Last month, the MarinIJ ran a story about downtown Novato. One interesting comment in the story was from Dr. Robert Eyler chief economist of the Marin Economic Forum
“Novatans are more Costco people, not boutique people,” he said. “The data is plain that Target and Costco are big players. Downtown doesn’t have that anchor to draw wallets.”
This analysis of Novato residents reminds me of some of the current challenges in San Anselmo residents. What types of merchants or services do San Anselmo residents want in their community. When I was recently passing out the San Anselmo Merchant survey I was struck the number of times merchants made reference to wealth of San Anselmo residents without placing it within any other context. There seemed to be a sense that people have an infinite amount of disposable income and would purchase any service or goods regardless of its value or desirability.
Are the residents of San Anselmo “house-rich” and cash poor? Are they long-time residents whose wealth is primarily the value of the house and not necessarily in a relatively high income.
I’m hopeful the forthcoming consumer survey will allow the San Anselmo Economic Development Committee (EDC) to begin to answer these questions in a constructive manner
The San Anselmo 2016 Merchant Survey is in full swing. If you’re a merchant, landlord or other stakeholder you can take the survey here.
We’ve already gotten about 60 completed surveys and there is approximately one more month to collect responses. I’ve spoken with some of the respondents and there is genuine excitement about the outreach by the San Anselmo Economic Development Committee (EDC) and the upcoming consumer survey. We’ve already received some very valuable questions to integrate into the consumer survey. The completed surveys also suggest there is a strong desire to remain in regular contact with the EDC.
It will be an interesting puzzle to determine how EDC will communicate with the community in the future. One of the challenges I’ve found since moving to San Anselmo is the difficulty in communicating with various stakeholders. Whether it’s between the town and residents, the school with parents or businesses to consumers, it is very difficult to find an efficient communication channel with an appropriate signal-to-noise-ratio.
One of the most effective methods communication tools I’ve seen so far is the Marin Power Yoga Facebook Group. Amy and Jamie (the co-founders) and the other teachers, do an exemplary job of communicating with the members and soliciting feedback from the membership about current programs and new offerings. They also highlight other local merchants. There’s always a concern about Facebook lock-in, but Marin Power Yoga is a very interesting use case to ponder as the EDC decides how to best communicate with the the community
The San Anselmo Economic Development Committee (EDC) is currently distributing The San Anselmo Business Outlook Survey.
The survey, which can be found at www.surveysananselmo.org, will give the EDC the opportunity to hear the opinions and ideas of our business community.
The EDC is using three distinct channels to distribute the survey:
- A mailing to all businesses in San Anselmo
- The San Anselmo Chamber of Commerce is alerting all of its members
- The members of the EDC are personally visiting each business and dropping off postcards with the website of the survey.
I haven’t had an opportunity to distribute my allotment of postcards yet, my troubled right meniscus has kept me on the sidelines, but I’m ready to jump into the fray tomorrow.
Earlier today, on my way to pick up the postcards, I spoke with four different merchants on San Anselmo Avenue. Of the four merchants:
- Three of the merchants had received the postcard mailing and one had already filled out the online survey.
- One merchant was curious about the cost and wondered why the committee hadn’t simply distributed the survey by hand. I explained that Town Staff, with input of the EDC had prepared the survey and no additional costs had been borne by the town to compose the survey. I also pointed out that that members of the committee had volunteered their time (including the wife of Council member and EDC Council Liaison John Wright), to distribute the survey. Finally, I noted that not all owners are at their shops at all times and an online survey is the most effective way to reach a large number of potential respondents.
- The merchant that hadn’t gotten the mailing was curious and suggested that I stop back when I had picked up my postcards.
I’m very excited to begin distributing the postcards and await the merchant responses with bated breath.
Economic Development can take many forms and shapes. Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the Official Ribbon Cutting for Amphora Nueva : San Anselmo Olive Oil organized by the San Anselmo Chamber of Commerce. It was a wonderful event with fused and infused olive oils (of course) and aged balsamic vinegars accompanied by delicious food prepared by Gil.
The event was well attended by members of the San Anselmo community. Among the attendees were Chamber president Connie Rogers, Town Manager Debbie Stutsman, real estate agent Kris Kelson and many others.
Amphora Nueva is exactly the type of business that San Anselmo hopes to attract, support and retain. Claire and Gil (the owners) are visionary and bold entrepreneurs whose success is rooted in hard work and integrity. I look forward to their continued presence and success in San Anselmo.
I recently had a wonderful chat with Cynthia Murray of the North Bay Leadership Council. At her invitation, I participated in the recent Frontliners Luncheon Forum hosted by the North Bay Leadership Council. The general topic was about social media and the attendees were social media mavens from Marin and Sonoma Counties.
Brent Ainsworth the Public Information Officer of Marin County brought up the challenges of reaching the residents of Marin County. Marin’s demographics (age and education) pose some interesting hurdles in outreach efforts to have conversations with the public.
There are various channels: the Marinij, Twitter, Facebook and Nextdoor. I noted that during the recent flood referendum a lot of conversation (or screeching) took place on Nextdoor because it seemed like there wasn’t any other space that met the conversation needs of our residents. I’m looking forward to working with the EDC to craft an effective and efficient outreach plan for our consumer survey.
The lead image on the Marinij right now is a shopper in downtown San Anselmo braving the “atmospheric river.” San Anselmo must be doing something right!!
Nick Pommier of Ross Valley Crossfit gave an excellent presentation at this morning’s San Anselmo Economic Committee meeting. His recent “You Snatched My Heart” event engaged the other local merchants on Greenfield Avenue while drawing participants from all over Northern California. He produced the event with minimal support from the town, only involving staff to close a portion of Greenfield Avenue on the day of the event. Great job Nick, thanks again for taking time out of your coaching schedule to speak with the committee. What a great example of entreprenurial spirit in San Anselmo!!
The agenda for our next meeting is posted here.
I’m particularly excited about this week’s merchant spotlight on Ross Valley Crossfit. I’m sure that Nick Pommier will have a very interesting perspective to share with the committee.
We’ve had merchants from downtown San Anselmo and Red Hill Shopping Center. I’m glad that we are able to get a merchant from Greenfield to come speak with us.
SFGate has an interesting story about the history of San Anselmo here. It will be interesting to see if the San Anselmo can leverage its history in the service of Economic Development.
One of the action items from the recent Business Retention Study is a merchant Survey