Globally, Beverly Hills is recognized as a shopping destination. On any given day, locals and tourists can be seen lined up outside luxury retail hot spots. During the June 8 Small Business Assistance Task Force Committee Special Meeting with City Council liaisons, retailers relayed challenges in attracting new customers, safety concerns, and reported a rise in sales. Council liaisons Lili Bosse and Lester Friedman, members of the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce (BHCC), city staff, and prominent business owners were all in attendance. According to Todd Johnson, President and CEO of the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce, “I think people are ready to spend money.”
However, retailers throughout the city are increasingly worried about security. “I would say the one thing that I have noticed a little bit more than before COVID is just a little bit of a safety and security issue,” Sabaa Kamal, owner of Kamal Beverly Hills boutique on Bedford Drive, said during the meeting. “I’ve noticed a lot more homeless people kind of wandering into the store I have gotten more calls from the sales associate on the floor worried about homeless people coming in and picking up some rings off the shelf and walking out with them. This was not as big of an issue before.”
Kamal’s store offers a curated selection of clothing, bridal gowns, jewelry, and accessories meant for formal events in a highly personalized, luxury environment. “I think a lot of people that had put off weddings and special occasions, are now finally going on those vacations,” Kamal said regarding an uptick in sales seen recently. Kamal noted that she moved to Los Angeles specifically to open her store in Beverly Hills. “It’s a luxury statement in of itself, and so I think that’s why I was drawn to the Beverly Hills location I think we’ve had clients that place orders just to be able to say, ‘oh I got this from Beverly Hills.'”
Other retailers, such as Tara Riceberg, owner of Tweak and Tesoro, have opted to keep the shop door locked.
“I don’t think we need to rely on the BHPD or Ambassadors to help us with a rogue vagrant when we can prevent the issue by simply keeping our doors locked for the safety of our staff and clients,” Riceberg told the Courier. “Even though we are seeing an increase in homeless people in Beverly Hills, it’s still much safer than in L.A. I now keep my door locked at my shop on Beverly Boulevard. It may seem less inviting but it’s no different than being buzzed into a jewelry store in Beverly Hills.”
Johana Hernandez, the haute couture designer behind the brand GLAUDI, has three boutiques: one in Beverly Hills, one in Downey, and one in Orange County. “I have to say that Beverly Hills has been the one that’s been more challenging to get back to normal,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez added that, “with the robberies and protests, it’s just kind of made people not want to choose the Beverly Hills store location. They would rather go to Downey or the OC location.”
For Hernandez, much of her sales result from trunk shows. “And because of COVID, we haven’t done those things. But on July 25, thanks to the city of Beverly Hills and the OpenBH program, we’re doing a drive by fashion show which is the first in the city.” Hernandez hopes the event will bring more customers to her Brighton Way location. Because Beverly Hills gives brands a global platform, the designer hopes to welcome more people, not intimidate them.