Many vibrant downtowns today no longer have the traditional department stores that once anchored the urban core. Instead, these “Main Streets” are lined with thriving and quaint shops that have played a key role in new economic activity in these urban centers. These unique retail shops are helping to attract residents and visitors back to the heart of town while building a sense of place for the whole community.
In Downtown Vista, for example, a growing retail cluster has been drawn by its great spaces and reasonable rents, thanks in part to the City of Vista, which has put strategies in place to attract and retain small businesses, such as Twice on Main and Metaphor Boutique.
From upscale barber shops to vintage clothing, unique gifts, floral arrangements and everything in between, Downtown Vista is becoming an appealing shopping destination for both residents and visitors. For a complete list of shops, restaurants, breweries and more visit the new Downtown Vista website.
“We have been implementing attraction and retention strategies in order to sustain a healthy and diverse local business community Downtown,” said Kevin Ham, Vista’s Economic Development Director. “This also helps promote small businesses and encourages growth in areas that may otherwise not be considered viable options for investment.”
In fact, bringing more retail Downtown is in line with the City’s Downtown revitalization plan, which spans from historic Main Street to Vista Village, Paseo Santa Fe, as well as the area’s Opportunity Zone.
By re-activating storefronts, the City is helping to bring more people Downtown, who, in turn, are also frequenting local eateries, craft breweries and even nearby entertainment venues like The Moonlight Amphitheatre, The Avo Playhouse, and Cinépolis Vista.
“I think retail adds a lot of value to Downtown by helping to make it a compelling place to live, work, play, and invest,” said Vista Mayor Judy Ritter. “It’s important for successful Downtowns to have a solid mix of retail, restaurants, and entertainment options.”
One of those retail options in Vista is re•find Off Main, a fun and rustic vintage clothing shop owned by Vista native Riley Herington. The 1,800 square-foot shop (including the backyard space) - complete with reclaimed wood floors, furniture, and decor - opened in March 2019 after Herington and her parents renovated the building, which was previously occupied by the North Coast Patrol.
Re•find sells new and collected clothing for women, men, and children, as well as furniture and home furnishing items. “We also have a large outdoor space that we use to host events, put on events and can be used for anything imaginable – baby showers, dinner parties, Sunday football, BBQ - you name it,” Herington said.
Herington was encouraged by her parents to open her own business after earning her master’s degree in communications from California State University Fullerton in 2018. “They have been the biggest support system, and have guided and helped me in every possible way. Vista is home and we wanted to be close to home. We looked in other places but no place felt as right as Vista did to start our business,” she said. “I love owning my shop in my hometown. Vista is such a great place to live and own a business. Owning a business in Vista has allowed me to meet so many new and amazing people and has allowed me to be involved in my community.”
Herington, who graduated from Vista High School in 2013, said Vista, a once sleepy town, has come alive with various restaurants, markets, breweries, street fairs, and niche small businesses. “It’s now a booming place,” she said.
Herington said a warm welcome and personal touch by City staff was really instrumental in helping her open re•find. “When I started out with the venture of my business, I didn’t know where to begin or where to start. I came across Kevin Ham and gave him a call. He took time out of his busy schedule to really help guide me in the right direction. After my conversations with Mr. Ham I was way more confident in what I was going and the direction I needed to go in. I am so thankful to him and everything he did for me and my business. Even if it seemed so small to him, it meant everything to me.”
Although her shop has been open for a short few months, Herington believes it adds a unique and different twist to Downtown Vista. “Vista is very family-oriented and we tried to make re•find a place where everyone in the family could find something that would work for them. With the new opening of ‘the yard,’ which is our backyard space, it makes re•find more than just clothing and retail; it adds the element of events and being able to bring people together in a different way. A lot of the local and small businesses in Vista are family run. I believe people in Vista appreciate the roots others build in the community and I am so happy I have continued to grow mine here as well.”