Thursday, January 14, 2010

Eagle Rock and Small Business

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.


Disappointed Customer said...

I liked Paper but every time I swung by--at all times of the day/week--it was closed. Seemed like her hours were sporadic and she didn't market well around major card-times of year. Too bad she couldn't hold out until Four Cafe opens. Hopefully there will be more foot traffic around there.

Scott Timberg said...

I must admit I sometimes had similar problems keeping the hours straight. My guess is it never hit the financial sweet spot where it could stay open later or consistently on Sunday.
And yes, we're all praying for foot traffic.

FILM MAKER said...

Name that "gourmet Mexican Cafe"!! They have the most AWESOME 'Vegetarian' Tacos I ever had!!! The regular menu looked wonderful and the homemade tortillas were TD4! I will definitely go back there next time I'm in 'The Rock'.

FILM MAKER said...

1575 Colorado Bl. Eagle Rock 90041
Muy Good!

Scott Timberg said...

That place has excellent cochinita pibil -- among my fave Mex food -- and even better Nopalitos (cactus) salsa. Eager to get to know the menu better.

And the people I know say good things about the people who will soon open the Four Cafe, in the Coldwell Banker space.

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Ray R. said...

Interesting entry. There are lots of stories of cool places being done in by this recession, most never mentioned or reported, including here in the D.C. area. The best one could hope is that it is cyclical, and the owners who couldn't make it, or those who appreciated the concept, somehow get the means and fortitude to try again in the future.

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