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August 26th, 2008A local flavor for the mall

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by Wendy Leung
DailyBulletin.com

Rancho Cucamonga, CA – The sluggish economy has cast a pall over the retail industry and the independent business owners are the ones who feel the pangs of this slowdown the most.

But Nancy Belletto, owner of The Wild Grape, takes it all in stride. After all, her gifts and home decoration boutique is her dream store.

“When you’re hit with a downturn, an independent store has just that one store, whereas corporate stores can spread the risk across many stores,” said Belletto, a Rancho Cucamonga resident. “You try to live with it the best you can.”

The Wild Grape, which sells everything from Italian hand-painted ceramics to ornate wine racks the size of a bookshelf, is one of only two locally owned stores at Victoria Gardens.

And since grapes are on the city logo and the central theme of this boutique, one can argue that this specialty store belongs in this lifestyle center more than any other.

Small businesses like Belletto’s have always been challenged by their better known corporate competitors. But it’s particularly tough when you lease in a high-rent location like the Victoria Gardens and your customers are more hesitant to open their wallets.

Recently, Belletto and her marketing and promotions coordinator Jillian Steinhauser have been offering discounts and free gifts on the first Friday of every month. They also offer snacks and sparkling cider to lure customers inside.

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