Register Now to Participate in the 2013 Bernal Heights Hillwide Garage Sale

bernalgaragesale2013

It’s that cathartic time of year again… time to purge all the excess crap in your life by selling it off to some other sucker bargain-hunter during the annual Bernal Heights Hillwide Garage Sale.

This year the hillwide sale will happen on Saturday, August 10, 2013SOON! — and Bernal neighbor Michael Minson has been leading the charge on the organizational effort. If you want to participate, get registered and get on the map.

Neighbor Michael says:

The Hillwide Elves have been feverishly working to get the 2013 Hillwide Garage Sale website, Paypal collector, map, posters, communications, and social media outreach kicked into gear.

We’ve had a few neighbors reach out from our save the date announcement, but now we’re all ready to kick it into high gear.

We’re asking Bernal neighbors to tweet and instagram their sale items using the #Hillwide2013 hashtag.

100% of the proceeds go to the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center – it’s their 35th anniversary!

You can register for the 2013 Hillwide Garage sale on the spiffy new website.

The sexxxxy interactive map shows the current list of garage sale locations (and if the past is any guide, it will become much more crowded in the days ahead).

For wannabe bargain hunters, Bernalwood will post updated information on garage sale locations the week before the sale. Until then, here’s a preview of the glamorous 2013 Bernal Heights Hillwide Garage Sale poster:

2013HillwidePoster

BYO-Bagism Up in Bernal Heights, Plus: Get a Free Canvas Tote This Weekend

It’s been three weeks since the city instituted its 10-cent minimum charge for compostable, recycled paper, or reusable sacks at the checkout counter, and so far the policy seems to be an easy pill for Bernal Heights to swallow. (No big surprise there, since green is, after all, glamorous.)

A micro-interview with cashier Alex at the Good Life on Cortland indicates that the ordinance is having its intended effect:

Bernalwood: Have you noticed any difference in the bag situation recently?

Cashier Alex: We’re definitely seeing a lot more people bringing their own bags.

Bernalwood: What happens when they don’t?

Cashier Alex: Then we have to count up all the bags at the end and charge for them.

Bernalwood: Sounds like kind of a pain. Is it? 

Cashier Alex: A little bit.

If you need to add to your collection of reusable bags, make sure to find SF Environment’s booth at Fiesta on the Hill on Cortland Street this Sunday starting at 11 a.m. The fine folks there will be handing out nice ones as part of their consumer education campaign.

PHOTO: Bronwyn Ximm

Reminder: Bernal Hillwide Garage Sale Happens on Saturday

This is a last call announcement for potential garage sale hosts, and a reminder for aspiring bargain-hunters: The annual Bernal Heights Hillwide Garage Sale happens tomorrow, Saturday, August 11!

If you want to sell off some of your stuff, the deadline to add your address to the Bernal Hillwide Garage Sale MegaMap is tonight at midnight. (Listing instructions here.)

If you want to buy other people’s stuff, use the Hillwide Garage Sale MegaMap to navigate.  So far there are 57 71 homes participating, with more added daily:

Bargains ahoy! Have fun out there.

Merchant vs. Merchant on Precita Park

Recent visitors to the Harvest Hills Market on the southwest corner of Precita Park may have noticed an odd sign in the window.

The sign shows a picture of Charlie, the vintage tuna mascot, along with Starkist’s venerable motto, “Sorry Charlie.” The text then goes on to explain that Harvest Hills no longer sells produce to “some local cafe owners and store owners,” to ensure that nearby merchants do not buy-out Harvest Hills’s inventory of low-priced produce.

Of course, the Starkist allusion can only be a reference to Charlie’s Cafe, located just a few doors north on Folsom Street. It would appear there are some unresolved issues between the two merchants. We suspect it isn’t only about produce sales.

*Awkward!*

Neighbor Dan wrote to Bernalwood with this comment:

Not sure if you’ve heard about the ongoing feud between Harvest Hills and Charlies, but it appears to have gotten worse, judging from the pictured sign that was posted recently to the store window. It confirms what Charlie has told me, namely that Harvest Hills employees are refusing to sell produce to employees of Charlies Cafe.

I should start off by saying I probably don’t have all the facts. That means it’s possible Harvest Hills has good reasons for turning away Charlies’ employees when they want to purchase bananas or onions. And even if Harvest Hills doesn’t have a good reason, the store owners are probably well within their rights to decide who they do business with. That said, Charlie tells me he’s attempted to buy food fewer than 15 times in the two years that Harvest Hills has been in business, and then only when food he purchased ahead of time has run out or unexpectedly gone bad. If true, that doesn’t sound like Charlie’s is “buying all of one or two produce products that we have.”

Harvest Hills should know that when I (a customer of both establishments) can’t get avocado on my sandwich because the batch Charlie purchased earlier that morning went bad, the refusal to sell Charlie a single avocado affects me negatively. So forgive me if I don’t buy the notion that Harvest Hills is putting its customers first. More to the point, the “Sorry Charlie” title and image seem unnecessarily rude. Is this really the way fellow business people should treat each other?

An Anonymous Bernal Tuna harpooned a metaphor to make a larger point:

I’ve heard it all before.  Chicken of the Sea.  I always wanted to be that; sure, who didn’t?  Have your bulging salmon torso spinning out of control, like a marlin on a can of tuna.  Now I’ve accepted myself for who I am, a scrawny tuna.  I lead a pretty quiet existence now, swimming up a private stream near Precita Park.  While munching on some flies yesterday, I  overhead some humans chatting about the sign at the Harvest Hills Market that said “Sorry Charlie”.   It brought up all that stuff up again – too thin, too small, not pink enough, eyes too wide-set like a halibut.  I pooped so damn much in the stream even the frogs stopped croaking.  So, can I just ask just once, “Can we all try to get along?”

As a factual matter, Bernalwood will merely add that Harvest Hills does indeed have low prices on high-quality produce. Two examples caught our eye last weekend: sugar snap peas for $1.25 a pound, and fresh shitake mushrooms for $2.95 a pound. Get ‘em while they last.

UPDATE: Neighbors report that the Sorry Charlie signs have now been removed from the windows of Harvest Hills

UPDATE 2: In the comments, a reader directs us to some backstory on the controversy, which has also spilled out onto Yelp.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Micro-Interview: Thanksgiving Day at the Good Life

A last-minute scramble for a pie tin (grasshopper pie… mmmmm!) occasioned a Thanksgiving Day visit to the Good Life Grocery. The perfect excuse for a micro-interview!

Bernalwood: Anything been flying off the shelves today?

Manager Frank: Turkeys! The owners picked up these organic Willie Birds from the farm themselves. Also, bread. Our deli staff is baking fresh bread on-site now.

Bernalwood: How crazy has it been today?

Manager Frank: Not too bad. Yesterday was waaaaay worse!

Happy Thanksgiving, Bernal Heights!

 

The Bernal Bucks Card Stars in Today’s Wall Street Journal

Bernal Bucks Spoken Here

Well, what do you know? There’s a big article about the Bernal Bucks card in today’s Wall Street Journal:

In June, a group of businesses in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood started signing up residents for a debit card that offers 5% of purchases back in a local currency called Bernal Bucks when residents shop in the community. The move follows that of two nonprofits in Marin County—Coastal Marin Fund and FairBucks—which began minting their own $3 coins last year.

The idea is to raise resident awareness about supporting small businesses in an era of big-box national chains, and to find a new way to raise funds for local causes.

“Neighborhoods are taking their economic destiny into their own hands by looking at the money that is circulating in them,” said Arno Hesse, one of the creators of Bernal Bucks.

Community currencies exist world-wide and are legal in the U.S. so long as they don’t pose as official American greenbacks. Communities offering them include the Berkshires region in western Massachusetts, while a group in Oakland is working on a currency known as Alternative Currency for Oakland Residents and Neighbors, or ACORN.

But they all face the challenge of persuading merchants and residents to commit to adopting them for daily use. Some past local currencies, such as one called Berkeley BREAD that started in the late 1990s, ended in 2003 after its coordinator left and wasn’t replaced. There also was a program called Sonoma County Community Cash that died after about two years around 2000.

The Bernal Bucks debit card grew out of past attempts by Bernal Heights merchants to reward residents for shopping locally, including stickers placed on real $5 and $10 bills that could be redeemed for incentives. Last year, Bernal Heights resident Mr. Hesse set out to find a way to use technology to improve on that idea.

In June, Mr. Hesse’s software company, Clearbon Inc., and local merchants teamed up with the Community Trust credit union to issue a Visa debit card with the Bernal Bucks loyalty program integrated into it, one of the first such programs in the nation. For every $200 that users spend at participating local businesses, they receive 10 Bernal Bucks. Users can spend their Bernal Bucks on goods and services sold by participating businesses at the rate of one per U.S. dollar, or can choose to donate them to community nonprofits.

Darcy Lee, owner of a Bernal Heights gift shop called Heartfelt, said she signed up her business for the program in the hopes of attracting “a repeat local, loyal customer that is making a conscious effort to shop in the neighborhood.”

Merchants such as Ms. Lee agree to give up 5% of the value of goods and services paid for with Bernal Bucks cards. This goes into a fund that users can tap when they spend their Bernal Bucks at participating merchants. Ms. Lee said the effort is worthwhile for marketing purposes because many of the products she sells, such as wrapping paper, “you could easily go to get at Target.”

Last Sunday, Samuel Fajner, a five-year resident of Bernal Heights, used his Bernal Bucks card to buy groceries at Good Life food store on the neighborhood’s Cortland Avenue. “I make an effort to not go to the big chain stores,” said Mr. Fajner, 36, who signed up for the program in June and has accumulated about $120 in Bernal Bucks.

So far, more than 20 of the businesses along the Cortland shopping corridor have joined the program. The hard part is persuading more residents to sign up, say organizers and local businesses. Mr. Hesse declined to say how many people have joined, or how many Bernal Bucks have been spent so far, but said the transaction volume of card users has doubled every month.

(The WSJ has a paywall, but if you want to read the whole thing, click here, then click the headline “Community Currencies Aim to Aid Merchants.”)

Oh, and check it out… the WSJ illustrated the story with a spiffy photo of Miss Darcy Lee from Heartfelt:

I confess, I’ve been meaning to write about the Bernal Bucks card for a long time (and I’ve got a half-written post somewhere in the queue to prove it.) But I’m perfectly happy that the WSJ beat me to it.

I’ve also been using the card for four months, and it definitely works as advertised. There’s a bit more hands-on management required than a typical debit card. Most notably, the stored-value balance of the Bernal Bucks card must be reloaded manually when it drops too low. (Unlike, say, a Clipper Card or FastPass, the stored value does not replenish automatically.) But reloading takes just a minute or two, and you can do it online, so it’s no big deal once I got used to it.

Personally, I think the biggest upside of the Bernal Bucks card is psychological. Using the card to make purchases has a curious, consciousness-raising  effect. I notice that I gravitate toward business that accept the Bernal Bucks card because I want to use the card — and vice-versa. Honestly, it’s like I get a little shot of endorphins every I use the card to make a purchase, because the physical act of handing my card to a merchant represents the completion of an intentional YIMBY gesture to support local businesses. And really, we all want to do that, right? RIGHT??!!

Congrats to the Bernal Bucks folks for the great write-up in today’s WSJ, and click away to get a Bernal Bucks card of your very own.

PHOTOS: Top, Telstar Logistics; Card image, Bernal Bucks; Darcy Lee, Wall Street Journal

Alemany Farmer’s Market Report: “Berry Hip” July Edition

It’s grey, cold, and cloudy today in Bernalwood, but (lest we forget) it’s sunny and hot outside the City. And that means it’s prime season for mid-summer produce at the Alemany Farmer’s Market. Woo-hoo!

I dropped by Alemany on Saturday to survey the merchandise, and the inventory was looking good. Of course, heirloom tomatoes were de rigeur:

Alemany - June 2011

It looks like regular tomatoes are still a few weeks away from their peak (spelling errors notwithstanding):

Alemany - June 2011

Juicy peaches were generating significant transactional volume:

Alemany - June 2011

Alemany - June 2011

For the budget-conscious, one guy was selling flats of “cosmetically challenged” peaches off the back of a truck:

Cosmetically Challenged

Our Asian friends swarmed around the vendor selling tiny ears of yellow sticky corn.

Alemany - June 2011

I’d never tried sticky corn before, but fortunately they were giving away cooked samples. It is noticeably less sweet — and yes, more sticky — than the stuff I typically associate with summer. I liked it, and so did this kid:

Alemany - June 2011

For Francophiles, there was enough lavander on hand to induce Proustian reveries of Aix en Provence:

Alemany - June 2011

And of course, the berries were off the hook:

Alemany - June 2011

Alemany - June 2011

Alemany - June 2011

Executive Summary: Get thee to Alemany ASAP in the weeks ahead, while the gettin’ is still so so good!

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics