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.
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