Let's Get Some Business In Town

In a one man attempt to get a new business into Altadena, I called Starbuck's Corporate HQ, and had a conversation with the appropriate district rep for the San Gabriel Valley.

It's time to fill the vacancies. We have more empty shops, thrift stores, and churches than you could throw the good book at. Our prime real estate is consumed by church after church, vacant stores, restaurants that close early and so on. What about some foot-traffic-inducing businesses that are open seven days a week, morning to night? That's what's going to save us. Once the "not in my town" attiude is gone, the light will shine on the fact that that attitude is what's keeping us where we are. We might be able to say "look at what's in our town."

I present to you Starbucks. 

Starbucks. They're a brand, they have a consistent product, and they have a following. They also produce foot-traffic. Oh, and so hot on the Walmart issue, Starbucks provides insurance to their partners.  Maybe you like them, maybe you don't, but thats the same as Miller over Budweiser over Coors. Taste, preferance, is all up to the individual, and you have a choice. In Altadena, we have the Coffee Gallery. And we have the Coffee Gallery. If you perhaps wanted a Starbucks coffee, you become the CG-destroying not wanting to shop locally, horrible citizen. If you choose to drive, you must drive for 10-15 minutes just to get a coffee. It turns into a half-hour to hour affair.

What if I don't want to drive that far? I don't have a choice. All the not in my town, has kept businesses out, and thus forces us to step outside to get something that we desire. 

**Clarification; CG, I do enjoy your shop and in no way is this a trash the CG article.**

Here's what I did. It was actually really easy. 

I Googled the Starbucks Corporate number and called them. I explained where I was from and I was given three numbers to representatives for the SGV. In two phone calls, I was on the phone with "Josh" (name has been changed), who is the representative for our area. 

Josh was well aware of the Walmart issue. However, I explained to him that there were vacant lots near where the Walmart would be and he was interested. We talked about the pros and cons of all sides, and how negotiating in towns and cities can be hard. 

What was interesting to find out from speaking to Josh was that he said that "Starbucks has been trying to break into the Altadena market for years." They were originally looking into Lake and Washington or Lake and Woodbury. Josh explained that they try to situate themselves on main arterial corridors. He said they were really looking for a drive-thru format location, but I told him that space is limited and they would have a hard time, and suggested a regular location first. As we continued talking I said to him, that I was pretty sure if they looked too close to CG, they would get run out of town. I suggested that he look farther up north on Lake, and they might have success. 

So here is a company that wants to come in, but has never found the right space. We talked about Hastings Ranch having two locations, blocks apart, and they both do fine. He then brought up Sierra Madre and said, "You tell me. Have we really run Bean Town out of business?" The answer is NO. Bean Town and Starbucks co-exist four doors apart, and they both have business.

It's time to get some foot traffic. Josh said that he had been up Lake recently visiting friends, and noticed vacancies. He mentioned 2507. I said to him, there is a number on the door, with a for rent sign. I said that would be a good location because there is cross-related traffic, and parking. Cigarettes, coffee, and alcohol, all go hand in hand when you think about it. Whether or not you use any of those is your business. He agreed. That location would get cross traffic, late-night bar business, smoke shop traffic. If that were to happen, Altadena residents wouldnt have to drive to other cities to get Starbucks. 

Josh said he would have his broker look into the vacancies and make contacts. He thanked me for the call, and again said that they had been looking for so long. Sometimes saying yes, actually helps. 

The beauty of corporate and independent is that they can co-exist in harmony. If you want the mismatched furniture, knick knacks, art for sale, funky coffee shop, you can have it. It you want the stylized Starbucks image, and that brand you can have it. 

Sierra Madre seems to make it work. Pasadena has countless Starbucks, as well as Zona Rosa, Jones, Zephyr, and they all have business. 

Altadena, its time - "not in my town" needs to become "in my town"

Next call, Trader Joes Corporate, to see if they want the O'Reiley Location.

Daron Anderson

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Carol Potter July 16, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Good for you Daron! I've always wondered why there's not a Starbucks in Altadena. As far as Trader Joe's, several of us tried to get them to put one in what is now the Rite Aide site on Hill and Washington. We were told the area didn't meet the demographics that they were looking for. With the exception of one of the oldest Trader Joe's on Arroyo Parkway, it seems they are looking for areas with a lot of name brand businesses nearby that generate foot traffic. With all the NIMBYism in Altadena, I doubt they'd be interested.
SteveB July 16, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Which property is 2507? I always thought a nice location for a Starbucks would be a new building on the street side of the parking lot (along Altadena Dr.). I believe Ed mentioned drive-thrus are not allowed given are given community standards, but now is the time to make such changes ... I really doubt the O'Reilly location is of sufficient size for a Trader Joes, even if they weren't disinclined to come up this way.
Angela Odom July 16, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Starbucks would be wonderful. I always got to either the one on Fair Oaks in Pasadena or the one in Sierra Madre (down the street from Bean Town). I even thought about a coffee/juice bar up at the now abandoned shell on Lincoln and Altadena Drive. A Starbucks would be nice, especially with parking.
TeeGirl July 16, 2012 at 06:34 PM
What about that buidling on the corner of Boston and Lake? Across from Eliot Middle School (on the North) and Poppy Cleaners (on the West). It has been empty for years. Do they have anything against being near a school? Is that too close to CG?
SteveB July 16, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Along the edge of the Rite-Aid lot, that is. Lot of traffic there, pretty good location for a drive-thru (if permitted at some point).
ed meyers July 16, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Hi, SBUX is a brand that residents of Altadena have asked for. The Altadena Chamber's business survey proves that. In speaking with the leasing agent who represents the Lake/Calavaras lot, he said SBUX was looking 4 yrs ago but Altadena has a no drive thru ordinance. SBUX (at least at the time) was looking to build stores w/ a drive thru. May seem silly until you realize how many young families there are in town. The convenience of having a drive thru allows the parent to keep the little ones in the car while getting their SBUX drink. The fact we don't allow drive thrus killed that deal - or so I'm told. However, that doesn't mean a Peets or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf wouldn't be interested in a stand alone store. Same leasing agent represents another lot on Lake/Elizabeth (?) - across from the Altadena drive thru dairy (ironic, Altadena & drive thru in the same sentence of a business). Guy said he asked Pasadena if they wanted another SBUX at that site but either/both the neighbors &/or the city said no thanks. The former Kragen site near Rite Aid is likely too small for a TJs. I called about 6mths ago and TJ's said they look at sites that were larger than the Kragen site. According to recent posts, TJ's isn't interested in building in Altadena.
ed meyers July 16, 2012 at 07:08 PM
2507 might be the property in the southeast corner of the Rite Aid property - across the street from Chevron.
ed meyers July 16, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Keep in mind that coffee can be had at Dutch Oven Bakery, Pattcakes, Pastries by Nancy, Little Red Hen etc. I understand that SBUX (their stock ticker symbol), Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Peets offer a different/full coffee house experience but keep in mind that if you want a cup o coffee, there are local choices too.
SteveB July 16, 2012 at 07:20 PM
That would be perfect - nice, prominent corner location. Would probably have to negotiate parking with the Rite-Aid lot owner, though.
SteveB July 16, 2012 at 07:28 PM
I do like Patticakes, but they are morning/early afternoon only, I believe. In contrast, Bulgarini also has an espresso machine, aren't open early, but are open late.
TeeGirl July 16, 2012 at 07:39 PM
I do get an occasional coffee at Dutch Oven but the only problem I have with that is the parking. I feel guilty when I park in the lot at Lake/Calaveras and walk to Dutch Oven, but where else is there to park when the curb is full?? Parking at Ralph's and crossing the street defeats the purpose. I'm usually scooting off to work driving south on Lake and barely have time to do all of that manuvering.
Karen TenEyck July 16, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Thank you for following up on this. I would love a Starbucks in Altadena, the further up Lake the better. Allen would also be great!
Leslie Aitken July 16, 2012 at 08:24 PM
In my family -- if you want something done by phone -- you give the job to Daron (my son). Good work! For those of you who aren't familiar with the 2507 address -- it is the former MICHO hair supply place. It shares a parking lot with the Smoke Shop (which recently changed hands -- Eric Knight is no longer the owner but still related to the ownership of both buildings). Regarding Starbucks -- people go there for the Starbucks product and experience. It is more than just a cup of coffee -- it is a meeting place. How many of us have said -- "let's meet at Starbucks". Yes we can get coffee at the Bakery or Patticakes or the Coffee Gallery or the Sidewalk Cafe. The Gallery and Dutch Oven share the same problem -- PARKING. A Starbucks would give us.....Starbucks -- the coffee, the brand and the meeting place. The other places can still have their piece of the pie with the things that they offer. Regarding Trader Joe's in the Rite Aid center. The answers they gave before have nothing to do with now. If Walmart deems this area viable -- TJ & Ralphs can no longer hide behind their excuses that Altadena isn't. When one of the largest retailers in the country is interested -- the others need take notice. We need the type of businesses that will make the corridor commuters stop and take notice. Then they will see what else is here.
Kathy Morris July 17, 2012 at 07:04 PM
I love the coffee gallery, but would also welcome a Starbucks. And a Trader Joes. Not their demographics? They need to relook
Nora Lee July 17, 2012 at 10:53 PM
I would love it if Trader Joe's would define ther ideal demographic. Has anyone seen it in writing? However, I would caution equating Walmart's interests with TJ's interest. I can clearly see the difference in their core shopper. Ralph's is trying to respond to the community. They had hoped to build on the crater next to them, but couldn't make a deal with the guy who owns the land (same guy who owns the land where Walmart it going in).
H Delu July 18, 2012 at 12:21 AM
I love the coffee Gallery and spend many mornings there, AND I typically go elsewhere for my afternoon cup a joe. Would love to see Starbucks in our community - Good Job Daron!
Daron Anderson July 18, 2012 at 12:50 AM
I was referring to 2507 N Lake, west side of street, former Micho's. Rancho & Ace Smoke shop are both there, hence my coffee, cigarette, and alcohol reference. El Patron is up the street. It would be a start. We need more in town.


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