Letter: Oasis Natural Foods will close unless a buyer is found

Letter

Posted by on Wed, June 3, 2009

NOTE: Frank Long, owner of Oasis Natural Foods on Main Street, is closing his store to go back east to care for his parents. In a letter to friends, Frank made it clear that he’s selling the business for personal, and not economic, reasons.

As it looks now, I will be having to relocate within the next couple of months; more specifically, during July or August at the latest. While stores have been dropping like flies here in town due to the lack of tourism, hanging in there through the dip in the economy was certainly a doable option for me since the resident traffic has been reasonably steady of late, so my decision to relocate is not an economic one being forced upon me as with many other businesses in town. It’s been slow .... but not that slow.

Over the years, I have developed the friendship of many, many Coastside residents, many of whom have honored me by trusting me with their stories of ill health or personal tales of woe. I guess I now know what a hairdresser must feel like. I am also grateful to those physicians in town who felt comfortable enough to send their patients to me so that I could also help connect the dots for their patients.

Well, that said, if anyone is thinking they might know of someone possibly interested in carrying the next torch, I am perfectly willing to work with them to come up with a REALLY sweet deal. Since Marilyn Wattyne originally opened the store with Martine Sweeney back in 1987, there has been a presence there for nearly 23 years and I would hate for the chain to be broken now. I have to say, I have the best landlord on Main Street and he has been absolutely super to work with. When I first discussed the location with him, even though he himself lives over the hill, he commented that a health food store would better serve the community than another gift shop and I guess that is what it’s really all about.

Since I don’t have all that much time, maybe two months at best, before I really need to be back in Rhode Island to help out there, if I can’t find any interested parties, I’ll be having to progressively sell off the inventory, hardware and fixtures. Unless a rabbit pops out of someone’s hat, this looks like the plan.

While many of you have been like family to me these many years, it’s my OTHER family that I am now having to address. If it weren’t for that, I’d stick it out here with all of you. You will all be greatly missed.

Thanks,
Frank Long
Oasis Natural Foods


If it was really profitable, it would be sold, it is not about securing a loan for any buyer - it is the bottom line of the balance sheet and bankers look at that security because they don’t have to worry about a default.

Now the Big 3 manufactures can’t get money (except through a bankrupt government who can assuge their guilt to save a bit of history - in the end, they know GM and Chrysler are goners) because the private financial industry knows that they have been billions of dollars in debt and having assests less than they owe to creditors….  In fact, GM went from $5 billion in debt to $90 billion in debt on top of the $5B last year.

What a joke and we want to bail out HMB and their lawsuit and cut parks which serve the greater good for all Californiaans?

Jack,

Reading your posts are like finding half a worm left in an apple from which you have just taken a bite.

Ken Johnson

At least I know where to bite the apple. 

It is like a lot of food products; the best are sold and display in our markets, those that are not first rate are delegated to canning and sadly, the imperfect fruits are often thrown out or plowed under instead of sent to the homeless kitchens and shelters or given to the needy.

Beyond that thought, you can nearly always relocate the family to HMB.  I have a 94 year old mother-in-law living with us for 12 yrs after relocating with her stroked aling husband who died at our home; my 88 year old mother recently moved after my father died of stroke related problems.  It ia about family and taking options - the owner made his decision that choice differs from my own!

Then there may be other children that could lend a hand in the care of there children.  For me, I was an only child.  Want more of my hide?  Try the variations on partially who I am and where I came from on Classmates.com, MyLife or Facebook!

Respectifully, but I digress….

Oasis could very well be a going business that cannot be sold within 60 days in the current economy. Which makes the current situation even more unfortunate both for Frank and community.

What kind of downtown is going to be left by the time the recession has run its course?

New Leaf is putting a lot of pressure on Cunha’s (and I imagine Oasis), and Harbor Village represents a lot of unused retail capacity. These and other factors would make things difficult for downtown in a good year.

It’s inappropriate to make judgements about anyone’s decisions with respect to their family.

There’s more to this story, which I left out because it was more personal than newsworthy, but that’s not even the point.

Like it or not, Mr. Long did put his personal life out there as part of the hype and sell or no sale options:  He has to go to RI to take care of his parents.  “Since I don’t have all that much time, maybe two months at best, before I really need to be back in Rhode Island to help out there, if I can’t find any interested parties, I’ll be having to progressively sell off the inventory, hardware and fixtures. Unless a rabbit pops out of someone’s hat, this looks like the plan.”

I would not market that as a reason for moving in an open article best left to share with friends.  If a potential buyer wants to know the reason for a sale in a risky market, let the buyer ask.  The public can figure out the story behind the sale and they may or may not be right.  There are more and more reasons not to go downtown - the empty businesses and firesales.  Hence, many patrons may look to the edge theory of the “edge city” and by extension, driving to the “edge” of a small town to the teritary businesses at the shopping centers where McDopnlds is located or at the base to HMBHS. (That is what will happening with this kind of hype.)

He needs to hype the success of the business and the small town atmosphere where local goodwill keeps you ambience, not out-of-towners going to edge: the Ritz or a prespective Beachwood Park, funded, but likely long to come to fruition.

That HE is me, and my successes have been the many people I have been able to help out within a venue such as this. I have made many friends in the process.

In case anyone hasn’t been paying attention, we are still in a steep recession, if not on the verge of a depression. I stated my letter the way I did, not to oversell it’s potential in this difficult time to some starry-eyed health food groupie, but to hopefully find some way to keep that facility being able to service the community while having them feel comfortable in the acquisition.

Frank - I hope things work out well for you on all fronts; you and your store have both been valued citizens on Main Street for many years now.

Mr. Kirkpatrick - Why are you such a curmudgeon?  It’s a very sad example of how to interact with other members of the community.

Given the massaging of information and the stock description phrases used by the real estate sales industry, it might be that some are not prepared for a straightforward, unembellished description of a business for sale. If someone has an independent streak and is between jobs or looking to change tracks in the discouraging times we are going through, they would have nothing to lose in checking out the numbers, location, and goodwill for this one.

I agree, Carl, there may be an opportunity for someone to pick up this business - there is a old school of entrepreneurship where people who lose their jobs in recession change course and buy or start a business and never look back.  Many “hippies” also redirected their attention and stated many mainstream businesses in the 1970’s after rethinking the importance of a business model.

However I was troubled by a statement that set me off with skepticism about this business in the original article: “While stores have been dropping like flies here in town due to the lack of tourism, hanging in there through the dip in the economy was certainly a doable option for me since the resident traffic has been reasonably steady of late, so my decision to relocate is not an economic one being forced upon me as with many other businesses in town. It’s been slow .... but not that slow.

The clue that worries me was: “...the resident traffic has been reasonably steady of late….”  What about resident traffic long ago?  Is there an up tick in purchases or is the traffic an illusion?  I don’t think that the much resident traffic is necessarily buying at the same pace as it as been nor is discretionary income going to be spent on much organic food, health supplements and alternative medicines for some time.  The recession has only begun and HMB is an isolated community.  The downtown trend in “rich” Palo Alto - University Ave - businesses are dropping very fast and they draw from a larger population.

Without maligning HMB businesses, many of its residents commute, and purchases are going to occur in communities that may be closer to their commute designations.

Well. now we’re getting to the crux of the matter. This is less about the economy and more about a group of business leaders with myopia.

As I have stated many times in different pieces I have contributed, Downtown’s worst enemy is its business leaders. In addition, it’s footprint on the map doesn’t give much for planners to expand upon with Santa Cruz having a broader area between the hills and ocean and Davenport hardly any. It really isn’t anyone’s fault that no one had the foresight to see how screwy the city’s layout would ultimately become, but in more recent years, the whole point was overlooked.

The Coastside SHOULD have had a parallel means of access and egress at the base of the hills. Reinforcing the Surfers Beach area SHOULD have been addressed long ago. And, if anyone had any foresight way back when, they SHOULD have built the city closer to the beach. (I mean, right now, this tsunami evacuation plan has everyone piling up on the same two laned parking lot that they traverse on their commute.) But who knew? I saw it when I first got here, but I didn’t know at that time that forces were trying transform HMB into Vegas. As I’ve jokingly said before, these forces can’t even by a tie in the same town they’re trying to pass off as an upscale destination spot.

When I went into that location at 523 Main St., it seemed like a good investment. My focus on addressing the needs of the local residents was what my landlord apparently admired, unlike many of the other landlords, who only see dollar signs. To some of them, this economy thing is just minor hiccup in their portfolio development. I hate to break the news to them, but people live and work here and when that connection gets broken between the residents and the businesses that are supposed to be supplying the means to stay alive here, don’t be surprised to also see a decrease in charitable donations and volunteerism.

Downtown has enormous potential for servicing its local population, but those in power seem to disagree with me. They only worry about resident participation in this business model when their main source of income (tourism) starts to dry up. That snub to the local residents, I contend, is what has created the rift in resident support; they still can’t feed and clothe their families with tourist trinkets, no matter how many “Shop on the Coast” programs we have.

I think this recession may be a good thing for Downtown because it may provide that long needed opportunity for decision makers to rethink their myopic business plan and flush the old one out to sea and leave it there. The businesses which seem to be hit the least by all this are the resident serving ones (Safeway, Ocean Shore) and that, I contend, should be the CRUX of our business model, not the dregs. Whoever takes the reigns of Oasis has the opportunity to take it to its next level, despite the economy, but the residents’ perception of Downtown as being able to service many of their needs is really up to those who are currently driving it into the ground.

Me? My thoughts are about taking care of my parents at the moment. Someone else has to carry the torch.