April 2010 home page

  Retailing for Real
Piper Underwood | Rimini Road


Gardenology in Encinitas.
Photo Piper Underwood.

On a recent Saturday morning, while my younger child was exploring the tree house at the new children’s garden at Quail Botanical garden, my 8 year old shopped for new board shorts at Rusty’s. He ended up purchasing two pairs from our neighbor who is also his babysitter and who happened to be working at Rusty that particular day. This connection also helped him score some extra stickers for him and his little brother.

Later this same day, we headed to Encinitas to have his little brother’s bike checked out. While they were looking at the bike, I headed next door to the garden shop. On the way home, I wanted to make a stop by New Balance in Cardiff to get some new running shoes as I had left my old ones at Dog Beach and they were swept away by the tide – not that same day. Of course I know better than to leave my shoes within tide’s reach, I just simply came to the beach with shoes and it felt so good I forgot to put them back on when I left. Anyway, I digress.

My point is that this is a snapshot of a lifestyle. People move to Del Mar or better yet, never leave Del Mar, because it is magnificent and it begs for a certain kind of lifestyle. We are a community filled with ocean lovers, gardeners, artists, walkers, musicians, dog lovers, academics, yoga addicts, designers, tennis players, cooks and horse lovers – what a wonderful mix!

Now, here’s an idea, it’s kind of far out -- what if our retail environment reflected this lifestyle, even catered to it? Could it work? Well, we’ve made a start. I mentioned Rusty’s and it seems to have weathered the economic storm, and we have Dexter’s just for our furry friends.

But what if we took it a step further and encouraged retail that not only sold us products to enhance this healthy, outdoor lifestyle, but also offered hands on knowledge. What if the art supply store also hosted a course in plein air painting, or if the garden store held workshops in designing with native plants, or if the cooking supply store offered Coq au Vin for Beginners? This would help get people out of their homes and onto the streets, creating a vibrant, healthy downtown atmosphere with economic benefits on the side.

Maybe it’s time to think outside the retail box.

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Note: This survey ended on May 5.



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