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Thursday, October 17, 2013

How would you brand Coconut Grove?

I met with a friend last week for lunch, he asked me to meet him so we can discuss a project he is working on which is branding Coconut Grove. Yes. Again. The Grove has been branded so many times.

What it all came down to with me was the people. While my friend and others think of the Shopping, Dining and Unwinding, which basically includes hanging out in the Center Grove and enjoying our waterfront, we both agreed that it's the Coconut Grove experience which makes the Grove -- the people, the feeling, the whole atmosphere. It's state of mind as well as an incredible naturally beautiful place.

But I wanted to go further and pick a time and place. For instance, do you have a certain time of week or day that you like the best, ie Happy Hour at The Grove Spot, the Sandbar or the Sailing Club? Jogging on South Bayshore Drive or shopping on Saturdays?

Mine is simple, it is Saturday and Sunday mornings. I go to the gym very early. The streets are quiet except for runners, joggers and the ubiquitous bicyclists. Unless I pull out into the street and see them right off, it just is not a completed experience. They are all part of it. Then I pull up onto an empty street, park, and make my way to the gym, there are just a handful of people around, the same people usually. Jean is in the parking lot washing cars, we visit for a bit, others jog or walk by, others are walking their dogs, and we greet each other, the same people all the time; keep in mind, it is very quiet and still out.

Inside the gym it's the same few familiar faces, which is nice, I like a few people in the gym, it's easier to work out. We visit; we all know each other. This one tells me about his new music, this one tells me how to eat right, this one tells me to stand up straight to do the cable cross, this one asks how the family, is, etc. In between, I do get to work out. I also get a lot of stories for the Grapevine there, as there are often politicians and movers and shakers around. So we talk for a bit, too.

After the gym I head out to get something quick for breakfast and the same routine ensues, people ask the same questions, we all visit, we all know each other and it's a routine that I look forward to each week. Many Sundays, before the gym I go to mass. It's the same people in the same seats (pews) and the same alter boys and the same priests and it's all very comforting before I run home, change and head to the gym for that routine. The rest of the week isn't as special to me. It's all about the quiet of Saturday and Sunday mornings for me. And the people that accompany that. 


"Comforting." That's the word I used. My friend liked it, he wrote it down. I find Coconut Grove comforting. But is that a brand?

Ironically, this past Sunday, I was on Lincoln Road with another friend, and we were talking about the Grove. He called it, "comfortable." I never told him about this branding story, he just used that word out of the blue. Maybe it fits.

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14 Comments:

Blogger Brian Breslin said...

it should be branded as the key west of miami.

play up the laid back quality of life, bay access, etc.

October 17, 2013 9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Based upon the front page of today's Herald -

Toxic.

October 17, 2013 9:26 AM  
Blogger John Holcombe said...

Coconut Grove should not need a "brand" but I guess the BID wants to waste more money on this exercise in futility. People are not going to come back to the Grove because it has a brand and advertising on billboards, or new bricks on the sidewalks for that matter. People will come back to the Grove if and when it becomes a vibrant entertainment district with something new and exciting to offer - like Grove Harbor. Until then, the Grove will continue to be the same old, same old with lots of empty storefronts and a rapidly aging population, and people will continue to flock to the unbranded districts in Miami that are hot and happening. The BID should spend its money in grants to merchants that help offset the ridiculously high rents - which is the reason why hot restaurants like Pride & Joy are established in Wynwood, not in the Grove.

October 17, 2013 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come to the Grove we are boring, dead and full of crime and are pointless parks are TOXIC!!!!!!!

October 17, 2013 10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It CAN be branded as the Key West of Miami, but it is NOTHING like Key West. There's no real entertainment here except for the movie theater, the streets aren't crawling with people, and the area just feels bland. I visit Key West several times a year and its always a fun time - the streets are always packed, live music fills the streets at all hours of the day, and its a bit on the quirky side. Maybe in its heyday the Grove was like that, but not anymore.

October 17, 2013 10:29 AM  
Anonymous That Guy said...

to 10:29 AM - what struck me most about your comment is one of the biggest problems with the grove - over the last decade, it has been forced to abide by library rules - no noise ever. Key West has open air bars with music wafting out onto the street - that's part of the great vibe (note, that Atlantic Ave in Delray, and downtown Lake Worth also promote this outdoor, music vibe), but here in the grove, SILENCE is the demand from the crotchety old neighbors who bought property in the center of what used to a vibrant entertainment district. They want dead, stone cold silence at all times - They should move to the Redlands. Until the grove decides to lighten up and have fun again, it will remain dead, regardless of branding, advertising, giant glass malls or anything else.

October 17, 2013 11:55 AM  
Anonymous Dexter said...

Aged Hippy.

October 17, 2013 12:48 PM  
Anonymous Lois said...

This was such a thoughtful, endearing post. Wish I could say the same for other posters who had to be negative about this lovely village.

I was not yet a teenager when the first Grove Art Show was held in 1963. I snuck into the auditorium to see Jim Morrison. I learned to sail and water ski on the bay.

Then in the 80's moved away living in many different cities. In 2006 I returned because no matter where I've gone, here or abroad, the Grove is home. I like "Miami's Key West."

Every morning at 6:30 (since the new Starbuck's opened at Monty's) I walk my dog to get coffee and watch the sun come up. That's why I came back. That sun. And the people. And the beauty.

Occasionally on Friday's we'll walk or bike to Scotty's to hear music. Any Miami or Coral Gables High alumni will remember Dick's, as it was known back then, the place to park and hang out. Memories abound just being there.

The Grove brand is bohemian. Please don't say that's too 'trite' as I love that word. Just as our scenery is abundant and filled with awe-inspiring beauty, our residents are just as colorful. I like that.

Thanks for the post that inspired me to appreciate and meander down memory lane!

October 17, 2013 4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A drinking village with a fishing problem"

October 17, 2013 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dump your trash here The city did!!!!!!thats the new ad

October 17, 2013 8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need more people with memories like Lois's. My own are similar, but only go back to 1973. I lived in Islamorada then, on the ocean side, next to what is now 'The Moorings". Idyllic in a way. Never-the-less, every time I visited Coconut Grove, it felt 'comfortable', like home. After two years in the Keys, and a year intermission in the Cayman Islands, I moved to Coconut Grove. Since 1976, it has felt comfortable and 'like home'. Gentrification and time have taken a toll on the area, but it is still one of the best places anywhere to live.

JRL

October 17, 2013 8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post. Thinking of "neighborhood." A neighborhood in a big city with small town charm. Lots of young families with young children, dog lovers, athletes, and artisans.

October 17, 2013 9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do people visit (or if lucky enough to live there) Nantucket, Cape Code, Martha’s Vineyard and Sausalito? The things that help make a community desirable is its uniqueness. Respect for its historical significance, access to water, sailing, charming architecture, exciting restaurants, Mom and Pop shops, pedestrian friendly, bike friendly, enchanting vista, clean streets and yards, interesting and hospital locals.
Coconut Grove used to be like that. But being that we are unfortunately a suburb of Miami we were sold out.
We have too many luxury condos, Cocowalk, Mayfair Shops, two Starbucks, Cheesecake factory, Chile’s, Duffy's Sports Bar, dangerous broken sidewalks, old growth Oak Trees cut down in Post Officer Parking lot, few business that support events that help attract people, too many parking meters, too much crime, many stolen bikes that have little chance of being recovered, littler that people just pass by, not much live music, cookie cutter faux Mediterranean townhouses, McMansions, a BID that collect fees but accomplishes little to benefit, a Chamber that accomplished little, high business rents, and empty Glass House that used to be a useful Community Center, a park that has been leased exclusively to a school, the lack of maintenance to the Dinner Key Expo Center, the soon to be demolition of and accidently yet most successful film and TV Studio a playhouse that have been permitted to be demolished through neglect and residence that fight improvements because they hate change, even thought they knew change was in the works for years. The Grove needs much fixing before we can even think or Re-branding our image. Please visit the BID office and ask to see a copy of the Grove Marketing Study that was prepared by Bruce Turkel Dec, 20th, 2005. Read it and you shall see all the suggestions that were presented to respect our Bay view, history, charm, whimsy, parks, art, architecture, foliage and uniqueness. If the Visionary developer Tony Goldman could create a success out of a once dilapidated SoHo, Ocean Drive and Wynwood, then even the Grove can achieve greatness again.

October 17, 2013 9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago I was stopped by a young Japanese tourist couple on Grand Avenue and Virginia Street directly in front of CocoWalk and Mayfair. They asked me where Coconut Grove was. I was ashamed to tell them that they we're smack dab in the middle of it. It seems they believed the Chambers brochure that describes the Grove as a bohemian artsy crafty village on the water. NOT !

October 18, 2013 9:59 PM  

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