Are you wondering if you can go shopping now in La Jolla? I decided to ask some of the local merchants about their experience with Covid-19 and if they have reopened.
My first interview was with Izzy Tihanyi, who is co-owner of Surf Diva with her sister Coco for the past 24 years. They have been 100% shut down for three months. She and her sister always wanted to have an online business and as a result of Covid-19 they actually created one for their customers. This was one of the positive results from the lockdown.
They are back in the store now and are being safe and responsible. The safety of the customer matters, so they are still doing curbside pickups for who still want it. They ask that customers wear masks, stand 6 feet apart, and they will provide hand sanitizers. In addition, they reconfigured the store making it easier for people to stand 6 feet apart.
After a customer tries on a garment they will steam clean them, and after trying on sunglasses they will disinfect with a Clorox wipe. They also sell masks and face shields for customers.
The third part of their business is running surf camps and private surf lessons. They have had to reduce the size of the groups to four kids with one coach. Presently they have sessions available for July and August. The city raised their fee from 10% to 16%, which makes running the camps very difficult. Currently City Councilman, Barbara Bry is looking into this for them. With reduced sizes of classes and the increase of the San Diego Real Estate Assets Fee, it makes running a business challenging.
Next I talked with designer Christiann Moore, who launched her first collection last November. She had prepared to showcase her spring collection at the Vancouver BC Fashion Week around the end of March until Canada closed its borders. During this pandemic she was able to facetime her pattern makers so that they could continue working on the pattern process.
Moore said that people were slow to come back so she began rethinking everything. She decided to back down from mass producing garments. The basic reason was that her manufacturer had sold their business and weren’t reopening. Now she has decided to go in another direction and to make one-off. This way they will be able to make only one and not repeat the pattern. She wants to utilize only natural fabrics and work towards repurposing patterns and resourcing fabrics.
Luckily she and her husband have another business with software for manufacturing application and it is booming right now. She plans to go to the Vancouver BC Fashion Week next year.
I was talking with Allyson Simone, the manager of Charleston Shoes. She said they were closed during this time and they are now fully opened. Talking with the Ralph Lauren store, they said they had virtual appointments such as Facetime and Zoom with customers during the pandemic. Currently they are back in the store with regular hours again.
The next store that I interviewed was with the owner of GK Fashion House, Giti Kooshkani. New to La Jolla, she had launched her store on March 20 and had to immediately turn around and shut her doors almost the next day.
For the most part they were closed the entire lockdown except for finishing some custom work for clients. Kooshkani said that her Prospect Avenue boutique is open now from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Mondays-Saturdays and by appointment on Sundays. Customers are required to wear a mask and not more than four people in the store at a time.
She said that the tourists are starting to come back, especially U.S. tourists. Kooshkani is positive about the future and said that she sees local businesses cleaning up, changing signs, and getting ready for a new start.
Diana Cavagnaro is an internationally renowned Couture Milliner based in the San Diego. Learn more about our hat designer, teacher and blogger at DianaCavagnaro.com.