We’ve been struggling to find a way to say this. After much debate, we’ve decided the direct approach is best. So, we’re ripping off the Band-Aid and giving it to you straight: If you really want to cultivate a younger, hipper image, it’s going to take more than an economic development plan. You need something more drastic. You need a new name.
Not that there’s anything wrong with “Grover.” It’s the last name of the town’s founder, D.W. Grover; the first name of our 22nd and 24th president, Grover Cleveland; and it’s the only name of what’s arguably the most lovable character on Sesame Street … the skinny blue one with the funny voice.
But “Grover” doesn’t convey “beach” — even after you went to all the trouble of formally changing the name from “Grover City” to “Grover Beach” in 1992.
That was an improvement, but it didn’t go far enough. The problem wasn’t the “city.” One of the hippest cities in the world is New York City, after all.
The problem, we’re sorry to say, is “Grover.”
It’s a stolid, meat-and-potatoes, Midwest-sounding name. It reminds us a bit of “Homer,” as in Homer Simpson.
It’s also very close to the name “Grover’s Corners,” where Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town” was set. That play premiered almost 80 years ago, and while it’s a classic — one we all read in high school — you do remember what it’s about, right?
The name “Grover” worked just fine back in the day when the community was promoting itself as “the home of the average man.” But if you want to promote yourself as the home of the not-so-average, young, hip man (and woman), you need to capitalize on your major asset, which is your beach.
Beach towns need romantic, lyrical names like Redondo or Santa Monica or Malibu. Or, they need to advertise what they have to offer, as in Seal Beach, Surf Beach and Shell Beach.
Another thought: The name has to work well without the “beach” because locals — and tourists who want to blend in — invariably shorten place names.
Hence, Pismo Beach is Pismo.
Paso Robles is Paso.
Arroyo Grande is A.G., which may not sound very hip — but it is, in the same way that certain fast-food restaurants and NBA players instantly exude hippitude when they shorten their names to initials, as in CPK, KFC and CP3.
Will that work for Grover?
You be the judge: GB.
We didn’t think so.
We do have a few suggestions, none of which Groverites (or would you rather be Groverians?) is likely to like.
Idea No. 1: Revisit the idea of consolidating with one or more of your neighbors and come up with a blended name. If you join Pismo Beach, for example, you could be Gizmo Beach. Add Arroyo Grande and you three could be Grand Gizmo Beach.
Idea No. 2: Drop the “er” and be reborn as Grove Beach. You’d still be paying homage to D.W., but unlike “Grover,” “grove” speaks of trees and freedom and the fragrance of orange blossoms.
You might even be confused with The Grove in L.A., which is that uber-hip shopping center that sells French macarons and attracts celebrities like Taylor Swift and Brad Pitt and Justin Bieber.
If you’re really lucky, that Grove might even sue you for copycatting its name, and that will bring you publicity with a capital “P.”
Idea No. 3: Embrace your inner Grover (the blue, snuggly one).
Go with Sesame Beach.
We guarantee the hip kids will love it.