Noe Valley Voice June 2002

Kathy Zucchi Cheers for Noe Valley--Where Everybody Knows Your Name

By Kathy Dalle-Molle

Kathy Zucchi, the new president of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association, says only about 28 percent of neighborhood businesses currently belong to her organization, but she'd love to see 100 percent participation.

So how does Zucchi, who took the helm on March 27, hope to achieve that goal?

"Well, I plan on starting with the rack," she deadpans, "you know, a little torture."

Actually, Zucchi, who lives on 25th Street and runs the Noe Valley branch of Edward Jones Investments on Diamond Street near 24th, hopes to attract new members by organizing programs that will serve Noe Valley's shop owners.

"I hear through the grapevine complaints about business being down for some merchants, and I think we need to work on being proactive and turning the situation around, not just complaining," she says. "For instance, I'd like to organize a seminar with SCORE [a nonprofit association that aids small businesses]. Also, there's a lot of grant money out there for small businesses, and I'd like to see some of our businesses try to get that.

"It would be great if we could get some grant money just to clean up the sidewalks," she continues, "and even if we can't, I'd like us all to be aware of the little things that we can do to make the neighborhood better, even just stepping outside of your store or office to pick up trash."

Zucchi also wants to promote events that have a positive impact on shopping in the neighborhood, such as the Merchants' annual Sidewalk Sale, which this year takes place on Saturday, June 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

And she's toying with the idea of a Noe Valley Street Fair.

"The fair is just in the crawling stage," Zucchi says, "but we would want something low-key and on a small scale, which wouldn't block traffic in the neighborhood. I'd also like it to be more tasteful than the other street fairs in the city."

She also would love to hear what Noe Valley residents want from their neighborhood merchants.

"I'd love to see a Williams-Sonoma store here," she says, "because we don't have a store like that in Noe Valley. But is that something the neighborhood wants? I'd like Noe Valley to be thought of as a destination neighborhood. I want people from other parts of the city to come here and spend money. I know I go to other neighborhoods and spend money. We need to create a compelling reason for people to come here. If we don't, they won't come."

Zucchi says the association welcomes all merchants and professionals working within the boundaries of 21st to 30th Street and Fair Oaks to Grand View. Dues are $75 per year. "By virtue of numbers, we can get a lot accomplished," she says.

Of 455 eligible businesses, only 130 currently belong to the organization. Most are on 24th Street, Noe Valley's largest commercial strip, but membership along Church Street is growing.

Although she doesn't plan to serve as president for five terms like her predecessor Bob Roddick ("maybe two years, if I can do it without going insane"), Zucchi nonetheless loves the neighborhood.

"Noe Valley has the nicest people and the best weather," she says, "and there's just something so familiar about the place. It reminds me of the small town I grew up in -- Kirksville, Missouri. I walk down the street, and I see my clients and friends and other merchants. It's sort of like the Cheers effect from the TV show--you know, everybody knows my name. We're in a big city, but we have this small community, Noe Valley, which just feels like home."

The next meeting of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association will be held on Aug. 28 at 9 a.m. at the Bank of America at 24th and Castro. For more information about joining, contact Kathy Zucchi at 282-4079.