La Jolla Village Merchants Association considers COVID-19 modifications in 2021 strategic plan

Part of the La Jolla Village Merchants Association's annual strategic planning presentation given at the Jan. 13 meeting.
A slide shows part of the La Jolla Village Merchants Association’s annual strategic planning presentation given at the Jan. 13 meeting.

The COVID-19 pandemic continued to cast a shadow as the La Jolla Village Merchants Association approved its strategic plan for the coming year during its Jan. 13 meeting, its first of 2021.

The move followed a lengthy brainstorming session during the group’s December meeting.

Many of the overarching goals remain from previous years — organizational excellence, merchant education and engagement, design and ambience, and marketing and events — but this time with modifications for COVID-19.

For example, in exploring ways to increase revenue, the board is looking at virtual events and non-event fundraisers, including online silent auctions and selling La Jolla-branded items such as puzzles and coloring books. Historically, the group would hold in-person community events as fundraisers and to encourage support for local businesses.

Further, in exploring marketing and events, the board will look at what it calls “COVID-friendly events” such as video tours of La Jolla landmarks, self-guided walking tours in partnership with the La Jolla Historical Society, and finding ways to get people visiting The Cove and other natural resources to go to The Village and patronize local businesses.

This is in addition to ongoing strategies to increase opportunities for La Jolla merchants.

LJVMA Executive Director Jodi Rudick said the annual strategic plan will be a “fluid document” that could be modified throughout the year as conditions change.

Other LJVMA news

Business is down: Rudick offered an update on the number of business tax certificates filed with the city of San Diego, which provides an indicator of how many businesses have closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said there were 1,170 businesses listed this month in the Village of La Jolla, compared with 1,256 last month.

“What is more concerning” she said, is that the number of employees has decreased close to 25 percent. There were 6,115 people employed by La Jolla businesses in December 2019 and 4,726 in December 2020.

The Village in La Jolla is losing two businesses: Karl Strauss Brewing Co. at 1044 Wall St. and San Diego Fly Rides bike shop at 7444 Girard Ave.

New member seated: Architect Andy Fotsch, co-owner and principal designer of Will & Fotsch Architects, was sworn in as a new LJVMA board member. He also is chairman of the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee and is on the Vision La Jolla ad-hoc committee.

La Jolla architect Andy Fotsch has joined the La Jolla Village Merchants Association board.

Of the latter, he said: “We are looking at creating a comprehensive revitalization plan to integrate everyone’s ideas for The Village for the next five, 20, 50 years. We’re looking at everything from traffic and transportation to studying density and zoning. [One of the goals is] increasing residential use in The Village, which would bring in a lot more pedestrian traffic, more people that would access the shops and restaurants, bring more vitality to the street … to pour energy into The Village.”

He said wanted to participate on the merchant board to serve as a liaison between LJVMA and Vision La Jolla.

Sidewalk sale: The board will sponsor a sidewalk sale Jan. 23-24, with a portion of proceeds from sales at participating businesses going to Shoreline Community Services, a homeless outreach center that focuses on north Pacific Beach and La Jolla.

The event will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24. Lists of items needed by Shoreline Community Services — such as phone chargers and sleeping bags — will be available at select businesses.

Takeout Taste of La Jolla: The board is exploring a takeout event in place of its in-person Taste of La Jolla walking food tour.

Morgan Barnes, LJVMA’s marketing and promotions chairwoman, said: “We are currently looking for restaurants to participate. Ideally, we would like to have 16 restaurants participate and run the event for four days, with four restaurants on each day. Twenty percent of event sales would go to the restaurants, as well as all gratuity. If you buy a ticket, you get a course from each of the restaurants. So you could get a salad from one, an appetizer from another.”

Given that the board is still collaborating with restaurants, a date has not been announced. But Barnes said she expects it will be in the spring.

The LJVMA board next meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, online. Learn more at ◆