Editorial Voice: Weird Sells

Locally owned Milk Pail Market on the left, and Merlone Geier Partners on the right. Merlone Geier Partners has more than $900 million in capital commitments.

Locally owned Milk Pail Market on the left, and Merlone Geier Partners on the right. Merlone Geier Partners has more than $900 million in capital commitments.

 

Keep Mountain View Weird

I am really saddened that after nearly 3 years, the City and the San Antonio Center Developer have still not found a way to leverage one of Mountain View’s greatest assets: the Milk Pail Market. It also doesn’t make a lot of business sense.

Our family moved to Mountain View in 1999 from New York City (Upper West Side). After a few years in Mountain View (then in the Crossings where we could walk to the Milk Pail), we decided to sell our NY home. We researched the market and looked at many ads for comparison. When describing the location, none of them mentioned the nearby Gap store or the convenience of a Starbucks right at the corner, while nearly all of them praised the closeness to the many local odd one-of-a-kind stores: Zabar’s, Fairway, Citarella, Barney GreenGrass… even a “Cheese and Antiques (non edibles)” store down the block.

NYC developers are notoriously ruthless but I can not imagine any of them ever trying to displace any of these unique stores. Instead they embrace them, piggyback on the foot traffic they generate and leverage their cachet in their marketing material.

Mountain View is not Manhattan but I don’t understand why we couldn’t display the same business acumen by preserving the Milk Pail: Weird Sells.

Have you ever wondered why Google invested in such a large transportation fleet to shuttle workers from San Francisco to Mountain View? The main reason is that hip young talented high-tech workers prefer living in San Francisco even if this means spending hours in daily commutes and paying more in rents. I venture that if we could make Mountain View 10% hipper (another name for weird), we would see a commensurate reduction in traffic and gas emissions. Weird is Green.

It is high time for the City to proudly adopt the pro local business slogan pioneered in Austin and Portland: Keep Mountain View Weird.

-Serge Bonte

(a version of this letter to the Editor of the Mountain View Voice was first published in the 11/1/2013 print edition and again online in the Mountain View Voice Town Square)

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