Out and About Southern California: From Country Marts and Monocle to Sea Urchins and the Channel Islands
This past weekend we visited up the Brentwood Country Mart for the first time in search of Monocle's new store in Los Angeles - its first ever in North America after the success of the original store in Marylebone in London. In spite of my high hopes and great anticipation, I left somewhat disappointed. During mid-day Saturday, around lunch time no less, when there was increased buzz and circulation around the store, we spent 45 minutes waiting for the store to open. The "Back in 15 minutes" sign was obviously not very accurate. During that time, we saw other potential customers approach the store, peak through the window and walk away. For the brief 5 minutes someone did show up to open the store, the salesperson seemed disinterested and was dressed somewhat slovenly (this in a city that is so driven by appearance) and left again promptly soon after. We actually never made it into the store. This entire experience was really not in keeping with the sleek smart brand that Monocle (or Tyler Brule) promotes. It made me realize that when you are trying to create or solidify a brand - everything matters from the location, the space, the design, the items sold, the human representation and service. Since many of the products sold in the store are created in partnership with Japanese designers and Monocle I would suggest that they might benefit from adopting also the meticulousness and promptness of service found in any department store in Japan. I guess at some point I will venture back. It would be nice to get in the store this time.
On the way to the island, we spotted sea lions and a couple humpback whales (or one very fast moving one). These sightings kept my mind preoccupied and less focused on my gurgling seasickness. Once on the island we picnicked and hiked for hours, feeling most of the time like we were the only people on the entire island. The clarity and color of the water was unlike anything I have seen on any coast of the United States. The cool temperature of water was the only barrier keeping me from diving right in clothes, backpack and all. But the pull was strong. After about 7 hours on the island, we packed up all our trash, as nothing is to be left on the island and boarded the boat back the mainland. The ride back was calmer, the ocean had settled and by the time we had driven back to Los Angeles, the entire trip seemed almost like a dream.