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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Publisher’s Notebook

• Geography Lesson •

ANNE SOBLE


It’s become obvious during the last few years that the loss of a number of basic commercial services in Malibu has meant that local residents have to go beyond the city’s boundaries to meet these needs. Since they have to drive to other locations for items that are no longer available locally, their general shopping habits have shifted accordingly.
This is Economics 101 at its most basic. If someone is going to spend time and resources at a distant location, they might as well take care of other needs while they are there. This is both efficient and cost-effective.
Still, I think many people were surprised at the extent of the local concern when Pacific Coast Highway between Yerba Buena and Las Posas Road was closed for three weeks.
The commuters to Los Angeles from points north, or west, hollered, but so did the Malibu residents who depend on the big box hardware store and other places in Camarillo. Now that I think about it, I have bumped into someone I know nearly every time I have gone up there.
And, of course, there are the local fashionistas who hit the outlet stores. Some of Malibu’s best dressed will acknowledge that their designer duds came at a hefty discount.
When the City of Malibu found itself in a financial bind due to the terms of its property transactions and had to go to a boutique format, rather than the small-town-necessities route, it had to know it was effecting a self-fulfilling prophesy and a commercial sea change.
Many Malibuites would gladly return to their old ways of shopping for as much as possible locally, but once forced to do things differently, the changes will increase exponentially like the numbers on the Richter Scale.
Now that the community is the midst of a real winter rainy season, stores that count on a steady flow of foot traffic and a surfeit of visitors looking for celebrities and wanting to buy a souvenir of their day in Malibu might wish that they stocked umbrellas, slickers, Wellies, tarps and roof patch.
And if longtime local Dick Van Dyke has anything to say about it, they’ll also stock screwdrivers—Phillips, slots, hex sockets, etc. in all sizes. That’s not asking too much, is it?

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