Tuesday, July 15, 2008

To Shop Or Not To Shop

Analysis: Shopping local makes cents, especially as gas prices rise

Tell Ojai merchants why you shop here, why you don't

By Earl Bates
To shop local or not to shop local, that is a question for Ojai Valley residents. Is it noble to shop out of town for products and services that should be available in Ojai?
“There are many reasons why people should shop locally,” said Scott Eicher, Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO. “If residents take their service patterns out of town, we will not have a vibrant, healthy local economy. If we have no businesses we will not have a community.”
“A vibrant economy is certainly in the best interest of everyone, including the city,” said Mayor Sue Horgan. “I think it’s important that we have a balance, that our merchants serve both residents and visitors and that we maintain that balance. I’m real passionate about this. I think if the merchants are supported they will be here for us, if we don’t patronize these people, how can we expect them to be here when we need them?”
Shopping locally can help the Ojai community in many ways; it helps support the local economy, it helps support local employment, it helps ensure that local businesses can continue to provide the community with needed products and services, and through sales tax it helps fund city services.
Local shopping can help residents save time, money and natural resources; and it contributes to the well-being of the community.
“On the self-serving level, people should be shopping locally to keep their gas bill down, and to reduce their carbon footprint,” said Eicher. “At $5 a gallon, driving to Ventura means you have to save an awful lot to make the trip worth the cost.”
The cost of an out-of-town shopping trip is becoming a bigger factor. One cruise around the county can roll 30 to 60 or more miles onto the odometer. The cost of gasoline is only part of the equation, there’s mileage on the vehicle and a person’s time to factor in, valuable time that could have been spent at work, at home or at recreation.
For a single trip from Ojai into the Ventura area, the value of a person’s time and the vehicle’s mileage costs can easily add up to $100, more or less, depending on specifics. One way to estimate the value of a person’s time is to multiply the hours spent on the trip by the amount the person would have been paid for working an hour. This puts a typical value of $25 to $100 for a person’s time for a three-hour trip. Mileage expenses are much more than the cost of gasoline, they should include the amortization of the purchase price of the vehicle, maintenance, insurance and registration. A typical personal vehicle has mileage expenses of about $1 per mile, gasoline’s part of that is about 25 cents.
For the trip to result in a net savings, all of these costs would have to be more than made up by the difference in prices between Ojai businesses and the out-of-town shopping destinations. Many Ojai residents seem to think they are saving by shopping elsewhere, but after all expenses are considered, how much saving actually happens?
What about Ojai’s movement to go green? How’s that carbon footprint? A shopping trip around Ojai, even by car, can make a common out-of-town shopping trip look extravagant in many ways. A trip around town by trolley, by bicycle or on foot can be remarkably inexpensive and enjoyable. “I would rather bicycle over to Rains for clothes or kitchen gadgets than drive to any mall in the world!” said former Ojai Mayor Suza Francina. “There is no question that shopping locally benefits not only the business owners but the whole community.”
In addition to basic economic and environmental concerns, staying local can help create social and cultural networking benefits that can enrich individual residents and the Ojai community collectively.
Can’t find it in Ojai?
“The town formerly devoted a larger portion of its mercantile activity to servicing local needs,” said longtime Ojai resident Jim Churchill, co-owner of Churchill Brenneis Orchard, an organic grower of Ojai Pixie tangerines and avocados.
“Within living memory Rains was a hardware store; it seems to me that they’ve been extremely agile in adapting their product mix to what people with money will buy, but there isn’t very much there for me anymore.” Ojai used to have four welding shops, four nurseries, and a farm supply store. But those services went away because of changes in the town, the nation and the economy. I don’t know how you repopulate the merchant community with a different mix of providers. There are not many merchants that stay around as long as Rains has and adapt successfully to changing circumstances. So we get into this chicken and egg situation, merchants won’t stock products unless they think there’s a customer base and customers won’t shop here if it’s worth it to them, for whatever reason, to shop elsewhere.
“I think the price of oil is going to be a game-changer,” continued Churchill. “All kinds of things are going to shift around and people will need to drive less. But they aren’t going to shop locally if the things they want or need aren’t available locally.”
“I think we always have to remember that we are not just a visitor town,” said Horgan. “We are a real town, we have real people and they have needs and wants. Hopefully, it’s going to be in everyone’s best interest if our local merchants can provide for those needs.
“Obviously there are some things we cannot get here,” said Horgan, “but to the extent that local merchants don’t have some of the things that we need, I think it is incumbent upon the residents here to make that known to the merchants. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what the community goes out of town for?”
Many local merchants are happy to help find things the customer is looking for by searching what’s available from their suppliers. Special items can be ordered individually and merchants could consider stocking products that have consistent requests.
“There is a collaborative effort going on right now between the chamber and the city and some specific merchants and hoteliers,” Horgan continued. “We are trying to get our arms around this whole issue of how can we maintain a vibrant local economy. It’s all about knowing who the customers are, what do our residents want and need, and what do the visitors want and need? It’s a big issue and such an important one.”

83 comments:

Anonymous said...

We have been kicking this issue around for years and absolutely nothing has changed. The local merchants do not cater to the everyday needs of the typical family...clothes, shoes, needs of the running of the household and the like. We are forced to go out of the valley. The only thing that has changed in my household is that we make our trip down the hill only once a week, as opposed to the old days when we would go to Ventura at the drop of a hat for one item. We combine our trip and get it done all at once, and wait for the next trip if there is something we need mid-week. We also consider it entertainment, so to speak, having lunch out or maybe going to the movies at the same time. The cumulative savings of one of our trips to Ventura makes up for the couple of gallons of gas we use.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the other post. There really isn't anything in Ojai that I can but that's useful. If I need office supplies, they cost 20%+ more in town. Very hard to find anything in bulk for my business. When I moved here, no furniture stores, just galleries and "antique" (junk stores for that). Rains is ok, but the prices are sometimes outrageous on things especially clothing. I have several friends who feel the same way. Unless you're a liquor store, gas station, or an auto mechanic...you don't offer anything I need on a regular basis. I do shop the gift shops for cards and trinkets. The grocery stores are REALLY expensive too...and for what? A dirty store like Vons? It hasn't been the same since the strike (!) I take a once monthly trip to Trader Joes. Every store it seems maks things higher for us "Ojai residents". I'd rather shop at Lassen's, Target, anywhere else. Since gas prices have gone up, it's cheaper to have things shipped to my doorstep.

Anonymous said...

Too bad some of Ojai's merchants aren't getting it. In the current economy, businesses are closing their doors left and right. Merchants are trying desperately to hang on. They are so scared that they've forgotten the old saying "wash my back, and I'll wash yours". I live and work in Ojai and I definitely (used to) shop in Ojai. When a local resident and faithfully spending customer (such as myself) comes into your establishment and asks a favor of you, such as posting a flyer or making a small donation to a school, you should be welcoming this important (and cheap) opportunity to do something in return for all the business they have been giving you over the years. It's a small thing and it's guaranteed to keep your customer. You need to remember that frequent/regular customers will ALWAYS bring you increased business if they are treated well. Do these merchants really think I will want to continue coming into their establishments after they treated me so rudely for my request? Do they really think I'm going to spread the word about their "wonderful" business and encourage them to go there? Have they never heard about "word of mouth" advertising? In my case, I'm really glad I have more than one option for coffee, natural foods, books, beauty products, toiletries, clothing, and groceries. As more businesses are getting smarter about delivery services, Ojai's merchants ought to be thinking about how to take care of their precious (spending) local customers who are still willing to take the time to actually walk into their establishments. Have you noticed downtown Ventura lately? The streets are buzzing with activity. Every store window is sporting posters and signs for each other's events and causes. They seem to have figured out how to keep the buzz and excitment going by encouraging each other. They seem to understand synergy. They seem to understand how to make a little bit go a long way - that by helping out the guy next door, that that energy comes right back. You'd think Ojai would have made this connection by now...

oops, sorry, I have to go... my coffee bean delivery just arrived...

oops, gotta go... my online organic foods order just arrived... (thk for the recipe ideas out of your deli...)

oops, gotta run... my new shoes just arrived... (by the way, thanks for letting me try them on in your store before I ordered them...)

oops, sorry, gotta go... my grocery order just arrived... (no standing in line, no schlepping to/from the car, life is good...)

Anonymous said...

I have been an Ojai resident for 18 yr. and I'm moving on since my mom recently died. I want to make something clear...I am not a negative, whiny person. Quite the contrary I am very positive and upbeat and have an excellent reputation in town. That being said I have alot to say about the general business climate here. In my opinion, things haven't been the same since 9/11. Ojai has had it's share of disasters (that flood of 2005 was the worst!) that have impacted the area. People must factor that in. However, the business climate has been stale here for quite some time. When the real estate boom was happening here it seemed everyone had a "get rich quick" mentality. Stores catered to people with second mortgage cash, not residents. That changed the whole complexion of the town and the residents changed too. Most of those people are long gone, they never intended to make Ojai their home. The stores have been much more touristy since 2000, although that has been a problem for a long time. The businesses that seem to do "well" (scraping by) are businesses that don't depend on Ojai. Lynda.com, The Oaks, The Inn,and some of the motels. The employers here in town are not interested in employing someone qualified like me. They offer $8 an hour jobs to teenagers. If there are no jobs, and no places for people to shop, you are looking at a very bad situation to relocate into. If you depend on people from LA to save you, forget it when the gas prices go up. My grand kids don't want to visit me anymore because there is nothing in town for kids to do.If the water park and frizbee golf didn't exist that would have happened sooner.The business people in town seem ill prepared for downturns in the economy, although there have been many in the time I have been here. Many businesses seem to "hang on" until something like a recession takes them out for good. The service here is mediocre at best. I used to frequent the eateries in town but don't anymore. Either the prices are ridiculous, the service poor or both.
There seems to be a phobia about growth in this town. People must realize that if a town isn't growing it is dying. There is no such thing as a holding pattern. I believe that we can grow responsibly. We could become a "model small town" if we tried, but I believe that time has passed.I will mention a few businesses that I will miss when I move to Salem, Oregon.

Suzanne's: that is a business that has been consistently good and they are also good to their employees. It's a well known fact.

Human Arts: Hallie and Stan are again great merchants who know how to do it right. For the quality they offer, the prices are decent.
Unfortunately, I don't shop galleries often.

Ojai Creates: I miss you John :) but the new owners have done a great job of keeping prices reasonable and offering a friendly atmosphere.

The Farmer's Market: Great fresh food at resonable prices compared with stores in town. The vendors are friendly and chatty.

It is true that a store can order things they don't stock, but when I need ink for my printer NOW that doesn't work. It's faster and cheaper to order things online and have them overnight shipped.
While I will miss the few friends that are left here in town, most have moved away. The cute & quirky feel of this town faded out with the Iraq war. One thing I will not miss is the daily struggle it took to live here while I cared for my elderly mom. I will not miss the high prices, the lack of decent rental housing for a FAIR price, the lack of choice when I need things for my home, etc. Whenever you depend on outside people coming in to support you business, you better have a good sized city. A town as small as Ojai cannot survive this way.
Goodbye Ojai, I wish I could say it's been fun but in reality I've never worked so hard for so little in my life.

Anonymous said...

It should be mentioned somewhere that Auberge also recently closed its doors. I thought this was really sad since the Auberge remodel was beautiful, and now there's no real premium dining experience to be had in the valley.

Anonymous said...

After several years of not caring what we think, now you want to know? Must be hard times, eh :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I could care less if the merchants go under. They wanted to cater to visitors and now they don't have them. guess they got what they deserved.

Anonymous said...

The reason we do not have places to shop to buy the necessities of life at reasonable prices is because our city leaders have decided we cannot have the large stores needed to have the space to carry a large assortment of these types of things. It is pretty simple.

Anonymous said...

Damn right. Let's bulldoze the whole town and build a WalMart. It's all we'll ever need.

Anonymous said...

Let's drill for oil here, too. I wish to consume. It's why God made me.

Anonymous said...

Large buildings for stores could be tastefully accomodated. I am not saying build a WalMart. We have a Vons, do we not? We have a Starr Market, do we not? Both pretty good sized buildings. (And, by the way, where was the architectural review board when Starr was built...on vacation obviously, or was it on the take?) What if a local tried to build a store the size of Starr Market out in the lot next to the Capri Motel for clothes/shoes. The city would never let it happen. The point here is that we are forced to go elsewhere for what we need.

Anonymous said...

I think we could start with bulldozing Von's first it's dirty and stinky and if you ask them to order something for you forget it. What's up with all the green meat too! Oh and by the time you endlessly drive around in circles wasting gasoline to park you could have drove to vta and back. I do shop at Starr for veggies and meat and the service is excellent.

Anonymous said...

Amen. Our Vons sucks.

Anonymous said...

Seriously they do need to do something with Von's. I hope the manager reads these posts. The store never has anything that is on sale, I wouldn't feed the meat to my dogs, it's dirty, the produce section is the worst I've ever seen. Wonder why we shop elsewhere??

Anonymous said...

I saw one of the meat department guys taking old stickers off the meat packages and replacing them with new stickers with new "sell by" dates on them.

Anonymous said...

I think we should start a blog just for Von's and see how many posts then print it and leave on the store manager's desk or hand it over to them.

Anonymous said...

I saw one of the meat department guys taking old stickers off the meat packages and replacing them with new stickers with new "sell by" dates on them.

This is a complete lie. If anyone did see this, they would have told the police and the store manager, in that order. Nobody did, so this is clearly untrue.

Anonymous said...

The store manager was told.

Anonymous said...

I know for a fact that they also take meat such as chicken and refreeze it which is a complete No! No! Check out some of the dates on prepackaged meats in the case almost always out of date. I have bought meat in the past that after I brought it home it had one of those outdated stickers left with the new one on top of it. and for the person who wrote the police should have been called you? you should study the law alittle better before you call police you beter make sure a crime has occurred and can prove it!

VONS IS GROSS said...

oh my I don't even know where to start... how about with the biggest nightmare the one that keeps giving thru out the week, Vons, before you even go in to the store you have to go deal with the parking lot or should I say lack of it. That always starts me off in a great mood, then putting my kids in the filthy broke shopping carts ( a little more fuel for the fire) then I go in to the store to make a left to the meat and they generally between all the junk and the locals chit chatting in the enterance you cannot get thru. Once I finally get thru I get to meat dept then i realize I better just stop at corner market or dahls because their meat is freasher then i proceed to get the paper goods untill i realize I can them for half the price at target or Sams so then I just go to the (what should be fresh vegi's) to bananas that would be bad by breakfast or soft potatoes (or is this how they are suppose to be, someone please clarify(j/k)).. then i go to the hot food to wait for twenty minutes until girls are done with there personal conversation about how much they drank or smoked the night before to get dried out chicken or soggy potatoes then to the check out i go with maybe 1/4 of my list be cause the don't have anything in the store where i'm not greated by someone that is happy to have a $20 an hour or more unskilled labor job. My point is this is the worst Vons with worst employees in the county... I will be driving to Vons on the Avenue or Borchard until gas is $30.00 a gal. Who knows maybe if Vons would be allowed by the people that want us to shop locally to move to a better location it would not be so bad. When I go to ventura to get grocerys i generally do my other errands as well.. get gas, gifts, carwash, lunch etc. Vons is and should be the anchor store of the Valley, until we get a nice grocery store people are going to continue to shop in ventura.

Anonymous said...

we sure dont want a wallmart here. A costco would do well and a Trader joes. Get rid of vons they are over priced anyway.

Anonymous said...

My folks are visiting this week, and though I rarely bother to stop at the Arcade, I stroleld through there with my mom for a littel while. I noticed that Rains does have a quite extensive offering...and in fact I've been thinking of buying one of those elecric kettles for boiling water. I've priced them at a number of places, on line, at Target etc. Rains had the exact same one as Target for the exact tams price. When I'm ready to buy one, now I'll know I can find it there.

Anonymous said...

Although I am in line to bash Vons, I would like to say that there are a couple of really great checkers that have been there for years. Torre (sp?) and Marilyn are wonderful. The older gentleman who bags and shags shopping carts is great. And little Pam who is always so very happy to be there. Notice the common denominator here? More mature workers. I came thru their Express line just this afternnon and the little blonde gal whose name starts with an A literally never uttered a word to me. I noticed what seemed to be her bad mood and said a very pointed Thank YOU to her as I left and she did not pick up on the hint I was trying to get across to her. Yep, for a well paying job in an air condtioned environment she did not seem happy to be there. Yes, I too patronize the Borchard store now that it was torn down to the dirt and re-built. Much better selection and just clean and spacious. Our Vons cannot help their lack of space, and not having the room to expand is not their fault, but doggonit, close the place down for a day or two and give it a thorough cleaning out.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the person who confirmed my story of the shenanigans that go on in the Vons meat department. I know what I saw. I stood there and watched him for quite some time to make sure of what he was doing. I got his name, which I still remember, and went to the manager. It has been a couple of years ago that this took place. I am pretty sure I was
shopping alone that day so how this person could attest to what I
did, or did not do, is a mystery!

col. clink said...

Suzina Francina is the former mayor of Ojai??? She IS today's a-go-go womyn!!

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that these "remodeling projects" don't seem to do much good. In fact, how are businesses doing since Ojai Frostie is gone? How about Auberge, The Oaks, and others who got a so called face lift. Funny how that hasn't panned out. Maybe it's because LA people, AND locals like places just as they are when they have some personal charm. At the shop I work at, the people from out of town always comment on the uniqueness of Ojai and the lack of strip malls. They enjoy that it doesn't resemble suburban LA. Here we are trying to make it as "LA" as possible. I think people are out of touch. The image of Ojai seems to be contrived, rather than authentic. I do believe this town has lost it's identity. It seems to be a magnet for narcissists instead of down to earth people. Cater to the greedy, and you end up with nothing.

Anonymous said...

WANT TO MAKE A SMALL FORTUNE IN OJAI?????
Bring a big one!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I was reading the comments about the Vons meat and a where to buy your meat. Someone mentioned the corner market and the quality of meat they sale... Just letting you know it comes from smart and final is repackaged and marked up......Duh save 5 bucks a pound and drive down the hill

Anonymous said...

As has been sufficiently noted, Von's reeks. The smell hits you the second you walk in the door. This has nothing to do with their ability to expand or improve their store. It has everything to do with their crappy hygiene.

Von's is just a Safeway, and Safeway is and always has been famous for one thing; going into towns where no other chain market is willing to go, and charging as high a price for everything as the local economy will bear. The only reason our local Von's doesn't have higher prices is because they have competition. If there were no Starr or Westridge, Von's would be reaming us even more vigorously that they already are. I do almost all of my local market shopping at Starr and make an occasional stop at Westridge. I go into Von's about 4 times a year.

I live in Oak View, and if there were a decent market there I would patronize them, but Dahl's is not a viable option for everyday shopping. They try, but they just haven't been able to nail it down. I used to hit the Corner Market a lot, but when they changed the layout from a small 2 cash register market to a large 1 cash register convenience store the place lost its magic for me and I stopped shopping there.

I don't need most of the businesses in Ojai. I don't wish them ill, but I just don't need them. I buy coffee at Java & Joes. I make an occasional trip into Ojai Valley Electronics. I used to be a regular at Ojai Video. I shop at Rains about 3 times a year, and Rainbow Bridge about once a month. As I mentioned, I occasionally stop at Westridge. I used to be a frequent buyer at Ojai Auto Parts, but then I bought a new truck. I like True Value Hardware and have shopped there for decades. The same thing goes for Meiners Oaks Hardware. I rarely eat out in Ojai, but I do like SeaFresh. I also like Bonnie Lu's.

I like Old Ojai, not New Ojai. If your business feels like Old Ojai to me (and I'm talking about a lot more than just the decor) I'll probably keep shopping there. If your business makes me feel like I'm shopping on State Street or even Rodeo Drive, you'll never have to worry about me darkening your doorway. My particular demographic group doesn't drop a lot of money, but we're loyal until the day we die. If we shop at your store. it's unlikely that anyone else will ever lure us away with 2% savings, made-in-China modern decor, hip music and in-house Starbucks coffee.

Anonymous said...

P.S:

Me again, from the previous comment.

I also love Suzanne's. I can rarely afford it, but they just serve some of the best food I've ever eaten, and they treat their customers well.

Anonymous said...

I like Ojai creates as well - they are a good source for printer ink cartridges, as well as art supplies. Their staff is always helpful, cheerful and poite. Wachters can be pricey on some items, but about average for the basics. They are always friendly and helpful, and Jordan provides great advice for pets of all sizes.

Rains has decent prices on their hardware and household items, and average prices for the brands of clothes that they stock. They used to have a better range of prices. In the "old days", when Nordhoff and Matilija had frequent dances, Rains would stock a good selection of affordable dresses that were fashionable for teenagers. They also had a small, but shopable juniors section - anyone remember dittoes pants? I used to buy them at Rains. $50 sundresses are not in my price range for my daughters, so I go to Ventura for their clothes, but I used to buy most of mine as a teenager in the Arcade (Rains and Korbs Trading Post).

Bryant Street Gym has good classes, a good selection of equipment and good prices. I wish they had a pool too! The Athletic Club, which started as a neighborhood pool and tennis club - affordable for nearly everybody- has become super expensive, and a bit snooty. The Nordhoff pool is just gross.

Anonymous said...

Good grief..I do not call $125 for a man's cotton short sleeved sport shirt at Rains reasonable.

Anonymous said...

I said, "for the brands". Tommy Bahama is not reasonably priced anywhere. Rains chooses to sell more expensive brands, rather than providing a wider selection. This has not always been the case.

Anonymous said...

To the grad students:
I'd say examining the food shopping habits around here would be a top priority, as everybody eats. I'll tell you where I spend my grocery dollars, guestimates on a monthly basis:
$360-4000 Trader Joe's Ventura (we work down there, so not an extra driving trip)
$180-200 Azure Standard (natural foods buying club w/monthly drops in Ventura)
$100-120 Ojai Farmers Market
$60-80 Ojai Vons for incidentals
$50 Gozo Farm CSA
$40 Farmer & Cook incidentals

My #1 suggestion for keeping $ here would be to establish a proper working member food co-op where healthy, local and natural foods are available at working people's prices.

My #2 suggestion would be for Chamber to establish a searchable web-based tool for merchants to update with products so that when I want to buy something I can go there first to see if it's available locally. Also, it must be interactive, akin to Ebay's wishlist, where consumers post what they're looking for and local merchants can respond with offers of what/when/and for how much they can provide it...or at least track what kinds of items local shoppers
seek.

Besides Ojai Ice Cream, which we frequent with the kids, I've never dropped a dollar in the Arcade, except for a splurge on some spendy shampoo at Buys Babes once. We do, however, patronize Serendipity, probably 2x as often at Ben Franklin, for unrelenting birthday present shopping for all the parties my kids are invited to.

Aside from that, it's Ace, and occasionally Tue Value, and Rite Aid for occasional prescriptions. Oh, and 2nd helpings, I'm a regular there!

I suppose, the other half of this question is what are we buying elsewhere? Us, not too much. We're not big consumers. I shop on craigslist and Ebay when possible. I practice NOT buying retail, on principle, when practical.

Of all the merchants out of the valley, when I do 'fall' into retail consumption...probably Target gets most of my clothing and houseware/recreation/hardware etc..$.

Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 7/21 9:25 am.

That is exactly the reason why we drive to Ventura which is the whole point of this issue. Tommy Bahama has no home in my closet for starters, and from my casual observation of most men in this town, not many others either. I see the guys on "Housewives of Orange County" in them! Not my cup of tea. They are obviously trying to cater to the touristy/vacationer crowd.

Anonymous said...

Please don't bring up Bimbo (I mean Busy) Blonde Babes. They charge triple for beauty supplies as if we don't know better. Again, I go to Pro Beauty Supply (they give a 10% discount to professionals) and the prices are reasonable. Is is actually cheaper to pay for shipping than shopping the Bimbo Babes. I understand that they aren't too nice to their employees either. I have yet to hear anything positive about them.

And don't bother with The Cluffs. They are known as the biggest tightwads in town and have yet to change that image. Their so called spa reminds me of a no-tell motel in Kingman Arizona. I forget what the name was...Budget something I think.Anyhow, THEY have skrewed enough people in town. They only survive by tourists who don't know any better. They excell more at building parks and monuments to themselves.

Anonymous said...

And don't bother with The Cluffs.

Weak, jealous shot, you should be ashamed of yourself. Here comes a truth bullet: Sheila and Don Cluff have given their time and MONEY to Ojai. They didn't have to buy, remediate and build on that unusable piece of land that used to be a gas station, they WANTED to. They have given a lot to Ojai, they could easily sell and take the money and run, but they continue to be good neighbors and citizens with a business that provides tax revenue for our city.

Anonymous said...

And the clients of The Oaks also are good customers of Ojai Pizza!

Cindy Bower said...

Wow! Quite a few comments here. The recent article has obviously motivated Ojai folks to evaluate their spending habits. Here is my two cents’ worth:

Kudos to the Farmers’ Market. Any chance we could see the growers once more each week (perhaps on Wednesday afternoon/evening)?

Rains does a nice job particularly with gifts, some hardware, and men’s clothing.

Ben Franklin has a good selection of toys, kitchen supplies, FABRICS, and crafts. Serendipity has consistently supplied Ojai with wonderful toys and games.

Movie theatre, especially since remodel, is comfortable. Film Society movies are our favorites. Nice that we can see new releases in a timely manner, too.

Ojai Gift and Card is MORE than happy to special order products – this service is quick and offers competitive prices. Yes, I realize their prices are high otherwise (a ream of paper costing more than $6.00), but I’m happy to support local business as much as possible.

I don't believe there are shoe stores for athletic shoes or for men in general in town. Ojai Sports couldn’t compete with box stores because they couldn’t get companies like Under Armour to sell to them on such a small scale.

Gasoline seems reasonable (gulp – did I say reasonable?!) – especially when compared to Santa Barbara and Ventura. Valero, Shell, and Circle K are competitive and at their prices, a trip to Costco for gas isn’t always warranted.

Finally, any chance we can unite and inundate Trader Joe’s suggestion box urging them to open a store at the Dahl’s location??!!

Anonymous said...

There would have to be about a quarter of a million more customers available in the Ojai Valley before Trader Joe's would even consider opening an outlet here. They have a rigid business model, and that business model is responsible for producing and maintaining the kind of store you like to shop at.

Don't let that stop you from writing letters, though.

Anonymous said...

One place we will be supporting more frequently is the Ojai Theater. Went there last night and for $9.00 I got a great new comfy chair to sit in, fresh popcorn, very inexpensive candy and a first run movie. It is way more expensive to go to Ventura to see a movie

D. Lloyd

Anonymous said...

The comments about the owners of Busy Babes and the Cluffs were untrue and uncalled-for. The poster did not even have the courtesy to disclose their own identity - easy to take pot-shots at others as "anonymous". The Cluffs and Busy Babes are both frequent donors to the many fundraisers in town, and the women at Busy Babes are always kind and helpful to me and to my friends. By the way, if you are going to denigrate others, at least use spell-check (screwed does not contain a "k".

The remodeled theater IS very nice, and much more convenient than going out of town. I enjoy eating out a Bonnie Lu's and Jim & Rob's. Both offer good food at good prices with friendly service.

BBeckett

Anonymous said...

Is the new Ojai Theater any quieter than it used to be?

Ojaian said...

There is one heck of a lot to comment on regarding the original survey and the subsequent comments, some viable, others; not so much.

I know there is a lot of angst directed at Von's, however, I, for one, am glad they are here. Can you imagine the stranglehold the local grocery purveyors would have over all of us if Von's was not here to help control prices? I shop at all three Ojai grocers and at the two independents many items are up to 1/3 more expensive than Von's.

I don't buy meat so I know nothing of post-dated or "green meat" at Von's. Another consideration is that Von's is a union shop and has
employee benefits that many of us would die for; and sometimes do just because we don't have those superior benefits from our employment. Do Von's employees make a contribution to pay for those benefits? Of course they do, yet, at least they have the option.

Funny thing is that the other two Ojai grocers don't offer thier employees the option of purchasing those benefits and, the other funny thing is, they pay less than employees at Von's earn. Let get this straight: the other Ojai grocers do not offer the the level of employee benefits as does Von's, they charge more for the same items, their hours are not extended as are Von's, and my personal perception is that the service is no better than Von's. So, in spite of an unattractive, aged building, Von's serves a real need in Ojai Valley. And, if you are at all in favor of union jobs (which set the compensation for non-union jobs) maybe you should reconsider Von's. Thousands of people shop there on a weekly basis and it is not the same as shopping at WalMart in any way.

One last thing about Von's: there is ALWAYS parking in that lot if you could somehow force yourself to walk for, let's say, one minute.
You should try it...you might like it...and so will the muscles in your legs that are so atrophied from always insisting on parking RIGHT in front of the store.

PRICING: I am willing to pay a premium to save gas and time to shop locally, however, how big should that premium be? I buy my dog treats in Ventura because they are a full 1/3 less expensive: $9.95 per bag compared to $14.95.

Heck, just that savings alone justifies my drive to Ventura if I incorporate other errands. I am going to make the assumption that both stores buy from the same distributors off of the same price sheet. And, I am comparing apples to apples (or dog treats to dog treats if you will) since they are both small, independent pet supply stores, not PetCo. Is the local store paying a lot more to lease thier store? I don't know and I don't care except that I am not willing to pay exorbitant prices to prop-up a floundering business.

I go to Santa Paula for auto repairs because they are about 1/2 of what the locals charge, except for Hinckley's(?)which I understand is an affordable and ethical garage.

Burritos, you ask? Of course there are several good places to get burritos in the valley excpet the pricing is about 1/3 to 1/2 more than equally as good burritos found in S.P.. And the drive over to S.P. from Ojai is quite scenic. Chinese food you query? 2/3more expensive than S.P. in Ojai, and no better quality. Begs the question "why don't I just move to S.P?" Well, I might once I get my gun permit.

I was crushed whilst reading the Tommy Bahama comments. As a newbie who has only lived here nine years and know I have no right to an opinion relative to anything about Ojai, I LOVE TOMMY BAHAMA and am glad our independent department store inventories a major collection of them. Then again, some of it I buy on ebay for about 1/3 the local price.

Some local merchants do have the saavy and motivation to reconfigure thier businesses to accomodate the local community. I buy all of my greeting cards and and many of my gifts at a store on Montgomery called Ojai House. While they do have some expensive items that are more geared to tourists, their product mix is substantial enough to attract many locals from the looks of it. They have live free entertainment and offer local artists a venue to sell at. It can be done, however, any merchant who sits behind the counter waiting for the customers to roll-in is in for rude awakening: you have to ATTRACT customers.

So, all in all, how much extra am I willing to pay to shop locally? Not more than 15%. Thank you and now go enjoy another Pink Moment.

Anonymous said...

Starr is a union market.
Everything I shop for costs less at Starr than it does at Von's.
Von's still smells like a toilet.

Anonymous said...

Starr Market does not treat their workers well, especially the young kids.

Anonymous said...

Starr Market does not treat their workers well, especially the young kids.

And...where is the substatiation? This might be a good time for a posting clinic. Rather than posting a declarative statement for the rest of us to parse, try the following and see what you think:
1) premise
2) reasoning behind statement
3) example
4) restate premise and close

Anonymous said...

While I agree that unsubstantiated accusations are inappropriate (and generally posted in the safety of annonymity), I do think it is a bit presumptuous to intruct everyone on proper posting format. We are not writing essays here! Was the former posted by an English teacher by any chance?

BBeckett

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, no. I'm just a regular person who was "taught to the test," and values clear communication and critical thinking.:-)

Anonymous said...

Not sure what the question about quieter at the Ojai Theater pertains to, but I was able to hear the movie just fine. Do you mean were there kids running up and down the aisles and making noise? No they weren't - but we went on a Tuesday night

D. Lloyd

Anonymous said...

I am not surprised to hear of the feeling of Starr treating their people poorly. I have noticed that there is usually always a "Help Wanted" sign on the door of the Starr Market for box clerks. It leads me to believe that there is heavy turnover for some reason. Seems to me that in such a small town it would be poor business practice to treat hired help poorly. The people affected would probably not choose to shop there if they or their family member had been treated badly.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that in such a small town it would be poor business practice to treat hired help poorly. The people affected would probably not choose to shop there if they or their family member had been treated badly.

I have not found the above to be necessarily to be the case with Starr Market. The baggers are usually high school kids that are only there for the summer or move on to something else. The checkers seem to stay longer. I have seen some there for many years.

Regardless, it seems more and more that people don't care how others are treated, only how they are treated.

It has been my observation that the worst employer here in the Ojai Valley is the Inn. Ever notice that they are constantly having job fairs? They have a huge turnover of employees.

I know for a fact that people get hurt on the job because the Inn does not have all the necessary Personal Protection Equipment, tools and other equipment for the employees to work safely, let alone efficiently. The employees are afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs if, and especially when, they get hurt.

After the renovations and the Inn received it's 5 Diamond rating, the who did the work that got them that rating were either demoted of let go. I live with one of them, so I know what I'm talking about.

The accounting department has had a huge turnover, the people with a conscious left. The Inn expects them to short the employees of wages and earned vacation pay.

The employees are expected to bring their own water. They used to supply it for the employees, but stopped that practice in order to cut costs.

They employees aren't allowed to have their cell phones with them. If there is an emergency, you have to call the switchboard and they'll deliver the message, maybe. My experience was that they don't.

The list goes on and on. I work with people who tell me that the Inn is a horrible place to work.

But Ojai looks the other way at this. The importance of the money it brings in outweighs the moral and ethical issues that are so prevalent there. I think very few, if any, of the guests who visit the Inn would boycott the place if they knew of the shady treatment the OVI&S management engages in. They would rather be pampered and treated like royalty by those that are treated like dirt. But, by gosh, mistreat a dog and they'll screaming for your head.

The Crowns are the perfect example that having wealth does not equate to having class.

Anonymous said...

I have overheard the young people at Starr being treated bad. The manager is a bully, as is the assistant manager. And the Inn has been treating their people like slaves for years. Nothing new there. Not supplying water seems pretty inhumane to me. There is also a private school in the valley who is pretty hard on their people too. A little investigating will turn up a ton of lawsuits filed against them.

Anonymous said...

Young people in an entry-level job, complaining about a boss? You don't see THAT everyday...

Actually, the staff at Starr, checkers, produce, deli/butcher, liquor, frozen, etc. are mature people who have been at the market for many years. Starr provides good service, good prices, and convenience. I have never seen any drama.

btw, the Ojai Valley Inn has tap water available for workers, my work doesn't provide bottled water. The 'shorting' paycheck charge is an accusation of criminal behavior...did the employees that left report this? Injuries on the job are far more expensive in the long run. What are some example? As for the 'job fairs', any hotel has high turnover, many of the jobs are kitchen, landscape, maid service; you can't get and keep a 5-diamond rating with bad people, and good workers have alternatives.

Anonymous said...

I personally have no problem with the Inn and their no cell phone rule. These people are not being paid to stand around and yack on the phone on company time. I wish my employer would make a similar rule. My co workers ignore the business line ringing while on what are obviously personal calls leaving me with the knowledge of more of their personal lives than I need/want to know. My personal calls STAY personal. My cp stays in my car!

Anonymous said...

I agree about the Starr. Kids just starting out in real work environment and learning much of what is not taught in school.

There was a class action against the Inn a little while ago, filed by a couple of former EE's, and they won. It had to do with the Inn short changing them on their time cards. It was something like where the Inn required EE's to park in specific area, take the tram to where the time clocks were, then get to their respective work areas. The Inn lost their case and had to retroactively pay employees for that time.

Most pay disputes are handled by the State Board of Equalizaton, if at all, and is a beauracractic nightmare for those seeking fair compensation.

Not wanting to go off on another tangent, I know for a fact that during the renovations, the Inn was hiring many of the undocumented workers in the area to help complete the landscaping. I know many of these people. The three that were responsible for beating the crap of Wayno at Libbey Park about 2 months ago were among those who were hired. Now 2 of them are in jail and the other, to my knowledge, has left the area.

I've been to the Inn on several occasions. I don't ever remember seeing lots of water fountains, although I'm sure their in some places. My point is, when you have a crew of landscapers and ground crews out working in 90+ degree weather, they have to stay hydrated. They haven't got time to stop, go find a drinking fountain that is really there for the guests and not the employees, then, find there way back to the work site. They have to take their own water, which at one time was provided for them.

An example of work related injuries? Needing to be very careful here, I know of 2 people who were hurt on the job. I live with one of them and I see them bear through the pain everyday. The other person bites the bullet, too, and deals with the pain everyday. In these economic times, they believe that is the better choice.

I agree fully that you can't keep a 5 Diamond rating with bad people. That is my point. The Inn has EE's that have been there long before Crowns took over. But many more have left because of the poor treatment.

The Inn senior leadership relies on the personal integrity of the EE's. The EE's want to do a good job because it is a personal reflection of who they are. They work hard, do as they are told, and are good people. But they will only tolerate so much abuse and callous disregard by the employer and move on.

It is a fact that companies with a culture that shows genuine concern for the employees has greater moral amongst the EE's, and thereby increases productivity. Not only does it increase productivity, but it also reduces injuries, which does decrease costs.

The culture of any company is created at the top. The Crowns are at the top, and all responsibility for the treatment of their employees, good or bad, lies solely in their laps.

Anonymous said...

I find it curious, if not depressing, that the majority of comments on this thread are negative - nothing more than vitriolic rants by people who seem to find more value in tearing something down than building things up. I would like to see this town improve, and I woul dlike to engage in a productive discussion of steps towards that end. But it seems like people here just want to make jabs and strike blows instead. Whats up with that?

Anonymous said...

"To Shop or Not to Shop" in Ojai is the question posed at the begining. Regardless of how it is answered, there are root causes for responses, good or bad, and both were sides are represented.

I don't shop in Ojai because it most stores are to expensive and don't carry the selections I need. I don't buy art and I make my own coffee. I live on a budget and $300 for sweaters, $100 for shirts does not fit.

I do buy tires at Tireman, but that's not very often and, besides, Fred's in Oak View. I do visit Von's for food, but for the most part, we get ours a Trader Joe's.

Most people in the Valley work outside of same and, by reading the thread, shop outside of it too because Ojai commerce is not tailored to the needs of it's people. Some are, but how many coffee shops does Ojai need?

The opportunities for fledgling businesses to survive here in Ojai is lacking. It's too expensive and the customer base won't really support it.

That's nor meant to be just criticism, it's just reality. Businesses have to make money in order to survive and grow. With the on-line shopping available, and better discounts, how can new businesses be expected to survive? I love Mom and Pop places. But if Mom and Pop are charging and arm and a leg for something that I can get for much less, it doesn't take a a whole lot of intelligience to determine where I'll go with my dollars.

Now, if I was extremely wealthy, that may be a different story. By the way, very few of the current wealthy became that way in Ojai. Yes, some have, but most brought their wealth with them. They may be able to afford the Ojai prices, and more power to 'em.

I have lived and worked here in the Ojai Valley for almost 20 years. I would love to see Ojai prosper. But it has to recognize it faults and take corrective action first in order to change the stagnating course it is currently on.

When feedback is requested, the negative should be heard as much as the positive. It is sad, though, that there is more the former and not the latter. But who is responsible for that? The readers or the retailers?

Anonymous said...

To the person who said this thread has turned into a bashing of the local mployers...if the shoe fits, wear it. And to the person who seemed to have the inside scoop on complaints filed against the Inn, I know people who were involved in this situation and it is fact that this happened BUT it is not the State Board of Equalization that handles pay disputes. The SB of E is responsible for the collection of sales tax monies generated by sales. Pay disputes are handled by the Labor Board, whose office is in Santa Barbara.

I think it is important for people who work at the places mentioned in this thread to respond with first hand confirmation of the practices mentioned. I, for one, do consider how the people who work in the places I shop are treated.

Anonymous said...

I've let this thread run just to see what would be said without a retailer putting in her 2¢ worth. But now I would like to address a few points.

Consumers cannot expect to find clothes or food at Walmart/Kmart or TJ's prices or in their wide selection outside of those chains. Although for the same item Ojai businesses can often compare reasonably, small business MUST compete on service and quality. In that respect, SOME of us may need to brush up on our skills.

Many merchants in this town provide excellent service and fair prices, its just too many citizens don't even stop in to see because of the perception of "nothing I need or its too expensive". Come down and walk around some day, you may be surprised at what you find!

I make no pretense of speaking for other merchants and what mark-ups they use, but I'll lay bear my industry. The pet industry standard for food is a 30% margin. Treats, collars or other non-food supplies are up to a 50% margin. Industry research has shown that without this basic margin, a store cannot stay afloat. If other independent pet supplies aren't using this model, that is their decision. They may be making up the difference by offering grooming (usually rented stations like hair salons do for humans) or offering training as additional revenue streams.

At my store, we offer huge amounts of health information, behaviour information and other perks such as free delivery, senior discounts, case discounts and Chamber member discounts. We are open seven days a week and until 7pm monday through friday. Our customers asked for these hours, and we obliged.

We listen to our customers, but also must make decisions based on what is possible for our business. Customers want lots of things and one store cannot possibly be all things to all customers. We happily refer to other pet supplies when we can't meet the need and even call to check if other stores have the food, etc. to save our customers the drive. I often tell customers what website to go to for an usual item that is not possible for me to stock.

Other merchants in town do similar things for their customers - I know because the other pet supply in town calls me when they have a customer with a need they can't fill!

I hope my fellow merchants are following this blog. Even though the comments have sometimes been hard to read and perhaps a bit harsh, there is a lot to think about here. I know I've been looking for more areas where we can improve.

Thanks to all who have commented. You can't fix things if you don't know what's broken!

B Dawson

Anonymous said...

I stand corrected in regards to which department is responsible for overseeing pay disputes between employer/employee.

I certainly agree that the use of cell phones could, and should, be controlled by the employer. That certainly is reasonable. However, I don't agree with the policy that employees are not allowed to have their cell phones on Inn property. It is my understanding that this is the case. This is what I have been told by an EE of the Inn.

OK, so say you're a parent with sick kid(s) at home. You're at work because you can't afford to take time off to be with them. If the no cell phone policy is accurate, then you are not able to check in on them during one of your to 2 mandatory 15 minute breaks, or while you are on your mandatory lunch break. That is your time, not the Inn's.

I'm not out on a limb with that scenario. My point is, life does not stop for employees just because they clock in at wherever they work. I do believe they must focus on the tasks at hand, but the reality is that there are, and always will be, influenses that can be distracting. A sick kid is only one of them.

Our house was broken into this earlier this week, along with a few others in our neighborhood. A car was stolen from a neighbors house as well. Th police have acknowledged to me that there is a crime spree where we live. My partner is stressed with that fact. The police were trying to get a hold of my partner, and calling me on my cell phone. I called my partner and left a message to call the detective. It wasn't until I got home that I found out my partner never got my message(s) because of the cell phone ban. True, it was not a life or deaath situation, but at the same time, it was a important message that my partner needed to get. I really fail to see why my partner is prevented from getting that sort of message during their break.

I used to go into Rains frequently to see what they have to offer, and still occasionaly do. There were times that, had they my size, I would have purchased something. I have yet to see any clothing in my size. The staff is always friendly and very quick to greet me and offer assistance. I just have the misfortune of being a big and tall person.

Last Christmas I walked along the Arcade when I got off work. At 5:00 in the evening, half the stores were closed. This is during the Christmas season. I went into one store that was open. There was nothing less than $100 in that clothing store. My Christmas shopping was completed by buying gift cards at Macy's and Mervyn's, although I did purchase a couple of stuffed animals at Serendipity(?)for the grandchildren to put the gift cards on.

I still maintain that Ojai, for the most part, does not have the businesses that I find affordable. I don't expect them to change the way they do business just for me. However, I will take my business to the stores that offer what I can afford and in my size.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of bad service, and I really am saddened to have to say this as the owners are such great people, but yesterday and today I went into the coffee place at El Roblar and 33 and was treated very poorly by the young man behind the counter. I thought maybe I'd give him one bad day, as we all have them, but two in a row?? He did get a tip Friday, but no tip Saturday.

Anonymous said...

Yes, many of the eateries in this town have bad service....not all, but alot. The one that sticks out in my mind is Cafe Emporium. Not even so much the wait staff, but the food itself. No consistency, not just from one day to the next, but two people at the same table can order the same thing and get two completely different looking disshes. Barbara, we miss you!

Anonymous said...

some people just have bad days.

Anonymous said...

One way overlooked store in this valley is Ojai Surplus. The people are great. Joy herself is a joy, and she knows how to hire people with personality PLUS that little store is just packed with everyday stuff. Clothes for the whole family, shoes, reasonably priced jewelry that makes for great gifts, camping stuff,sporting goods, toys..incredible how much stuff is in that little place. GO IN THERE!

Lisa Snider said...

When Matt and I did our Ojai Moment show on Radio Ojai on Friday, comments were in the mid-40's, now they are at 65, wow! We talked about shopping, and, 12:52, we even touched on Ojai Surplus, where bargains abound. Here is a link to the 13-minute show:

Radio Ojai

Kathy Avakian said...

I like Starr Market for many reasons including some they are probably not too happy about. That is they are never too crowded and its more quiet and you can actually have a conversation with one of the many friendly checkers that have worked there forever as well as the new checkers who are also nice. I have lived in Ojai for over 27 years and my shopping is pretty simple. I go to Starr or sometimes Westridge (the old Locker) for great meat, Westridge also for its great wine selection and I shop at Vons for things like large jugs of dishwasher detergent, toilet paper and booze. I like that Mexican guys fruit stand on the way to SB and the farmers market also has nice treats for fresh bread eggs and veggies.. You know I could probably save money by going to Ventura but it has been so long I guess I am used to Ojai's prices. I save a lot of money on clothes by repairing my old jeans and wearing my shoes to death so I don't mind going to Rains or Hatties or any of the expensive clothing stores for an item or two to ramp up my closet, I have a Citron jumper I have worn for 15 years that I bought at Kindred Spirit, you probably would know me by my jumper. I love Ojai and even its little touristy stores. I love Hacienda and when I can afford it will buy an expensive old treasure or two. I love Otto Heino and Running Ridge or whatever is I mean Human Arts and buy local art whenever possible. I rarely buy necessities online because that would deprive me of meeting some of the real charactors who have set up shop in Ojai.

I don't think Vons as bad as some people make it out even though I don't buy meat there for my own reasons.

I only have one little beef and that is just a small one with Vons. Please don't make a game out of trying to guess how to pronounce our last names. Just a simple Thank you is great!

Sincerely ,
Kathy Avakian

Anonymous said...

The fact is the vast majority of people who earn money in Ojai do so by driving out of the valley most days of the week. I had to get pet food, and wanted to support a local business, but I never got around to going into town (we live in Meiners Oaks), and fond myself at 4:45 yesterday on the 101 and suddenly had to pull off and buy my dog's food at a shop in Ventura).

Everyone in retail has to get savvy if they're going to be in the same business in 5 more years. I know that what will make the difference for me is not price, but convenience. My time is still too valuable to spend driving all over the county looking for a better price. I don't even have time to drive all over Ojai and window shop like a tourist. I want to spend my money here but when I think of buying something, the first place I go is the internet. If the local merchants could create online stores, I would buy here. Imagine if there were a local daily delivery service (running in a hybrid car, of course). I could cruise through the office supply, the grocery, and the pet store, place my orders, and have it all delivered to me that afternoon. letting me know what they have. I'd like to see the local merchants step into the 21st century.

Did you read what I wrote - I WANT TO GIVE YOU MY MONEY - BUT YOU HAVE TO LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU SELL WITHOUT REQUIRING THAT I SPEND AN ETERNITY EXPLORING EVERY SINGLE STORE IN TOWN TO FIND OUT WHAT YOU CARRY. GET ONLINE ASAP!!!!

Anonymous said...

WHy don't you pick up the phone and call us?

Anonymous said...

9:10, why don't you give us your name and number and we certainly will!

Anonymous said...

I think he means use the phone book. Merchants pay a lot of money and offer coupons to people who use the phone book. Anyway it beats driving around from store to store asking if they carry something.

Anonymous said...

I meant merchants pay a lot of money to advertise in the phone book and have coupons for customers in the back of the directory.

Linda Potter, Oak View said...

I do as much local shopping as possible and it takes a bit of snooping and investigation to find out what Ojai really has to offer. Here are some of my favorites:
Ojai Creates offers the lowest prices and biggest selection of printer ink cartridges and papers including photo papers. They also have most all office supplies. They are cheaper than Ventura and people come from TO and SB just to get art supplies. They also have a huge selection of CD's and rent DVD's and can order any for you. Great kids stuff as well, I get all my grandkids activities there. Ojai surplus is great for all kinds of things from jewerly to hats to clothes and toys and camping stuff. If you haven't been you need to go and the inventory keeps changing. They have more upbeat clothing than Rains and some of the same styles at a fraction of the price. I personally love to shop second hand so when I buy clothes at Ojai Surplus, it is a treat!
Hardware and paint stuff is a toss up between four places, Ace, True Value, Oak View and Ojai Lumber. But heck, you are not driving that far even if you go to each one. I tried Trader Joes once and I can't figure out what people are so excited about. I found better items at Westridge and Rainbow. I prefer to market at Starr. I did make a trip to Rite Aid at the end of the Ave in Ventura as that store is superior to ours. I then went next door to Vons, I never shop Vons here. The Ventura Vons had all of these sales and buy one get one free. I spent sixty dollars and had a truck load of food. Come to find out our Von's here is independent and they don't have to have the sales the other Von's do. That is about as far into Ventura as I go and I usually hit the SPAN thrift store behind the main street Rite Aid. All the workers there are Ojai people and all the money goes to the animals. It is amazing what that organization does. You can't get any better ice cream than Ojai Ice Cream, sorry, I am an addict and that is the best. Our favorite night out is Farmer and the Cook on Sunday evening. Our famers market supplies all the fresh stuff. Who can beat the price of flowers from Marta at $5 for a huge bouquet. She is walking around town on Wednesdays. The corner market has excellent meat. Rains used to have really awesome cleaning supplies inexpensive but I guess they are narrowing that section down. The greatest thing missing in Ojai is baby and children staples at resonable prices. Serendipty is awesome for toys but your best bet for shoes and socks is Ojai Surplus. We have two stores for kids for clothing. I still favor the thrift stores. I go to the tamale factory and buy a couple dozen and put them in the freezer. I do like subway in miramonte for fast food as you get a foot long for five dollars and it is two meals for us. I wish the trolley would expand to Oak View where I live, I would use it totally and hopefully they sell a discount monthly ticket. If you go to Ventura, take the bus. The medicine shop is where I go and they have ordered special requests for me several times.
I shop online allot for larger items like computer printer, kids bed, special new books. I spend hours at Bart's for used books or shop Amazon used. I love coffee but prefer Circle K or Chevron as it tastes good, they have all the goodies and it is $1.49. They both have Hewbrew National hot dogs for that craving. Most of the young people with kids I know go to Target. For diapers and formula the Rite Aid Ventura has sales, ours in Mira Monte is horrible and I avoid it. Dexters has great camera stuff.
If I were to buy clothes for myself or my husband, I shop online. As I said, I usually hit the thrift stores for recycled stuff. Not sure where I would go in Ventura for clothes.
The key to finding what you need in Ojai is to analyze what it is you really need. We are a society of needing or shall I say Wanting, too much stuff. If you keep it simple, you can find almost everything within walking distance or online. And if you get yourself a shopping cart on wheels you can take the bus to Ventura.
So, my very favorites are Ojai Creates and surplus store. All the trader joe people need to check out Westridge as it looks like a trader joes to me. And Starr is clean. And the meat at Corner Market is excellent and anything can be ordered and they prepare for parties as well.
Signing off and trying to stay in the valley.....

Anonymous said...

I showed this blog to a friend and she said "Well, that pretty much cures me from wanting to live in a small town, it's just as much BS...if not more than the city I live in". She lives in Thousand Oaks, and hasn't really experienced any of the problems that seem so common here.
I have a niece that has worked at both spas, and was treated badly in both cases. She is a responsible girl, a great employee (she has worked for me too), and extremely smart. The types of things that went on were being shorted on her check(s), harassed for taking sick leave when she had a serious illness, bullied by employees who steal from the business (alcohol by the case), managers that were more interested in playing online solitaire than dealing with guest issues. It is common knowledge that most Ojai employers treat their employees terribly.I am saying MOST, not ALL. Pretending it isn't happening is exactly how things have become the way they are now. I don't believe there is a future for anyone in Ojai unless they are over 70 yr. old and retired. I have lived here long enough, have 3 kids that went to Nordoff. No young person in their right mind would stay here because of the work environment.This is very sad. this is an extremely preventable problem. And for those employers (you know who you are) who have treated people in this town like dirt, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. The point is, I don't think you're capable of feeling any remorse, and that IS A PROBLEM. That is why I don't shop your stores. That's why I tell everyone within earshot how you treat people. This isn't a faceless city like LA. Get a clue!

Anonymous said...

Are you sure this isn't a case of someone's aunt being biased about their niece who is "a responsible girl, a great employee...and extremely smart?"

Anonymous said...

You don't believe there is a future for anyone in Ojai unless they are over 70 years old? This is a wild statement , did you just throw that number out? I know many people that work here and like or liked their bosses including me. Ojai is home sweet home for lots of us. I especially love the stores that sell fantastic items because even if I can't always afford them I still like to look. Funny, I never get tired of it. When I go out to dinner at our fabulous restaurants its always fun and the food is almost always perfect. I am not in the upper eschelon either . I worked min. wage and got raises every year. I love the sunsets, the pink moment the orchards the people I meet everyday. I LOVE OJAI! I appreciate the great service provided at places like Noahs Apothacary and Wachters Hay and Grain and Starr Market. Ojai is the best place to live in California , we have it all and should be grateful.

~Kathy Avakian~

Anonymous said...

No signs of intelligent life here Scotty, beam me up :)

Anonymous said...

Von's also is false advertising about the Double Coupon - The maximum amount now is $1.00. They sure didn't advertise this change. They can keep their green meat.

Anonymous said...

I just returned from Von's where
I was able to buy everything on my
list plus a few items I had not seen in Von's before. The shelves
were stocked, the inventory was
plentiful, the store was clean and
smelled fresh and the employees were pleasant and helpful. Oh, did
I forget to mention that it was in
Ventura Von's. Ojai Von's is a disgrace to our community, Ojai
residents deserve much better.

Anonymous said...

I was home from work sick for a day after eating "fresh" fish I
purchased in Ojai Von's the night
before. Thank you Von's, not only
did I pay more for the fish,(I should have gone to Sea Fresh where the fish really is "fresh")
but I also lost a day's pay. In my
opinion Von's should be shut down
by the board of health, it's dirty,
smelly, and the food is not fresh.

Anonymous said...

Everyone should call the Health Department and complain they will investigate but not unless we call them.

yuan said...

Here's an interesting take:
http://evidentlyeverywhere.wordpress.com/2008/11/28/should-shopping-be-a-patriotic-duty/

Anonymous said...

does anybody know the real TRUE answer to the question-- why can't we get a remodeled top notch Vons??? what is the problem??? they are a high volume (profitable) store. What is the impediment. That store needs remodeling -- should be torn apart and redone TOTALLY its really grubby and we deserve better. Who is blocking this city Vons or Landlord. Please somebody give us the answers as this community wants a NEW state of the art Nice clean stocked slick excellent NEW grocery store with good prices!!!!! Come on elected officials!!!! figure it out and make it happen!!!!