Malibu business climate continues to change

Two more local businesses are on their way out; high-end stores coming in; others changing.

By Knowles Adkisson / The Malibu Times

The local business climate continues to evolve, with several businesses closing down, or seeking new places to locate, while long-closed ones are planning on reopening, and the influx of high-end shops continues.

Diesel, A Bookstore co-owner John Evans said he and his partner, Alison Reid, are actively looking for a new location in downtown Malibu. The bookstore closed its previous location in Malibu Village on Cross Creek Road last week, after nearly seven years of operation, due to rent increases and other factors. Evans, who also operates bookstores in Oakland and Brentwood, said they are targeting a reopening “sometime this spring,” but that it would take a landlord willing to rent at the right price. Evans believes Malibu needs a bookstore.

“What do people always say about Malibu?” Evans asked rhetorically. “You know, it doesn’t have a hardware store, and it really irritates people, because the regular services aren’t there. So to not have a bookstore bothers people.”

SuperCare drugstore, among other businesses, had left the center not too long ago, relocating to the former Coldwell Bank building, now owned by the city on Pacific Coast Highway at Webb Way.

Meanwhile, on the heels of Diesel’s closing, another business looks to be on its way out. The owner, who asked not to be identified, told The Malibu Times that the rent for the business was simply too much to pay expenses and still make a living.

“We have a good product, we have great reviews, people love us. But not enough to support [the current rent],” said the owner.

While the owner would like to relocate to another location in Malibu by late April, there were no assurances that would happen.

The owner said that rent prices in Malibu were out of step with the low amount of foot traffic and the small population of the city.

“[Landlords are] charging for something that’s nonexistent here. And I just think it’s sad because it’s also some of the smaller businesses that are most effective. Locals that are trying to have a business here really can’t afford it. Unless you’ve got deep pockets, forget it.”

There are several new businesses coming to town in the next few months, as well as a familiar old one. At the head of the list is the potential reopening of the Malibu Inn. Steven Hakim, whose father Kambiz bought the property in January 2009, said they are targeting an opening date some time in mid-April. Steven Hakim told The Malibu Times his family was spending more than a million dollars “to clean the place up, while keeping its character and integrity intact, and keeping the vintage Malibu look.”

In Malibu Country Mart, owner Michael Koss said a lease was signed last week with high-end New York clothing store Rubin Chapelle. The store will occupy a 3,000-square-foot space between Morgane Le Fay and Toy Crazy, and the store fills Malibu Country Mart’s last vacant store space. Rubin Chapelle specializes in dresses, handbags and denim, and their New York boutique, located in the meat packing district, is said to be popular among celebrities.

Trancas Country Market owner Dan Bercu has announced that a new Italian restaurant will begin construction in a 3,000-square-foot space of the shopping center on March 1, and is targeting an opening late summer. The restaurant, which is to be called “La Spiaggia,” or “The Beach” in Italian, will be owned and operated by the owners of the restaurant Tra di Noi in Malibu Country Mart, Bercu said.

Jay Luchs, who handles leases for Malibu Lumber Yard and Malibu Village, said Nike has signed a lease to open a 4,000-square-foot store in the space that formerly housed Pritchett-Rapf Realtors. Luchs said that in addition to Nike, the store will carry Converse and Hurley products.

“It’s the first time in a year we’ve been having really positive [business activity] happening,” Luchs said.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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