Living in Real Estate Limbo

Elisa BruleyWhere’s the new store?
When are you opening?

Diehard Elisa B. customers started asking me these questions about 72 hours after we closed the One Colorado location. I love the enthusiasm, but I just don’t have any answers—yet.

I’ve stuck it out through wildfires, wind storms, mudslides, droughts, 9/11, and one horrific economic downturn, but finding new space to lease? That’s proving to be a marathon with no clear end in sight. And it’s dangerous. I think I may have bruised my nose by pressing it against the windows of empty storefronts.

While it was sad to bid adieu to my 21-year-old “baby” at One Colorado, the notion of a bigger, better space in Old Pasadena was tantalizing. I was dreaming up extra-special special events and envisioning expanded merchandise categories, and eager to meet my amazing new landlord who would be the perfect combination of Mister Rogers and Mr. Wonderful.

Was I asking for too much?

Let’s just say it was a long, hot summer, with an emphasis on “hot.” Old Pasadena has become a very hot commodity in commercial real estate.  I thought I had a lock on the perfect (albeit dilapidated) location in Old Town, until the developer backed out, citing a lack of funds and a need for a tenant with deep pockets who would take the location “as-is.”

Today, I remain in real estate limbo. I don’t know when the new Elisa B. will open, but I do know three truths:

  1. Chain stores are taking over. At some point, you won’t be able to tell if you’re in Pasadena, California or Pasadena, Texas. Or Pasadena, Maryland!
  2. Independent retailers are being pushed out of the mix, even though independents bring the personality and creativity to any shopping district. Case in point? The Abdominal Snowmen, people!
  3. Landlords are more concerned with cashing a check than creating long-term success.

I’ve explored opportunities as far away as Calabasas and as close as Eagle Rock, South Lake Avenue, and the emerging Playhouse District, but my heart is in Old Pasadena. I’m chasing down every available  square foot in town and will continue until Elisa B. 2.0 is a reality!

  1. Sarah Whipple

    Get in early on York blvd in higland park. I think it has Abbot Kinney potential.
    Miss the store. Best of luck finding that perfect spot!

    • Elisa

      I think you’re on to something, Sarah — thanks for the suggestion!

  2. Beryl

    Need you, want you, will follow you. Retail space is nothing short of a nightmare–stay strong and come back soon!

    • Elisa

      Thanks for your support, Beryl. It’s so nice to be wanted!!!

  3. Alice

    Miss you much. Need you to open up again soon. It’s not the same visiting L.A. without stopping at your spot!