For a store opening, it's a happening.
The Nature Gallery, a mineral store with an educational bent, opens at 296 State Street on Friday evening with a bang.
Owner Carol Garston was well-known in Palo Alto for the community building she did from her base at Town & Country Village. With the large space at the State Street store, she's planned a weekend full of activities, in her signature way: Bring in community groups and provide an opportunity to learn something along the way.
First, there's the obligatory ribbon-cutting, presided over by Mayor Val Carpenter and others. Los Altos High School's classical string quartet is showcased that evening in the store, while wine and hors d'houevres are served.
Saturday, for this store of of minerals, fossils and jewelry, is the real bang.
Leung's White Crane Lion Dance, one of the most well-known troupes in the Bay Area, makes a rare appearance on the streets of Los Altos 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to celebrate Nature Gallery's opening.
If you can't make it to the big Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco Saturday night, you would do well to catch this up-close performance by a premier kung-fu school. And, there's a learning opportunity from some of the best: the lion dancers will not only demonstrate their athletic kung-fu feats, but answer questions, afterward. Kids can get their pictures taken with them, too.
Then, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. the store will host Steve Koeler, stage name, "Mr. Horsefeathers," a popular children's entertainer, who performs music, magic and juggling. Mini-balloons will be given away. (For those who can't get enough of Mr. Horsefeathers he will be appearing earlier in the day, noon to 1 p.m., at Linden Tree Books).
Garsten is running a fundraiser for the Los Altos High School Jazz Quartet throughout the afternoon by donating 20 percent of sales to the group. From 3 to 5 p.m. the group will perform and a $20 donation is suggested.
The cross-promotion of local groups and educational orientation almost seems to be part of the Garston's DNA, and some hope it will help spark more activity downtown.
She's the type, observed friend Mark Weiss (who blogs for Palo Alto Patch), who naturally works the room, works the street, and finds ways to collaborate with other merchants for events. In Palo Alto, she was known for her charitable work, whether chairing the Peninsula HealthCare Connection at Palo Alto's Opportunity Center, or running the Downtown Streets Team's mentoring program.
Garsten comes to Los Altos with a passel of ideas for her store. She was already teaching about minerals by making classroom presentations in Palo Alto, and has said she wants to continue that in Los Altos. The store may be a hub for events, whether fundraisers for groups or used for birthday parties.
Schedule of Events:
6-9 p.m. Ribbon Cutting, Hors D'Houevres, wine
11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Leung's White Crane Lion Dance on State Street (kung-fu artists will answer questions beginning at 12:15 p.m.)
2 - 3:30 p.m. Zany fun with Mr Horsefeathers, featuring music, magic, juggling and "amazing" balloon animals.
12 - 5 p.m. Fundraiser for Los Altos High School Jazz Quartet. Twenty percent of sales donated to the group.
3 - 5 p.m. Los Altos High School Jazz Quartet performance
5 - 7 p.m. Men's Night Out. Wine, snacks and advice (for gifts)