Could a free shuttle from 2nd & PCH project help struggling retailers in Belmont Shore?

Belmont Shore resident Cindi Campos said she tries to avoid shopping online in favor of supporting small businesses, but as droves of retailers continue to leave Belmont Shore, she’s having a harder time buying locally.

“It’s so sad to see all the empty spaces,” said Campos, an employee at the clothing shop Saga on Second Street. “I want to keep shopping here, but there’s just not as many options.”

Retailers across the country are struggling to keep up with the rise in online shopping, and the problem can be seen first-hand in the slew of empty storefronts along Belmont Shore’s popular shopping stretch on Second Street.

The retailers that remain said they’re concerned about losing yet more business to the looming 2nd & PCH development set to open this fall. The 11-acre retail complex at the southeast corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Second Street will have mix of restaurants and shops including popular clothing brands Free People and Urban Outfitters and make-up giant Sephora.

City officials hope that a proposed free shuttle between the shopping destinations could help bring more foot traffic to the area.

In its regular meeting on Tuesday, the Long Beach City Council will consider directing the city manager to look into the possibility of a public/private partnership to fund an electric shuttle or free ride service. The service will transport people from Belmont Shore to Second Street/Pacific Coast Highway and to Alamitos Bay Landing.

Dede Rossi, head of the Belmont Shore Business Association, said business owners have long wanted a shuttle or trolley to help with the lack of parking.

 “It’s something people have been asking for for a long time,” she said.

Rossi said she’s be happy to see anything that could bring in more shoppers.

“A trolley would be great, it would be nice if we could start it now in the summertime,” she said.

In the past year, nearly a dozen Second Street shops have shuttered, including White House Black Market, The Children’s Place, 2nd Street Beauty, Jones Bicycles and Herman’s Shoe Fashions after 52 years.

Meanwhile, Pussy & Pooch pet supply store, Gems Shore Repair and Leather Goods, and New Wave clothing are all planning to close this summer.

The businesses cite various reasons, from rising rent to choosing not to renew their leases. The chains White House Black Market and Heavenly Couture both closed under companywide cutbacks.

Nationwide, an estimated 75,000 retail stores are set to closed by 2026 as online shopping is expected to make up 25% of retail sales, according to a report by investment firm UBS.

While retailers along Second Street are struggling, Rossi said restaurants are thriving. Later this year, the street will see a Korean food restaurant, Long Beach Tap House, an El Pollo Loco, a revamped Baja Fish Tacos and a new restaurant in the former Acapulco Inn space.  

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Kelly Puente is a general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. Her prolific reporting has taken her all over Southern California—even to the small Catalina Island town of Two Harbors. She is a Tiki mug collector and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].
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