In La Jolla merchants survey, 40% say ‘business is good’ despite pandemic

A slide represents the findings of a La Jolla Village Merchants Association survey of local businesses.
A slide represents the findings of a La Jolla Village Merchants Association survey of local businesses.

As the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic began taking hold in the spring, businesses everywhere were hit hard. Some were able to adapt, others were forced to shutter. The La Jolla Village Merchants Association began touching base with local business operators and surveying them on a monthly basis. At its Aug. 12 meeting online, LJVMA presented some preliminary — and surprising — results.

The association’s executive director, Jodi Rudick, said some of the questions were simple, such as “Are you open?” and “Are you offering gift cards?”

Others that delved more into how owners felt their businesses were doing yielded surprisingly positive responses.

“There are some businesses that are doing great, which I think is interesting, and some of those are in the service industry,” Rudick said. “We have a mortgage company that is doing great, so there are some businesses that are succeeding. The market is changing … but we are doing about as good as we projected, which I think is pretty impressive.”

Rudick said a total of 262 businesses were sent the survey directly. As of the Aug. 12 meeting, 44 responses had been tallied, though Rudick noted that more had come in earlier that day and were not included in the presentation.

About 40 percent said “business is good” or “business is great,” Rudick reported.

Of those that did not answer positively, many were businesses that have had to close for extended periods of time, such as hair salons and fitness centers.

Rudick said she also asked merchants, “How strongly do you agree or disagree with this statement: While these are challenging times, I am optimistic that my business will prevail.” More than 45 percent said they “strongly agree.”

“These are the best results we’ve had since we started,” Rudick said. “Not one person said they disagree or strongly disagree. Every person who answered, even those who are closed, said they strongly agree or are neutral. The people that are responding are staying positive. That is La Jolla.”

The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, which has been in operation since the 1800s but has been closed for indoor operations due to the coronavirus, said in the survey: “We were here during the 1918 flu epidemic and survived. We are going to survive this as well.”

Another respondent said, “Business is better than two months ago, but another shutdown could be detrimental if things don’t continue to get better.”

LJVMA President Brett Murphy said the group would continue to survey local merchants to “keep [a] finger on the pulse and see how we can help.”

Other LJVMA news

New board member and election: After unanimous approval at last month’s meeting, Life Time fitness general manager Jo Cullen was sworn in as a new trustee, filling a midyear vacancy.

Concurrently, self-nomination forms for the group’s annual election have been sent to all eligible business owners.

Rudick said all current board members, save for one, have announced their intention to re-run for a seat.

“We have a full board,” she said, “and I am very proud of the board we have now.”

Due to coronavirus restrictions, the city of San Diego approved changes to the board’s election procedures.

Sept. 9 is the deadline to self-nominate, and Rudick is looking into whether forms can be dropped off, scanned and emailed or mailed. After nominations are complete, candidate statements will be posted to the LJVMA website.

Ballots will be cast in a manner to be determined and will be opened publicly with a city representative to help validate the process.

On Nov. 11, the board will have the swearing-in ceremony and selection of officers.

Outdoor dining highlights: The LJVMA blog is working on an up-to-date page to list restaurants offering outdoor dining, along with their addresses and hours. There are currently about 50 in The Village.

The page will be updated to reflect changes at restaurants that start or stop al fresco dining or those that offer takeout.

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association next meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9, online. Learn more at