Residents Don’t Want ‘Low End’ Tenant

Discussion
Oct 24, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Residents from a neighborhood in Santa Clarita, Cal. would be happy if a grocer such as Trader Joe’s moved into a storefront left empty since Albertsons pulled out, but they don’t want to hear about a “low end” tenant such as Vallarta market setting up for business in the building.


Vallarta caters to Hispanic consumers, and residents of the area near Orchard Village and Lyons Avenue say that if the owner of the property leased the space to the market, it would drive down property values.


Neighborhood resident Jay Winter doesn’t believe that many locals would shop at the Vallarta market were it to open. “The market is not going to service many of our needs,” he told the Los Angeles Daily News.


Activist Berta Gonzalez-Harper said there was another explanation for the residents’ opposition. “Maybe there is a desire to have people not have a business that caters to the Hispanic market. There are a lot of people, in the powers that be, that are not comfortable with a concentration of Hispanics in the Newhall area. They attribute part of the blight to the mostly Hispanic area.”


Mayor Cameron Smyth said he had sent a personal letter to Trader Joe’s asking the chain to consider opening a store in the open space.


As to what will happen, Mr. Smyth said, “The ultimate decision really rests with the property owner. While I personally would have my preference of stores I would shop at, ultimately I understand it is a free-market system.”


A group of about 90 residents plans to address the Santa Clarita City Council tomorrow voicing their opposition to Vallarta market or other store that doesn’t fit in their neighborhood opening in the shopping center.


Moderator’s Comment: What is your reaction to this story? What is the best course of action for a retailer to take when faced with objections from local
residents about it opening a store or expanding an existing location?


Whether it’s an issue of race or class distinction, which is what the property value argument is all about, we once again are reminded that there is much
that separates us in our country and that we’re a long way from realizing Rev. Martin Luther King’s dream.

George Anderson – Moderator

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9 Comments on "Residents Don’t Want ‘Low End’ Tenant"


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Michael Tesler
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Michael Tesler
15 years 4 months ago

A “free market economy” is meant to serve the needs of all. This a white collar, carefully worded, upscale version of racism and should be exposed for what it is.

Irma Nykolyn
Guest
Irma Nykolyn
15 years 4 months ago

The opposition to the Vallarta market smacks of racism and bias. I wonder why Vallarta would want to open in such a locale. Have they done research on the area’s demographics to support this location? It’s strictly a matter between the owner and the leasor – if the vendor can afford to lease this property and customers will come, then why not open up this shop? Who says a Vallarta market won’t bring a better clientele to the area? Don’t these residents keep up with the news – Hispanics are the largest growing demographic, and they work hard and will have money to spend.

Sid Raisch
Guest
Sid Raisch
15 years 4 months ago

I really would have to question the demographics of the area. If no one sees value enough in the store to also speak up and support its coming, how viable can it be? There is a lot of choice in where to invest time and energy to open a new store and the failure risk is high enough already. I’d be looking for a location where the community embraced my coming, or working on my model now so that communities would write me asking that I open a store for them, such as the Trader Joe’s example.

Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 4 months ago

Would the demographics support a Hispanic store? If so, go for it. If not, find somewhere else. Racism isn’t ever going to go away. It’s also a separate issue from whether or not the store should open.

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 4 months ago
In retailing, people vote at the cash register. If the firm can make money at the location, they should open. The protesters aren’t the target market. It would be worth knowing if the protesters truly represent a major valuable segment, or if they just represent 2% of the population. When some big box retailers wanted to open in certain NYC neighborhoods, it was obvious to me that the protesters were a few dozen competitors claiming (fraudulently) to represent “the community.” Many of the neighborhood shoppers were thrilled to have the big box stores since they wanted the low prices and selection they couldn’t get from ghetto stores. It’s not unusual for people to try prevent certain retailers from building new locations. Many towns have laws that effectively prevent fast food franchises from opening, for example. They don’t want large plastic signs and greasy smells. Sometimes the fast food companies modify their designs to fit in better. Of course, if this situation is truly racism and nothing else, the firm has to decide if the aggravation… Read more »
David Livingston
Guest
15 years 4 months ago

If the demographics of Santa Clarita will not support a Hispanic format, then Vallarta will go out of business anyway. The residents should just let the business run its course whether it be a success or failure. If it fails the crybaby citizens will get the last laugh. What goes around comes around. The owners of Vallarta probably feel a bit hurt by the sentiments of Santa Clarita’s residents. I wonder how these same residents feel knowing they are not good enough to deserve a Trader Joe’s? Here in rural Wisconsin, we have small Hispanic formats opening all the time as migrant workers chose to remain year around. We would never dare tell someone they are not welcome by preventing them from opening a business that serves the needs of some of its citizens. Especially something so basic as food.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
15 years 4 months ago
Might be racism – might not be racism! I suspect that it is an economic situation. The residents of this area fear that the establishment of a retail store that caters to a low socio economic customer might drag other low socio economic problems into their NEIGHBORHOOD. I expect they could fear an increase in crime which would probably result in the area becoming “less desirable” which would result in lower property values. Many Americans have little savings beyond their homes. Another large group of Americans have purchased homes at greatly inflated prices and any depreciation in value could destroy their finances. There are definitely other factors involve here beyond racism. I would think that a market depends on neighborhood traffic for most of its revenue. If the demographics aren’t there, I don’t think an ethnic market could survive until the neighborhood changed its socio-economic structure. Any business at retail will have to cater to the local market if it is to prosper. I don’t think an Hispanic market will do very well in a… Read more »
Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 4 months ago

Many of us have vociferously endorsed residents’ right of protest when a planned store opening doesn’t please them. We have maintained their right to reject retailers whose policies and/or products they do not want inflicted upon them by companies perceived to be bullies. In principle, therefore, we should be siding with the residents in this instance. The difference, I think, is our impression that the protests are not to do with the retailer and its policies or products but with the underlying fear of who its target audience might be. Perhaps Vallarta should take a lesson in PR from Wal-Mart and other stores facing protests, and show local residents how their presence and the additional customers drawn to the area can benefit existing businesses and improve the economic as well as social diversity of the neighbourhood. Look for the positives and make sure they are highly visible. Or at least more visible than the negatives being emphasised by protesters.

Justin O
Guest
Justin O
15 years 4 months ago
Take the city of Diamond Bar in Los Angeles County, for instance. It’s an upscale community that is quickly changing to a majority Asian community. They are planning on building a Trader Joe’s, Archer Farms, and a Target store. Do the location of ethnic food stores depend on the assimilation and Americanized diets of different cultures? I guess that theory is going to be tested and Diamond Bar will be the litmus test. I’ve never heard of Vallarta, but considering 20% of Santa Clarita’s population is of Hispanic origin, it makes sense that there is a demand for ethnic foods. By the way, 85% of the city of Los Angeles is ethnic minorities and California just became a majority minority state, so anybody living in the metropolitan area shouldn’t be surprised by the increased demand and market share of these establishments. By 2050, the U.S. as a whole will be a majority minority so diversity is a foregone conclusion. I think Santa Clarita is more worried about an undesirable socio-economic influx and the polarizing effect… Read more »
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