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No Ralphs Representative at Meeting on Improving Store

At Tuesday's Altadena Coalition of Neighborhood Associations meeting, the agenda included an item on improving the local Ralphs grocery store, but notably absent was any representative from the store.

A discussion on whether it will be feasible to improve the grocery store on Lake Avenue that took place Tuesday night was missing one important component: a representative from the store.

The item was one of three on the Altadena Coalition of Neighborhood Associations monthly meeting that took place on Tuesday.

The discussion was led by Ericka Lozano-Buhl, an Altadena resident who started a --the petition, which can be viewed at the right, describes the store as "cramped" with a "poor selection of produce and items."  

Also joining the discussion was Ed Meyers of the Altadena Chamber of Commerce, and Lori Webster, who owns and is also active with the Chamber and other civic events.

Elliot Gold, the organizer of ACONA, said he invited the store manager of Ralphs and had expected someone from the organization to show up.  He said he believes that local representatives of the store likely had trouble getting corporate approval for the event.  Gold said he listed a Ralphs representative on the agenda thinking the manager would get approval to show up.

Improving the Ralphs has been discussed on Altadena Patch in several articles as well as on the Altadenablog.

Attendees at Tuesday's meetings raised some of the familiar issues discussed in the past--lack of selection and the absence of features like a deli, coffee bar and florist.

Lozano-Buhl noted that she has spoken with the management of Ralphs, and they feel the same way about the store.

"I talked to the manager about the petition, and he said, 'I wish you the best of luck,'" Lozano-Buhl said.  "He said he had been telling corporate that for a long time."

Some on the site have asked why the store does not expand on to the vacant lot on the property immediately south of Ralphs.  Meyers, of the Chamber of Commerce, noted that Ralphs does not own the lot and would have to work out a deal with the owner.

Meyers also raised the issue of whether an expanded Ralphs could hurt local businesses by adding services like a pharmacy, bakery or floral service that are currently available at small businesses nearby the store.

Webster, a local business owner herself, said that while local businesses are generally not doing that well right now in Altadena, expanding retail of any kind would only help local businesses, in her opinion.

"The more retail the better," Webster said. "It gets more people up here, more people shopping around. Success follows success."

Several people also brought up the upcoming Altadena Community Visioning workshops and the need to address larger issues with the town's retail options during that process.  The links below have more on those workshops:

terry Morris March 29, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Broken record here... Banging on locked corporate doors, who are megalithic companies whose only interest is in the bottom line, seems futile to me. They do not care about improving the quality of our community, and frankly, they do not have to do anything other than answer to their stockholders. Right now, they are the only game in town, why spend millions? small local businesses, small local businesses, small local businesses. No one every gets that great Sunset Magazine about their town, because they got a bigger Ralph's or a Trader Joes. There was a huge two page article in the NY Times a couple of weeks ago, about three women who bought a derelict town in the middle of Missisippi somewhere, and it is now a thriving destination spot. I don't believe they mentioned a Trader Joe's, or a Target, Safeway, Staples or Best Buy. Those are the stores that kill communities, not revive them.
Brian March 29, 2012 at 03:54 PM
With regard to Johnnie and Terry M's comments, I generally agree with those positions; but the North Lake Avenue 'corridor' has become a blight. Open your eyes and look at it. The area needs a facelift and as I mentioned, a decent grocery store that is, at least, up to par with the other regional Ralphs markets will not be putting Pizza Joes, Jack in the box, or the Pastry place out of business. Pizza Joes has been around since 1978 or before and makes good pizza. Ralphs doesn't make fresh pizza. Jack in the Box has been here since the early '70's; they aren't going anywhere The old bakery had been around since the early 60's or before but has now changes hands and the new place will probably be around with the chairs out front - its an icon in the area. I expect the exact opposite will happen if Ralphs upgrades. More people will be drawn to the area (a very good thing) and the owners of the businesses across the street from Ralphs might then think about painting their storefronts to make the area a bit more inviting to the public. As it is now those places look like dingy thrift shops. Something as simple as a paint job will make a big difference.....
terry Morris March 29, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I'm not advocating that the town should remain as it is. I just think turning it into another faceless, nameless, soulless,center of big box stores is sad and unappealing. Small towns across America are turning their situation around, and it is not with big box, chain stores, who could care less about the communities they occupy. As I have said on this topic before, I drive to Atwater Village, Echo Park, and Silver Lake to do the shopping I wish I was doing here.
Chris March 29, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Ralphs mgmt isn't goIng to change anything. They make plenty of money from the ghetto-state of their store. It's sad but true. We tried to patronize Ralph's but it sucks. We go to one of three Whole Foods, the Von's on Allen and our butcher in Los Feliz, McCalls. The upper Lake corridor is in a sad state. There is no easy sOlution.
terry Morris March 29, 2012 at 04:39 PM
McCall's! Same place I go. Fantastic butcher shop. I also go to Cookbook, a very small grocery store owned by a couple who lives in the same neighborhood as their store. I supplement our Farmers market shopping there. I go to Whole Foods when I absolutely have to, trying to limit my shopping there to paper and cleaning products, maybe some dry foods (rice etc.) It would be great to have local versions of McCall's and Cookbook. But I am not so sure they would be successful. They are in communities that enough people desire alternatives to Trader Joe's and Ralph's to make them viable. Cookbook is not selling 99 cent eggs.
Lori A. Webster March 29, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I so agree with you, Terry. The demographics in Altadena support such stores as you mention below, but those demographics need to get active in their own community. I've said it before, so I'll say it again - there's a unique opportunity here in Altadena to have a viable business and retail center on North Lake Avenue that could please all. Attend the Visioning Meetings and get your points across!
Chris March 29, 2012 at 05:49 PM
So happy to see another McCall's customer so happy with them. It's the ONLY place we go for meat, fish, poultry, etc. Haven't been to Cookbook but we'll search it out! Thanks! Gelson's is our first choice for grocery but Whole Foods isn't so bad. Upper Lake is a conundrum for sure. It's hard to say what would make it and what wouldn't make it. I think it actually needs about 5-9 good businesses that would draw people. One cross-demographical business could start the whole process off. I think. Then again, we miss the walkability of Silver Lake. There have to be likeminded people in the 'dena. :)
Robby March 29, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Well, I love the Dutch Oven Bakery, but they are not open after work. Neither is Park Bench. An expanded Ralphs would not necessarily be poaching customers away from small businesses, if the customers were never patronizing them in the first place.
Lorraine Pozniak March 29, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Why in the world has the Altadena Ralphs spent so much money making the outside of their store look great (i.e. recently repaved parking lot,) when the inside looks like crud?
Brian March 29, 2012 at 08:54 PM
@C: A defeatist attitude / philosophy gets you NOWHERE
Masiz March 29, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Have to admit the people in Altadena don't even shop where they live. If they go to Silver Lake and and Los Feliz, then they don't deserve a nice grocery store. If you don't support your own town, don't complain about it.
Brian March 29, 2012 at 09:23 PM
5) ACM-General Manager/HBC: Lorrie Coelho, e-mail: Lorrie.Coelho@Ralphs.com - Compton CA +1.310.884.9000 6) Manager Real Estate: Yoshiko Prebanda, e-mail: Yoshko.Prebanda@Ralphs.com Compton CA; Same Ph# 7) Marketing Mgt: Rob Richardson: e-mail: Rob.Richardson@Ralphs.com Compton CA; Same Ph # 8) Senior Real Estate Manager: Mark Salma; e-mail: Mark.Salma@Ralphs.com Compton CA; Same Ph 9) Director of Corporate Brands: Dan Delarosa; e-mail: Dan.Delarosa@Ralphs.com; Compton CA Same Ph# 10) President: Joe Martinez; e-mail: Joe.Martinez@Ralphs.com Manhattan Beach CA 11) Vice President Logistics Mario Marin; E-mail: Mario.Marin@Ralphs.com ; Compton CA 12) Executive Director Finance & Sales: John Antenucci; e-mail: John.Antenucci@Ralphs.com Compton CA 13) President, Mike Goble; e-mail Mike.Goble@Ralphs.com ; Dayton OH 14) Manager Real Estate: Yoshko Prebanda; e-mail: Yoshko.Prebanda@Ralphs.com – Compton, CA 15) Assistant Chief Engineer: Gary Hemingway; e-mail: Gary.Hemingway@Ralphs.com Compton CA 16) Electronic Marketing Analyst: Troy Schneider; e-mail: Troy.Schneider@Ralphs.com ; Compton CA 17) Retail Maintenance: Mike Carlyle; e-mail: Mike.Carlyle@Ralphs.com ; Compton CA 18) Manager Community Relations: Carrie Ridge; e-mail: Carrie.Ridge@Ralphs.com ; Los Angeles CA. 19) Director Facility: Bart Kirkland; e-mail: Bart.Kirkland@Ralphs.com ; Compton CA 20) Vice President, South Region: Dana Zurcher; e-mail: Dana.Zurcher@Ralphs.com ; Compton CA
Lorraine Pozniak March 29, 2012 at 10:54 PM
That's a little harsh, don't you think? If people have the MONEY to drive to Silver Lake, Los Feliz, or Timbuktu, for that matter, to get EXACTLY what they want, why should they have to limit themselves to "Ghetto Ralphs" or even to Altadena? I live right down the street & I only shop there for the essentials, because they don't have very much more than that. For a big shopping trip, I'll sometimes brave Super King, but the people there are animals & the parking lot's a zoo. I try to shop in Altadena as much as possible, but our supermarket choices are very limited. I sometimes shop in Alhambra on the way home from work, but that doesn't happen very often. Ralphs has lost my loyalty by doing away with their rebate program, anyway...
Nico March 29, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Hint to people searching for fabulous staples -- chefs in LA buy staples in places like Super King. Many hard to find items for the serious international cook. Of course, if you want to drive 20 miles to buy the same item at ten times the cost, well fine. Just be aware that the owners probably bought it in bulk at Super King.
terry Morris March 29, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Ralph's is not a local store. Ralph is a chain. I owe them nothing. I shop at Websters, Dutch Oven, Happy Days, Altadena Hardware. I do my copying at Ms. Dragon's and eat at Foxes. When I lived in Pasadena ten years ago, I drove past Office Depot, Office Max, and Rite Aid to go to Websters for my pharmacy and office supplies, in an effort to support the local businesses of someone else's community rather than support the corporations that had wiped them out in mine. I can't imagine choosing Office Depot, a national chain, over Websters, because they were in my neighborhood. I am not going to feed my family sub standard, industrial food, in order to support RALPHS (laughable). At least maybe, if everyone supports local small business EVERYWHERE, maybe communities like Altadena can thrive. It is happening all over the country and I will definitely vote in support of that with my dollars, even if I have to leave my own community to do it.
Lorraine Pozniak March 29, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Oh boy, another harsh person... Super King is a very good store, but you have to have time/patience to shop there, or shop at off hours, like an hour before they close, mid-week. Shopping there on the weekend is not for the faint of heart. They also happen to be very overpriced on some things, which I why I only go there when they have several things I need that are on sale.
terry Morris March 30, 2012 at 12:03 AM
That's not true at all. Completely false. How much you spend on food is a choice, just like everything else. It is probably a debate for a different topic, but in this country our willingness to have bad health, ingest chemicals and genetically modified food, risk cancer, heart disease and a multitude of other diseases, because above all else our food has to be the cheapest thing we buy, while we spend ridiculous sums on the latest cell phones or gas for enormous cars, or whatever else we blow money on, leaves me baffled. It is all a choice. I know LOTS of people who don't have much money, who choose to spend what they do have on what goes into the bodies of their families, and to opt out of the industrialized food system. People carpool and do without a lot of frivolous purchases to opt for healthy food, sold my small local businesses.
Nico March 30, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Lorraine, I suppose I should be using smily emoticons, as I am not intending to be harsh at all. To the contrary, I am pointing out to those who drive many miles to source exclusive and "wholesome" foods that Super King is a great source. That is not harsh in my book, but if I offended you, my apologies.
terry Morris March 30, 2012 at 01:03 AM
I don't actually consider carrots or hamburger to be exclusive. And I am not sure exactly what is the difference between Ralph's and Super King? To the point I was making, they are both corporate chains.
Nico March 30, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Terry, I agree to an extend, but do read Michael Pollan's expose of high end eateries and markets that sell extremely expensive meats claiming them to be organic...only they are not. And how some conventional farming is actually preferable to badly produced organics. Looks can be deceiving, and just like the anti gluten craze, the pro vitamin D craze, the cupcake craze, and many others, Silverlakers tend to be somewhat lemming like--blindly following whatever the latest buzz it, even if it is really silly and a big bunch of hooey. Just look for the signs that say "Gluten Free Zone" and you will be close to the center of the silliness. :)
terry Morris March 30, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Nico, I have not mentioned organic, because I think it has been co-opted and is no longer a good way to gauge things. Since the government intervened, the process for certification is so ridiculous that many great farmers are priced out. I have read Michael Pollan's work. There are unscrupulous people out there, but not everyone is. I am not a faddist, and chose to live here rather than SilverLake, because I don't like all the trendiness. I don't follow any fads. Not cupcakes, gluten free, pale diet, are any of the other millions of trends that come and go. But I do support small business. I like to know the people I am buying things from. Much easier to assess the character of a small butcher than a faceless corporation. And I have to say, I can definitely fast the difference between meat from Ralph's and meat from a butcher. You never know anything for certain, but I do know that the meat, produce, and dairy that I buy from corporations is filled with chemicals. The local guy definitely could be lying, but I prefer to look at people from a more optimistic perspective. I don't assume they are cheating me, but I am not blind that some will. I guess most of us live the way we were raised. My family shopped with their local butcher, bakery and grocer, so do I.
Lisa Hastings March 30, 2012 at 02:36 AM
terry morris you are right on! Yep, I don't get the fascination with Ralphs, either. It's a huge corporate chain that sells mostly junk (processed/packaged) "food" and chemical laden produce and meat. In addition, corporate businesses hurt small local businesses. So all these people complaining about the demise of Altadena's business district now want this corporate giant to "improve" which will only hurt small businesses? I just don't get it.
Nico March 30, 2012 at 03:02 AM
What's not to love with a little pink slime in it? :)
Johnnie March 30, 2012 at 03:58 AM
What I find remarkable about the story about the topic at the ACONA meeting is that residents are complaining at an ACONA meeting about the limited selection at Ralphs. What customers want is one stop shopping at a big store. I understand that people are crunched for time and don't want to travel hither and yon for some of the basics, but the speakers want their coffee and sandwiches made for them in the same place where they shop for groceries and they want it to be at Ralphs. Several stores that aren't that far away have those conveniences, but we have those conveniences in small shops all around Altadena. I support small business, like Patticakes, Dragon Lady, M&M Printing/Irish Pride, Amy's Patio Cafe, Everest, Dutch Oven Bakery, Coffee Gallery, AL Glass, Steve's Bike Shop, Altadena Hardware, Quizno's (a small business because it is independently owned), Foxes, El Rancho, et cetera. I also walk to most of these places and live near Allen and New York. We should be encouraging people to buy from the little guys and NOT ask Ralphs to get bigger.
terry Morris March 30, 2012 at 05:08 AM
Nico- ;)
Brian March 31, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Well, many if not all of the current Altadena restaurant businesses will continue to be around despite any remodeled Ralphs on Lake Ave. That is the situation in La Crescenta where that new store was remodeled a couple of years ago. Many restaurants all around that area. Same story in East Pasadena / Hastings Ranch Ralphs. Steer & Ale is still across the street on Foothill Blvd and has been since the late 70's, Baja Fresh Fish is still there, Mako BBQ etc, etc. Once a nicely remodeled Ralphs goes into Altadena, it will create local business opportunity since more people will be driving into the Altadena area to shop, which is a good thing. Don't be afraid of progress, East Altadena needs a bit of it.
Lisa Hastings March 31, 2012 at 02:41 AM
@ Brian. No one is afraid of progress. Many like Altadena just the way it is. You acknowledge that a remodeled Ralphs will bring more people and traffic. Many in Altadena do not want that at all.
Lisa Maiorana March 31, 2012 at 03:23 AM
As I've said before, with the post office going out, the empty lot across the street, Lake Avenue is well, sad. People do not shop at the local stores anymore because they do not carry the items that we need. Just the other day I was in a hurry and stopped at a local store. Of course they didn't have what I needed adding to my continued frustration. This is why people in the community do not patronize the mom and pop stores. We WOULD, however, if they carried what we needed. When push comes to shove, if you go to get something, they're not going to have it. If they do, it's generally 2x as much. It frustrates the consumer and makes them shop elsewhere and that place ends up being there "go to" place. The empty lot needs to have a big huge shopping plaza. A brand new Ralphs, postal store (because that will be out very soon as well), restaurants, etc. Something needs to be done or people will leave this community in droves. There are already 10+ houses for sale on my street alone, is this really want East Altadena wants to happen?
Chris April 03, 2012 at 06:07 PM
sorry. was gone a few days. ralphs meats are industrial quality. there is NO way i'm going to shop there or, actually, at any ralphs. they don't have the brands that i buy nor does any store in altadena. so ... i'm the bad guy for buying top-quality products? puhlease.
Douchay Bellerphony May 08, 2012 at 04:06 AM
I heard Ralphs is going to have a bakery and deli - when you ask for either they send you to the Dutch Oven or Park Bench! Ba da bum!

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