Opening Back Up

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.

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-- Brenda Rees, Biz Buzz Editor

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Opening Up Shop During a Pandemic

Nature's Bodega

La Raiz, Nature's Bodega opened their doors in Eagle Rock in January with the hopes of "becoming a hub" for the community with their health and wellness products. From left: Carolina Ramus, Kristina Grodz, Brian Quezada, Andrew Ramirez, Ashley Zepak. 

Starting a new small business in Los Angeles is not for the faint of heart; but opening up a new store during a pandemic? That takes courage. We take a look at  two new businesses that held grand opening celebrations in January with dreams that their new shops will become neighborhood fixtures.

La Raiz Nature’s Bodega is just steps away from the busy intersection of Colorado and Eagle Rock boulevards, but the storefront is located on a quiet residential street. Taking over the space formally occupied by houseplant store Folia Collective (now further down on Eagle Rock Boulevard), this health-conscious shop has organic deli snacks/ groceries and stocks natural remedies and holistic products.

“We have a nutritionist on staff who is available for consultations online and over the phone,” says Brian Quezada who co-owns the store with Andrew Ramirez. The two met at Cathedral High School and after graduating, managed restaurants, venues and clubs for about 12 years.

Since the pandemic shuttered the hospitality industry, the partners reflected on their own lives and habits – which lead them to create a new business that could “become a hub” for the community.

“We want to be a healthy convenience store,” says Quezada adding he is stocking some hard-to-find wellness product lines such as Homozon.

Quezada and Ramirez checked out many empty storefronts before choosing the Eagle Rock, where Ramirez' family have lived for years.

“It was sad to see so many retails places closed,” he says. The biggest challenge? “The amount of red tape with the city,” he says, explaining  that the process of getting approvals has taken three times longer during the pandemic.

Pile on the patience

Monica Navarro agrees that permitting and approvals have taken a lot longer than normal. She owns the newly opened Wine + Eggs in Atwater Village; she also owns Individual Medley (also on Glendale Boulevard) and Wine + Rock Shop in Joshua Tree.

Navarro signed a lease in January 2020 for the small store front. Relieved that process is finally done, she now turns to daily work challenges.

Her marketplace features curated goods with a focus on independent food, wines, spirits and pantry items, many selections from local restaurants. Customers can find La Morra Pizzaria frozen pizza and Eszett salsas among farmer’s market produce, fresh breads and other culinary provisions.

“We stock fun things and items that you can’t find elsewhere,” she says.

The concept for the European-styled grocery store came to Navarro when she was a new mom home-bound with newborn. Where could she walk to pick up dinner and a bottle of wine? She’s happy to hear that restaurants are open again for outside dining and anticipates business from dining patrons who are walking the boulevard.

Navarro splits her time between Atwater and Joshua Tree. She received PPP for one of her venues which “helped us survive.” Her debt load is huge from last year (“we lost almost 90% in sales”) but she knows she’s not alone as a small business seeking to persist in a pandemic.

“This is certainly a challenging time to be a small business. But I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

POLL: Would you start a business during a pandemic?

You voted:

Biz Buzz Asks: How's Business?

We posed the question to Matt Troyer, office manager at LA Road Thrift Store

How's Business LA Road

LA Road Thrift Store is located at 3516 N. Eagle Rock Blvd. in Glassell Park.

Weed Money

Sign up for The Eastsider's Daily Digest newsletter

Minority-owned cannabis startups are getting a leg up from a heavy hitter.

Rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z has recently launched a fund to invest in pot shops as a way to increase Black participation in the $20 billion industry that is ever expanding; he’s started the fund with $10 million in seed money.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Jay-Z says he’s motivated by an “imbalance in the marijuana business: People of color, who have been disproportionately punished for involvement in the drug where it is illegal, comprise only a small number of those making money from the multi billion-dollar market in legalized pot.”

BizHelp is just that

The Los Angeles Center for Digital (LACDA) wants to provide road maps for businesses small and large with its free BizHelp Program.

These free technical assistance webinars can help businesses navigate through economic uncertainty and prepare them for a post-COVID-19 economy.

The program teams up with three local technical assistance providers – Acelera Advisory Group, Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment, and Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation – to host webinars that will cover various topics, such as tips for successfully securing financial resources, operating post COVID-19, understanding basics in accounting and bookkeeping, and improving credit for business owners.

All webinars are free and available to all businesses in LA County.

Save Our Stages FAQ

Looking for more information about the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program? 

The SBA added a new frequently asked questions which includes information about eligibility, application, use of funds and more. 

Free PPE for small biz

Have you gotten yours yet?

Small business owners and their employees can receive a 30-day supply of free Personal Protective Equipment through the PPE Unite program.

The public and private partnership program distributes face masks, hand sanitizer and face shields to eligible small businesses in LA County (certain rules and eligibility requirements apply). Sign up now to schedule a pickup.

Welcome 2021!

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

Connect With Your Chamber of Commerce

Atwater Village Chamber of Commerce

Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce

East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce

Echo Park Chamber of Commerce

Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce

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Support community news in 2021

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