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The Original L.A. Farmers Market: Curated Observations

  1. 1. The Original L.A. Farmers Market: Curated Observations Elayne Zalis A Crash Course on Creativity Stanford Venture Lab October 30, 2012
  2. 2. “Then & Now: Farmers Market L.A.”
  3. 3. “Meet Me At Third & Fairfax”
  4. 4. The Story Evolves
  5. 5. What People Are Saying about the Original Farmers Market
  6. 6. Foursquare
  7. 7. Twitter
  8. 8. Yelp
  9. 9. TripAdvisor
  10. 10. Remembrances
  11. 11. Remembrances
  12. 12. Remembrances
  13. 13. Meet the Merchants
  14. 14. Kip’s Toyland Video:
  15. 15. Kip’s Toyland “Kips is a place where you can find retro toys, vintage toys, things that everyone seems to remember playing with when they were children.” (Don Kip, video) After meeting three generations of the Kip family in their YouTube video, I was eager to explore Kip’s Toyland firsthand, in the real world. I knew I was in for a treat when I spotted the shop in the busy marketplace. The double doors of both entrances were wide open, inviting me into a rare space for play and creativity.
  16. 16. Kip’s Toyland Once I entered the store, I became immersed in a playful, toy-centric world. Nostalgia set in, prompted by a colorful display of hula hoops—the first “toys” that caught my attention. Memories of my own childhood resurfaced. Like many other boomers in the U.S., I mastered the art of hula hooping when I was a child. Other items in the store also reminded me of that era: Barbie and Ken dolls, Play-Doh, Crayola crayons, stick horses, puppets, magic sets, and Etch A Sketches.
  17. 17. Kip’s Toyland Arranged thematically on the crowded shelves, the toys and games were the focal point in this no- frills environment. No other customers were in Kip’s Toyland when I was there, but I imagine that the store does appeal to children of all ages, “even children disguised as adults,” as an ad stated. No sales people were on the floor either, so I was free to wander without pressure from anyone to buy something. Two employees remained behind the counter, a man and a woman, each about twenty- five. I was reminded of how I felt years ago when I often frequented used book stores. Books were stacked everywhere. When they didn’t fit on the shelves, they were piled on the floor. Sometimes they were categorized logically, and sometimes they weren’t. I never knew what I was going to find. I loved losing myself in that refuge from everyday life. Now that I buy most of my books online, I rarely visit used bookstores anymore. Ironically, I first encountered Kip’s Toyland virtually, on the Farmers Market YouTube site. A short video of the Kip family inspired me to visit the actual store, which I had been unaware of previously. The moving intergenerational story about Kip’s Toyland—the oldest toy store in L.A.—influenced my perception of the store before I arrived. The backstory mattered to me. This experience has reinforced my belief in the power of personal narratives, not only in relation to Kip’s Toyland but also in relation to the other venues that I observed for this assignment. Owners of those businesses also made YouTube videos that intrigued me. That’s why I included those venues. Feeling like a tourist myself—or a time traveler—I discovered new shops in my own neighborhood, and new opportunities to learn about the diversity of the Farmers Market, which I often pass by on my afternoon walks or pass through on my way to The Grove, an adjacent shopping mall.
  18. 18. Shine Gallery Video:
  19. 19. Shine Gallery “We rescue vintage items in quantity from closed warehouses, defunct factories, and old stores all over the world, so everything we have is in quantity, vintage, and unused.” (Bernie Shine, video) Ready for time traveling, I approached the Shine Gallery prepared to explore “archaeology at the grassroots level,” a term Bernie Shine uses in his introductory video. He served as my virtual tour guide of what, suggests LA Weekly, is one of the ten weirdest shops in Los Angeles.
  20. 20. Shine Gallery More similar to a museum than to a retail store, the Shine Gallery serves as a repository of American popular culture, offering visitors a chance to remember the 1910s through the 1960s, or to imagine what everyday life was like then. I found memory prompts everywhere, but what really captured my attention was a portrait of John F. Kennedy over a display of magic tricks. I was in elementary school when JFK was president, and I owned a copy of that portrait. How strange, I thought, to encounter that image again, amid the vintage memorabilia.
  21. 21. Shine Gallery The seemingly random juxtaposition of the JFK portrait and the magic tricks made me wonder how the historical narratives that we tell develop on both collective and individual levels. Then I realized that the random arrangement of artifacts throughout the store resembled the free-associative nature of memory. In this way, the Shine Gallery enabled me to appreciate the memory work inspired not only by the JFK portrait but also by a wide array of vintage memorabilia. In addition to prompting personal reflections, these artifacts also have the potential to trigger creative thought by encouraging visitors to connect the dots differently.
  22. 22. T-Shop (Tea) Video:
  23. 23. T-Shop (Tea) “We have over 250 different varieties . They range from herbal teas to black teas to fine green teas. We carry teas from China, Africa, India, and Japan.” (owner Joo Min, video) A destination for tea lovers everywhere, the T-Shop occupies a small, open space inside the Farmers Market. Passersby and converts cross paths while examining the wide selection of herbal teas that the T-Shop sells. A knowledgeable young woman answers questions about the art and science of selecting tea. A notebook on the counter provides additional information, including a section on Ayurvedic blends. The teas are on display for everyone to see, and the kitchen in the rear of the stand is also visible to the public. Tea sets, tea samplers, and tea accessories are arranged to attract the attention of people walking through the marketplace. The T-shop would benefit from a strong web presence and a compelling narrative that distinguishes it from other tea shops.
  24. 24. Dragunara Spice Bazaar Video:
  25. 25. Dragunara Spice Bazaar “When people enter our store and they’re used to ginger, and they taste the ginger and smell the ginger, it’s completely different, because it’s organic.” (owner Michael Khemlani, video) The Dragunara Spice Bazaar is one of the few shops at the Original Farmers Market that feature organic products of any kind. A newcomer, the Spice Bazaar is designed to appeal to mainstream consumers and to steady users. In fact, Oprah’s magazine, O, recommended Dragunara spices as “palate pleasers.” Signage references Dr. Oz’s “Top 10 Anti-Aging Herbs & Spices.” Inside the small, open stand, Hindu symbols add additional cultural references.
  26. 26. Dragunara Spice Bazaar
  27. 27. Farm Fresh Produce Video:
  28. 28. Farm Fresh Produce “We make our own juices. . . . Orange juice is the most popular—navel oranges in the wintertime and Valencias in the summertime.” (Armando Puente, video) Attractive to tourists and residents alike, this popular produce stand faces a busy parking lot. Pedestrians en route to the adjacent Grove mall often stop by to order a fresh juice, buy an exotic salad, order a fruit basket, or stock up on their produce. People wandering through the inside of the Farmers Market gravitate to Farm Fresh Produce as well. A nearby produce stand inside the Market also draws a large crowd. Known for selling fresh produce from local farmers, Farm Fresh Produce has been around since 1954. Although organic produce is available occasionally, particularly raspberries and blueberries, a wider selection of organic produce would attract new clientele. Instead of walking across the street to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s for organic produce, people could do more of their shopping at the Farmers Market.
  29. 29. Farm Fresh Produce
  30. 30. Three Dog Bakery (for dogs) Video:
  31. 31. Three Dog Bakery (for dogs) “What’s really great about Three Dog Bakery is you can bring your dog into the store, and you and your dog can both pick out the items. . . . You can come in and do a celebration cake, so if your dog’s having a birthday, or a wedding, or even a Bark Mitzvah, we have all those items there for you.” (owner Rocky Keever, video) Located next to Farm Fresh Produce and facing the same parking lot, Three Dog Bakery attracts a steady stream of dog lovers—and their dogs. The assorted baked goods on display have clever names, such as pupcakes, puptarts, Boston terrier cream pie, and peanut mutter cookies. In addition to offering such treats for the canines, Three Dog Bakery also provides them with fashion accessories and party favors for all occasions. Inside the store, customers chat about their dogs with the twenty-something woman who cheerfully assists with the orders.
  32. 32. Three Dog Bakery (for dogs) The novelty of this store reflects a creative concept that could be applied to other types of pets. Not a pet person myself, I don’t follow such things, yet the video introduction to Three Dog Bakery prompted me to check out this unusual place. It was charming.
  33. 33. The Original L.A. Farmers Market Video: