Village merchants turn to Main Street model for structure

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

Laying the groundwork to promote the interests of businesses, La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA) last week established four new working committees — design, organization, promotion and economic development. 
They are patterned after the Main Street national program the group has adopted as its business model. Main Street operates under the auspices of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and aims to help commercial districts with revitalization by “leveraging local assets,” according to its website.

“They are the heads of the amoeba that really do the work,” said group president Phil Coller of the role of working committees at the group’s May 11 meeting.

Noting the contract has been signed by the city and LJVMA is manager for the La Jolla Business Improvement District (BID), Coller asked for committee volunteers.

Egon Kafka, Bryan King and Scott Levin stepped forward to be on the design committee, which will be concerned with Village streetscape and beautification.

The organization committee is to be staffed initially by Tom Brady and Phil Coller.

A total of seven people volunteered for the promotion committee, which will have branding, promotions and special events under its umbrella. They are Sheila Fortune, Michelle Lerach, Glidia Holland, Claudette Berwin, Robert Lane, Nancy Warwick and Kevin Smith.

The economic committee will be comprised of Scott Levin, Kevin Smith and Kafka.

Robert Lane reported that the group is “assessing how we want our web presence to look and constructing a plan of action of building a new website.”

Lane said the idea is to establish a website with “very high search engine optimization” integrating a “social media presence.”

A seven-member Executive Director Selection Committee is also being formed by the group comprised of four officers of the board and three independent parties. The selection committee’s purpose is to find a new administrator to oversee the BID’s day-to-day operations.

Secretary Sheila Fortune said a merchant mixer is being planned as an outreach measure to recruit new members and make them aware of the association and what it’s doing.

“We should be doing a campaign splitting up the Village and every one of us take a zone and it will be our job to go out and invite merchants to the mixer,” she said, adding Karl Strauss Brewing Company at 1044 Wall St. is donating space.

Fortune said it’s important for the merchants group to get off on the right foot by “getting this community engaged in the Village.”

A debate ensued over whether there should be a requested donation for the mixer, with Egon Kafka arguing that “free” events are often not taken seriously.

Bookstore owner Nancy Warwick cautioned the group should not move forward with the merchant mixer “until we get together some real concrete information” to give out.



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