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How To Get Me To Photograph Your Store

Pinkberry.jpg

Just put up a sign telling me I can't.

This is the Pinkberry store on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. It's been the source of much neighborhood uproar, because Venice residents really don't want chain stores on the street I used to call "The Boulevard Of Broken Furniture" -- inspired by the prices into the thousands for sticks of furniture at the store Bountiful.

Here's what Venice Unchained sees happening to the neighborhood.

I'm a free-marketeer, so I'm for boycotting, not banning, businesses you don't want around. And for telling off people who patronize those businesses. And/or photographing them sucking down their chain store food.

Posted by aalkon at July 5, 2007 12:57 PM

Comments

And for telling off people who patronize those businesses

Telling them off for what? For not minding a chain store on the block? It strikes me as intolerant to be telling people off for something like this. Live and let live!

Posted by: kishke at July 5, 2007 8:03 AM

People just gripe about chain restaurants because they think it makes them sound cool, like they're way too hip and cutting-edge to enjoy something the commoners like. Never mind that those chain restaurants started out as single-shop operations, and got to be chains because they were good. These people are pathetic and insecure, making complete asses out of themselves in their quest to be "hipper than thou." Don't they know that chain restaurant angst is SO last year?

Posted by: Pirate Jo at July 5, 2007 8:03 AM

Abbot Kinney has a certain flavor, and people who live in Venice tend to move there for that flavor, which is quirky businesses owned by people on the street. Chain stores are not a part of that Abbot Kinney flavor. If you like chain stores, patronize them. If I see you eating Pinkberry, I'll ask you not to patronize the store. And last night, at a barbeque, my neighbor and I wouldn't have any...I just don't want to be a part of keeping them in business.

Unfortunately, there were never any zoning codes established to maintain that (like in historical districts). And for me, a big problem is that businesses like Pinkberry don't pay the costs of their business but throw them off on residents. It's not entirely their fault -- they are yet another business on Abbot Kinney that was not made to provide adequate parking for its customers. A new restaurant being built (with, I believe, about 100-person capacity) has "16 spaces on paper." Meaning, none in reality. So, add that to the four other restaurants already valet parking cars on already-parking-challenged residential streets...while the Coastal Commission refuses to let residents have permit parking...because...get this...there's not enough parking!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 5, 2007 8:24 AM

Here's how charming Pinkberry has been for a similar, parking-challenged area in WeHo:

http://wehonews.com/z/wehonews/archive/page.php?articleID=646

But because of that lack of parking for Pinkberry, neighbors found themselves unable to park on their own street, ran into congestion caused by double-parking, encircling the block or making Y-turns and other impediments and began to find refuse littering their yards each morning.

And you're free to welcome chain stores and the strip mall look into your neighborhood...Abbott Kinney residents and regular customers don't want it, and aren't shopping there.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 5, 2007 8:28 AM

Sorry, Abbot Kinney.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 5, 2007 8:29 AM

If I see you eating Pinkberry, I'll ask you not to patronize the store.

Asking I have no problem with; it's telling off (for something like this) that I don't agree with.

Posted by: kishke at July 5, 2007 8:51 AM

Best chain-store angst story ever:

Starbucks opened up a branch in Ann Arbor, MI, in 1999 or 2000, which sparked some protests about the how the big evil corporation would destroy the plucky mom-and-pop operations (like Caribou Coffee, Espresso Royale, and so on) that made A2 so disinctive. What was interesting is that the crunchies actually showed to protest on the street the day of the Starbucks grand opening. The manager of the Starbucks, being a clever fellow, sent out some free coffee to the protesters. Since it was a cold and blustery day, the protestors fell to with a will.

So in the paper the next day, we were all treated to pictures of granola-heads holding signs saying things like "Get Out Starf-cks" while sipping on Starbucks coffee cups.

Speedy

Posted by: Speedy at July 5, 2007 9:03 AM

It's hard to understand why a chain store would choose a location where it was unwelcome. Doesn't seem like a good recipe for staying in business. But with a lot of these cases, most of the people in the neighborhood are excited about its arrival, and only a few noisy "crunchies" (excellent word, Speedy) are complaining about it.

Although in the cases with the parking problems, I agree it sounds like a terrible headache.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at July 5, 2007 10:14 AM

Venice/Abbot Kinney is considered a "hot" area. Neighborhood people are boycotting it. If you look at how empty it is -- on a hot July 4 evening -- that may tell you something.

I admire what the guy has done with Pinkberry, but I take a Pigouvian approach to business: Businesses should pay their costs, not expect them to be borne by others.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 5, 2007 10:36 AM

Details on (the late Brit economist) Pigou's thinking here:

http://www.advicegoddess.com/archives/2004/09/who_pays_who_pr.html

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 5, 2007 10:38 AM

Ah, Ann Arbor birtplace of the original Borders chain store. The crunchies don't mind chain stores as long as they resemble anti-corporate.

Posted by: Joe at July 5, 2007 11:43 AM

This is a fabulous picture on so many levels; I love it.

Posted by: Beatrice at July 5, 2007 12:01 PM

That looks like an outtake from "Logan's Run."

Posted by: Kevin Allman at July 5, 2007 12:01 PM

Thanks, Beatrice.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 5, 2007 12:22 PM

Doesn't the "No Photography" thing just mean they're trying to convince their customers that Paris and Lindsay sometimes shop there?

Posted by: Crid at July 5, 2007 1:24 PM

It's called an externality (which, I believe, has been discussed before on this site). The best example of successfully dealing with an externality is the London driving tax. It was not a happy thing for commuters but definitely a logical move when your income tax isn't sufficiently covering your contribution to wear and tear on roads, pollution, congestion and noise.

The externality of Pinkberry is congestion of neighborhood roads, sucking up parking spaces and its customers polluting in the neighborhood (if the store wasn't there these problems wouldn't exist). So, Amy, your proposition should be that Pinkberry pay this Abbot Kinney neighborhood an externality a tax to pay for a cleaning crew and a security guard, which seemed to help in this case:
http://www.latimes.com/features/lifestyle/la-et-pinkberryaug04,0,7985455.story?coll=la-home-style

And thus, the externality is internalized.
*sigh of relief*

The store isn't the problem (although it might be ruining the neighborhood's flavor) it's the lack of holding it accountable and unfortunately there is little means to go about accomplishing the aforementioned "Pinkberry's a Pain in the Ass Tax."

Posted by: Gretchen at July 5, 2007 3:33 PM

I don't get it. Unless I'm mistaken, from the looks of the picture at the link they have a Taco Bell within smelling distance. Complaining about this yogurt hut is like living next to the city dump and complaining that your wife farts too much.

Posted by: jeff t at July 5, 2007 3:39 PM

Pinkberry attracts the wrong kind of people -- people who will line up to pay a premium for a product because someone (the L.A. Times for Pete's sake!) tells them that it's "trendy"; people who don't take "trendy" as a pejorative.

If the neighbors are that riled up (and I would be), they could lobby for zoned parking, stricter enforcement, etc. Not that that helped much in West Hollywood, where Pinkberry fans took parking tickets as part of the cost of doing business with Pinkberry.

P.T. Barnum and H.L. Mencken were both right.

Posted by: TE at July 5, 2007 3:56 PM

And thus, the externality is internalized.
*sigh of relief*

The externality cannot be internalized because there simply isn't enough parking, and can't be unless somebody opens up a parking garage in the clouds, or builds one underground (probably not viable, since the neighborhood is less than a mile from the ocean).

The picture at the link is a Photoshopped joke of what the neighborhood will look like if the chain takeover continues. Where those places are in the photo are really Abbot's Habit coffee shop and Abbot's Pizza (better than NY pizza, and I used to live around the corner from Two Boots on Bleecker).

Here's what the neighborhood looks like at the moment (across from Pinkberry):

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/1/2732887_301e1fb699.jpg

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 5, 2007 5:30 PM

Again, permit parking is an impossibility, because of the Coastal Commission rules. Residents have been trying to get it for years.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 5, 2007 5:31 PM

Amy - there is a price for everything. Even if an infinite number of dollars cannot create enough spaces an increase in parking ticket costs could deter these double parking maniacs...enough to deter business just a little. Maybe a BMW 750 IL driver wouldn't be deterred by a fifty dollar ticket, but maybe, just maybe, a three hundred dollar ticket tacked on to the price of a yogurt would deter her/him. Maybe the other location across town with ample parking would suddenly be more attractive. That's the point. You can't keep Londoners out of the city because people have to work. The number of person commuting remains constant no matter what but you can encourage car pooling and alternative transportation.

Internalizing isn't about creating the parking spaces it's about diverting resources and financial compensation when the actual problem (lack of parking for residents, let alone "foreigners" from the other side of town) can't be fixed. We can't outlaw all 15 mile a gallon SUV's but we can put a gas guzzler tax on them that is high enough to make the average person reconsider buying one. The goal is to make a formerly attractive choice less attractive by increasing its cost to the consumer.

Now, if you could just figure out how to create that parking garage in the sky you'd be fucking rich as hell.

Posted by: Gretchen at July 5, 2007 8:13 PM

The cool thing is, we actually elected a city councilperson who does stuff (Bill Rosendahl). I talked to a guy from his office yesterday afternoon (Mark Antonio Grant), who's working pretty hard, it sounds like, to get through to the Coastal Commission on permit parking. It's actualy a safety issue at night. One woman around the block from Pinkberry sometimes has to carry heavy, expensive camera equipment a long way to her place when she comes home late at night because of the restaurants valet parking cars on the block, plus Pinkberry, etc. It would be terrible if they waited for somebody to get hurt or killed before they do something.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 6, 2007 3:34 AM

It would be terrible if they waited for somebody to get hurt or killed before they do something.

Especially since Oakwood, the last seedy area of Venice, is just a few blocks east of Abbott Kinney, and parking can usually be found there.

Posted by: justin case at July 6, 2007 9:54 AM

Listen, I agree with both Pirate Jo & Amy, especially where they disagree with each other. Because...

Neighborhoods in transition are a source of pain as well as reward. But I don't think it's fair that a few people can happen to put themselves in places of rare natural beauty and then close the door behind them, locking out the enjoyment of others or the economic benefits of development. What's happening here is that the Pinkberry people (or their proxies) took a few city councilmen to dinner and got some exclusions to parking regulations or whatever, right?

Posted by: Crid at July 6, 2007 10:56 AM

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