Ladies of the Welfare League know when another northbound SMART train has pulled into the downtown Santa Rosa station.
Especially the last few Saturdays, the arrival precedes by mere minutes the appearance at the door of the league’s Railroad Square thrift store shoppers who hadn’t been in before — shoppers who might mention in passing that they’re up from Marin County.
“What they’re buying is things they can carry on the train,” said Earlene Reichert, a longtime Welfare League store volunteer. “A statue, a vase, pretty little things.”
Since SMART service began in late August, Reichert said, the philanthropic secondhand boutique has seen a nice bump in sales, thanks to day-trippers from Marin. “They shop and go back on the train,” she said.
Just a month after train service returned to Railroad Square, other merchants welcome the same phenomenon.
It pleasantly surprises Don Taylor, owner of the Omelette Express, that families from San Rafael or Novato are taking a weekend train ride to Santa Rosa and popping in for a meal.
“I didn’t see that coming,” he said.
At Whistlestop Antiques (all these train references!) co-owner Barbara Donahue said SMART clearly is delivering shoppers to the square.
“In fact, we have a man who comes up here every Monday and shops in the store and goes to lunch and then goes home.”
Marta Koehne owns Hot Couture vintage clothing store and was over the moon to be visited there by a woman who lives in San Francisco and frequents her apparel shows there but owns no car. The woman took a bus to the SMART depot in San Rafael and enjoyed a train ride to Santa Rosa.
Koehne is thrilled with SMART and the business it transports from Marin. She said, “I have sort of a feeling it’s going to be more of a tourist train than a commuter train.”