With COVID-19 infection rates falling and vaccinations underway, the economy is gradually reopening.
But a year into the pandemic, some businesses have recovered better than others in the famed shopping district on Melrose Avenue. Los Angeles Times reporter Lila Seidman joined LA Times Today with more on how some businesses are doing during these uncertain times.
Melrose Avenue has been known as a fashion hub for decades.
"It is the place you would go to get vintage band t-shirts that might cost $500, but people are willing to spend that," said Seidman. "There is a new blooming sneaker culture. I’m not sure if you have seen this, but there have been long lines of people waiting for sneaker drops. That arrived in Melrose in the last few years."
When the pandemic hit last year, Melrose Avenue was hit hard by the loss of business and protests.
"Melrose had something else happen where after the death of George Floyd, protests rocked the area," Seidman added. "Some buildings were burned, and some of the businesses never reopened till this day."
Seidman recently visited some of the stores that are now open on Melrose Avenue. One of which was Cosmo & Donato.
"It is a very interesting store. I was walking by and I noticed a mannequin wearing a bejeweled mask and a huge headdress. I think Cosmo & Donato really encompasses the Melrose spirit. They make one-of-a-kind pieces that people would wear to Burning Man or Coachella. And of course, Coachella and Burning Man did not happen last year. And, we do not know if they are going to happen this year."
Another business that is recovering from the pandemic is the high-end men’s retailer, Paul Smith.
“Paul Smith is well known for its suits, but not many people are wearing suits these days. Even though Paul Smith is a strong brand and has stores all over the country and the world, it has gone through a downsizing. I think they used to have 1,300 people per week pre-pandemic, and now it has gone down to 200 people,” said Seidman.
Recently the iconic Pink’s Hot Dogs reopened after a voluntary two-month closure, and customers are happy to be back.
"The owner of Pink’s decided to close because COVID cases were spiking, and he wanted to do the right thing," Seidman said. "But when it reopened the other week, people were overjoyed. I spoke to a woman that came from Oxnard, who had grown up coming to Pink’s. And I could hear everyone in line talking about their memories, so I thought that was really cool."
Even though Pink’s has reopened, business is not what it used to be.
“Richard Pink, who co-owns the restaurant and is the son of the founder, told me that they are down 30% in revenue. And, they have not made a profit since the pandemic hit in March. So everything they make gets reinvested into paying employees, cooking hot dogs, and keeping the lights on,” said Seidman.