As a product of Gen X and the 1980’s culture of “Greed is good,” I never imagined myself in the role of community advocate, let alone community activist. But whether it be the outrage of LA Live’s lack of community events in their not so public plaza or posting Vaughn Blake’s blog about Ralphs’ failing its’ customers—here I am.
Unlike LA Live, in which I met with Vice President of Communications Michael Roth and have yet to hear back regarding any of our off the record conversation, Ralphs responded—and in a big way. As you may recall, I added a foreword to Vaughn’s post, so Ralphs knew exactly whom to call, and they did, to schedule a meeting with Store Manager Joe Martinez. Let me say here that I’ve found that while it doesn’t make for as interesting a blog if you want to get things done with the guys in charge like Joe, you have to be willing to go off the record—
Joe took over as manager of Downtown Ralphs just four months ago and with this in consideration I was more than willing to hear him out. But after hearing his explanation as to what’s been going on with the store as of late; I could only stand firm on the position taken in Vaughn’s blog—Ralphs needed to start raising the bar back to where it once was positioned when the store first opened—starting with more cashiers and shorter lines. Also, a staff with a renewed sense of being part of a community, namely ours, that is happy to have a job and not just be looking to take home a paycheck.
To Joe Martinez’s credit, pay attention to this Michael Roth / AEG LA Live, the staffing was changed in less than 24 HOURS. At least three cashiers were put on until 11:00pm and two until closing and the u-scan open until midnight. I came to see with my own eyes the lines that had been extending down the aisles during the late night hours—GONE! THANK YOU JOE! And back are the smiling helpful faces…I doubt that this is a coincidence, amazing what a few words of encouragement from management can do. Again, because much of what was said was off the record I cannot tell you of other improvements in the pipeline, but suffice it to say that Joe Martinez and Ralphs are once again committed to making Downtown Ralphs not only the number one Ralphs in terms of sells, it currently ranks in the top five, but the number one Ralphs in terms of service.
Okay, here’s a hint of things to come. You’ll notice that the cheese department has been expanded, and to compliment the incomparable Mike Berger in the wine department and Mark in fish, there will be a cheese expert—doing samplings as well. Also, attention will be given to expanding the selection of Kosher foods to meet the needs of Downtown’s growing Jewish community and a Ralphs’ sponsorship of the upcoming Downtown Relay for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society—GOOD FOR RALPHS!
A lesson to government and business can be learned from this short little blog. BLOGGERS ARE YOUR FRIENDS—as long as you’re trying in good faith and to the best of your ability to do your jobs. Downtown Los Angeles is a strong, vibrant, and growing community with less and less tolerance for the fake it til you make it bunch of exploitation specialists that inevitably gravitate to the coattails of success. Notice: if you want a free ride go to Washington DC, they’re handing them out by the trillions. Notice to AEG LA Live: the community’s patience is running out. Do what Ralphs’ just did—THE RIGHT THING!