4th Street—oftentimes referred to as Retro Row, though that name seems less encapsulating as years go by—is one of Long Beach’s most beloved neighborhoods. And it is also one of its most rapidly changing, evolving in a way that many of its longtime business owners have always wanted it to achieve.
Yes, many businesses have changed or become something new—Kerstin Kansteiner shuttered her much-loved coffeehouse Portfolio after three decades of service in order to open Alder & Sage; Shady Grove Foods took over Restauration; Gusto has garnered national attention..—while many have lasted—Lola’s celebrated their quince this year; The Social List provides a seemingly continual change in menus…—but the mixture of old businesses with the new has given 4th Street a new vibe. Those new businesses are scoring accolades as well as love from the locals while seemingly always participating in community-centric, collaborative efforts.
“4th Street has come a long way from sweeping the street by hand every Saturday morning in 1990 with Kathleen Schaaf from Meow and Kathy and Gary Tesch from Siren,” Kansteiner said. “To see it now, with the indie small business vibe still attached, makes my heart swell—could have not dreamed for more.”
And while the business association‘s are of much discussion—both formally regarding how to best apply the available resources to those within the borders and informally as people argue what constitutes the “full 4th Street area”—what is of note is the business improvement district has taken one giant leap in its operations: It has hired its first executive director, joining BIDs both large (Downtown Long Beach Alliance) and small (Midtown BID) from across the city.
Local advocate and long-time lover of all things Long Beach resident Sierra Sky has been appointed, noting in a quick conversation that her goals are to not only better define what the BID is and what it will achieve, but how it will work with nearby businesses and the city as a whole.
“Right now, we are pretty well defined as the stretch of 4th Street between Temple and Cherry Avenues,” Sky said.
Serving as the Administrative Assistant for the BID since 2019, Sky’s role proves to be another cog in 4th Street’s evolution: While yes, it may still remain an independent business-dominated space, there needs to be more formal operations attached to its upkeep, its interconnectivity between businesses, and its role to the city as a whole.
“Sierra has been involved in many community efforts over the last 15-plus years and the [BID’s board] is very pleased for her to accept this position. Sierra has lived and worked near Retro Row and is familiar with our community like no one else,” Kansteiner—who also serves as the 4th Street BID’s Board Secretary—said. “We are ecstatic to have her.”
Onward and upward, 4th.