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The Heart of Andy’s Local Market

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The Heart of Andy’s Local Market

Stephanie Bramy working at Andy's on a rainy Tuesday afternoon.

Stephanie Bramy working at Andy's on a rainy Tuesday afternoon.

Isabel Goldstein

Stephanie Bramy working at Andy's on a rainy Tuesday afternoon.

Isabel Goldstein

Isabel Goldstein

Stephanie Bramy working at Andy's on a rainy Tuesday afternoon.

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If you live in the neighborhood of Sun Valley in San Rafael there is a very high chance you’ve been to Andy’s Local Market at some point in your life. Andy’s Local Market is actually a small chain of three stores. The main store is located in Loch Lomond, with secondary stores located in Sun Valley and Corte Madera. Having a variety of foods and a community feel, the Sun Valley store attracts many local customers. But what sets this store apart from the others isn’t it’s location or products but rather its staff, and specifically its Assistant Manager Stephanie Bramy.

You walk into Andy’s Local Market and are met with a warm smile, welcoming you in. Maybe you go to Andy’s every day or this is your first time there. It doesn’t matter to Stephanie. Treating everyone in her store like her own family, she isn’t afraid to spark a conversation, whether it’s asking you how school is going or telling you snippets of her own interesting tales. 

Before starting at Andy’s seven years ago, Stephanie worked in marketing and advertising, as well as in the fashion industry. She later became a full-time mom but, once her kids were old, gave up this part of her life to work at Andy’s:

Isabel Goldstein
One of Andy’s many aisles of food that it sells in the Sun Valley community.

“My husband told me it was time for me to get a life and I told him that I was happy with my life and he told me it was time for paying life, which is the reason why I went into taking the position here.” Initially working part-time, she eventually was offered a full-time position and eagerly jumped at the opportunity.

However, working at Andy’s isn’t the first thing Stephanie did to engage in the Sun Valley community:  “I also volunteer at Sun Valley School. I’ve been doing that 20 years as a crossing guard. So I know the community. I know all the kids before they even come in and I watched them grow up.” Because of these deep ties to the community, some even refer to Stephanie as the “the unofficial mayor of West End.” 

This exquisite knowledge of the community in which she presides makes Stephanie more than just a market worker but also everyone’s “auntie.” One of the several stories she told me about her time at Andy’s was about a little boy: “I had, this one little boy that just turned three and he said, ‘Stephanie,’ I said ‘What?’, ‘My moms gonna have a baby’ I said, ‘A baby?’ ‘ Two babies’ he said. So I get very involved in everybody’s life.”

Like any good auntie should be, Stephanie is both trustworthy and caring. Whether it’s going out of her way to make sure the community she lives in is taken care of or simply being a friendly face at a local grocery store, Stephanie truly cares. “One day there was this old guy that was walking down the street and he had a big gash on his head so I asked him to sit down and come to find out this guy is an Alzheimer patient. He’d been missing for over three hours and he was dropped off in Terra Linda, somehow he found the Ridge and took the trail. He fell down, lost his phone, lost his keys. We called the police. So I think, you know, that’s what I try to like make is more of a community where everybody watches out for everybody.”

Andy’s Sun Valley when it first opened in the 1940s. This photo is located in the Andy’s bathroom.

Despite the fact that Andy’s feels like more of a community than a store, one must remember it is firstly a market. Like any local small business, there is slight competition from the larger distributors in the area. This competition is not strenuous but definitely has some slight impact. “The prices are a little bit higher here and so the competition would be if we don’t have it now you got to have to go to another store to find it. Our prices might be a little bit higher, but a lot of the time people are paying for the convenience of having a store right here where they don’t have to go into a big store.”

Andy’s provides a variety of fresh local produce at its Sun Valley location.

Regardless of this slight deficit, Andy’s doesn’t feel immense pressure from bigger stores and that’s because of the community it is located in. “Our prices might be a little bit higher, but a lot of the time people are paying for the convenience of having a store right here where they don’t have to go into a big store.” Along with just its location, Andy’s brings its customers a hometown feel that has existed since its opening in the 1940s.

Since Stephanie started working at Andy’s, the store has changed. For one, the Sun Valley Andy’s recently opened a bakery across the street that now makes bread and pastries for all three Andy’s Markets. However, the greatest change that Andy’s endured was from Stephanie herself: “I’ve brought the positive vibes to it. I think I bring the heart. People have told me that I am the heart. You know, it was a store and now I make it a place where one of my neighbors, she’s like ‘coming to the store doesn’t feel like coming to the store. It feels like you’re going to visit a friend.’ ” Without Stephanie Bramy, Andy’s just wouldn’t be Andy’s.

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