Therein lies the dilemma San Clemente faces. What gives it that small-town charm is the fact that, even now, you can drop your loafers off for repair at Sam's Shoes and then cross the street and look at the latest Hoovers at Nic's Vacuum & Small Appliance store. Still, there's a definite sense that as more upscale restaurants and boutique shops move into the neighborhood, the days are numbered for the likes of the local barbershop.
Let's hope not. Town icons like the Del Mar Ranch Market―where most mornings find locals basking in the sun in the plastic chairs out front while drinking their coffee and patting a snoozing dog or two―would be sorely missed. As would the market's homemade chicken, pork, and chile-cheese tamales. As would the sense that in San Clemente, the Southern California beach-town ideal lives on.