In Need of Help – Pasadena Weekly

Stores in smaller sized cities like Altadena are struggling
By Victoria Carbé Valentino

As the pandemic drags on, little local community organizations are having difficulties to breathe.

Hikers on their way up to their beloved trailheads whiz by Altadena’s outlets with no noticing. These shops, some of which are at the top rated of Lake Avenue, are not flashy, but they are essential to the cloth of the local community. They feed men and women. They instruct people. They provide services at reasonable charges and occasionally for cost-free when the will need arises.

A single these types of store is the vegan café Oh Pleased Working day, which is operate by John Hopkins. Soon after he was vandalized a couple many years ago, the group rallied close to him through GoFundMe. Now, he’s confronted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hopkins cooks contemporary organic vegan food each day, serving from the counter for out of doors patio feeding on.

“I’ve had to inquire buyers to take in outside now so a lot of my regulars who favored to sit and take a look at with every single other even though they ate within are not equipped to do that any longer with the changing weather,” Hopkins stated.

He has been providing incredibly hot nourishing household-cooked vegan food items to the neighborhood for a long time. On a common day he operates from right before dawn until way immediately after the solar goes down and does not get substantially of a break.

“I simply cannot manage to pay back any helpers now because the shutdowns, so I get the job done until 1 in the morning most nights myself just to be prepared to open up next working day for lunch,” said Hopkins, 75.

He has a place in his shop with a laptop to use for those people devoid of one particular, and extended picket tables the place nearby little ones can sit and get their research accomplished just after he closes. He donates balanced food items to Foods Not Bombs, an LA team that feeds the homeless. Some locals refer to him as St. John.

Hopkins feeds those faithful locals who have frequented his café for more than 20 many years, as perfectly as newbies. Greens, brown rice, baked yam with African peanut sauce, tofu and clean green salad with his individual unique dressing is just one particular selection on his menu.

His area is a one particular-prevent shop for medicinal herbs, teas, new natural generate, rice, beans, legumes, kombucha, juices and incense. It lets like-minded people today to hook up, far too.

Bookending Hopkins’ café are numerous other retailers. To Hopkins’ north is longtime landmark, Pizza Joe’s, which has condensed several hours owing to a decline in enterprise.

Upcoming to Hopkins is Freddy’s Antiques, a shop loaded with intriguing collectibles, artwork, classic apparel, perfumes, critical oils, crystals, sage bundles and a fascinating assortment of eye sweet. Company can wander by hunting into this exhibit situation and that cozy nook loaded with pleasant surprises.

Still, they, far too, have been burglarized appropriate following the mandated closure of enterprises. The front window and store doorway were being shattered and replaced. The decline was immeasurable at a time when all businesses’ futures ended up and still are uncertain, apart from, perhaps, for the large-title chains.

The proprietor, Freddy Tenorio, laments, “The closure made me drop behind on economical tasks and made my everyday living really demanding like quite a few some others during this pandemic.” He adds, “Thank you for all who aid smaller business, and absolutely everyone continue to be protected and blessed. I’m surviving till the closure of this pandemic—with everyone’s help.”

On Hopkins’ south side is a spouse and children-operate African import and handmade items store known as Rhythms of the Village. Wafting from the open door is the nostalgic fragrance of sandalwood, musk and patchouli incense. Guests’ senses are presently staying organized for the cheerful yellows, oranges, reds and greens of Africa’s west coastline, its caftans, dashikis and hand carved picket sculptures. There are paintings, beads, drums—and helpful greetings.

The proprietor, Baba Ochonie, is a wise septuagenarian who emigrated to the United States from Nigeria in 1969. Patrons may well be captivated with his journey, philosophy of lifestyle, wisdom and spirituality.

His son, Emeka, is effective with him, stitching alongside his mom, Marilyn, making African-styled apparel from small toddler to grownup sizes for equally genders. He also hosts drumming classes at 4 p.m. Saturdays and is a professor at Cal Point out LA, training African background, language and lifestyle.

“Our enterprise has endured after obtaining to near down for the 1st two months of mandated closures, but our hearts remained open and we rallied,” Onochie reported.

“The village thrives on group and togetherness. It was not straightforward to close up store and cancel our lessons, but we wanted to keep our local community protected. Our loved ones labored about the clock stitching and distributing hundreds of masks maintaining our small business afloat and to keep individuals harmless.”

Onochie stated the pandemic compelled him to adapt to new technological innovation like Zoom.

“The pandemic was undoubtedly terrifying for us as a smaller small business, but in the close we were ready to pivot and thrust ourselves to make it get the job done and prosper a lot more than ever in these unprecedented occasions,” Onochie said.

“Soon we will return to our every month multicultural situations that we keep in the back again parking great deal. We have COVID-risk-free travel-in videos. We have Aztec and folklorico audio and dancing, as very well as African drumming. We go on to remain favourable even with the pandemic.”

Altadena Florists and The Boys’ Republic Charity Thrift Shop opening once again for quite minimal hours as they are run by volunteers of a vulnerable age team.

Sandwiched in between Hopkins’ café and Onochie’s location is the now vacant storefront nonetheless marked by its identify on the marquee, the Dutch Oven Bakery. Its longtime proprietor died before this year leaving a void in the community’s morning espresso and doughnut requires with a slice of warm dialogue on the aspect. But, those people who love looking by means of thrift shops for diamonds in the haystack, The Complete Circle Thrift Store is just on the other side of the florist and does not disappoint.

Masks needed alongside with social distancing, of course, but go, get out of the dwelling. Do a little procuring treatment and support local little firms.

Seize lunch at Hopkins’ position, window store at Freddy’s and Onochie’s, chat up some new friends and exercise a minimal self-enjoy. Acquire home a dozen yellow roses and experience great about supporting neighborhood modest corporations.