The Last Bookstore
The RXforLA program is an expansion Brady Wastewater’s long work with a wide variety of stakeholders in DTLA. Since moving there full time, he was a founding member of Downtown LA Neighborhood Council where served as both president & VP. He also recruited the founders of Gallery Row, Nic Cha Kim and Kjell Hagen to DLANC and worked with them and Art Walk founder Bert Green with their projects since their inceptions and leased the majority of the first galleries on Gallery Row. He also helped start — and was president of LANCC - a city-wide Neighborhood Council organization and he was one of the five members of the DWP MOU Committee that negotiated the first MOU with a City Agency. Since then. he as leased (at no charge or helped create — over 150 different creative businesses or individual artists studios and when he saw the need for local fashion designers to show at reasonable rates, he organized two major Fashion Week Shows — first BOXeight — and now CONEPTU Fashion Week —with only six weeks notice. He has also searched out individuals he felt would be successful in Downtown and convinced them first to move here — and then to opens businesses. He also helped Downtown residents sell their art or their other products during Art Walk and then leased them stores. He also convinced online sellers — such as THE LAST BOOKSTORE — to open physical spaces and convinced brick and mortar stores to do more sales on-line. When he read the Company of Angels lost its lease and was having a garage sale of all their equipment - he found them a new space 24 hours later and over the years, he helped over 50 homeless individuals find their way off the streets.
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1 Submitted Idea
- 2013 Grants Challenge
Our idea is to expand an existing program that has created dozens of new businesses and hundreds of new jobs – while helping revitalize an entire neighborhood - and attracting over 150 new businesses and working creative individuals – all without one dollar of public funds. An RX for Los Angeles will take what one person working with the assistance of dozens of different community members on each project - accomplished in Downtown and to now expand that program's scope in DTLA and then the reach out to the rest of Los Angeles. So rather than it being a program to get one LA business to move to another part of LA – or competing with programs offering financing from the same pot of money or promoting facade improvement grants - RXforLA will look at the needs of each geographic area and the needs of each of the different major business categories (fashion, film, tech, small retail stores, food) to see what is working or not working. Concurrently, the different creative and tech industries are also examined to see how each of them might help any of these projects. And, finally, each potential solution will also be examined by how it might impact any of LA's other indicators. Now this may sound complicated, but there are those who quickly learn how to think in this way – and having multiple eyes look at each deal also makes it easier. It also helps that - at times - the more constraints you have– the easier it might be to see the one thing that will work best. It also helps that we have a team of serial entrepreneurs who have started multiple businesses and have experienced just about everything that can happen. The program's initial expansion will be to target specific social and industry wide problems within Downtown – and then follow that with looking at specific industries & social problems outside of the greater Downtown area. These focuses will make it easier to judge the results outside of the Downtown area. And now for a successful example of the process. When the Last Bookstore opened its vastly expanded space at 5th & Spring, the newspapers were filled with all the local bookstores closing - new, vintage and even antiquarian bookstores. They were closing due to not just AMAZON discounting new books but because AMAZON was also selling other people’s used books - as were on-line booksellers’ abebooks and eBay. But after researching those challenges – and making the necessary business – and artistic - decisions, the store was profitable from the day it opened. And the fact the store has expanded twice within a year after it opened – is no accident. The plan was developed by store owner Josh Spencer and supported by the person who leased him the space – Brady Westwater, who started RXforLA , after he helped negotiated a lease structured to make it financially possible for the store to first open – and then be able to expand. And – again – none of this this was a fluke or an accident. It was all planned And it has also fulfilled two other markers. It has created not only a far connected local community, but a regionally connected larger arts community that didn’t exist before from all over Southern California. And again – this was no accident – it was all planned from the very beginning. Lastly old store - 7 employees, new store - 27 employees. Turning to fashion, we have team members who run some of the leading LA Fashion Week shows for LA designers but, unfortunately, most designers don’t do shows in LA because our fashion week seems to be thrown together at the last minute – spread out all over town, in multiple venues on different days – and that makes it impossible to attract the buyers and critics who attend New York's Fashion Week. So everyone is finally asking– why can’t we all show under one big umbrella in one place with one set of dates? But for that to happen – planning would need to start now to select a site and dates and then start to promote the hell out of the fact that LA will – finally – get its act together and try and have a real fashion week. RXforLAT, if it is successful in getting the grant, will develop a site promoting the major cultural industries of Los Angeles – a single place where people from around the world can come and see what is being planned. And once that site is launched – it will be a lot easier for the different producers of Fashion Week to agree upon dates and venues – since once everyone agrees to lock them down – then a serous effort can be made to lure buyers and critics from New York – and many other cities - to LA Fashion Week. But first we need to create that infrastructure and even then - it won’t happen over night, But it needs to start somewhere – and it needs to start – now. And to accomplish even just that – would be a huge win this fall for LA2050.