While it may seem like businesses in the well-to-do Cupertino community are immune to the national economic recession, the small suburban town actually has one characteristic that strangles small businesses: its size.
Just take a look at what problems the soon-to-be open Monta Vista Market will face.
The Market, an all-organic grocery store located on the intersection of Stevens Creek Blvd. and Imperial Ave., has the potential to do great things for the health of MVHS students. Within walking distance of the school, it could provide a healthy alternative to the microwaved school lunches, 7-11 hot dogs, and preserved Subway sandwiches that currently constitute the majority of student lunches. However, despite its potential to revolutionize student health, the small size of Cupertino will be a serious obstacle to the Market’s success.
The city’s size is a barrier to small businesses like the Market primarily because of the proximity of established competition. Owner Peter Yessne will target Cupertino residents within walking distance of the Market, citizens dedicated to eating healthy and organic meals, and nearby trade workers and professionals. However, the Whole Foods only a little farther down the street is competition for Yessne’s target consumers. Expanded only a few years ago, the large and financially successful Whole Foods already has a strong base of support from citizens seeking to eat healthy. Many customers who seek organic groceries may not feel inclined to start shopping at the Monta Vista Market with the far more reputable Whole Foods so close by.
That just leaves the possibility of some nearby residents and MVHS students wanting a healthy lunch to give the Market a try. However, students may not care enough about the organic element to walk the extra distance. The meager number of students who are willing to walk to Subway during lunch, compared to the number of students who are willing to eat at school, that length of time it takes to reach the Stevens Creek/Imperial intersection is dissuasive in itself; in the 45 minutes the school allots students to eat meals, many may not find eating healthy worth risking being late for class. That just leaves nearby residents. However, Cupertino has too few residents for walking-distance families to be a profitable source of revenue.
Businessmen often say that the three most important aspects to a business are “location, location, and location,” but in a town of Cupertino’s size, prime real estate for business has long been snapped up by prominent and established franchises like Target and Whole Foods. The remaining locations, including the Stanley Square, where the Monta Vista Market is located, have been historically unfriendly to small businesses. Lack of parking space and weak storefront visibility from Stevens Creek Blvd. have contributed to regular and frequent ownership changes. In the past several years, a Chinese restaurant, a dance studio, a Karate dojo, and more have come and gone.
While it would be great if the Monta Vista Market became an overnight sensation, attracted customers from all over Cupertino, and provided students and other Cupertino residents with healthy organic food at the same time, this doesn’t seem likely. The small, sparsely populated suburban town known as Cupertino may seem comfortable and safe to students and their parents, but aspiring business owners in Cupertino need only heed one piece of advice:
Locate your business in a different city.