San Pedro Buck by Buck: The Results

I’m calling this one early. My plan was to go to the 19th with it, but I really picked the worst month to do a project on spending. Not because it was hard to spend in town, but because I had nothing to spend for the last two weeks.

There were certain things I absolutely had to go without; there just wasn’t an independently owned store that sold clothes that fit me and I didn’t get to go out the day Toy Story 3 came out because we don’t have a first-run theatre in San Pedro (I don’t know who owns the Terraces Cinema or where they live). But these problems soon become rectified once I include all businesses, independent and chain stores, within the confines of San Pedro. I only buy my clothes at the Avenue on Western and I hear the Terrace Cinema is completely refurbished and $4 movies on Tuesdays and Thursdays are bringing the summer crowds in. I’m still slowly but surely getting myself together to get SPBXB going again and I will for sure have a segment that focuses on businesses we all should check out, maybe they’ll even let me go behind the scenes. We’ll have to see.

So my verdict is that keeping your dollars in town is completely possible. It takes some effort, but I have a feeling that we’d see a big difference if we all just chose one or two things to buy in town instead of out.

Keeping dollars in San Pedro is not a new thing. I was in the archives this week, flipping through the microfilm reader and I found a Buy San Pedro contest thrown buy a men’s business group, in 1934, that offered $1000 to the group that collected the highest amount of $ in receipts from participating businesses. I want to eventually get something like that started, but instead of pitting social and service groups against eachother, I’d like to turn it into a scholarship contest that educates our youth about the importance of supporting local commerce.

End of Week 2: Jobs

I didn’t spend much this week due to a lack of funds. Everyone experiences financial lows at some point in their lives. Unfortunately there are a lot of people going through those times together, right now. That is why it’s so important for us, as a community, to buy in town. The more dollars we spend within the town limits the more jobs that are created and stay here. I’ve been going to the extreme and shopping at independently owned businesses, but the fact is that more jobs are created by the big companies that come into town. When I walked Ports O’ Call with Jayme Wilson he mentioned that most of the shops are owner operated because a lot of them can’t afford to hire employees (this also affects the hours of operation). So we all should strap an ankle bracelet on our dollars so they can’t leave the “city” limits.

My Trip to the Pharmacy

I had made my monthly trip to Target before I conceived the idea of “San Pedro: Buck by Buck”, so I am pretty set on toiletries like toothpaste, shampoo and soap. However, my facewash was close to running out and I was down to my last shaving razor refill. But where could I find them? I was speaking to a New York friend of mine and she mentioned something about needing to stop at Duane Reade on her way home. Duane Reade is a chain of drug store/pharmacies in New York, kind of like our equivalent to Rite-Aid. So I needed to visit a pharmacy. I’ve always wanted to go inside Coover’s Pharmacy on 9th and Meyler, so I drove on down and stopped in. Again I had no camera on me to capture what I found so I will just have to describe it to you.

It’s a modest sized pharmacy, you can tell it’s major function is to fill prescriptions but they do carry a whole line of drugstore items. There are only three aisles and the first one is taken up with greeting cards and gifts. The oddest, yet endearing, thing I noticed was that they had a wide variety of products, but there were only one or two of each item and they lined the edge of the shelves as if they were the display boxes in an electronics store and you had to ask the clerk to fetch the real thing and meet you at checkout. I found the facewash I needed, they didn’t have my brand of razor refill so I just grabbed a pack of disposable shavers and I threw in a birthday card for my Mom. Those 3 items came to $22.19. Blame the razors. I don’t think they’re cheap anywhere. Why is hair removal so costly? Anyway. My favorite part of the entire trip came at the end while I was waiting for my change. I glanced above the register, high on the wall and noticed a group of pharmacists degrees hanging and there were at least three Coover’s among them. That’s what a neighborhood pharmacy is all about. That and white paper bags.
There’s something very nostalgic about drug store items in white paper sacks, things other than your medicine I mean. When the woman handed me the bag I just had a quick flash of a tv mom in black and white asking her son to run down to the pharmacy and pick up something for her. Maybe its just me.

Loophole Chinese

My best friend is in town, visiting from New Orleans. When she called me to make plans to meet up I right away let her know about San Pedro: Buck by Buck and my strict spend local rules. Being the smarty that she is, she found the loophole in my self imposed restrictions and told me to meet her at PF Changs -her treat.

It just goes to show you that people are willing to pay extra to get what they want, or even shop/eat where they want. This is the kind of thinking that local business owners are up against in this Mall Society. I agreed to meet her, but we’re going to have breakfast in town to make up for it. She actually said “You know I have to get some Pedro breakfast before I go home.” As far as the fortune’s go, free lunch is a bargain…but I’m gonna need that bargain for the razors I need to pick up at the pharmacy.


Weekends are for grocery shopping. I usually shop at Trader Joes. It’s a privately held company and they treat their employees well (from what I hear). But Trader Joes is in RPV. Where do I shop now? Top Valu, on 1st and Bandini, is operated by KV Mart, it is one of the largest independent grocer’s in southern California. I went in there yesterday. Has anyone else been in there lately? It looks 1000% better than the last time I was in there (which could have been a year ago or longer). There is now a deli counter/ bakery case where the old one was in the McCowan years. Everything is bright and shiny and it doesn’t smell anymore. I asked someone if the store was independently owned and they couldn’t tell me so I didn’t buy anything.

Numer Uno, on 5th and Pacific, is a much smaller independently owned market. Everything just seemed really Mexican in there. As in Mecican brands. I hear their meat is phenomenal. The last owner of the company was arrested, convicted and eventually released on RICO and murder conspiracy charges.

So where do I shop? I’m still making up the rules as I go along, but I think this might be a good guideline. I’m going pretty radical for a month so I’m going to try and shop as independently san pedro as I can. Like if I want a beer, I could buy a six pack at Top Valu. I could take that one step better by buying the six pack at a liquor store or take it one step better and buying myself a pint of some locally brewed ale at the San Pedro Brewing Company. So for the next month I could very well be grocery shopping at A-1 or at any of our local neighborhood markets.

Father's Day Shopping in San Pedro

My Dad is a jeans & t-shirt guy. He has a closet full of brand name Father’s Day gifts with the tags still on them, so jeans & t-shirt guys aren’t as easy to buy for as we thought. I figured downtown was a good place to start. I got off the DASH at 7th & Pacific and traveled south towards the Pacific Tru Value Hardware Store. In two blocks I passed three pawn shops, a couple of Mexican restaurants, a tattoo parlor and a bunch of swap meet stores. I know stores have to to cater to their clientele, but I’ve also heard the school of thought that says you should dress for the job you want. My Dad told me that Pacific Avenue was lined with nice stores when he first came to the US and I have to be honest that now it’s pretty depressing. I kept walking past the empty store fronts, for some reason the doors to Ramona’s Bakery were open for a split second. I saw a couple come out with a cookie and a man locked the doors behind them. If I had my camera on me I would’ve asked if I could take pictures inside or something (I should really carry a small one). I made it to Pacific Tru Value Hardware, which I confirmed is independently owned. I’m glad I know that now because I can try and make an effort to shop there from now on. But I couldn’t find anything to give my Dad, and I made at least 4 loops around the store. Which brought me back to square one. Renz Wear wasn’t open when I went back down to 6th, I probably should’ve started there. I stopped at Drop-In Gifts for a card – that was a painless transition.

I went into Norman’s. I thought about springing $100 for a Tommy Bahama shirt, but I think the price would give him a rash (somehow he would know) so I got him a belt. I gave him his gift with the disclaimer that I would stop in at Renzwer and get him a couple of shirts, and handed him the belt. It wasn’t the right size. I can’t win.


Days 1 and 2: Fixing the fix.

I didn’t do much Friday. It was my little sister’s first day of summer so I took the day off and veg’d out with her. We ordered in that night. I was paying so I got to pick what we were having and I had to admit that I had ulterior motives when choosing Niko’s. I had once asked for a refill of my Iced Tea to go when I had dashed into the restaurant for a super quick bite of lunch. The waitress obliged and brought back a giant 32oz styrofoam cup filled to the brim. I had that giant cup of iced tea in mind when I placed the order over the phone. So in one dinner I managed to feed us and figure out where I would be getting my local iced teas for the month.

I had leftovers for breakfast the next morning and head downtown to look for a Father’s Day Present. I stopped into Niko’s for an iced tea at the end of my shopping day. It turns out that an iced tea at Niko’s isn’t far off in price from one at Jack in the Box, it isn’t a drive thru, but the side entrance is close to the street, so you just pull up and run in. I have a feeling Niko’s and I will be old friends by the end of the month!