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Survey Results: The Shopping Habits of Altadena Residents

The results of a Chamber of Commerce survey show a lot of desire for more retail in Altadena

The results of an Altadena Chamber of Commerce survey on shopping in Altadena was released Friday.  The full survey results can be found on surveyaltadena.com or attached to this story.

The and what to do about it are, of course, a of on this site.

Though the survey provides useful information for retailers, it was not done with a professional firm to ensure that an accurate cross-section of Altadena was surveyed.  For example, the survey was online only, so those without Internet access were not involved. 

It was not also done to accurately reflect the demographics or geography of Altadena, as entrants were not selected based on where they lived or any other characteristics.  The survey ended up being taken overwhelmingly by women, with 254 of the 385 survey takers identifying themselves as such (28 declined to state).

Nearly 80 percent identified their household income as being $86,000 or above.

There were also relatively few people under the age of 35 or over the age of 64 who took the survey.

That said, the results are very interesting, though probably not surprising for most people.

Among the findings:

  • Almost three quarters of those surveyed (74.8 percent) said they shop in Altadena either one to two times a week or less than one time a week.
  • Trader Joe's at Hastings Ranch was the most popular grocery store
  • 92 percent said Altadena does not offer enough retail businesses
  • The most requested additional type of retail business was restaurant, with grocery, coffee house, books, and entertainment also showing a lot of popularity
  • People surveyed are not avoiding Altadena restaurants because they don't eat out: 82.9 percent said they eat out two to three times a week.
  • The number one reason people give for not shopping in Altadena is the lack of choices, and the second is the availability of goods.
  • Most surveyed don't seek out professional services in Altadena, with the notable exception of veterinarian.
  • There is not an aversion to shopping at chains for those surveyed: 74.6 percent said they mostly shop at brand name stores.

In addition, Chamber representative Ed Meyer has a up on the site about the survey, and over on the Altadenablog, Laura Monteros has an article about the presentation of the results on Thursday evening.

ed meyers May 28, 2011 at 01:55 PM
Keep in mind, the main goal was to get information to the chamber's members and other businesses so they can better understand the community's shopping habits. If they choose, businesses can use the information to make adjustments to their business plans to grow their revenue/profits. With Patch's help, we developed a list of questions we felt would reveal those habits. We didn't include every possible demographic question. However, without having a survey budget to consult with a professional survey firm, we did the best we could. The Chamber has a director who is well versed with online surveys and was able to help guide this project. While we didn't ask respondents for their ethnicity or the part of town they live in, there was still is some insightful and meaningful information gathered. We're thankful for those who took the time to take the survey. Should the Chamber offer another similar survey, we're open to including additional demographic questions and expand the outreach.
terry Morris May 28, 2011 at 02:05 PM
I wish I never had to leave Altadena to shop. I treasure the small locally owned stores. That said, I absolutely do not want any big box stores to move in. Generic, impersonal, corporate, they wipe out every ounce of character, and all small businesses in there path. If the Food Co-op ever gets off the ground, I think everyone is going to be stunned at how many people are going to drive up from Pasadena to come to Altadena. The trend is AGAINST big box stores, not away from them. Altadena COULD be one of those towns that all the newspapers and magazines do stories on, like the recent LA Times on Altadena farming. Another generic trader Joes isn't going to make that happen. The COC would be wise to look at what is going on with Altadena Urban Farmers Market, pay attention to all the excitement it is generating all over Los Angeles, and figure out how to get on top of that kind of energy.
shirley May 28, 2011 at 03:19 PM
I'm interested in seeing a good business go into a building for lease on the SW corner of Fair oaks and Harriet. This is a hangout intersection for people looking for trouble, and with a more upscale business than a liquor store in there it may change the demographics of the people. Any ideas? I have wondered if a good floral shop/coffee shop/periodicals would succeed. The flowers could be ultra cheap, with a small drive through to pick them up on the way to an occasion, or to the many assisted care homes south of there on Fair oaks. Or one could go inside to enjoy some coffee and peruse some periodicals, and maybe buy flowers. If such a business succeeded it would help change the activities of that intersection, but the big question of course is whether that business would succeed. Your surveys are a good beginning for us in Altadena to impact our own area. Thanks for doing them. Maybe future ones could include a list of possibilities to ask if people would actually use them. How about a way to drive golf carts around here, as a person's second car? Some crazy sounding ideas, but let's try thinking out of the box to get Altadena more on the map.
ed meyers May 28, 2011 at 04:02 PM
Info on golf cart/neighborhood electric vehicles (NEV)/Low speed vehicle http://dmv.ca.gov/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffvr37.htm
Leslie Aitken May 28, 2011 at 04:29 PM
Terry -- Thanks for being willing to shop locally for one thing. Also, if you look at the top of the Patch page, there is a tab marked "Places". It has nearly all of the local businesses listed by category. Also, I have been writing reviews of local businesses since February. If you enter my name into the "Search" category, you will see the articles that I have written. The first ones reviewed five businesses at a time and the most recent have been one at a time. Also, if you are ever looking for a seamstress/design house, check out LA General Store Design Studion on W. Altadena Drive.
Lori A. Webster May 28, 2011 at 04:55 PM
Along with Ed, I believe this survey provides us local business owners some valuable information. It gives me some bit of hope that our store, along with the Stores at Webster's, are pointing in the right direction. However, we must also think about sustainability when we suggest businesses to add to our mix in Altadena. We need businesses that the majority of residents will actually support, and like Terry Morris says, I wouldn't want to see national chains up here, either. I believe independent retailers will be able to meet the resident's needs if only we communicate those needs to the owners....this survey is the start of a revolution here, so to speak. Let's keep it up and help shape your community to your expectations. Our local retail businesses need your support to become stronger so we may buy more things in line with what you'd like to see here in Altadena. Many of the survey respondents mentioned wanting a bookstore. Our store is and has been moving in that direction for quite awhile now. While having an entire store devoted to books is not sustainable, having a store with a section of carefully curated books is, and that's the direction we're heading. I invite any and all of you to please come talk to us and let us share our vision with you, or if time doesn't allow that, listen to this video we made two years ago, which pretty much sums up where we're headed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shabeXr3wIs
Steve Lamb May 28, 2011 at 05:27 PM
Clearly, the survey was concentrated with people from East Altadena, as TJ's shows moree Altadenans shopping in LaCanada than Hastings. That said, like everyone has been saying for four decades, we need more places to eat out and shop locally in Altadena
ac May 28, 2011 at 09:49 PM
How about a Fresh and Easy next to the Rite Aid. The store is empty and the parking area is big enough.
Patrick Reagan May 28, 2011 at 11:25 PM
Thanks for the support of the Co-op Terry! A lot of us feel that way - 318 so far have joined the Co-op so far! Many other communities around the country have launched their own stores which have grown to be well-loved and well-patronized. For others to learn more about us, visit our site... http://arroyofoodcoop.com/ ...and our Facebook page... http://www.facebook.com/pages/Arroyo-Food-Co-op/133889070154 And please participate in the Co-op's grocery focused survey... http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/543797/AFC1 We can do this!
terry Morris May 29, 2011 at 02:25 PM
Correction. That should read- "The trend is against big box stores, not towards them". But you all knew what I meant. ;)
Julia Bailey May 29, 2011 at 06:03 PM
Actually, that's not clear. If the survey results were (and this is totally made up) that 60% of people who responded were from Altadena, and 60% of people who responded said they shopped at Hastings Ranch Tjs, then it doesn't necessarily follow that most Altadena shop at Hasting ranch. 60% of Altadenians could have said they shopped in LaCanada, but if everyone else (the other 40% of Altadenans and the 40% of the sample that is not from Altadena) says they shop in Hastings Ranch the results would be consistent with the survey and your point that most Altadenas shop in LaCanada. To actually show if your hypothesis was correct we would have to see a stratification of the data (breakdown by city). The sample size may be too small to do this meaningfully.
Steve Lamb May 29, 2011 at 08:07 PM
No Its clear because of TJ's internal surveys. Truthfully I havnt seen one thats newer than four years, but I did see last years for Ralph's and they show like TJ's have for a decade, more Altadena grocery shoppers in la Canada than anywhere in Pasadena, so if you have a survey that shows more Hastings shoppers, you have a survey made up almost entirely of people east of lake, since the supermarkets have it all broken down by extended zip code. I won't even compare the much more extensive West Altadena survey that was conducted by five people over a three month time a few years ago, because well, it won't matter. The real problem here, however, isn't if there is enough demand or money, in Altadena. Most of corporate America knows there is. Most of corporate America has invested in that demand locally in Pasadena stores and outlets. Pasadena is way over populated with such, especially for this era of downsizing. Most Pasadena and LaCanada outlets are getting at least 25% of their customer base from Altadenans, some of them as high as 65%. There are several reasons they prefer to stay in Pasadena and LaCanada:
Steve Lamb May 29, 2011 at 08:17 PM
what are those reasons?: 1. They already built the Pasadena/LaCanada store trained the people, staffed it and got Altadenans to shop it. Why damage the existing investment to gain customers they ALREADY HAVE? 2. The county permitting process is a pain in the toenails and very unfriendly for national and multinationals compared to Pasadena and LaCanada. 3. The Commercial Real Estate in Altadena is over valued. 4. The Parking regulations are more demanding in the County than in most cities- a major cost, and the process to do things like sidewalk dining is a maze compared even to Pasadena' 5. Outdated always untrue in the first place racial perceptions about Altadena that are legendary and just refuse to die. This is why small locally focused businesses make more sense, its not a losing game for them to get Altadena customers, because every customer they have is a NEW one. They have no idea that it's easier to do business someplace else, and if the small business owner for whom the business is a personal expression loves Altadena, they may not even care. There are still some problems. Biggest for any business attempting to locate into Altadena and stay the long haul is the County parking regulations and the unrealistic prices of both rent and purchase of commercial real estate here.
Steve Lamb May 29, 2011 at 08:25 PM
But I only spent a decade studying this and talking to all kinds of corporations, so what do I know? Want to know why Fresh and Easy is not going to survive? It's not as some analysts say because they located many stores in minority areas. It's not as many other analysts say because Americans are not used to the small footprint. it's because they didn't understand the psychological code in America. They identified their brand and built their stores as "Small and complete". They failed to understand that in America there is a psychological code for "Small store". The code says a small store PROVIDES HIGH CUSTOMER SERVICE. This small store provides less than average customer service and operates almost as a warehouse store. It was the first local chain to "offer" self check out. It doesn't have prices as low as a warehouse. If the British either lower their prices or improve the customer service considerably at Fresh and Easy they will survive, if not they will continue to lose money on them till that's not affordable anymore. But man a small market chain with customer service even without discount prices would be a home run.....
Angela Odom May 29, 2011 at 08:53 PM
Well, to be honest, I drive from West Altadena into Hastings Ranch/Pasadena/Sierra Madre for a number of reasons. One, is the Farmers' Market on Saturday morning where I do most of my shopping. From there I'll head over to the TJ's in Hastings Ranch, Whole Foods or Sprouts for anything else I may need. The other reason is Best Buy. I'm typically there one or two times a week. Again, from there I'll visit the aforementioned stores and/or Ross, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Starbucks. I typically shop in that area or Whole Foods & Granny's Pantry on Arroyo in Pasadena. The good news is I've given up on Petco and Petsmart and do 100% of my pet shopping at Steve's Pets and since discovering Oh Happy Day, I shop there for organics.
Bob Conley May 30, 2011 at 09:11 PM
The only reason Altadena doesn't have more stores is because the small population and traffic patterns prevent those stores from generating enough income to cover the cost of opening and running such stores. It is just that simple

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