Shop Talk | March 19, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - March 19, 2010

Shop Talk

by Daryl Savage

DEMISE OF DIDDAMS — OR NOT? ... One of Palo Alto's most established businesses, Diddams, the popular downtown toy and party store, is calling it quits — with a late-breaking maybe. "But not because we want to," owner Steve Diddams said. "We're actually in good shape. I have six other stores. It's only Palo Alto and it's only because our landlords have not offered us a new lease." The store at 215 Hamilton Ave. is set to close March 27, which incidentally is the store's 20th birthday. "It's a hell of a way to celebrate an anniversary," one employee said. The 10,000-square-foot-store with the dark-green awning is selling all its remaining merchandise at half-price. Steve Diddams' Palo Alto store was his first. "It's depressing," he said. "This was my baby. ... My mother and father helped paint the walls when we first got here." But Diddams learned this week that there is a chance a last-minute lease offer may happen, which could throw the close-out sale into reverse. Still, business is challenging in downtown Palo Alto these days in any event, he said. "Retail sales are lousy around here." Diddams said he believes some of the nearby shopping-area developments also cut into sales, referring to the extensive renovation of the Town & Country Village shopping center and the nearly four-year-old Charleston Plaza, whose tenants include REI, Best Buy, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

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Heard a rumor about your favorite store or business moving out, or in, down the block or across town? Daryl Savage will check it out. She can be e-mailed at


Posted by Steve, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 20, 2010 at 10:16 am

What is the landlords' side of the Diddams story? Why are they refusing to renew leases? Is there some tax benefit to owning an empty building?

Posted by Bob, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 20, 2010 at 10:46 am

If only Diddam's could move to a neighborhood location where there is plenty of easy parking. They'd make a lot more money. Is there anything at Midtown?

Posted by Mom of 3, a resident of Duveneck School
on Mar 20, 2010 at 11:27 am

I agree that the downtown location is terrible for parking. They were probably only gaining sales from people who work in downtown rather than people who drive to downtown to specifically shop at Diddam's. I usually drive to their Mountain View store, which is larger, or Party City in Redwood City.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 22, 2010 at 1:33 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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