Town Crier: Montclair shop owners need hope kept alive


MONTCLARION: July 13, 2012

Say goodbye to Montclair’s popular infant and baby shop, The Tulip Grove. Owner Jen Frick is moving her family and her business to Lafayette.

Some may consider this a sign. Like the canary in the coal mine, the loss of another small business seems to chip away at the heart of our Village. Frick says the bottom line, however, is there wasn’t enough community support to make her store prosper.

“Even last month I had people stopping by and saying ‘Oh, when did you open?’ ” she says of the shop she ran for four years on Antioch Court.

As a mom with children in Montclair Elementary School, she’ll miss our community but says she needs a more vibrant retail center. “About six months ago I was walking around Walnut Creek, Burlingame and Lafayette, and it took me a minute to go ‘Oh, my gosh — this is what it’s like when there’s a community that’s invested in their retail.’ ”

It’s sad to see Tulip Grove close, but you have to wonder just what more merchants can do to promote our shopping district. And what are we, the consumers, doing to keep Montclair healthy? How often do we drive through the tunnel, or to Emeryville, to get things we can buy in Montclair?

“It is something the community needs to know,” says Frick. “I wanted my store to be successful and did everything possible to make it work.”

The question she raises is worth asking here: Montclair has excellent customer service. The best gifts, help withpicking them out, even gift wrapping. Are we really going to save money if we shop out of the area?

If the answer is “yes,” I’m not here to judge. But we should all consider the long-term cost to be paid if our shop owners start to lose hope.

Email bag: Thanks to reader Katie O’Shea for sharing the sad but sweet story of the passing of Ann Nell Cadigan. The longtime Corpus Christi parishioner died June 13 after a long battle with cancer. Ann Nell was a beloved member of the community and a dedicated A’s fan. A few weeks before she died, second baseman Jemile Weeks paid her a visit and brought her a gift. It was an Oakland A’s T-shirt signed by the players.

Around town: It really is a small world. Jean Mulgrew was looking at the construction on Montclair Elementary School the other day when a contractor called out to her. “I was in your first-grade class,” said John Harris, the man hired to build the new three-story multipurpose building on campus. When you think about it, it’s not that surprising that Jean would run into a former student. She taught at the school for 47 years.

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