Pivot, Survive, Thrive?

Los Angeles County officials relaxed the Stay At Home shut down orders so now personal care services (nail salons, hair stylists and barbershops) are allowed to once again welcome customers. And outdoor dining also returns.

How is your business surviving? What help do you need the most? Let me know -- and we can share your story!

-- Brenda Rees, Biz Buzz Editor

Contact me at brenda@TheEastsiderLA.com

Skateboarders back flipping in pandemic popularity

Transport Skateboard

"We are seeing customers who used to skateboard in the 80s and 90s and people who are trying skateboarding for the very first time," says Arbi Nahatetian of Transport in Eagle Rock about the resurgence of the sport/art.

Photo: Brenda Rees

Whether it’s from baby boomers who are reliving their youth or young people who are eager to try new physical activities, skateboarding has done a backflip over the pandemic with new audiences, heightened interest and buyers ready to spend. While the attention is great for local retailers, future trends could spell trouble for brick and mortar store fronts.

Even before the pandemic hit in 2020, skateboarding was in the middle of what many market researchers were calling another golden age of an industry that started in the 1950s and has gone through a series of ups and downs. According to Statista, the skateboard market could be worth $2.4 billion by 2024 – and these numbers were crunched before the pandemic.

Skateboarding feeds a lifestyle, says Arbi Nahatetian who owns Transport Skate Shop in Eagle Rock that sells sunglasses, hats, jewelry, backpacks as well as boards and wheels.

Citing his current customers as an even mix of new and old skaters, Nahatetian adds that in 2020, he “saw so many women getting into skateboarding in all my 15 years in the business. I would say it’s jumped by 50 percent.”

Nahatetian isn’t sure that this year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo – which will offer skateboarding as an official sport – will ultimately be the best way to showcase board talent.

“Once it’s a competition, it can easily be boring and can take away from the artistry that goes with skateboarding on the street,” he says. “There is more to skateboarding that scoring points in a competition.”

Supplies, demands and the future

Keeping skateboards in stock has been the ongoing challenging of the pandemic, says Dave White, owner of L.A. Skate Company in East Hollywood. Boards are manufactured in Mexico and China, which are now just catching up on the big demands of last year coupled with reduced factory laborers because of social distancing needs, he says.

White’s store -- which claims to be the  oldest skateboarding stop in Los Angeles, established in 1967 – has been closed to in-store shopping since the pandemic.

“I’ve got 2,600 square-feet of store and it’s filled with product,” he says adding, that it’s physically impossible to social distance in the store. “Before the pandemic we could have 10 at the most fit in the store comfortably,” he says.

Today, customers purchase online or call the shop on smartphones and have White or a staffer send photos of items on the shelf that can be picked up curbside.

White is currently working with the Small Business Association to help him update his website – his product is currently on Square. He’s learned how to sell on eBay, a platform that has been especially good for moving roller skates, which have become a hot item because of TikTok influencers.

Still, White is looking past the pandemic and sees a possible scenario that involves more manufacturing companies opting to sell direct to consumer (online, of course) – which would “cut retail stores out of the picture,” says White.

“That will be a sad day. But you can see that happening.”

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Up & Running with eBay

Haven’t made the jump to e-commerce yet? Want to delve into a digital storefront? Here’s your chance to get up and running, fast.

In partnership with the California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA), eBay’s new Up & Running California program will equip up to 300 in-state businesses to take full advantage of e-commerce opportunities to effectively compete and grow online. This 100% free six-week program will offer participating businesses the educational resources, interactive instruction and seller-to-seller coaching needed to effectively compete on eBay’s marketplace.

Participants will enjoy full access to eBay Seller School, eBay’s interactive online learning platform. Seller School offers both beginner-level and more advanced courses to help all sellers accelerate and scale their eBay business, regardless of their time and experience on the platform.

Applications are now open at ebay.com/california until 11:59 p.m. PT on Thursday, March 11.

Getty Foundation launches LA Arts Recovery Fund

The arts and cultural communities of Los Angeles have suffered in the pandemic with restrictions and shutdowns from museums to theaters to galleries.

The Getty Foundation wants to fix that with its recently launched LA Arts Recovery Fund. This public-private initiative connects funders from national philanthropic organizations with LA-based arts and cultural nonprofits, in an effort to preserve jobs and retain the cultural capital of LA’s creative workforce.

LA County arts and cultural organizations with annual operating budgets of $10 million and below prior to March 2020 are invited to apply for funding support. So far, the fund has raised $38.5 million and is continuing to solicit new donors to reach $50 million.

The call for grant applications is currently open, and awards will be announced in May.

Applications open for Black Business Development Program

Local Initiatives Support Corporation Los Angeles (LISC LA) has launched the Black Economic Development Agenda (BEDA), to focus its resources and programs in 2021 on closing the racial wealth gap and empowering Black communities across Los Angeles County.

LISC LA’s first BEDA program is ASCEND LA, a business development program that connects small businesses with executive management education, capital, and market opportunities.

Applications for the 2021 cohort start Tuesday, February 16, 2021 and can be accessed at www.ascendla.org/apply.

The full list of programs can be found at www.lisc.org/los-angeles/BEDA.

How has 2021 been treating you so far?

What's on top of your List for 2021? Biz Buzz wants to hear one thing that your small business wants for this new year. Drop me a line and let me know how business is going -- or not going -- for you! 

-- Brenda Rees

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