TONIGHT I go to a wake of sorts for Paper, a shop on Eagle Rock's Colorado Boulevard. The shop sold cool books, smart gifts, letterpress printed cards, and leather journals -- exactly the kind of combination that signals the arrival of a neighborhood into bobo heaven.
The closing of the store -- done in by the recession, of course -- is especially poignant because owner Shannon Bedell lost another shop about two years ago. Blue Heeler specialized in very stylish imports from Australia, from men's bags to a whole range of chick stuff, and added some flava to Eagle Rock Boulevard and to this side of LA in general.
Bedell has also appeared in two New York Times stories on what's called Northeast Los Angeles, which is sort of our Brooklyn. The first was about the arrival of this crescent of neighborhoods to hipsterville. The second, written by yours truly, came out about a year ago and questioned whether a newly cool neighborhood could survive the recession.
That question seemed complicated to me then, and seems no less complicated now. Since my story, two of my main sources -- Bedell, and Kelly Witmer, who ran the boutique Regeneration -- have lost their shops.
At the same time, a very fine gourmet Mexican cafe has opened near the Trader Joe's, and last night I had a Belgian style wheat beer made by the new Eagle Rock Brewery. (Their first batch seemed to have been released last month at the Verdugo Bar, a place I highly recommend. Especially now that The Chalet is gone) And of course, while no one is immune to the economy's chill, Colorado Wine Company continues to thrive and it's as hard as ever to get a seat at Auntie Em's.
Back to Shannon for a minute. She's exactly the kind of small business person -- social, curious, good taste -- any neighborhood needs, and her shops made Eagle Rock distinctive. I'm sorry to see her stores go, and hope she, and the neighborhood itself, rise again when things improve.
Photo credit: Colorado Wine Co.
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