Here is a copy of an excellent letter to the new owner of our Mid-Valley Center from valley resident Kristin Waldroup Ramsden:
Dear Mr. Stanley,
I am writing, first, to commend you, if moving the Farmer's Market to your Mid Valley Shopping Center was your idea. Well done on bringing a lively event to your center.
Yet it occurs to me you could use a little help with your challenging situation regarding the dead space throughout your Mid Valley center. It also occurs to me that knowing a little local history might be useful to you in finding a solution for the challenging situation you are in.
I am the daughter of the "Mom & Pop" pair who built the Barnyard Shopping Center — John and May Waldroup — "Mr. Barnyard" and "Mrs. Thunderbird Books." Their success lay, not only in the architecture and offerings, but because they went beyond "build it and the people will come," to include "be the kind of landlord that will encourage them to stay."
Before moving the Thunderbird Bookstore & Restaurant from Valley Hills Shopping Center to the Barnyard, my parents experienced landlords who taught them what NOT to do as landlords, themselves. This actually inspired them to become model landlords on behalf of their community. With this as their inspiration for creating their new shopping center, they filled the spaces in no time — and kept them filled.
My parents realized that if you want a shopping center to become popular among the community, you have to KNOW the community first — understand what they need and what motivates them — and then be willing to GIVE it to them. Not lay down a preconceived plan for who YOU want the community to be.
Surely you know you can't expect the community to accept your version of "upgraded and improved" by the changes you consider desirable, without first soliciting feedback. Surely you are aware that Carmel Valley hosts an intelligent, well-educated community, who would serve as willing partners in your process, rather than as serfs to the land owner. Given the chance.
This is a community of people who understand how fortunate we are to live in this beautiful haven, people who have chosen the lifestyle we lead, based not only on the setting, but the amenities. For most of us, that gratitude and lifestyle included Mid Valley Shopping Center as it was.
I have to believe you do want to improve the center on behalf of the community, understanding that will bring you your greatest retum. Thus, you might consider including your tenants and the community in your decision-making process. Even when people are hesitant or reluctant to make changes, given the courtesy of inclusion in that process, they become part of the changes and can accept them — if reasonable.
If and when you are ready and open to hearing them, we have suggestions to make, ideas that will help fill your 'dead' space. Acüvity draws more activity. Satisfying actual needs brings in customers. Good motives and intentions inspire community engagement. And, perhaps realizing that much of what we have had at Mid Valley Shopping Center was working, you might consider fixing only "what ain't broke."
Thank you, Mr. Stanley, for having the time and interest to read my message. I do hope you will contact me and others in our Mid Valley community to learn what will bring vibrancy back to your shopping center.
Kristin Waldroup Ramsden