In spite of its so-called Mayberry charm, Montrose has undergone lots of change in its first 100 years. From its dirt-road, one-store, seven-year “birth” to its blossoming in the roaring '20s, to its near-death experience in the 1960s, followed by its park-like makeover in 1967, Montrose has transformed itself several times.

The discussion about chain stores destroying Montrose is not new either. National and Southern California chain stores have had a presence in Montrose long before Starbucks, Coffee Bean, Quizno's, and Trader Joe's even existed. J.C. Penney, A&P, Ben Franklin, Baskin-Robbins, The Shopping Bag, and P.B. Carrell's have had stores here — yet somehow the mom-and-pop retailers outlasted the chains.

Sometimes it takes the closing of a longtime favorite like Rocky Cola to jolt us out of our complacency. Many times I have overheard people strolling down Honolulu Avenue with their Starbucks or Coffee Bean cup in hand commenting on how much they love this little town — without shopping in any of the stores. If we want to preserve the small-town charm of Montrose in the future, we have to support the local merchants today.

Robert Newcombe
La Cañada Flintridge