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Sherman Oaks’ Moorpark Village: Small Town USA

Posted By Karen Young On July 8, 2009 @ 12:11 am In My Daily Find,Profiles | 4 Comments

karenyoung110BY KAREN YOUNG

It’s probably the closest thing to Mayberry R.F.D. in the San Fernando Valley. Okay, well maybe there is no Sheriff and the length of the whole place is a block long — actually, one and a half — if you count across the street.  Considering that there was only one stoplight in Mayberry, this actually seems about right.

A partial view of the Village.

A partial view of Moorpark Village. Photos by Karen Young

The place is Moorpark Village in Sherman Oaks.  Never heard of it?  If so, that’s because the nine merchants on either side of the  block of Moorpark Avenue, just east of Fulton, simply coined the name in agreement as a symbol of group support.

Carolyn Uhri, who volunteers at the VIVA Art Center, and has been the organization’s president since May 2009, says that it’s “a unique group of businesses because everyone gets along.”  Uhri gives credit to Andrea McClain, owner of M Street Coffee and Photoflow Gallery, for coming up with the name “Moorpark Village.”

“It just reminds me of being in Italy,” says McClain, who’s been in the neighborhood almost two years, “you know, where you have the bakery, the gallery, the gift shop and businesses that support each other.”

 Andrea McClain's M Street Coffee is like a caffeinated (de-caf and tea too), organic "Cheers."

Andrea McClain's M Street Coffee is like a caffeinated (de-caf and tea too), organic-leaning "Cheers."

The block is located in the midst of a rather eclectic residential area, which is a mix of apartments and single-family homes. In fact, M Street Coffee has become a kind of caffeinated (decaf and tea too), organic-leaning “Cheers” where neighbors walk, bike and congregate. Local artists and writers also contribute their art pieces and books for display and sale in the cafe.

Carolyn UhriVIVA Art Center president Carolyn Uhri (r.) with Dori Marler (l.), president of the SFV Art Club and Salon Director for VIVA.
VIVA Art Center is a collaborative cooperative art center in the fullest sense.  “It’s more than a gallery,” says Uhri, who explains that in addition to the gallery and exhibits, there is  VIVA Arts & Gifts that sells handmade artist wares, as well as  workshops, lectures and poetry readings. VIVA is community oriented and supports the arts in local schools by offering gallery showings of student work. Approximately 30 volunteers who are affectionately called “sitters,” staff the Center.

“They are all very talented people who act as docents,” says Uhri.

McClain explains that she first saw an opportunity to bring the group together through a block party in 2007 when they all agreed to set up tables with balloons and food at their respective businesses.

Diane

Two Tomatoes owner Diane Fonteboa with husband, Rene Fonteboa, owner of Blue Dart Digital.

Uhri says that when anyone has an event on the block, the other businesses are there for support. “When VIVA has a poetry reading, Andrea will provide coffee and baked goods and we all stay open for each other.”

Diane Fonteboa, who opened her uniquely appointed gift shop, Two Tomatoes, nearly two years ago after a career in interior design, says that there is a lot of “cross-marketing…we just all get along. We all know the struggles of having a business and we are here to support each other.”  The sentiment is echoed by her husband, Rene Fonteboa, who runs his business, Blue Dart Digital (artistic digital retouching), out of an office behind her store.

Matt Schwartz, who owns the Golden Monkey Healing Center and frequents M Street Coffee regularly for  McClain’s organic goods, and has been on the block a year, says it is the most supportive environment he’s worked in, simply explaining, “it feels like a real neighborhood.”

Ray

Ray Kiorkof, owner of Copy Hub.

Across the street is Copy Hub, a copy center, owned by affable Ray Kiorkof, who moved in nearly two and a half years ago. “I’ve been in this business for 20 years. I love the neighborhood, the location…I’ve never had a business that has grown so fast. I was fortunate to find a space here.”

Kelvin Jones, a businessman who lives nearby comes in often to use Kiorkof’s computer and fax. “He’s the best, hands on…Ray can help you solve anything.”  In fact, the businesses on the block use Copy Hub for their needs too.

Moorpark Village also boasts a few other businesses: Hygiea Health and Wellness, Proficiency Fitness,  and Finland Baths, a Valley mainstay that been at the same location for  51 years and is rich with Hollywood lore  (Sean Connery used to have his own locker in the men’s relaxation room labeled “007″).

Wonder if Andy Griffith ever had a locker labeled “Sheriff” in  Mayberry?  Hmmm.

Karen Young is the Publisher/Editor of My Daily Find

MOORPARK VILLAGE MERCHANTS

Blue Art Digital www.bluedartdigital.com

Copy Hubwww.copyhub.net

M Street Coffee and Photoflow Gallery www.mstreetcoffee.com

Two-Tomatoeswww.two-tomatoes.com

Finland Baths www.finlandbathsmassage.com

Proficiency Bathswww.proficiencyfitness.com

Golden Monkey Healing Centerwww.goldenmonkeyhealing.com

VIVA Art Center www.vivaartcenter.org

Hygiea Health and Wellness www.hygieahealth.com

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