As owners of James Gang Graphics, the husband-and-wife duo is responsible for starting such annual traditions as the Ocean Beach Fireworks Festival and the Tree Holiday Parade, and they were recently voted the Ocean Beach Town Council Citizens of the Year.
In honor of James Gang Graphics, the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association has nominated the local business to compete with other San Diego businesses for the Business of the Year Award. The award will be given out Thursday, June 28, at the San Diego Small Business Luncheon during Small Business Week 2007.
The OB MainStreet Association (OBMA), which oversees one of the 18 Business Improvement Districts in San Diego that collectively administer the award, nominated James Gang Graphics because Pat and Susan James "make such a contribution to the community that we felt it was fitting to recognize them," according to Denny Knox, executive director of OBMA.
Pat James joined James Gang Graphics in 1976 when his four brothers, who were known around town as the James Gang, operated the business, and James soon began to influence community affairs.
He first came up with the idea to bring a Christmas tree onto the beach to celebrate the holidays, and so began the Ocean Beach Tree Parade and Christmas tree-lighting festival, now reaching nearly a 30-year-long tradition.
The James Gang also takes credit for instituting the Ocean Beach Fireworks Festival, which has since grown into the Ocean Beach Street Fair and Chili Cook-Off under the auspices of the OBMA.
Their many endeavors did not distract the Jameses from the graphics business, however.
In the festival's early years, James explained, he and his brothers would design and sell T-shirts to fund-raise for the events. Today, James Gang Graphics still prints promotional clothing for both the Tree Parade and the Fireworks Festival in addition to advertising for other local businesses.
"We try to do our part, when possible, to give people a good deal, and when we can, we donate stuff," Pat James said.
Pat credits his ongoing civic service to his ability to both live and work in Ocean Beach, despite pressures to relocate his business to different sections of town over the years. "I don't have to get on the freeway every day," he explained, and so the community continues to influence his daily routine.
Unlike Pat, Susan James moved to Ocean Beach in 1990, where she joined Pat at the helm of the business. But she quickly adopted the same civic mindset that characterized the James Gang's undertakings. According to Pat, he and Susan became founding members of the Ocean Beach Historical Society in response to community desires in 1994. Pat now acts as president and Susan as secretary on the Historical Society's board.
Susan also serves on the board of the Tony Mezzadri Surf Classic, a surf contest and spaghetti dinner to take place Aug. 17-19. The event will raise money for research into spinal cord injuries at UCSD, according to Pat.
To Susan, the James' devotion is only natural as Ocean Beach merchants.
"The community is such a cool community," she said, "that it's hard not to be [involved]."