Journeying Through the Perilous Bubblegum Alley and Finding the Magic of “Icky-Sticky” Thinking

When friends drop by to visit me for the first time — which my old college chums Chris and Mike did this past week — I like to share our oddball tourist attractions with ’em.

One spot is the historic suspension footbridge — aka, “swinging bridge” — that spans the Arroyo Grande Creek.

Another is the enchanting waterfall urinal in the men’s room at Madonna Inn. (I’ll even stand guard at the door so women can take a quick peek.)

But the most popular landmark on my tour is always Bubblegum Alley in downtown San Luis Obispo.

It’s a 15-foot high and 70-foot long alley off Higuera Street, covered with 40 years’ worth of well-chewed Bazooka, Winter Fresh, Doublemint, Orbit, and Bubblicious gum, all deposited by thoughtful passers-by.

In this ever-changing “living artwork,” you can find gummy political graffiti, words of undying love, expressions of civic pride, and quite a few dubious symbols and designs.

Little kids, and a whole lot of older “kids,” find Bubblegum Alley breathtaking.

Most local politicos and historians consider it a disgusting outrage.

I think most everybody agrees, though, that if you’ve never seen the Alley, it’s worth a look.

Just avoid visiting on overly warm days, when it stinks more than usual.

And don’t brush against or lean on the walls. They’re — ugh! — sticky.

You know…ICKY sticky.

But there’s a good kinda sticky, too.

You just won’t find it at Bubblegum Alley.

The good sticky is what keeps customers and clients stuck to you and your small business.

Like fast service.

Or the personal touch.

Or saying “thank you” and showing genuine appreciation.

Or listening to what they have to say — and acting on it.

Or offering a great customer rewards program.

There are all kinds of “good sticky” — many I’ve discussed before — that build customer loyalty and keep folks coming back again and again.

Got any ideas of “good sticky” to share?

Photo of Wally Conger and Mike Robinson by Chris Long

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Journeying Through the Perilous Bubblegum Alley and Finding the Magic of “Icky-Sticky” Thinking — 2 Comments