Despite Los Angeles County beaches likely reopening this week for surfers, swimmers, runners and walkers, its unclear how much that will benefit businesses reliant on those activities.
That’s according to two business owners in the South Bay’s beach cities, who said on Tuesday, May 12, that reopening the shoreline will not have much of an impact on their operations.
Dennis Jarvis, founder of Spyder Surf, said opening beaches — closed since March 27 to curb the spread of the coronavirus — is a positive step forward. But, he said, more than 80% of sales at his three South Bay stores depend on tourism, not local surfers catching waves.
“This is where we start getting out of the red,” Jarvis said of the summer season. “We have these four months, from April to August, and it fluctuates up and down. But that’s where we usually are able to put the money away to pay our bills through the beginning of November, which is when things pick up again.
“So the way that our businesses are set up,” he added, “is based on out-of-towners coming into town.”
Jarvis said curbside sales can only cover a fraction of what is needed to sustain a company, from wages to taxes to insurance — unless the business is already an online company.
“The only way is to open them back up and let people have freedom to come back down,” Jarvis said. “There’s a lot of people that aren’t going to like that.”
Jarvis said closed parking lots have also hampered business.
According to the city of Hermosa Beach, only the downtown parking structure has been closed and 15 minute zones for people picking up food and other products are available.
Spyder Surf has two locations in Hermosa Beach, on Pacific Coast Highway and Pier Avenue, and another in Manhattan Beach. Parking lots near his Manhattan Beach location remain closed.
When the county’s beaches open, there will likely be several major restrictions, including bans on sunbathing, volleyball and gatherings of any size. Folks will also have to wear facial coverings when not in the water and around other people. The mask requirement includes runners and surfers on land, according to the LA County Department of Beaches and Harbors. Surfers who do not have a mask have the option of staying 10 feet away from others when crossing or exiting the beach.
Even when the beaches open, though, not all related businesses will get the benefit — however limited — of curbside pickup.
That includes Redondo Beach’s Paddle House, which offers stand-up paddle board rentals. Redondo Beach’s International Boardwalk, where Paddle House is located, has been shut down — as have most adjacent businesses and restaurants — and will likely remain shuttered even after beaches open. As a result, Paddle House won’t open, even for curbside pickup, with the beaches, according to owner Patrick Webb.
So, Webb said, opening beaches for active users means nothing to his business.
“There’s barriers everywhere,” Webb said. “They won’t let you in the parking lot.”
Webb feels it will be a “slow, slow return” back.
Jarvis, for his part, said he had some optimism recently, but he’s concerned that it might be a “lost cause” for some businesses.
“I’m looking at my friends who have very small shops in Hermosa,” Jarvis said. “Mom-and pops-are the heartbeat of America and the heartbeat of Hermosa Beach.”