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Walking Lincoln Avenue

Since Walmart announced it would open a store on Lincoln there has been a lot of discussion about what it means for the neighborhood. But how many of us do more than drive through?

On one of the Walmart strings last week –  and this could have been on Altadena Patch or Altadenablog, because I read them both -- someone said, and I’m paraphrasing from memory here, “How many people weighing-in on what’s best for Lincoln Avenue know Lincoln Avenue as anything other than a way to and from the freeway.”

And I thought, that’s not fair. Well maybe it is. A little. Sort of. Hmm, yes.

When it comes to Lincoln Avenue, I’ve always been a spectator rather than a participant. Other than a means to an end – freeway or Super King, I know Lincoln Avenue by reputation, mostly. A local battleground.  First there was La Vina to the north -- the fight between open-space advocates and those who wanted a very closed-space, indeed. Then there was Lincoln Crossing to the south. And now the Walmart.

It’s  true – I have  treated Lincoln like one long onramp to the 210. I really know nothing about it at all.

And with only a little research one can find some nice bits of history:

 “Carl and Ruth Curtis…raised oranges and Russian Wolfhounds on North Lincoln from 1906. West Altadena developed as a haven of small idyllic ranges…” Michele Zack, Altadena, Between Wilderness and City

Lincoln Avenue was born and christened Fair Oaks Avenue sometime at the tail end of the 1800's. A dirt road leading to a middle- and upper-class pastoral paradise in Altadena,  an extension of Pasadena’s main drag.  Aside from the craftsman house and groves belonging to the Curtis family, the adjacent areas included other small farms and dairies.  You could ride your horse or buggy up there. Alternately, you could take the urban railroad which tracked the road about a half a mile to the west.  The train brought the rich to their villas, the hikers to their trails, and the middle-income workers in Pasadena and Los Angeles to their own little piece of heaven.

At some point, a street to the east joined with the Fair Oaks of Pasadena, and this became the New Fair Oaks. They eventually rechristened the original Fair Oaks, “Lincoln Avenue.”

From the early part of the last century and up until about the 40s, West Altadena remained primarily agricultural. Though not entirely. In 1919, the dawn of prohibition, Altadena followed its own path:

"Altadena had a strong historical connection with grape growing, wine production, and resisting temperance movements." Altadena, Between Wilderness and City

Where the Community Garden stands today at Lincoln and Palm, locals and others from far flung towns, including Hollywood types, ritzed it up at the Marcell Inn -- a high-end restaurant that served fine food and hooch. Wow, we had a place for dining and dancing. Who’d have thought?

Times change.

If you amble south on Lincoln, from Altadena Drive to the sign that says West Altadena Business District, little of paradise remains. Well, that’s true almost anywhere, isn’t it?  

There are small stores along the way, but if they’re “Mom and Pop Shops,” with a few exceptions, you won't see a lot of moms and pops in evidence. I didn't, anyway.  

But sandwiched between stores hawking liquor, second hand clothes, religion, dry cleaning and other, unlabeled, facilities, there are places where people live. Homes.  Some which were built in the early part of the last century; preserved in some cases, or partially transformed and refurbished.

This was the first time I walked the length of Lincoln Avenue in the 10 years I’ve lived in Altadena. Will a Walmart serve this neighborhood well, if at all?  I don't know. But I know who I want to ask -- those who have roots in the general vicinity. Those who live here and walk the area every day, tend the landscape, plant the flowers. In the best of all possible worlds, I think the choice should be theirs.

Revvell July 04, 2012 at 03:48 PM
The same goods as Websters? Altadena Hardware? They're carrying FOOD is what I heard. Websters is so unique who else carries what they're carrying w/in a hundred miles of here? NO ONE!!! They're carrying hardware? Food is not hardware. WTH are you going on about?
Pasadena Adjacent July 04, 2012 at 04:10 PM
That Arco has the cheapest gas around.
Monica Hubbard July 04, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Revvell, Steve Restivo, the public relations person for Wal-Mart, said that the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market in Altadena will carry 60% groceries and 40% "other" products. I don't know what "other" products are included in that category. They may well carry some goods similar to those carried at Websters Neighborhood Pharmacy or Websters Fine Stationers. Additionally, we're told that the Altadena Wal-Mart will be a "site to store" market. This means that anyone anywhere in Altadena or neighboring cities can go to the Wal-Mart website and order almost any kind of product sold online and have the product(s) delivered to the Altadena site for pickup within two days. Wal-Mart online carries quite an array of products beyond grocery items so it is not just our local grocery stores that will be impacted. I don't know how these deliveries to Lincoln and Figueroa will impact neighborhood traffic or the residences. We're told that the store on Lincoln will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. I don't think we know yet whether deliveries of goods purchased online will occur during business hours or later.
Angela Odom July 04, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Hi Liz, nice to meet you too. I'll have to watch for pups taking a walkabout during the day for a proper meet & greet. It will be nice to meet more of my neighbors around here.
Gaurav Malhotra July 04, 2012 at 05:14 PM
All reservations aside. Walmart is coming and people will vote with their wallets. Perhaps some small stores will be threatened, however if they provide good products, and good service at a reasonable price they will be fine. My hope is that with Walmart here other businesses will take a second look at Altadena and we will not be driving down the hill for basic needs.
Angela Odom July 04, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Absolutely!!! There has been a paradigm shift in this community and it has been going on for a long time. I bet I know exactly the Lexus SUV you're speaking of that does a California roll at the stop sign at Lincoln and Altadena Drive. There are others who speed through the neighborhood (Lincoln and Casitas) on their way up or down the hill. The beauty of this community and the businesses within are missed by many of them. I hate Karin missed the wonderful woman who used to put her son's artwork on display. So beautiful and colorful. I haven't seen her in a while. Geez, I need to go by and check on them.
terry Morris July 04, 2012 at 05:36 PM
If i may, what are you basing that on? What data is there to support that local businesses will do just fine? I have seen lots and lots of data that shows that local businesses all over the country are pushed out, no matter what services and goods they provide and no matter how low they drop their prices, they cannot drop them low enough to compete. So i am curious what you are basing that on? And for everyone who says that it will be just fine, what if you are wrong? What if the same thing happens to altadena that has happened elsewhere? Are you going to be okay if those small businesses are wiped out? Will those 40 part time employees on food stamps balance the unemployed business owners and their employees? Will the walmart on lincoln balance out the loss of websters, altadena hardware, and countless other small businesses? If those of us who think that will happen, and we are correct, what will we all do then? Oooops? Will Lori And Steve Webster and all the other struggling small businesses reopen five years from now after everyone learns that the leopard didn't change his spots after all? He is the same leopard he always was? Are you okay with even more shuttered businesses than we have now?
pasadenamom July 04, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Terry, That's the classic knee jerk reaction to Wal-Mart. There is nothing wrong with the way they do business. They are non-union which is not a crime, but everyone "hears" that Wal-Mart offer substandard employment practices. Not true, as Daniel E. Harlow points out with the link. Where do you think all that anti-Wal-Mart lawsuit money comes from? Anybody know? It's not the mom and pops or a grass root effort. Unions maybe? Everyone quoted in the articles about anit Wal-Mart protest in Chinatown recently was listed by the LA Times as "union organizer" or "union supporter". You do know they pay people to protest, right? It's not about Wal-Mart's hiring practices people. It's about unions wanting more power. Maybe the unions could spend their anit-Walmart $ to build a library or something. Or, work to make it eaiser to own a buisness in CA so that the mom and pops they say they're protecting could survive all the crazy legislation that CA loves to pass. So, Trader Joe's, which pays the same as Wal-Mart and has the same hiring practices, is ok. Why, because they sell organic? Well so will Wal-Mart, and it will likely be well priced.
pasadenamom July 04, 2012 at 05:46 PM
"devastated communities" ? have you seen the building they are going to fix up? Anything will be an improvement.
Angela Odom July 04, 2012 at 05:51 PM
I was talking with a friend of mine in New York about the closing of mom & pop stores both in New York and Chicago (we're both from Chicago). Her take is these stores are closing because they no longer serve the needs of a changing community. These stores closed and they were not in the line of sight of a Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy or other big box store. I see more shopping going on at work from computer screens than I've ever seen before. Amazon.com, Best Buy, Zappos, and even Goodwill has a website doing brisk business with some of my co-workers. Eliminating Wal-Mart from the picture, local businesses have been hurting for a long time as they are not only competing with big box brick & mortar stores, they are also competing with online stores as well. Today, our heads are trained to look for convenience and low cost. If you know what you need is at the nearest big box store, that's where you will go. Thankfully, I discovered Steve's Pets. I have no need for Petsmart or Petco. I discovery Websters Fine Stationers who will now serve as my office supplies/technology store. If I can plan ahead, I can order all of my home office goods through them and have the items dropped "site-to-store" to Websters. Unfortunately, my doctors were so fed up with the old Websters Pharmacy my prescription was moved to CVS. They need to get the work out "under new management". To Be Continued .....
Angela Odom July 04, 2012 at 05:58 PM
If there are other businesses in the area, I don't know about them. We need to know about them. One of the reasons why I like Websters is because Lori made a conscious effort to carry fair trade items from Open Hand Design and the works by local artisans and authors. That made a big impression on me because that is contrary to what most of the big box stores are doing when they look for low costs items that are anything but fair trade. I will continue to shop Websters Fine Stationers for that reason alone. How many in this community know this. I know many who will not touch Facebook (for privacy reasons) so they will never know about Websters. If the local businesses could do something, even use the Postal Services Direct To Door service, which is about .17 cents per parcel, to reach even 2000 households in 91001, that would do a lot to inform people here what businesses do exist in the community to encourage and/or promote the 3/50 project. If we don't know you're here or what you do, we'll continue to follow the program: big box, big box, big box.
Revvell July 04, 2012 at 06:16 PM
I agree with Angela and PasadenaMom.... I shop Webster's because I want to support them in their uniqueness; the fact that they carry many products from local artisans and, they're right up the street AND, they're doing so much to support the community with such endeavors as Fancy Food Truck Friday. I am NOT going to order something online and drive to the west side to pick it up. When I want something, I want it now and if Webster's, John's, etc. have it, that's where I'll go. And Terry, what if we're right? What if all this is just ~ drama and trauma? What if having Walmart here helps more people than it hurts? We'll know soon enough, wont we? Far as I know, they're coming and all this brouhaha is just keeping y'all busy I guess. *shrugs* I dunno. Have a wonder-filled day!
Daniel E. Harlow July 04, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Most grocery markets are a mix of food and non food items, just like this Walmart grocery market will be. As I actually had a chance to go visit one in Denver during a recent business trip I was shocked when I walked in and thought it felt just like a Vons or Ralphs we have already in the area. Just like both Vons and Ralphs, the Walmart Neighborhood Market carried items like paper towels, cleaning supplies, a small cards section, a small hardware section with lightbulbs, dog food, etc. If you are concerned about Walmart competing in these areas with businesses like Webster's and Altadena Hardware you might want to note that Rite Aid, Vons and Ralphs all also compete today with these stores, in addition less then 10 mins away we have Target, OSH, Sears, PetSmart etc. also providing competition. In terms of site to store, this will be no different then Amazon which has a site to home service. Most items on Amazon can be delivered to your home for free or very low cost, and right now actually has more of an impact since sales tax is not collected on them unlike items that will sold from Walmart via site to store. Several stores like Altadena Hardware even offer site to store today in the local area. Lastly in terms of deliveries, all deliveries will comply with local regulations as already stated by Walmart, just like any other store in Altadena has to comply with the same regulations. Daniel
Gaurav Malhotra July 04, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Terry: Not to discount your concerns but how many people get their prescription filled at Websters compared to the Vons or CVS or the Rite Aid. Competition to Websters already exists. We have a dearth of options in Altadena. I believe we can support more than a handful of stores. Lastly Walmart is opening a grocery store and not a hardware store. Why do folks keep talking about Ace hardware. I understand grocery stores carry some hardware items, that should not be a reason for new concern because Vons, Ralph's and Rite Aid already carry those items. Moreover the Ralph's and the Rite Aid are in the immediate neighborhood of Ace.
Gaurav Malhotra July 04, 2012 at 06:26 PM
All this back and forth makes me want to shop at The Altadena Walmart and take my business away from The Vons in Pasadena. I have never been in a Walmart, I will start now as a way of thanking them in helping fix a blighted corner of my town.
Lisa Hastings July 04, 2012 at 06:44 PM
When do they open?
Gaurav Malhotra July 04, 2012 at 06:46 PM
2013 sometime
terry Morris July 04, 2012 at 07:10 PM
So... No answer to the question. It's funny, i have had two questions i have asked repeatedly on three or four walmart threads, three or four times per thread and not one person has ever answered.
Daniel E. Harlow July 04, 2012 at 07:26 PM
January 2013, however it depends on the construction progress.
Angela Odom July 04, 2012 at 07:29 PM
I'm sorry Terry, I didn't see the question. I like Patch because you can get email updates on topics here but they provide no links to get directly to the comment you wish to respond to. I'm back in my office now so I'll look through the comments to find your question now.
Angela Odom July 04, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Okay, I'll try answering these questions. "What data is there to support that local businesses will do just fine?" I don't know if data actually exists to prove or disprove this. It will really depend on the business itself. If a business provides the goods and services needed by those in the community, it will succeed in spite of Wal-Mart or any other big box store. I will point to the Crenshaw Plaza Mall as an example. Many businesses over there are succeeding. They see Wal-Mart as a way to get more eyeballs on their business. They even moved the Farmers Market into the parking lot near BoA and it's doing well. It really depends on the mindset of the business community surrounding the store. You can get your car dive bombed with fliers over there as businesses not within eyesight of that general area come into the area to put fliers on cars and doors. It's a highly competitive area. Now, striking Wal-Mart from the equation because they're not here yet, how are the businesses in the community doing as they compete with Amazon.com, Best Buy, CVS, Walgreens? If those businesses are not fairing well now, without Wal-Mart, there is a disconnect in the community between those stores and the local community. How will they bridge that disconnect? Possibly through developing or creating an online presence that will make ordering or finding their products/services easier.
Angela Odom July 04, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Part II. Fear of the big box can cause mental constraints that will cause your mind not to think out of the box. How about an Altadena online mall. Again, people want convenience and information. You cannot depend on people coming to you, you must go to them as everyone is competing for eyeballs today, including Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart made their first entre into Altadena last week by being on the first page of the weekly circular which included Vons, Ralphs, Smart & Final, Sprouts and Food For Less. Most interesting. For the record, Smart & Final won out on those ribs at $1.49, .50+ cents cheaper than Vons, Ralphs and Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart did not appear in the later circular which carries Super King or Baja Fresh. Now you know their competition.
terry Morris July 04, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Thank you Angela, I never mind disagreeing with thinking people! :) Comment on your answer: I wonder if the small businesses who are already on the edge because they have been in competition with big box stores for many years, have the financial resources to implement the kinds of measures you are suggesting. I think most of them are barely hanging on. Correct me if I am wrong, but once again to what I am reading, it all comes down to competitive pricing. As you point out Walmart had the lowest price on ribs, so they won. They always will win, they will always have the lowest price. Maybe it is just a dog eat dog world, survival of the fittest, evolution. The weak get swallowed up by the powerful. We shrub and move on. Which brings me to the other part of one of my questions- Will the 40 part time employees Walmart hires, who will most likely require Federal assistance to get by, balance out the out of work business owners, their employees and the shuttered buildings?
Angela Odom July 04, 2012 at 08:16 PM
And now Part III. There's an old saying, people like winners not whiners. That may be a bit blunt, but it's true. Many communities have fought back because they saw a local business owner pulling out the stops, thinking outside of the box and others joined in. You have to think outside of the box. Think El Patron. The guy has a muscle style car and a truck dressed up with skins. You may not have access to the web via computer but you have a smart phone. Take a picture of the awesome design on that truck, get the phone number, check Yelp and you just won yourself some business. It's called guerrilla marketing and that never goes out of style. It comes down to knowing how to compete. Wal-Mart knows very well how to do that and I'll bet you they will even offer grocery delivery (as they are doing now in parts of the state) to undercut Von's delivery service. Webster's Pharmacy has delivery. CVS does not, neither does Walgreens (as far as I know), but who knows Websters does that? I just found out and that would be a big help to me. So, those businesses that do fail, failed because they could not compete (with or without walmarts) because they could not compete with convenience, price, accessibility to local markets and customers, and many other factors.
Daniel E. Harlow July 04, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Angela points out some great things that many of the small businesses in the area should be paying attention too. Also if you own a business in the area and want some tips on how you can beat Walmart check out http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/879-walmart-small-stores.html
Angela Odom July 04, 2012 at 08:31 PM
No, Wal-Mart did not win, Smart & Final did at $1.49. Wal-Mart undercut Ralphs and Vons by a penny. Smart & Final undercut all three by .50. Smart & Final won Round I. Wal-Mart did not show up in this week's circular. I'll call last week's appearance window dressing. Now again, don't get caught up on money because money is not always needed for guerrilla marketing. You get too caught up on money and you will fail; fail as in not thinking past the buck. You support a little league team, well maybe they need new uniforms or patches or something, someone offer up the pick-up truck, put the little guys on the back and hand out flyers, put 'em on doors or cars, the whole business community can get involved and voila, 100 more people will know you exist when they didn't know before. Websters sells business products that come site to store. I should see something on the counter when I enter that says "WFS, the home office friend" with a photo of a printer, fax machine, or something. What I had to do was take time (approximately three days) to find the link on their website, click it, find the printer I needed, paste a link into a private message on Facebook, walk in and pay for the printer and then come back to pick it up (though they truly did offer to bring it to me). I avoided shipping costs. Who else knows Websters does this? Slimline the process and voila, more customers.
Angela Odom July 04, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Oh yeah, those part-time employees. That's a problem because of our economy. It used to be those jobs were more for students, seniors, folks with full-time positions looking to stretch their income. They are typically low wage positions and today, without benefits which were typically waived anyway. Today, because of the economy, people with families are taking those positions and companies really cannot accommodate that employee. Because they are low wage, low skill positions, the system is overloaded. State and local agencies are overloaded too because they have always provided assistance to the working poor in both food stamps and medical. I don't even think unemployment offers free retraining anymore which means there are people caught at the bottom that cannot rise because the programs that once were are no longer. I don't know what the solution is there. A friend of mine's husband moved from a low skilled labor position to IT tech with a BS degree because of programs that were available years ago that provided him with training on how to repair office equipment and machines. Those jobs, quite honestly, were never intended to support families but when manufacturing ceased, the job market was flooded with people who lacked the skills to take on higher paying jobs. That's an area in need of focus generally.
Mike Roberts July 05, 2012 at 12:30 AM
To Terry, what data do you have that Walmart neighborhood grocery stores put mom/pop businesses out of business? I understand the very large big box Walmarts can create issues but do the grocery stores do the same? Like Revvell, I don't get the Altadena Hardware angle on this. Will Walmart have a seasonal seed display that will bring down Altadena Hardware? Will they sell packs of plastic party cups so low that people will completely stop going to the Fiesta party store (who sells much more than party cups)? I understand a Walmart will be price competitive or even aggressive but isn't the fact that they're a grocery store a different animal? I get that some don't like the way they operate, but where's all the data about these grocery stores (NOT their huge super center big box sites).
Mike Roberts July 05, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Question 1 - When a company borrows money and expects gov't bailout. When a company develops/builds/markets products as safe but they hide safety/health info. from the public. Question 2- I've been shopping at Altadena's mom/pop independent businesses for almost 10 yrs. I know I pay more for the convenience. Convenience is H U G E for me. By far, it's the main reason why I shop in town. It's not b/c the selection is always great. It's not due to mom/pop (not every store in town is owned by someone who lives here or spends their profits in town - many store owners live out of town and do their shopping close to where they live. I don't always shop for the lowest price on goods. It depends on the product. I do try to look for value. Sometimes value means I pay more due to the convenience factor. Example - Target is about 5 miles from me. Round trip it's 10 miles. While not quite a 1/2 gallon of gas, it's close to $2 for me to drive to Target and back. If I'm going to buy copy paper there, I can go to Websters and pay approx $2 more for about the same thing. It's a push. PLUS, I save close to 45 mins. So, why wouldn't I shop local and pay a bit more if there's value to be found. I do believe you're underestimating a large part of Altadena who plans to remain loyal to our mom/pops. The Walmart opposition group will have to understand that not all people share their same "ethics" and "principles".
Mike Roberts July 05, 2012 at 01:02 AM
To Pas. Adj. - check out those independent gas stations on Washington east of Lake. They were a few pennies lower than the Arco at Lake/New York. Hey, check that out! An independent that's LOWER priced vs. the BIG GUYS. Imagine that!

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