Rich Simons | Upper East 11th Street
Q – I understand you have lived in Del Mar for over 40 years. Have you seen many changes in that time? – m.g.
A few. The Plaza and the Hotel got built, of course. Those were the biggies. But they weren’t the ones that hurt. And as you might suspect, I’m now going to tell you about those.
To begin, my niece lives in a small town in Connecticut that could be a doppelgänger for Del Mar. It occupies about the same area as our little village (minus the fairgrounds), has about the same population (maybe a slightly younger demographic), same median income and same outrageous house/land prices. They are also in the middle of a larger county area, sprinkled with all the usual “big box” stores – your Whole Foods, your Walmarts, etc.
But there is something different about that little town up there in Connecticut, and it is this: within its boundaries it supports and has supported for as far back as anyone can remember: a grocery store, a pharmacy and a hardware store! Oh, the grocery store isn’t huge but the produce is fresh and top notch. And as the now tired old quip goes: “If you can’t find it there you probably didn’t need it anyway.” The same goes for the pharmacy, but they don’t sell lawn supplies there, or Hallowe’en costumes. And if you can’t make it down there some day to pick up your meds, the pharmacist will cheerfully drop them by your house on his way home. The hardware store is kinda cramped but it carries anything you might need that will fit into a hatbox. Of course they don’t sell gas barbecues or lawn furniture, but if you want a stack of plywood they will have it dumped on your front porch first thing in the morning.
“How can this be?” I cried out to the niece. Old timers in Del Mar remember that we once had all those services here. All within walking distance. And a pretty decent gas station with a really good mechanic standing by. But they all left! And that, dear reader, is what I wanted to tell you about in response to your question - the big changes to this town over the years that have hurt the most.
Again I appealed to the niece: “What have you got that we haven’t got?” The niece looked me in the eye and said “That’s easy, Uncle. It’s called CUSTOMER LOYALTY! It’s also common sense. No resident of our town would think to blow a few bucks on gasoline to save a few pennies on Rice Krispies and a toothbrush. Sounds like you haven’t got much of that C.L. out there in California, Uncle. Maybe not much sense, either.” All I could say was “I guess not.”