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La Jolla merchants group to focus on small businesses following survey

A slide from a La Jolla Village Merchants Association presentation includes results from a recent survey of 106 businesses.
A slide from a La Jolla Village Merchants Association presentation includes results from a recent survey of 106 businesses.
(Screenshot by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

More than 850 companies in The Village have only one or two employees. A survey of 106 businesses found that parking, foot traffic and staffing issues are among their primary concerns.

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association recently concluded a survey of more than 100 local establishments that explored their challenges and thoughts on running a business in La Jolla, and found that business here is going small.

At the association’s Nov. 9 meeting, LJVMA Executive Director Jodi Rudick said 1,259 businesses in La Jolla’s Village, with 4,741 employees, pay business tax certificates.

“That’s an average of 3.76 employees per business. We have tiny businesses in our merchants association,” Rudick said. “We want to make sure we are serving them as much as we are the ones that are more visible.”

Among those businesses, she said, are 859 companies with only one or two employees. Only 56 businesses have more than 20 employees, she said.

The survey was conducted face to face in September and October by LJVMA members and students of The Bishop’s School in La Jolla. Of the 106 businesses participating, 48 were in retail, 21 in dining, five were art galleries, four were hotels and 12 were in professional or personal services. The rest were in miscellaneous categories.

Among those who completed the survey, the No. 1 challenge to doing business in La Jolla is shortage of parking, which “tends to be a thorn in the side for everyone,” Rudick said. Also cited were lack of foot traffic, staffing issues and “other.”

The survey also indicated that merchants are familiar with LJVMA events more than the organization itself.

“The biggest opportunities we have are to do some one-on-one communication,” Rudick said. “I look at this incredible group of leaders, and if every one of you spent time to educate 20 merchants in a year … I think we would see some changes” in the level of awareness of the organization.

Given the number of single-employee businesses and other small companies, a guiding question for the coming year likely will be how to help them succeed, Rudick said. “The mission of our organization is ‘We bring business to La Jolla Village,’ and over COVID we modified that to ‘We bring business to La Jolla Village businesses.’ … So with that being the mission, the real question is how we can help individual merchants bring business to their own enterprises.”

LJVMA’s December meeting will double as a strategic planning session, during which the board will work to come up with ways to support The Village’s smaller businesses.

“We have tiny businesses in our merchants association. We want to make sure we are serving them as much as we are the ones that are more visible.”

— Jodi Rudick, La Jolla Village Merchants Association executive director

Other LJVMA news

County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer and recently elected La Jolla Village Merchants Association board members
San Diego County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer (left) administers the oath of office to new or reelected La Jolla Village Merchants Association board members Nov. 9.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

New members: In the LJVMA board’s most recent election, 12 members were elected or reelected. San Diego County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, whose District 3 includes La Jolla, administered the oath of office to the incoming members at the Nov. 9 meeting and facilitated their swearing in.

Election winners were Dusty Bowder, Jo Cullen, Brandon Lindley, Katey Longo, Maddie Mackey, Jen Pham, Bill Podway, Natalia Petrova, Summer Shoemaker, Hallie Swenson, Chad Taggart and Maddie Wallace.

However, Swenson announced she would be stepping down and did not participate in the swearing in. She did not elaborate on her decision but said she would continue to work with the organization on its projects.

The board next selected its slate of officers. Amber Anderson will continue as president, Shoemaker was elected vice president, Karen Roque secretary and Podway treasurer.

Morgan Barnes and Cullen opted not to run again for vice president and treasurer, respectively.

Art Walk anniversary: LJVMA this month held its 12th First Friday Art Walk and is marking one full year of the community event.

Longo called the anniversary a “huge deal” and said she wanted Village galleries to go “above and beyond” for the next Art Walk on Dec. 2.

During the Art Walks, galleries stay open later and partner with local businesses to provide food, drinks or entertainment.

Anderson said the Art Walks have been “a big part of the glue for our organization and getting people involved.”

Next meeting: The La Jolla Village Merchants Association next meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, at the La Jolla/Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave. Learn more at lajollabythesea.com. ◆