Katie Braden consults with her mother Brooksie Braden while shopping on Montana Avenue Thursday. The duo come from Dallas, Texas once a year for an 'all girls getaway' of shopping and exploring Southern California. (photo by Benjamin Brayfield)

<i>Editor’s Note: This is a series in which Daily Press writers overhear and observe happenings around Santa Monica.</i>

MONTANA AVE — There is light traffic both on the road and in the stores. Despite the warm weather, shoppers are scarce up and down trendy Montana Avenue. But then again, it is Wednesday morning.

A woman polishes rings inside a jewelry store that, at 10:30 a.m., is not open yet. Half a block away, a woman in a black apron and combat boots waits to cross 17th Street.

The clack-clack of heals sounds outside a hair salon. A woman with blue thorns tattooed on her back — revealed by her loose-fitting black top — details the style she wants.

Inside Whole Foods, employees are busy restocking, and a few customers wait in line at the deli.

“I’ll get the sunflower seeds,” a woman carrying a yoga mat says to her friend.

One woman requests egg salad. Another examines nectarines before ordering a sandwich.

“Anything else for you today?” an employee asks. “Your total is $2.74.”

At almost 11 a.m., Blue Plate and other restaurants are doing steady business, but most boutiques are having a slow day. Next to mannequins clad in just lingerie, a woman talks on her cell phone inside Only Hearts. Birds chatter outside Cabana, and several brightly dressed women inside do the same.

A man revs his motorcycle outside Peet’s Coffee. Almost all the tables are filled as customers converse or work on their laptops. One man is reading silently.

“Make sure it’s out of the same wood — I think it’s a light pine,” says a man outside Luxe Lab Hair. He’s wearing flared black pants and carrying a leather messenger bag. “I wish I was in New York being an A-lister, but I’m working my way up.”

A trash truck turns down an alley, followed by a white Civic. A woman prevents her young son from knocking over a display in Papyrus.

Inside Lucky, there are very few customers, but employees find ways to occupy themselves. One man cinches a belt outside his shirt.

“What’s it supposed to do?” he jokes.

“Hold your pants up all day!” his co-worker responds.

A Starbuck’s drink lies abandoned on a denim display. A teenage girl examines earrings. A blond woman comes in, towing her daughter in a pink plastic truck.

“Hi!” says one employee. The girl beeps her truck in response. Her mother riffles through swimwear, but leaves shortly afterward without purchasing anything.

Out to walk the dog, two women in workout clothes cross 15th Street. Some businesses have placed bowls of water outside for this morning’s thirsty dogs.

At Number One Beauty, an employee works with a customer to find the right product.

“What exactly are you looking for?”

“It’s for a friend.”

A woman with sparkly green make-up stands on her toes to reach a hair clip on a high shelf.

It’s 11:30 a.m. Down the street at Pinkberry, a woman has stopped in for a late morning snack. She requests chocolate chip topping, then takes a nibble as she waits for her change.

A man unties his golden retriever from a parking meter and sets off in the direction of the First Federal Bank. Outside, a woman shuffles through a few bills. The door opens, and a cold draft from the air conditioning inside wafts out into the street. A few customers wait in line, while two sit in front of an agent’s desk.

A Brinks armored truck pulls up outside as a blond woman in blue sandals strides across the street, talking on her cell phone.

“Do you want me to come by your office?” she asks, stopping outside Nail Spa Lane.

Traffic is picking up on Montana as noon approaches. Customers tarry outside coffee shops and cafes, enjoying the warmth of a day that’s just beginning.


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