Do Organics Make Good Neighbors in OB?

by on May 23, 2014 · 0 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, Ocean Beach

Do organics make good neighbors? Or more specifically, do businesses selling organic products make good neighbors here in OB?

When Blue Dot Refills opened earlier this year right next door to People’s Food, the common wisdom was ‘wow, they must really get along’ – referring to the gigantic OB-centric vegetarian and organic market – OB’s largest employer – and the small two-person refill storefront.  Both stores were pushing organic things in order to help the environment.

But there have been complaints from People’s managers about a couple of things that have to do with the new neighbor.  First, someone from Blue Dot came into People’s and went up to customers telling them that Blue Dot had cheaper and better products. Oops! That’s a definite abuse of neighborly love.

Second, Blue Dot customers are parking in People’s parking lot, the allegation goes, while People’s own customers circle the block looking for spaces. We all know that parking is an issue in that part of OB.

In early April, the OB Rag ran a glowing account  about San Diego’s “First Eco-soap Self-serve Refill Store” opened by a former lawyer, gone organic, Deidre Prozinski.

When we heard the complaints, we had to check them out.

Walking inside Blue Dot Refill – I couldn’t help but remember the slough of short-lived or dank businesses that used to be at that location, a few steps from busy, traffic-laden Sunset Cliffs Boulevard.  The new bright lights in the brand new store were a relief.

Laura immediately introduced herself.  She works part time at the store for the owner-manager Deidre.  As she seemed quite knowledgeable about issues and products of the store, I raised the two issues that had been alleged by the neighbor.

The first issue Laura quickly copped to. Yes, one of their employees, a woman massage therapist, had gone into People’s and accosted some of their customers. That employee no longer works at Blue Dot, she said.  “We don’t approve of that,” she added.  Laura couldn’t say whether the employee was fired or not, but the fact is, they knew what she did, and she no longer draws a paycheck.

OB Blue Dot 5-22-14 002In fact, Laura added, one of People’s managers came into Blue Dot a couple of weeks ago to discuss the issue with Deidre – Laura was also there.

On the next issue, parking, Laura was quite apologetic and supportive of People’s complaint. Laura, who said she’s been a member of People’s for 25 years, said they don’t encourage any of their customers to park in People’s lot. They don’t park there, she said. They also ask customers and wholesalers not to park there.

“No matter who’s here,” Laura said, referring to the site of Blue Dot, there’s going to be parking issues.  Just yesterday, she had to ask a supplier to go back and park somewhere else, as she had asked Laura if it was all right to park at People’s.

Meanwhile, she said, all day long large trucks unload products for Peoples right in front of Blue Dot, as there is a long yellow curb that stretches through at least several potential parking spaces right out in front.  Blue Dot customers obviously can’t park there.

This issue of parking was also discussed with the People’s manager – and Laura wanted to ensure that we knew they were vigilant about the issue.

In our earlier article about the new store, Deidre claimed that she owed part of  her success to the proximity of People’s. It’s not clear what the trade off with People’s is. Does the larger market benefit at all from the smaller neighbor?

At any rate, it’s a good thing when organic neighbors get along – and communication is always a good thing.

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