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Shop Talk: Bloomies goes high-tech, Common Ground closes

Original post made on Oct 20, 2014

A brand new Bloomingdale's opens at the Stanford Shopping Center, Mac's Smoke Shop and Gryphon Stringed Instruments celebrate big birthdays, and Mandarin Gourmet and Common Ground both close.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, October 20, 2014, 8:53 AM

Comments (12)

Posted by Stephanie
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 20, 2014 at 11:58 am

We will really miss Common Ground and would love it if Patricia Becker made herself available as a consultant!

Posted by cid
a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2014 at 12:48 pm

cid is a registered user.

OMG! I have been a Customer ever since 1989 when they were still in a tiny space on the El Camino Real. Patricia was truly ths lovely shining headt and soul of the Organization. I took so many classes tgere and learnec so much about sustainable living & gardening.
I've owned John Jeavon's book, HOW TO GROW MORE VEGETABLES (How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine)SINCE THE EIGHTIES AND IT'S COVERED WITH DIRTY FINGER PRINTS FROM USING IT AS A REFERENCE IN THE GARDEN.
Web Link
He has even come down from Willits to teach classes. I loved this Garden Center so much, I drove over from the Coast to shop!
-Cid Young
Moss Beach, CA
Moss Beach

Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 20, 2014 at 1:13 pm

The one percenters don't garden, they hire gardeners to take care of all that green grass. No time to mess with dirt.

Posted by palo alto
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 20, 2014 at 2:28 pm

How typical Palo Alto. Stores that people "claim" are important to the e.g., common ground are forced to close (Who the heck gardens anyway? [Portion removed.] Yep, a lot of misplaced idealism.

Posted by Oh Please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 20, 2014 at 2:58 pm

I garden, but common ground was too expensive. I found everything I needed elsewhere and cheaper. I don't think there are any misplaced idealism, just smart shoppers.

Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 20, 2014 at 4:54 pm

I love(d) Common Ground and have shopped there since 1978 when I moved here, and as recently as earlier this month.

I preferred to spend my money there and loved to measure seeds out of jars (so very many of them until a few years ago) instead of paying for packaging that hid how much you were actually getting (like we can visualize in grams?!?).

They said it was because newbie gardeners wanted more information. Hello! That's what the internet is for! And the classes, etc.

When they phased out the jars of seeds, they lost my loyalty, but not completely my business.

Too many businesses seem to abandon the characteristics that earned them the love to begin with. Then they wonder why their businesses failed.

This is a great loss for many of us, but it began its death march several years ago.

I'll miss it like many other small businesses that made Palo Alto a special place to live.

I guess it's what we can expect when our City Council sells out to soulless developers.

Posted by Local
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 21, 2014 at 1:28 am

:-( Very sad about Common Ground closing. It was an amazing local resource. We used to drive up here from Sunnyvale because of it. We have a patch of still-green fescue in the back that hasn't been watered for months, and we were wondering what it was -- we bought a bunch of different native grass seed from them, and want to know which one it is so we can plant the rest of the backyard in it. :-(

Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 21, 2014 at 4:38 am

Yes. It was a unique store.
Sure, we will miss them

Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 21, 2014 at 7:00 am

I'm also shocked and saddened to hear of Common Ground's closing. I relied on them for organic seedlings and general advice. I was just there this summer and had no inkling they were on the verge of closing.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 21, 2014 at 8:24 am

Can $18 million be correct for the cost of the new 125,000 square foot Bloomie's? Our new Mitchell Park Library at less than half that size (56,000 square feet?) cost $28 million last I saw.

Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 21, 2014 at 11:28 am

The new Bloomingdale's is beautiful inside, but intimidating. Will work well for the weekday serious shoppers who are usually decked out in designer duds (mostly non-Palo Altans). It would have been wiser to tone it down a bit. Now, it's like shopping at Neiman-Marcus but it's actually just a step-up from Macy's (owner of Bloomingdale's). But shopping at Macy's is almost like shopping at Kohl's. Nordstrom atmosphere is just about right to appeal to all shoppers, although their clothing salespeople have gone downhill in the last decade. Since Macy's owns Bloomingdales, if you find something you like at B's, check Macy's and you can probably get 20% off since Macy's almost always offers sale prices.

Posted by Kim
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 4, 2015 at 5:50 pm

I cried when I found out just this week that CG closed. Common Ground was a wonderful resource for all level of gardeners. I'm still crying as I write this because Common Ground was the place where I got my first gardening job! As a new student of horticulture at Foothill College I lucked into a great partnership with my future mentor, a classmate, while I was shopping in CG for tools back in the late 80's. She just got a new job a few minutes earlier while she was shopping at CG. A new homeowner with a fantastic and large landscape came into CG asking for a reference for a skilled gardener and it was serendipity. Common Ground was a rare place where all this greatness could come together because that homeowner heard it was a great resource, visited CG and lucked into meeting my mentor, one of the best gardeners I've ever met.

I was in CG shopping for tools that day because they carried the highest quality tools available for professional gardeners in addition to the best amendments, seeds, seedlings, and advice, education and resources to all level of gardeners. Ordering tools online isn't the same as holding them and getting advice from an experienced gardener about my choices. CG also taught me how to maintain those expensive tools and I still use them today.

I am guilty because I haven't shopped there in years. I stopped gardening for the most part. I wish we could get that magic back but fighting online shopping can be pointless, ask almost every local bookstore who closed in the last 20 years. It's not just rising rents, it's that the times are a changin'.

Thank you Patricia, the heart and soul and backbone of Common Ground! Thank you to everyone who ran and supported Common Ground since it's inception. You made a beautiful place where Palo Alto and surrounding communities could get in touch with the earth and transformed so many, many lives. Thank you to John Jeavons, CG's founder.

Everyone who misses Common Ground should be sure to see what Mr. Jeavons is up to at Ecology Action. Check it out if you're interested in saving the planet! For a long, long time he has been helping people all over the world by stopping and even reversing topsoil loss, by making a nurturing environment for all the sometimes invisible critters who actually feed us, by teaching how to use our resources in the most efficient and beneficial way possible, by helping people all over the world get back autonomy and control over their food sources which has been stolen and stripped away by "modern farming" and the owners of that system. If that interests you then Jeavons is your man.

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