The business owners at the intersection of 3rd& Elm call their newly arranged retail scene “The Corner.” I don’t think they’re giving each other enough praise, as I like to call it “The cutest little corner in Long Beach.”
The 3rd St section of the building was formally a daycare center, settled in an area most Long Beach residents have no desire to walk through. In December 2010, the daycare closed its doors and Roni Skeen, the property manager, proposed a plan to the building owner. Recalling the building’s original blueprints she once found in old files, Skeen suggested the owner rent the downstairs space as separate units.
Skeen also envisioned renting those divided spaces to business applicants that would fit the East Village Arts District scene. And while she was offered plans of another daycare, tax office, and print shops, Long Beach residents should be very grateful for the applicants she chose. Because thanks to her decisions and ideas, downtown Long Beach has a distinct corner of timeless, tasty and attractive little shops that have revamped the neighborhood.
“I wanted unique, hip, artsy businesses that would breathe new life not only into the corner, but the Arts District as a whole,” she said. “It’s amazing, all the thanks I’ve received for “cleaning up” the neighborhood, but a lot of the credit really goes to the artisans and shopkeepers.”
And once 3rd St came to fruition, so did the renting of the divided lofts on Elm St. Along that corner, these are the quaint little stores adding to the facelift of the East Village Arts District…
Walking into Primal Flower is simply enchanting. Like you just walked into the gift shop of The Secret Garden, where fresh flowers meet vintage vases and jazz music entertains tea-party planners. You’ll discover an assortment of artisan custom jewelry, local artist’s creations, crafty gifts, knick-knacks, refurbished containers, miscellaneous vintage pieces, and of course an amazing array of fresh, locally grown flowers and plants.
Just as local and natural as her flowers was the way owner Shelley Anders got in the building. Living in the area, she eyed it for years and once it was turned into a retail space, she knew it was perfect for her florist business.
Since July 2011, Shelley and her partner, Jeremy West, who creates all the handsome, handcrafted décor (for both sale and store ambience), have a perfect little place to share and sell their skills. With a romantic touch and vintage taste, Primal Flower is an adorable addition to the declining distinction of a unique gift and flower shop.
A tiny vintage mall specializing in antique radios, typewriters and all things “owl”, this charming collectibles boutique is the perfect time warp; tiny, timeless and totally bitchin’.
Owned by couple Myriam Courchesne and Justin English, these two yard-sale loving collectors also create crafty lamps and soap containers made from liquor bottles, like the adorable Sailor Jerry bottles you see pictured.
You’ll also find classic collectors items, like kitchen décor, antique tools and bar mirrors. And for anyone looking for Garbage Pail Kids trading cards, they have a huge collection.
The Hallway Spectacle opened last Valentine’s Day, 2011, but are still getting compliments and conversing with locals who say they just noticed the boutique. However, the addition of all the newer stores is a definite plus for the owners.
“Now we’re a full corner and people are stopping in more frequently and taking notice to all of our stores. It’s really nice around here,” Myriam said.
403 East 3rd St
Just as every retail corner needs a snack shop (See Shortin’ Bread down below), a music spot is just as essential. Durty Mick’s is that essence and was created to “just have a welcoming environment for kids to come out and listen to some music…a place I didn’t have as a kid,” as posted on his website.
Specializing in punk, metal, horror, hardcore and underground in vinyl and c.d.’s, Durty Mick’s also has the matching t-shirts, posters, hoodies and buttons. They are heavy on pre-order and always carry the top new releases in the respective genres.
Durty Mick’s originally began as an online music store, but settling in the East
Village in February 2010 was a perfect fit. After all, this area is the original home to SST Records, an independent punk record label and studio formed in Long Beach in the late 70’s by Black Flag artist Greg Ginn. It is also the former home of Toe Jam, an underground music venue where bands like Sublime, Green Day and The Offspring once played.
401 E. 3rd Street
First, the vintage setup attracts the eyes and lures you inside. Next, the freshly baked goods and locally roasted coffee pleases your sense of smell. Then, you meet co-owner Justina Fenton, and her genuineness and character excite you to try. And finally, you devour the deliciousness of high-grade, locally made, organically grown deserts and treats.
Shortnin’ Bread was a business before it landed the corner two lots on 3rd& Elm, but had it’s official opening in October 2011. And like Primal Flower owner Shelley, Justina also eyed the building and her corner spot, long before she opened up shop with her Uncle Keith.
“I had my eye on this space for a while and I envisioned a store front exactly like this 12 years ago,” Justina said. And she is so happy how things turned out.
Shortnin’ Bread is a retro kitchen, with a wonderful, modern concept, that good food is for everybody. The company also stresses the importance of supporting the local economy, adding not only local financial gain, but quality freshness to its products for residents to enjoy.
So go on in, and enjoy. Perhaps try a Peanut Butters cookie, fresh lemon tart and a hot cup of Long Beach grown True Beans coffee. Now that’s a true American bakery.
316 Elm Ave
“For the man and his cool kids.“
The tagline perfectly describes this vintage way of life clothing, accessories, workspace, and collectibles specialty shop. You’ll discover an assortment of classically cool men and children’s work boots and dress shoes, hard to find vintage motorcycle gear, and antique household items and personal belongings.
But besides the attention that the adorable leather jackets for three-year-olds brings, the layout of the store is flawless. You walk in and suddenly you’re chillin’ in James Dean and his (could have been) son’s closet.
There are baby Beatles shirts, cut off jean jackets and cateye shades for the little ones. You’ll find vintage fans and clocks, shoe shining kits and gorgeous artisan jewelry. And with an assortment of over 50 pairs of stylish men’s boots, in addition to hats, clothes and furniture, Jj Rowe has everything for the vintage loving male.
Opened in August 1, 2011, Jesse Rowe and his wife Joanna have some pretty awesome taste. In addition to selling collectibles, they also take special orders for requests as a way to get more personal with their customers. And if the name looks familiar, perhaps you’ve fiddled through their section at Retro Row shop Retrospect.
And just like it seems that everyone on this block is here for a reason, Jesse remembers going to party across the street from this same building about 12 years ago and noticing it. Now he is a part of this corner’s revival and is loving the response.
Commenting on his fellow owners on “The Corner,” Jesse said “We’re all trying to do stuff together and really change this area forever.”
314 Elm Ave
Downtown Darling is adorable. Owner Sandra Pimentel transformed her loft space into a woman’s vintage shop and beauty salon, carrying gorgeous treasures for the retro wearer.
Downtown Darling truly is “Where City Meets Pretty.” The vibe is vintage and the products are charming, complete with a (estimated) 1920’s player piano and tons of pieces from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, mostly.
You’ll find jewelry and other accessories in all price ranges, well-kept retro dresses, jackets and sweet lil’ vintage shoes that are both hard to come by and resist. As a hair stylist, Sandra also splits her clothes space with a beauty salon setup and rents special pieces and styles for photo shoots, as well. So you can and buy for your closet, get a new ‘do and plan a photo shoot in the same little shop.
As a San Diego native, Sandra grew up in the flea market scene, doing shows with her mother. After living in Argentina, Sandra was brought back to Cali for finish her degree at Cal State Long Beach and while considering putting to use her storage full of vintage clothes, see saw the space ad on Craig’s List.
“I love it down here. It’s nutty and random, but I love the unpredictability,” Sandra said. “And all of us business owners are embracing each other. That’s really nice.”
320 Elm Ave
This amazing epicenter for all things creative is no newbie to the East Village. Lisa Hernandez opened up this arts & crafts store in June 2008 to encourage, inspire and promote fun ways to reuse items and materials “too good to throw away” for creative reuse projects,” as her mission states.
But it’s not just Lisa’s store’s almost four years existence that has dubbed her “The Godmother” of the area, she is also a truly remarkable, creative and community orientated woman. Or as she like’s to say, a “craftivist.”
Lisa’s story is fun to hear, so play her a visit and she’ll be happy to tell you how this organized yet chaotically creative craft store came to life. And just so you’ll be sure to do that, you’ll only get some details about it here.
The Creative Reuse has practically all materials necessary to create jewelry, formulate a classroom project, and create home décor and art, offered at amazing prices. Inside are dozens of bead varieties, cardboard cutouts, knitting materials, bottle caps, plastic scraps, you name it. And by wonderful donations of other people’s “junk,” the Creative Reuse is certainly a community outlet for all things creative.
So go down and pay Lisa and her daughter Yoshino a visit, bring some chump change, get inspired and learn a bit about reusing. After all, Lisa says that “Art is education. Choose to reuse.”
322 Elm Ave
You are literally taken aback when you enter the Bow Tiki Boutique. First, like a time traveling machine, you enter the turn of the century and embark on a journey. Then, you eye all the mixed media art and refurbished collections and an impression is immediately set. These owners are artists.
They are also very sweet. Couple Erin Guler and Alonso Garson (a Long Beach native) run this destination together and had their grand opening in February 2012. Alonso is the craftsman behind the chests turned into tables and all of the wearable sculptures, like his jewelry line called the Gregor Collection.
The store specializes in wordly travel pieces, like vintage suitcases and travel bags, to collectibles from places like Thailand and Hawaii. But they also carry cool hats, ties, men and women’s wear and vintage essentials like jewelry, belts, and handcrafted décor.
The two have created the Bow Tiki Boutique around the diverse neighborhood they rent in and try to have a price range that will please everybody. They want their patrons to walk into the store and be able to afford something they love, just as they love their location.
“We feel like there’s a revolution going on down here and we wanted to be a part of it,” Erin said. And they certainly are helping to create that renaissance.
326 Elm Ave
Completing “The Corner” is another specialty business supporting its neighbors and keeping the men freshly cut, in a stylish, relaxing environment. V.S. & Tailored Cutz has three styling stations, a 52” flat screen, a JJ Rowe designed clothing rack, and local artist’s creations, clothing and hats for sale.
“I wanted to bring a different kind of flavor to this area. An artsy look, but I have to cater to my old and young clients. I also wanted to carry local designers creations, like LB State of Mind and Amnimal Clothing company,” owner Vannak Som said.
And just like the rest, finding this location is a meant-to-be story. Vannak was driving around looking for available shops and turning onto Elm was his last turn. He saw the For Lease sign, checked the space, and loved it. Vannak had his official grand opening Saturday, March 10th, 2012.
V.S. & Tailored Cutz cuts in all kinds of ways, but you’ll find the young and fresh sitting in these station chairs most often. But by the time anyone picks some flowers, purchases a collectors bar mirror, buys a Bad Religion record, eats a freshly baked pie, samples some 70’s work boots or fancy 50’s heels for the ladies, creates a purse from a plastic Coke bottle and travels back in time, it will definitely be time for a fresh haircut.
Have you hit up "The Corner" yet? Let us know in the comment section and check out the rest of the photos below
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The merchants down there on "The Corner" have done an amazing job with their shops! They all have such a unique and distinct style! Great good capturing that Molly.
Love that Lisa is reppin' the 562CityLife sticker too!
Great! I'm going to go check out the Corner this weekend...and bring some friends!
Shortnin Bread is EVIL! They'll seduce you with their delicious baked goods, then get you hopped up on their insane coffee. Oh, and they have ice cream cookie sandwiches. EVIL, I say! EVIL!
Nice Job Molly! Thanks so much for featuring us and our lovely neighbors:)
And thanks for the photos too. They look good.
This is a great blog. I like the name The Corner. This area has been moving in the right direction for quite some time. Lisa Hernandez does a lot of great work organizing her business neighbors to do things to get the community in shape.
Oh snaps! That's my homie Vannak. I didn't know his shop was right there, although I did hear he was opening up a store.
I used to play ball with that cat. I see a lot of major things happening to this area of Long Beach. It has it's own identity and it's only going to get better.
Thanks for sharing this blog with us Molly.
Take a couple hours to see the greatness of this new area yourself...next up is a look at the other "new" shops in the area!
Great coverage. I like your work AND "The Corner!"