Small businesses in Eagle Rock don’t just make the neighborhood special, but they support each other — helping them survive threats from chain businesses and economic downturns alike.
That’s according to Joe Moller, who is on the neighborhood council and runs an event planning business, Joe Moller Events, in Eagle Rock. His business produces a range of events, from organizing birthday parties to helping with larger events such as the Independent Spirit Awards.
Moller, who is originally from the Fashion District in the Downtown Los Angeles area, moved to Eagle Rock more than five years ago and spoke with UT Community News about his experiences so far.
How did you establish yourself and your business within the community?
“One of the ways we have supported and woven ourselves into the fabric of the community is by consuming goods from other service providers and other businesses in the community…If I have hardware fabrication needs, we will go to Ball or hardware on York. Or if we have floral or gardening needs, we’ll use the nursery on York as well. For our culinary needs, we love the family that runs Pete’s Blue Chip, we love Goldburger, we love the OiKNSTER; they all just happen to be local burger places. But I make sure that with every opportunity we’re making a financial impact on…other small businesses in the Eagle Rock community in order to support their efforts and continue the diversity in the community.”
What goes into putting on an event through your business?
“If you’re planning a 21st birthday celebration, you need catering, you need ice you, need cups, you need music, you need many of the identical assets and elements that a six-figure event or awards show or gala would also provide to its attendees…The creative process ranges from a couple hours to a couple days, depending on the individual needs set of any one client’s project.”
Recently, he hired a carpentry team from the Highland Park area to help create six custom bars for an international champagne company for VIP airline lounges across the country. That required them to draft designs, decide paint colors, logo placements
“And I love the idea that it’s two small family-run businesses both in the Northeast L.A. community that are providing these world-class quality experiences across the country.”
What do you think is special about Eagle Rock?
“Eagle Rock has a really diverse community from Occidental College and the student life, and individuals that attend that campus, to many of the family-run businesses that have been here for more than one generation or longer than I have. It’s great. I love being able to walk down from York and have options from vegan and ramen to organic dog food. So, it really meets a lot of my needs as an individual. And coming home from New York or Chicago or Miami. I love going to the store. I love Lemon Poppy. I love Verdugo Bar. I love The Grant [Bar] now. So, a lot of what Eagle Rock has to offer me as a resident I want to take advantage of, and I want to support. [In some other neighborhoods], you see the same chain restaurants…the same culinary offerings that are all chains, and I like more individual, more curated experiences. So, this is great for that.”
“I think that you could live off your whole life without getting to know any of the businesses in your neighborhood. But it’s not as rich or as interesting a life as when you do get to know those proprietors and their stories.”
Why did you join the Eagle Rock neighborhood council board?
“When I moved in, didn’t see a lot of the same quality of street art that I had experienced in the arts district and knew there were many talented artists and artisans within this community and was elected during a slower phase of my business because of the pandemic and so I had more time for civic activity opportunities and as the world has come back online, and thankfully my agency’s services have been in more demand, I haven’t had the bandwidth to follow up on some of my original goals…I am looking forward to finding some time to getting back to that. But in the meantime, there’s a lot more art that I’m aware of, there’s a lot more murals, there’s a lot more small businesses that offer these types of experiences…a new art supply store. So, a lot of what I wanted to accomplish is being accomplished through the initiative and efforts of other small business owners and individuals and it’s nice to be part of that community.”