Five years ago, before they had even met, Alice Merrill and Adam Driver were working toward the same vision – to keep a grocery store at 200 Caledonia Street.
Alice and her siblings inherited the building from her parents, Charlie and Clem Merrill, who bought 200 Caledonia in 1963. The building was known as “The Garage”, and enjoyed a colorful history as a mechanic’s shop and as a hiring hall during World War II. In 1977, the Merrill’s leased the space to Real Food Market, and the building was converted into a grocery store.
In May 2011, Alice saw a sign in the window at Real Food announcing the store would close at the end of the month. A cashier confirmed the news and suggested someone start a petition to keep a natural food store in the building. Alice agreed and, when a petition materialized, her signature was at the very top. Together with other Sausalito residents, Alice formed a group called S.O.S. (Save Our Store), and gathered support from locals hoping to keep the building a market.
Meanwhile, Adam Driver was creating a business plan to open a market at 200 Caledonia. He worked as a manager at Real Food for years and knew the store had untapped potential. Once Adam lined up partners and funding, Alice convinced her family to approve the project. “Alice’s outspoken support of our vision played a crucial role in helping us secure the lease of the building,” said Adam.
Alice has been an important part of the Driver’s team ever since, stepping up to bat whenever she is needed. In the busy days before the market first opened, Alice was stocking shelves and enjoying the camaraderie. These days she is at the market every Monday, working the register and chatting with customers. “I was thrilled to be asked,” Alice said about the position. “It’s my connection to town.”
Alice’s roots in Sausalito go back to her childhood. Her parents were active in the community, committed to Sausalito’s working waterfront. Clem Merrill was a celebrated painter whose work is held in private collections and at the Sausalito Historical Society. Alice’s dad, Charlie, was a founder of Richardson’s Bay Maritime Association and a sailor at heart. “His mission in life, other than being on the Bay, was to get people out on the Bay,” said Alice.
Alice, who lives on a boat, also hopes to preserve Sausalito’s maritime sensibility. She recommends families check out the Matthew Turner brigantine, an educational Tall Ship under construction on Marinship Way. The brig is part of the non-profit Call of the Sea whose work is to educate young people through sailing.