Shop owners priced out of Silver Lake find a new home in Highland Park

Courtesy Sonomama

HIGHLAND PARK —  After being priced out of their Sunset Junction location in Silver Lake, the owners of Reform School, which sold everything from vintage apparel and books to handmade pottery and prints, have landed  on Figueroa Street in Highland Park. The selection remains eclectic but partners Tootie Maldonado-Ellman & Billie Lopez have opted for a more refined and “grown-up” vibe for their new place, called Sonomama.

Now working in a smaller space than in Silver Lake, Maldonado-Elman and Lopez have applied a minimalist  approach at Sonomama, which is stocked with singing bowls, chakra drums and tea ware as well as a wide variety of organic apothecary brands. The Highland Park shop also stocks books,  small-run clothing lines, baby gifts and exclusives Baby Buddha statues by artisan Linda Hsaio.

“Reform School was great but there was a lot going on there,” the owners said the owners in a joint email. “Sonomama is a bit more grownup and curated although we did make it a point to find plenty of fun and unique products since that is what our customers loved so much about Reform School. We hear a lot of people say that the shop feels really calm and has good energy which is great because that’s exactly what we were aiming for.”

Figueroa Street is definitely slower-paced than Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake, where several new store are outposts of high-end and luxury chains.  Maldonado-Elman and Lopez say that Figueroa has a lot of potential as new restaurants and shops move in.

“We especially liked how walkable the street is and that even with a ton of new businesses coming into the neighborhood they would coexist nicely with the older shops and restaurants,” the owners said. “That’s really important and we hope it stays that way.”

Courtesy Sonomama

Courtesy Sonomama

Sonomama is located at 5711 N. Figueroa St.

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  1. Another shop priced out of our neighborhood. Commercial rent control is needed to prevent more of this. Syvlie Shain is the only City Council candidate that will address this. Our current councilman said it would be impossible because he does not care. Sylvie cares! Vote March 7th!

    • Alternately, we could just allow more walkable streets with mixed use zoning around LA… way more local jobs, housing and wealth creation that way.

    • Well, first off, Reform School kind of killed itself. It had a bunch of really expensive junk – kind of like a jumble sale for rich folks. Most people I knew felt it was just useless ‘new age’ stuff for people who had money to burn. It sounds like they’ll be doing more of the same … I mean, singing bowls and chakra drums? Oy.

      And it’s really silly to say that Mitch O’Farrell ‘doesn’t care’. Of course he cares – but you have to work with the massive shifts in populations, wealth and housing and business needs that the city is currently undergoing. What do you actually think a council member can do to reduce rents? Legislate rent decreases? No, these are privately owned buildings where the owner can charge whatever someone will pay. Yes, it kills me – I miss a lot of the old businesses. But government can only work to get new laws on the books that will allow more commercial spaces to be built – it’s because there’s so little of these types of units that we have jacked up rents. Supply and demand is not difficult to understand – but too many people want to put the brakes on development. We need to build more, open up more areas to commercial construction and rental. However, too many people want things to stay the way they are, or fantasize about turning back the clock, which will never, ever happen.

    • Have you considered maintaing below market rate rent on the commercial buildings you own before suggesting other landlords subsidize the businesses of their tenants?

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