Normally, the Town Crier sees the August doldrums about now. Readers retreat to faraway places, and my cadre of column "moles" goes underground for the month. But this summer, things are sizzling. Seems everyone wants to weigh in on the conversation about supporting Montclair merchants.

First, we'll start off with the argument that parking is a put-off in Montclair. Reader Jackie Walts says she recently got a fat $63 ticket -- and so did a whole line of cars behind her -- for parking more than 18 inches from the curb. "It felt like a parking officer was working to a quota," she writes, "and it makes it harder for those of us making the effort to shop locally." My thought? This is frustrating, indeed, but why park on the street when you can get up to three hours of free validated parking in the Montclair Garage?

Meanwhile, reader Melanie Crotty says she thinks retail is challenged because the Village has evolved into a financial services center. "Title companies and real estate firms do not bring the right kind of foot traffic for consumer-oriented businesses," she writes, saying "Rockridge, Temescal, Solano Avenue and the Glenview -- all [are] unique and have a strong consumer draw."

Melanie has a good point -- and it's been the subject of much debate over the years. Yet there are still many unique shops in Montclair -- including the popular Great, Good Place for Books on La Salle Avenue. Customers say I inadvertently drove traffic away from this retailer, last week, by mentioning that Dave Newhouse's new book was available on Amazon. I'm glad to see so much support for our local bookstore, and we should shop there whenever we can. What I failed to mention was that the novel, "White Lightning," is an e-book, so it's not available in hardcover.

Around town: How many restaurants can the Glenview support? Now a new eatery is opening in the old Ace Hardware store on Park Boulevard. It's a hamburger place that is splitting the space with Marzano's — which is doing so well that it needs to expand. I've said it before -- the Glenview is the new Gourmet Ghetto. Now if they could just figure out a better parking situation.

signs still Strange: I'm still waiting for someone to solve the mystery of the paper plate signs posted all over town saying "Vac is Wack." I suspect they have something to do with some video game reference, but other than that -- I'm clueless. Regardless of the message, several readers have pointed out that the paper plate scribbles are nothing more than litter disguising itself as signage on public property. The next time you come across one, you might want to rip it down.

Fowl play: "I brake for turkeys." Someone should come up with a bumper sticker that shows we yield to wildlife in the hills. Turkeys are especially dumb about traffic, taking their sweet time as they saunter across the road. I've seen two large families of turkeys in the past week alone, and it begs the question: if we call turkeys "gobblers," are their babies called goblets? Or does the term just refer to glassware?

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by phone at 510-723-2525, by email at ginnyprior@hotmail.com or on the web at www.ginnyprior.com.