.

The marketing strategy is just not there but it is not that hard to create. Simple adjustments can change our downtown section into the bustling business district it once was. All you have to do is get creative and deal with some issues:

Parking and parking tickets. If you’re lucky enough to find a parking spot you have to keep an eye on the meter so you don’t get a ticket. Simple solution, make Duckworth Street and Water Street one way to ease the traffic congestion.  Keep the traffic on Harbour Dive both ways. Then put parking on Duckworth and Water Streets on an angle to double the capacity. Allow more free parking days or just free parking in general.

Close Water Street to host festivals. When George Street has its music festival the street is closed down to accommodate people traffic which is a great idea! When Water Street has the Busker’s Festival the street stays open to traffic! If Water Street was closed down the City would have more room for Buskers, and families would feel safer if they didn’t have to dodge traffic to see the acts performing. Make this festival an event; organize a parade around it, encourage businesses to set up sidewalk sales, let people have ticket booths and food stands like a “Water Street Regatta.

Host more festivals!!! Surely we can come up with more than the George Street Festival and the Busker’s Festival to showcase downtown. Here’s an idea… New Year’s Eve in June! Bring the fireworks back to the St. John’s Harbour but set them off in June! Put a stage on the Waterfront for musical acts and create a party. It would boost business for restaurants and nightclubs and bring families back to downtown. Wouldn’t you like to see the New Year’s fireworks while wearing your shorts?

Own Christmas! The one thing downtown has over other shopping areas is the history. Here’s how you do it:

1.       Encourage businesses to create a one-of-a-kind window display. Give awards for the best window. Make a big deal over it and advertise it to the public as the one thing they don’t want to miss during Christmas. Downtown traffic equals downtown shopping and eating.

2.       Invest in some new city decorations and lights. You should see downtown from Mount Pearl! Light it up! Make it magical!

3.       Bring back the raffle. Ask a charity to take it over. I am sure the Rotary or Kinsman would love to take it on during December. Ask for proposals and whoever comes up with the best long-term business plan wins the contract for 3-5 years. If they get lazy or do not do a good job they lose it to someone else.

Entice other restaurants to move downtown. I love our local cuisine but sometimes I don’t want to make reservations I just want a Big Mac. Not everyone can afford a $100 lunch. Why isn’t there a McDonalds, Burger King or even a Ches’s downtown? There are lots of pricy places but not a lot of moderate to low cost places to eat.

Enough with the boutiques! I am the queen of shopping but I am also the queen of good deals. Every time I shop downtown I am appalled by the tourist gouging that goes on. The write up on some goods is crazy. I also don’t want to buy socks with “What are ya at?” on them or T-shirts with “Ow she gettin’ on by?” I refuse to shop in stores that don’t take returns. I was burnt by a store downtown last summer when I bought an expensive pair of sneakers as a gift for my daughter on her birthday. They didn’t fit and I brought them back. They didn’t have her size and they would only give me a store credit. They didn’t have another pair that she liked so we ended up wasting the credit on things she didn’t really want. Learned a lesson there!

Entice other clothing stores to move downtown. Why don’t we have a Suzy Shier or La Chateau downtown? Not everybody can spend $3000 on a fur coat. Some people just want to buy a reasonably priced winter coat. Bring in some normal stores. These stores employ local people too and drive the economy.

Not everyone likes George Street. I am a 53 year old Mother. I have no interest in George Street and it seems the City only promotes what is happening there. I never hear them promote what is happening on Duckworth Street or Water Street. If it wasn’t for friends on Facebook promoting restaurants I would not know downtown existed outside of George Street.

Now downtown business owners don’t get upset with me. I know not all downtown businesses target the rich who want lobster for lunch, expensive clothes and tourist items. Unfortunately those businesses get lost in between which is why they are closing down.  We don’t know they exist!

Someone has dropped the ball here.  Downtown needs a marketing strategy that is not so focussed on the brief tourist season, high-end shoppers or party goers on George Street.  You have basically cut out the middle to low income earners. 

That’s too bad because there are more people living in moderately priced homes in St. John’s than there are in King William Estate mansions.  

Go to the Avalon Mall on any given day. The food court is full, parking is free, the stores are busy and the money is flowing.  People are willing to spend money they just need a good reason to spend it downtown. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Join Helen & Shelley for Happy Hour Christmas shopping! This Wednesday night (Nov. 09th) from 5-6:30


Join Helen & Shelley for Happy Hour Christmas shopping! This Wednesday night (Nov. 09th) from 5-6:30.
Myself and Shelley Neville will be at the Masonic Temple. I will be launching and signing my book "I am Funny Like That" and Shelley will be singing songs from her Christmas CDs. Both will be on sale so you can do all your Christmas shopping in in place!
Those who attend can enter their name to win a "Reading Basket" valued at almost $1000 and includes a $315 gift certificate for a NL Pride ring from Campus Rings, a Tocara bracelet, $200 in beauty gift certificates from Signature Salon, Tres Belle Esthetics, and Studio A. Plus lots of other surprises.

When you attend my book signing make sure you fill out a ballot. I will be drawing for it at 6:30 PM.
My Special guest is the one, the only Shelley Neville accompanied by the multi-talented Bill Brennan who will be singing selections from her beautiful Christmas CD.
Don't forget it is this Wednesday, November 09th
from 5:00-6:30 PM
at Spirit of Newfoundland
6 Cathedral Street, St. John's
Please join myself & Shelley for food, refreshments, music and lots of laughs as I launch my first book "I am Funny Like That"
If you already have a copy of the book please bring it to be signed. The hard copies will be available for $15.00 at the event.
To order a copy go to Amazon.com

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Congratulations to the 10 Book Winners!

I ran a book give away on Goodreads from September 26 – October 26, 2016 and 1400 readers entered for a chance to win a copy of my first book, I am Funny Like That.


I am very happy to say that Goodreads just sent me the names of the 10 winners and I shipped a copy of I am Funny Like That to each winner tonight!

Congratulations:
PATTY NIEDERT – OMAHA, NE
Shivani Chaudhary, Snohomish, WA
Holly Richards, Frankfort, In
Stacy Rouble, STOUFFVILLE, Ontario
Jim Caffrey, Burleson, TX
Geralyn Butts, LIBERTYVILLE, IL
Susan Reyna, Kyle, TX
Gloria Burke, North Royalton, Oh
Jennifer Fliegel, Pueblo, CO
Chevonne Tobin, Manitowoc, WI

I hope you enjoy my book.

Helen C. Escott

Monday, October 24, 2016

Who are you calling plus sized?

I am a size 12. Size 10 on a good day. An 8 a week before I go on vacation. A 12-14 when I get back from vacation but that’s it. That’s all my sizes.

I watch what I eat from Monday to Thursday. I eat Ketchup chips like a wood chipper on Friday nights with a red wine, of course. On Saturday we BBQ steaks with fully loaded baked potatoes and wine to wash it down. That’s usually followed by a Costco apple pie or Tuxedo Cake. Then Sunday morning I crawl back on my Weight Watchers scales and start all over again.

If it wasn’t for the weekends, I would be as skinny as a rake because I am really good all week. I watch what I eat. Type everything in to “My Fitness Pal” app on my iPhone. I walk the dog to get my steps in and I drink a bucket of water each day.

So I believe I am doing all I can.

I know I am never going to be a size 2 and I don’t care. I don’t want to be a size 2. I am 5 foot 9. If I was a size 2 I would look like a coat hanger or like I was on heroin. I don’t want to see my ribs when I put on a big wool sweater and I certainly don’t want friends telling me “I have no arse!”

I would like to be more toned but I had back surgery and that means I can’t do sit ups. So I will wear Spanx like everyone else.

I am ok with that.

But apparently the world is not.

I walked into a dress store, automatically turned to my left and began looking at clothes. The sales lady calls out “Excuse me Miss. You’re on the wrong side.”
My first through was “Is this the drag queen side. What side do I look like I should be on?” Maybe I am wearing too much makeup. The stuff that runs through my head. I am not good with confrontation!

“What size are you?” she smiles at me as she walks toward me. I feel obligated to tell her because I don’t know what else to do. “Size 10” I lie. I am bloating and I know I can’t pull this off.

She squints as she sizes me up and down. “Your clothes are on the other side. This is the ‘Plus girl’ section. It’s size 14 and up.”

There were two ladies flipping through the sales rack watching my interaction with this sales lady and I felt like saying “Ok I’ll go, but can I take them too. They are obviously a size 8.” But I knew she wouldn’t buy it. They were clearly in the right section.

I walked over to “my” section and started shopping but I felt bad for the two ladies left over on the other side of the store probably wondering why they were not told to take a walk on the wild side.

Why can’t clothes racks go from size 2 to 22?
Why do we need two sides of a store?
Why isn’t there a bathroom in the same section as the change rooms?

I don’t know!

Did our mothers and grandmothers all agree at some point that the size 0-12’s will shop on the right and the size 14-22’s will shop on the left?

I didn’t buy anything there I went to another store. I was looking for a white blouse. I asked the sales lady in the next store if she had any plain white blouses.
“Are you a professional woman?” she inquired.

“No I am amateur one. A broken one really. I leak.” I confessed to her astonishment and just for fun I put on puppy dog eyes and locked stares with her while I let a little drool fall out of my mouth and roll down my chin.

She looked away first.

“We do have white blouses over here.” She brought me to the rack and disappeared to the back room. I assume to update her Facebook status to let all her friends and family know about the crazy lady in the store.

What difference does it make if I am professional or not?
And what profession was she talking about? I was wearing my Hootchie Momma shorts with heals. But who is she to judge me?

We have so many labels to slap on ourselves! Is that a Michael Kors watch? Is that a Coach purse? Are you a size 8 or an 18? Are you a professional woman or a minimum wage worker? I need to know if I should waste my time showing you our white blouses.

A guy once told me if I lost weight I would look really good because I had a pretty face… I was 8 months pregnant! They haven’t found his body yet.
The bottom line is, I am healthy, happy and I like who I am.

I also find it extremely hard not to laugh at people. I am not perfect. Give me a break.

I do try not to judge. I really do. It’s hard I know… You know… We all know. So if I do judge, I do it in my head only or whisper it to hubby or my BFF Nancy and make them laugh. Then sneak away so they look all “judgy” and I don’t.

My point is, what harm was it to let me look through the plus section. I would have found my way out eventually. I can’t help but think what if I was size 14 and wandered into the 2-12 section? Would she have told me to go to the Plus section? Because if she did I would have grabbed a size 10 jeans and stretched that fabric to the breaking point until I got every last celluloid dimple packed in. Then I would have strutted around like a rooster in that store.

I don’t mind a sales lady giving me fashion advice and suggesting some things that would look good on me. But seriously, you don’t know what my day is like. I go into stores because they are my happy place and I can’t afford real therapy.  I don’t want stress. I definitely don’t want to yell my size across a store.

Finally for God sakes, can’t we find a better label than “Plus Sized?” Why not “Womanly” “Under-Womanly” and “Over-Womanly.” That sounds so much better.


Excuse me miss! You’re too over-womanly to shop here. I could be happy with that.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Win a copy of "I am Funny Like That"

Now on Amazon’s Best Sellers list, Helen C. Escott's hysterical blog "I am
Funny Like That" has come to life in this witty book!

If you have thrown your back out taking off Spanx, planned your husband's murder in your head or screamed through a Brazilian, this book is for you.


If you need a good laugh, or need to smile, this book is better than Prozac it will make you laugh out loud for days after reading it. 

119,000 blog readers can't be wrong! Join in the laughter. 

Win a copy on Goodreads

or buy a copy at Bookbaby or Amazon