Friday, July 06, 2007

The "Pomona Problem" Revisited

Because I am experiencing an increase in foot traffic right now due to some referrals on other local blogs, I thought I'd republish excerpts from earlier rants, I mean posts, that first time visitors might find interesting, or at least marginally entertaining. The following was part of a post I did on the "Pomona problem:"

My husband says I'm as guilty as anyone else of putting Pomona down in favor of local glamour girl Claremont. It's true that there's many a day I can be seen packing Mr. Big in the car and driving 3 miles north. But in my defense I also make a point of shopping at my local Stater Bros. Although this Stater Bros. is within walking distance of our Lincoln Park neighborhood, I rarely see my neighbors there. I think if Pomona moms and dads started shopping at Pomona grocery stores, that alone would foster more of a sense of community and make the store more accountable and family friendly.

Recently I got a Stater Bros. flyer at my house, which announced that they would now be carrying LaBrea Bakery Bread. For those of you who are not familiar with it, LaBrea Bakery bread is the same artisan bread that Trader Joe's sells. I was so excited to have fresh bread within walking distance, that I went to Stater Bros. that very day, but couldn't find it anywhere. The salesperson didn't know what I was talking about. When I asked the manager, who was friendly and down-home like all the staff there, he told me that LaBrea bread was considered a "higher end, luxury item," so it wouldn't do well at the Pomona store. I pointed out that the store was within walking distance of a neighborhood filled with people who regularly drive cross town to Trader Joe's to get fresh bread, homes that sell in the $600,000's and that carrying the bread would bring neighbors into the store, where they would in turn buy other things. In talking to the manager, I could tell this had been a corporate decision, not his. He did offer to periodically carry the bread to see how it sold. But people aren't going to regularly check in there for bread if they know it won't regularly be there. So, that's like shooting the idea in the foot. I did once find a loaf in the clearance section.

This type of corporate thinking is all too familiar to me: when we lived in the racially diverse midcity section of Los Angeles, we were within walking distance of the Fairfax Von's store. We, like most of our neighbors, generally didn't shop there, since the produce was awful and they didn't carry fresh bread (even tho all their West L.A. locations carried LaBrea Bakery breads). The community finally rallied together, held public meetings and discovered that Von's had only been making produce deliveries to the store 3 times a week, yet the store was the #2 money maker in the region. After public pressure, the Von's embarked on a long overdue face lift for the store, started daily deliveries and, low and behold, began carrying LaBrea Bakery breads. So, the next time you're in Stater Bros., let the manager know that, despite popular belief, the people of Pomona like good bread as much as the next guy. And by the way, when they do have the bread, it tastes much better than the same version of the bread sold at Trader Joe's. I believe this most be because Trader Joe's does not store the bread properly before sale. The Staters bread is delivered frozen and heated up that morning by the staff in the Staters' oven.

I think part of Pomona's problem is the historically negative image that outsiders have of us, which is bolstered by our almost comical City government and the low level criminality that the police department seems to turn it's head the other way to. Pomona's problem is not the murders you read about in the newspaper, it's the drugs dealing and rampant homelessness that is allowed to happen in otherwise very liveable parts of the City (like my own). The bulk of the "Pomona problem," however, lies squarely with those of us who live and breathe here. Recently at our mommy and me school, the teacher talked about being willing to register people in the class who were "too afraid of downtown Pomona" to go there to register themselves. Downtown can only be as family friendly as we make it and that means spending time numbers too great to ignore. I am womannnnnnnn.

In short, Pomona's got both an image problem and an inferiority complex. To some of us on the northern end, the grass looks greener in Claremont. I would imagine that many of you on the southwestern end would love to be able to say you live in "Chino Hills" when some one asks, because then they would understand that you live somewhere safe and civilized. I geuss that's why y'all just say "Phillip's Ranch" absent any trace of Pomona.

One day Pomona will come into it's own. One day they'll be a Trader Joe's on Garey, our local Stater Bros. will carry La Brea bakery bread, and gosh darn it, people will like us. Short of starting a "Claremont is the Ugly Stepsister of Pomona" bumper sticker campaign, I think if we work to create more of a scene for local families and hold our heads high when we announce "I'm from Pomona," the rest will follow.

1 comment:

meg said...

Pardon my giggling... Having lived in Claremont (Sprinklerville to Pomona's Diversitown), I am DELIGHTED to be here rather than there.

We really are in the Claremont-the-ugly-stepsister camp. I mean, it's all right as a town, but my blood pressure goes up 10 points every time I think about the city law that all lawns be green and lush in the middle of the biggest drought we've had.