Ralphs Fresh Fare opened in Downtown LA as part of the Market Lofts condos in July 2007 and played a major critical role in allowing the downtown revitalization to continue moving forward. The small, but growing population at the time could finally buy groceries (a simple but important necessity) without having to leave their own downtown community. In a nutshell, Ralphs made Downtown LA much more livable and allowed the residential community to grow into what it is today, attracting more businesses to open. Now more than seven years after opening, the downtown Ralphs has gone through a beautiful $2.5 million remodeling upgrade that will keep it up-to-date with the rapidly evolving Downtown LA landscape that’s getting ever more crowded. The competition is heating up as more markets have opened downtown since Ralphs (Smart & Final Extra, Urban Radish), with more coming in the future (Whole Foods, Grow Market, likely Trader Joe’s), and some oldies-but-goodies being rediscovered again (Woori Market).
Category Archives: retail
Like my favorite 90’s kid show Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, the hunt for the elusive Trader Joe’s continues in Downtown LA. We were oh so close, but no cigar. Unfortunately, the other deal fell through at The Bloc where it was originally “supposed to” go. Apparently, the location of the proposed market in the back of the shopping center — with its slanted grade change — didn’t jibe with our wonderful purveyors of Two-Buck Chucks. But wait! With the fast-approaching arrival of Whole Foods just down the street, it looks like Trader Joe’s may not want to end up too far away after all — hopefully it sticks this time. According to multiple credible sources, Trader Joe’s is currently eyeing and in early negotiations with a strategically located historic structure at the edge of the moribund Jewelry District.
New owners of the former Coca-Cola factory building in the Arts District have just released some very exciting renderings of the conversion project they plan to implement for the historic production facility built a century ago. The owners — a joint venture between LA-based GPI Companies and NY-based Atlas Capital — plan to invest a substantial amount of funds (in the multi-millions) to redevelop the property into a creative office and retail hub that will restore and highlight the building’s amazing vintage character — including the beautiful red brick that makes up most of the facade.
The momentum on Broadway continues. Fans of athletic footwear and apparel will be pleased to know that Shiekh Shoes is coming to Broadway opening next door to the new Gap Factory Store. Replacing a lower-end fashion chain called Rainbow, the new approximately 6,000 square foot Shiekh store will offer higher-end essential brands for men, women, and children including: Nike, Jordan, Adidas, Converse, K-Swiss, Lacoste, Sketchers, and Steve Madden. With over 140 locations in 10 states (mostly in California), Shiekh Shoes are generally located in shopping malls (there’s one at the Beverly Center for instance), but are also beginning to open urban street-facing stores such as the new Hollywood Blvd location that opened earlier this year.
We last checked in with One Santa Fe about 6 months ago when it was still a big construction site and it’s so exciting to see something this huge and game-changing coming to fruition. Designed by renowned architect Michael Maltzan, the massive 438-unit Arts District project (a quarter of a mile long) is already filling up with new residents and signing new leases with unique and exciting shops and eateries. Dubbed “The Yards at One Santa Fe” (a reference to Metro’s train maintenance yard next door), the retail center on the ground floor is preparing to launch one of the most exciting indie retail concepts in all of Los Angeles that’ll give cross-town Abbot Kinney a run for its money. Three more new additions have just signed on: LA’s Wittmore, SF’s Voyager Shop, and a new Asian eatery called BOL, all expected to open in the first quarter of 2015.
Calling all fashion freaks in Los Angeles! Are you ready for the debut tomorrow of the limited Alexander Wang x H&M men’s and women’s collection coming to Downtown LA’s new H&M flagship store? Diehard Wang lovers will be camping out tonight to be first in line to receive a FREE Alexander Wang backpack stuffed with a yummy mystery gift for the first 10 lucky customers. The much anticipated Thursday launch (from LA to NYC) of the new H&M designer collaboration with one of the most renowned designers in fashion will begin promptly at 8 am when doors open early for this sure-to-be-chaotic (read: hair grabbing) occasion.
The moment you enter Little Jewel of New Orleans you are transported to the heart of Louisiana. Housed in an original 1870’s era building in the heart of Chinatown, the space is a combination market and southern deli offering some of the best Creole cooking in Los Angeles. While new to the block, Little Jewel feels like it has been a neighborhood staple for years. From the quirky artwork that adorns the walls to the awesome collection of classic jazz and soul that emanates from the sound system, the space feels casual, welcoming and unpretentious.
For the longest time, it seemed like Spring Street was having all the coffee fun with so many cafes opening up over the last few years from indie sweet spots like Spring for Coffee and Tierra Mia to corporate Starbucks. Now, add another one to the list of growing coffee shops in the Historic Core, this time a couple blocks over near 6th/Los Angeles St. Elabrew Coffee just opened earlier this month and is already the new neighborhood go-to cafe for local residents looking for something new to try. Located directly across the street from Hero Shop (where you get the “perfect banh mi“), this is Elabrew’s second and funkier location with the original one still in Santa Monica near the future Bergamot Expo Line station.
[Update 11/20/14: According to the PR for La Brea Bakery who contacted me today, the eatery pulled out of The Bloc because upon further investigation, the space itself was not a “good structural fit for the potential café.” The PR rep added, “La Brea Bakery continues to look for spaces and partners for licensed cafés that will bring artisan foods to the communities they serve.” Bummer.]
Since it was announced last year, many downtowners have been following with so much excitement the amazing redevelopment of The Bloc in Downtown LA. Formerly known as Macy’s Plaza, the reopening of the shopping center in late 2015 will be one of the most highly anticipated developments in Downtown LA’s urban renaissance, mostly because it sits in such a strategic location in the heart of the Financial District. If it remained shitty, it would continue to stifle downtown’s potential. If it’s successful at drawing people after it reopens, it obviously will do wonders for the continued revitalization of Downtown LA. And a very important part of what will make The Bloc attractive is the extensive remodeling work that will go into the Macy’s department store, including the exciting addition of a La Brea Bakery — a Southern California icon.
Relocating to a higher profile location, Skingraft opened its new beautiful flagship store last week at the corner of 8th and Spring on the edge of the Fashion District. The LA-based designer, Jonny Cota, had opened his first store in the Banco Popular building near 4th and Main (up the street) in 2006, and since then, has grown in stature within the fashion world showing for the second time at New York Fashion Week. The “LA leather laden brand” as Racked LA calls it has become increasingly popular with the celeb set including Rihanna and A$AP Rocky.
After finding out that a Gap Factory Store is slated to open on Broadway (near 8th Street) instead of a regular Gap, some people (including myself) were a bit disappointed for obvious reasons. Why would Gap put an outlet store in Downtown LA? With so many new higher end retail stores opening nearby (i.e., Acne Studios, Aesop, OAK NYC, etc), why wouldn’t Gap open a regular store — maybe even a flagship store to make a huge impressive statement like what Zara and H&M did at FIGat7th? Both stores are now one of the highest performing locations in their respective chains in Southern California proving that “untested” Downtown LA is definitely capable of being a viable market for retail.
Another reason to head over to the Little Tokyo Galleria at 3rd/Alameda, which is going from a once completely dead mall to a fun and interesting spot to visit again for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Adding to that is a brand new Daiso Japan store that opened this past weekend on the first floor of the 3-story shopping center. At 8,300 square feet large, it’s packed with just about everything you can imagine! For those unfamiliar with Daiso, it’s basically like a Japanese version of LA’s 99 Cents Only store except most items are $1.50 at Daiso. And pretty much all the products in the store are also “Daiso branded,” which includes just about everything you can think of from common household items to office and school supplies, stuff for the bathroom and kitchen, products for pets, handy storage containers, holiday decorations, to useful electronic items like mini USB cables. Oh yeah, and there’s also a pretty sizeable snack section stocked with Asian goodies.
Earthbar is now officially open at the PacMutual Building on 6th Street in Downtown LA’s Financial District. For those who aren’t familiar with Earthbar, the easiest way to think about them is a wellness brand that promotes a healthy diet and lifestyle. The store menu offers a wide selection of fresh smoothies like Muscle Up (packed with protein) and Green Detox (made with bananas, pineapple, hemp milk and raw kale). In addition to smoothies, there’s also acai bowls, “concentrated liquid nutrition” shots, and Superfood Coffee that adds goji, rooibos and honey bush to coffee made with Arabica beans. At the front of the store, there’s a grab-and-go section offering pressed juices and pre-made packaged foods and snacks (like spirulina-cashew bars). To top off the health kick, there’s a large selection of vitamins and other supplements located next to the pre-made meals.
Brisbane, Australia-based travel agency, Flight Centre USA (FC USA), is planning to open a “hyperstore” of its Liberty Travel brand in Downtown LA by early next year. This new exciting concept will bring to Los Angeles a different and more dynamic way of interacting with your travel agency. The very first hyperstore opened in New York in late 2012 with a 10,000 square foot space on Madison Ave. The second hyperstore opened in Boston in late 2013. Los Angeles will be the first west coast city to open a Liberty Travel hyperstore upgrading from its current smaller store location near 7th and Flower in the Financial District.
Drugstores are ubiquitous and a daily part of life in most large city centers in America. Go to New York and you won’t be more than a block or two away from a Duane Reade store. Go to Chicago and the same is true for Walgreens (which actually owns Duane Reade). Even internationally speaking in Taipei (where my dad lives), you’re never too far from a Watsons store. Here in our growing Downtown LA, we have two Rite Aid stores — one at 7th/Hope and one at 5th/Broadway — and both stores have been a complete let down, unfortunately. The one at 5th and Broadway has been a huge thorn in the side of downtown revitalization as residents nearby have continuously complained about the store’s shoddy appearance and lack of concern toward the “shady activities” that take place right outside their front door. Some have even called it a “cesspool.” That’s why it’s so exciting for me to find out that some real positive changes are finally coming. In fact, half of it is already here. The Rite Aid store at 7th/Hope, which was the lesser of two evils, has just completed a, dare I say, beautiful remodeling job that has changed the shopping experience there completely.