By Andrew Berk – Chair, Board of Directors, South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce
The light at the end of the tunnel is becoming brighter for many of us as we carve our way out of the brutal and devastating pandemic of Covid-19. A year that will indeed not be forgotten in our lifetimes, and one which hopefully was filled with many unexpected and relished memories, with new realizations and perspectives of the importance of the true biggest joys and gifts in life. This year as no other, my family and I indeed gained an enormous appreciation for what matters most to us, and to our loved friends and family.
We inarguably fell not only more in in love with, and with renewed appreciation for, each other (admittedly some days, not so much!) but also for our newfound appreciation of our community, our incredible walkable village of South Pasadena. Many dived full board into a new love for transportation modes of bikes, escooters and other wheeled devices as we ventured often to our three main streets on a regular basis, unlike our pre-pandemic life. Of course, as Chairman of the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce in this most interesting and unique year, my family was more or less happily obligated to spend most of our time within not only just a few feet of each other, but also within a mile or two (conveniently about our entire city width) of the quarantine abode.
I continued to plead with them more than ever throughout this past year for them to partake and enjoy in all the local offerings – mostly of food, but also of gift buying, and not jumping on their iPhones and clicking those “Purchase Now” buttons to get their one day free delivery at their disposal for whatever they feel they needed. Indeed, as most of us are (or have a friend – wink, wink) guilty as charged for conveniently obliging our consumptive desires to scroll over to Amazon, Wayfair, even Ebay, I think it is critically imperative and we owe it to our community to ask ourselves if that product or service may be available for us to purchase it from our local purveyor – thereby adding not only to their financial livelihood, but also adding to and keeping alive our activated retail main streets and contributing sorely needed sales tax revenue to our community.
Amazonian Mr. Bezos created an uber-efficient shopping world, but one that does not as directly help or develop our local, retail “built” environment, especially in our smaller and historic communities. The “Walmart Depots” and the Amazon’s (oh wait there’s only one of them) are up 200-600% respectively. Amazon’s revenue last year was almost $400B, (with a $B!) in revenue this last year.
Suffice it to say, they DO NOT need our help now. Your Village here does. We know our public schools are great, and the landscape of our town is beautiful – but it is significantly attributable to our overlooked built retail environment, or what I call the immersive fabric of our city, that helps make South Pasadena the inviting and exceptional city to live in. It is a critical piece of the puzzle and one we need to remind ourselves to pay attention to.
Ask if it is possible to buy that item or service from down the block before the other place. Ask if it is possible to not use or use less 3rd party delivery vendors (such as Postmates, Grubhub, Uber Eats, and DoorDash) when possible. Ask the restaurant if they deliver direct or, heaven forbid, we could go pick it up on our own. We should consider that our merchants keep more revenue of their and our hard-earned dollars as the restaurants receive significantly lower revenue on using them. If we can go direct, we create more of a win-win for all of us.
Your Board of Directors at The South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce (southpasdenachamber.net) will be focused on this as we roll out a new campaign focused on us all remembering to Eat – Shop – Enjoy South Pasadena! This new focus to Shop Local also incorporates a newer movement of the “15-minute city” (popularized in Europe) of being able to enjoy work, retail and leisure (and shopping) via bike and walking in neighborhoods all within 15 minutes from our home – which of course is more than achievable in our small town.
The ask for this -newer for some “Shop Local” perspective is more important than ever now as we recognize that our city provides so many of the services and comforts we sometimes take for granted. It is within our built environment brimming with unique and varied shops, café’s, restaurants, boutiques and galleries that fill our tree lined streets, that we find them clawing to stay in business, pay their employees, and their bills. Most will continue to struggle and are trying to make up the lost revenue during the worst of the pandemic. Our community of independent stores and businesses need us now or they will close up and leave us an undesirable and unattractive boarded up landscape.
Every ‘consumptious’ click that gets diverted to the giants of the internet is like losing another brick holding up our main street. We have the power and the conscious choice to change this. If we as a community can all put a little more thought into our buying power and the implications of our choices, we can make a real difference now and in the long run.
Help us to Eat – Shop – Enjoy South Pasadena as huge street banners, emails, social media posts and posters will soon be hung, sent out and posted on social media to remind folks as they drive, walk, bike or whatever under the huge overheads, to do just that. Help us all by inviting SoPas and SoCal friends to our town for eating and shopping here, and help us spread the message near and far by posting in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or whatever social media you use.
We can make a world – OR VILLAGE – of difference here!