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January 25, 2015

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Dear Zappos employee: Downtown tips for suburbanites on the move


Zappos: Henderson to downtown Las Vegas.

Now that you’re moving from the suburbs into downtown Las Vegas, you should know what’s in store for you psychologically. Gated suburban communities have rigid homeowner association rules, but amid those blasé lines of matching houses and neighborhoods with postage stamp-size yards lives a freethinking society, a place where individuality can (surprisingly) reign within the anonymity of the stucco-fied American West.

Downtown Las Vegas is a quaint, small, passionate and proud community full of the alliances and unspoken doctrines found in all quaint, small, passionate and proud communities. But say the wrong thing and your world will explode. Move away from Las Vegas and you will be deemed a traitor. It’s best just to blend in. If you must leave, do so quietly in the night.

But assimilation is possible! Your relocation is still a ways off, so while you’re getting to know your new digs, keep in mind that there are things to keep in mind. No commandments have been uncovered, but click through the slides below for some helpful tips for a seamless immersion in downtown life.

Happy moving!

      1. Don’t complain about the heat

      Don’t complain about the heat. No exceptions. This is Las Vegas, not the rest of the country where complaining about the weather is natural. So what if generations of Southerners have griped about their region’s heat and humidity, yet embraced them in song and literature? Complaining about heat in Las Vegas can be construed as an affront to the city and its native people. Chances are you have moved here from a place where complaining about the wind (Chicago or San Francisco) or the cold (a state in the upper Midwest where minus-20-degree days last most of the year, broken only by one month of soul-killing humidity) is commonplace. That was there. This is here. You can take the heat. You like the heat.

      2. Verboten: Mindy Kaling

      Actress Mindy Kaling is not welcome downtown without a tour guide. If you need to ask, don’t. Just Google Mindy Kaling and Luv-It Frozen Custard. Or read this Las Vegas Sun story.

      3. Natives vs. outsiders

      Natives vs. outsiders: You will likely hear these terms often. A native is someone born in Las Vegas. An outsider is someone who has moved to Southern Nevada in the past 20 years or the past 20 hours (some don’t distinguish between the two). The rivalries between downtowners and suburbanites and long-timers and short-timers have created a strange concoction of McCarthyism, Warren Jeffsism and Bush-era patriotism wafting from downtown conversations.

      “Outsiders” is a term used frequently for writers who live elsewhere but report on Las Vegas’ economy and culture. Sometimes their reports are false and lazy, and we respond with our own stories. Other times the stories are well-researched and accurate, but you must speak out against them anyway. If a mall on the Strip is habitually empty of shoppers and someone from another city reports that, mentally stone them with evil thoughts.

      Mainly, remember that if you are not born here, you are an outsider. You have no legitimate argument. Learn to live with it.

      4. Sip it, don't gulp it, at Bar + Bistro

      Sip, don’t gulp, the Margorilla at Bar + Bistro. Don’t underestimate the might of this dangerously delicious alcoholic beverage. Drinking too much too quickly could lead to a fall down a concrete staircase and a day of bed rest with bags of frozen edamame on your lower back and head.

      5. Hate on the 'burbs

      Publicly deride suburban gated neighborhoods and share stories about how you accidentally followed a car into a neighborhood that looks just like yours on your way home from a long day at the office (which some of us have actually done). In fact, move downtown and say goodbye to those crazy gates altogether. The only things gated in your new ’hood are the parks — Boulder Plaza Sculpture Park, Neon Boneyard Park and, figuratively, Huntridge Circle Park. (We just can’t have nice things!)

    Here are selected comments from the original version of this story that ran earlier this week on

    • Hugh Fogel, July 6

      Ahem. It is very hot and humid today. (Ducking). I think many of us were born-again here. We need new terminology. I think perhaps 'tangentials' instead of 'outsiders'. Nice write, Kristen!

    • Martin Stein, July 6

      I'm pretty sure I've seen a lot of gates Downtown, only they're on doors and windows.

    • Dayvid Jann Figler, July 6

      Whatever. It's just an address.

    • Danielle Marie Kelly, July 6

      Ah, yes. The Natives vs. Outsiders. No matter how logical the argument, or how *welcome* you feel with the Natives, you will never ever win. In fact, just let go of the term "win" altogether. You aren't a winner. Deal with it. Preferably over frozen custard, a glass of wine at the DCR, or while basking in the glory of a most beautiful sunset.

    • Richard Brian, July 8

      3 years ago, before tight jeans, people didn't give a crap about downtown.

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    1. Um... y'all might want to rethink the Mindy Kaling hate, a guy was just murdered around a hundred feet from the place, a few months ago there was a multiple stabbing, and ...

    2. I guess I get the "tongue in cheek" nature of the article, but they're moving from Henderson... not Boise.

    3. Uh oh! You just made a typical "outsiders" comment. Henderson IS another planet all together...

    4. I agree with Sheilacatherine. It's like moving from Summerlin to downtown. Different culture, different people. Hell, Summerlin folks probably don't even know there IS a Downtown Las Vegas - snooty bunch of folks that they are.

    5. Hey! I resemble that remark Detective Munch! I live in Summerlin and I am a third generation Las Vegan...fifth generation Nevadan. My grandfather owned the land the Lady Luck sits on today and a small family farm where UMC Childrens' Hospital stands. But, I forgive you seeing as you are named after one of my favorite TV characters...:)>

    6. Kristen Peterson,

      It appears you have been slumming downtown with some of the folks from the west side.

      Come on down to First Friday some time and find out what Downtown if really about from some of us that have lived here 50+ years. It can be a great experience for those that don't have preconceptions about the reality of great things. ;-)

    7. I think people are not talking about the same "Downtown".

      Downtown is not the arts district for most people.

      It is City Hall, Fremont Street, justice buildings (including Clark County Detention City).

      Zappos is moving into City Hall. City of Las Vegas is moving into a new building across from the County jail.

      Arts district is about 5 miles from all that.

      Zappos is moving into area that borders bumville and it smells like bumville and there are unstable and criminals that are active in that area.

      It is dumb for Zappos to move into area.

      The tourist that visit Fremont Street are mainly blue color rough necks and not yuppies either.


    8. Newcomers/outsiders can indeed be assimilated by The Natives, even welcomed by them. But it starts with understanding Vegas from the inside out, and few (not suprisingly) are willing to make the commitment. They remain outsiders by choice.

    9. I rarely read and/or comment on the comments of unverified/anonymous posters, but "SgtRock" is completely incorrect. The Arts District and City Hall are 0.8 miles apart (that's 8/10ths of one mile, not five miles as claimed). I'd suggest the rest of his/her comments are exaggerated by more than 500% as well.

    10. Okay here are some hints
      1. Do not carry any money other then change for pan handlers
      2. Walk in groups of three
      3. dress like a attorney, preferably a defense attorney.
      4. Buy a well used car/
      5. make sure your insurance is intact, you might want to consider paying more under bodily harm.
      6. Pretend you smoke.
      7. Girls, do not wear short skirts and heels.
      8. Learn the quickest ways to the freeway ramps, you might want to study this

    11. Zappos business is moving downtown, that does not mean all the people are going to dump their overvalued underwater houses and move into downtown slums or 75 year old 3rd street houses with law offices and accountants for neighbors.

      It's just where the office is. The whole article is pointless fluff.

      Now as a 4th generation native (my kids make 5th) who is seen as a black sheep for moving away to pursue actual good paying and promotable jobs, I can say that virtually every where I have lived across the country plays the same native game 10 times worse than las Vegas. Currently, I reside in Wisconsin, a nice place but where almost no one ever leaves and many people live in the same neighborhood or house where they grew up. At my employer I am the only person in the entire company who did not grow up here and they are not used to outsiders or other ways of doing things and never let me forget it.

      Same for living in NE where we lived for 7 years and were still referred to as the new people from the city. Or Idaho, and other places.

      In GA, CA Northern CA and Southern CA along with Miami were the only places where outsiders out number locals and everyone seemed welcomed so long as you learn to get along.

      We often miss LV but the LV we used to love seems to be gone, over-run with people trying to turn it into little Irvine or East LA. Give me the ranchers, mobsters, Mormons, and government workers any day over what is now a city that can only identify with gambling, crime, unemployment, bad medical, over priced auto repairs, pool parties and government corruption.