By: Alice Campbell, Jacob Shapiro, and Jared Newman
Photos Taken By: Alice Campbell
On Fairfax Ave, between Beverly Blvd and Melrose, lies a stretch of stores and businesses known as the Fairfax District. On April 7th, the Casiano Chronicle team spent an afternoon there to get a feel for the area. We spoke with different store-owners to understand the neighborhood and how it’s been changing.
The Fairfax Districs used to draw mainly Jews to its kosher restaurants, synagogues, religious bookstores, and Yiddish record shops, but today, Canter’s and Atara’s book store are some of the few staples of Jewish culture on a block now sprouting clothing and skateboarding stores.
Canter’s is one of the most popular delis in Los Angeles. It has been there since 1953 and is known for having the best pastrami in LA. We had the privilege of speaking with Jacqueline Canter, whose grandfather started Canter’s Deli. Ms. Canter has also been a big part of the Fairfax District, having founded the Fairfax Business Association, which has been responsible for building crosswalks, sidewalks, and streetlamps throughout the Fairfax District.
Ms. Canter told us that the area used to be mainly Jewish “mom and pop” shops, but after the rent went up, art galleries, clothing stores, and skateboard stores took over where the Jewish shops were. Because of the growing popularity of Fairfax, Canter’s is getting more customers. According to Ms. Canter, “A lot of places come and go, however Canter’s is a constant and is still here after 80 years.”
Legend’s Barbershop, which lies just north of Canter’s, has been here for almost 2 years. Although referred to as an African American barbershop, it has a wide variety of customers of Latino, Asian, and Jewish backgrounds. “People say we’re an African American barbershop, but we’re just a barbershop” said Legend’s owner Goose. However, all the barbers are African American.
Since he moved to LA from Ohio, this area has been Goose’s favorite neighborhood. According to him, “this is where you go if you want to be eclectic.” Goose mentioned that young people have begun to move in and rent spaces, and the area has been getting hip. “Lots of young kids doing skating and streetwear have the same love for this corridor.”
Ataras Jewish Bookstore
The Chronicle then spoke to Levi Mishulovian. He told us that Ataras sells Seder plates, books, Yamakas, and any other Jewish-based product someone might need or want. The shop has been in business for over forty years. “Fairfax has changed,” Mishulovian told us. He explained how there has been an influx of Moroccan and French Jews due to the new synagogue down the street, Baba Sale. He also spoke about his cliental, which range from skateboarders to Hasidic Jews and everything in between.
Family is a curated bookstore in the heart of Fairfax. According to co-owner Sammy Harkham, the owners carefully choose each item they wish to sell there, which can be books, films, or comics. Mr. Harkham informed us that that he and his partner/co-owner, David Kramer, has thought of this original idea five years ago. The two chose the location because they loved the “tradition” of the Fairfax area. The also like that Fairfax is basically in the middle of the city and draws an eclectic crowd. The store displays a large mural in the back; a picture of an armed Jewish brigade who fought against ciolent pogroms in the part of the last century.
Will Rise Tattoo
Finally we spoke to Corey Hall of Will Rise Tattoo. The tattoo shop has been there for over a year and was inspired by Supreme Skateboarding Store to move to the Fairfax district. The price is fairly standard compared to other tattoo shops, $150 per hour. The tattoo shop is not unfamiliar with creating Jewish-based tattoos for clients.
The Casiano Chronicle also attempted to speak with numerous hip and trendy skateboarding stores, however they declined to comment. It seems that cureently there is a clash of feelings in the area, between community and brand reputation. One thing is certain, the lack of culture and energy is apparent in the Fairfax District.