Empty Figueroa Street

Silent and empty Figueroa in Highland Park

As some quarantine restrictions on retailers become less strict today. But will it make much difference for businesses on the Eastside?

For some businesses, yes. For others, not much.

The changes are relatively modest and apply only to a few types of retail businesses that are, under city and county emergency orders, considered non-essential and have had to close their doors since mid-March. 

Starting today, florists, car dealers, toy stores, book stores, clothing retailers, sporting-goods stores and music shops will be able to open, but only for curbside pick up -- customers cannot enter the stores. There's also a long list of guidelines that businesses need to follow.

"That doesn’t really work for our business, because people come in and try things on," said Rhianna Tycholis, co-owner of Mixed Business in Silver Lake, near the border of Los Feliz, which sells new and used clothing. "We’re actually not going to be opening [Friday]."

For Darling’s Holm & Olsen florists on Temple Street in Echo Park, the change will definitely matter - and not just because of the curbside service option. It’s that a major wholesale supplier seems to be coming back on-line, said the owner of Darling’s, Aida Takizawa.

"It felt like we had to work in the black market, getting flowers from wherever we could get it," Takizawa said.

The problem was that the Original Los Angeles Flower Market - a huge downtown distributor - was shut down for awhile. Now they’re open three days a week. Florists drive up to the second-floor parking area, park at least one space away from the nearest car, call downstairs, and stay in the car while someone the market brings a cart up to the parking area and puts the flowers in the trunk.

The L.A. Flower Market posted on their web page Thursday that they are gearing up again - and are thus too busy to grant media interviews.

"With the announcement from the Governor on Monday and more detailed guidelines from the Mayor of Los Angeles, we have been working swiftly to organize our operation," the statement said. "As you can understand, the overall sequence of events has been challenging for the entire floral industry, and it will take time to get up to speed as the product becomes available."

It’s barely in time, the statement also noted, for Mother’s Day.

For other stores, however, the change won’t make much difference at all. At Sick City Records in Echo Park, they still may not be able to open the store.

"It doesn’t even help us or anything," said co-owner Jesse Lopez. "You have to be able open the store. People want to look at the records."

It makes slightly more difference over at the Secret Headquarters comic book shop in Sunset Junction, since, like the floral industry, their supply chain will be starting up again. Diamond Comic Distributors, the largest comics distributor in the United States, is reportedly returning to operations on May 20, after not shipping out new books since the end of March in response to the pandemic.

Plus Secret Headquarters may set up a table by the door for curbside pick-up, though the store has managed to make the rent over the last couple of months through mail order business, according to the owner, Dave Pifer.

But still, that won’t be the true comic book shop experience just yet.

"The whole reason to be here to have people in the store to have discussion and talk," Pifer said. "It’s going to be boring and kind of sterile."

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