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Chamber's Alex Stettinski Wants Beverly Hills to Shop Local

The head of the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce talks to Patch about why he lives and works in Beverly Hills.

You know Alex Stettinski is a busy guy. But when I visit him recently at his offices overlooking Little Santa Monica Boulevard, he still takes time out to go to his computer and research the different models of shockproof camera I'm considering buying.

"I love doing research," he says.

I suspect it's the same kind of patience and attention he's bringing to his job as Executive Director of the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce.

It isn't an easy one, he says. He's got to keep about 650 members happy--and they sure are a mixed lot.  They range from small sandwich shops serving locals to luxury brands like Gucci and Porsche who have come to Beverly Hills to polish their images internationally.

"There are a lot of people who take real pride in being part of the city," he says.  "And when you have a lot of people who take pride in things they become very particular. To bring all that together sometimes is challenging." 

One of the challenges Stettinski faces now is getting a share of those businesses to focus on the people who live and work in Beverly Hills through the chamber's new Shop Local program.

Beverly Hills, of course, is an international tourist destination. Its hotels and fine restaurants and tour buses cater to that.

The Beverly Hills Conference and Visitors Bureau, which used to be part of the Chamber, now markets Beverly Hills to the world, Stettinski says.

That gives the Chamber a heightened reason to focus on what businesses are offering residents and people who work in Beverly Hills, he says.

That's why the Chamber has launched a Shop Local program and a new website to complement it, he says.

The Chamber has also hired a street team to roam the streets. They're handing out recyclable shopping bags shoppers can present at businesses to take advantage of Shop Local programs.

Stettinski estimates about 25 percent of the 4,000 or so storefronts in Beverly Hills are mom and pops, small and truly independent and local.

The rest are part of larger organizations, which can make participation in a program like Shop Local more complicated, he says.

Many are also luxury brands, who don't like what Stettinski calls the D-word--discounting, preferring to offer add-ons like a gift or a special event to enhance the shopping experience.

Nonetheless, the program is up and running and offering deals like the 30 percent off at Theory Design available this week.

Scarpetta Restaurant has also offered a special deal.

Stettinski would also like to get more restaurants in particular involved, especially those along Canon Drive and South Beverly Drive, where business is booming.

Stettinski marks two years at the Chamber this month. After a number of years working downtown helped to market several business improvement districts there, he's still enjoying the chance to work so near where he lives.

He says he loved being in Downtown Los Angeles at such an exciting time in its rebirth. He says he fells the same sort of tipping point is coming soon for Beverly Hills, especially as the Southeast area of the city begins its renaissance.

Is Beverly Hills like Downtown L.A.?

Not really, says Stettinski.

"You have people with long histories in this community, through family and other personal ties. You don't really have that Downtown," he says.

'People want to preserve their history. But they also want to be up-to-date," he says. "It's a balance."

Mark Elliot May 01, 2013 at 07:00 AM
I've experienced one of the Chamber's roaming Shop Local teams and I wasn't impressed. I'm not sure that this effort will bring much local business to our less-conspicuous shopping districts like South Beverly (to say nothing of Robertson or the Western Gateway) or do much to persuade some of the 3,000+ storefront shops to join the Chamber. I hope that Mr. Stettinski's tenure downtown suggests a different approach to boosting local commerce: attracting the heretofore ignored cyclist (like me) who would pedal to Beverly Hills but choose to take their business to nearby cities that make at least some effort to welcome us. That means safe streets and bicycle racks. Good luck finding one of the latter in Beverly Hills. And you certainly won't find a bicycle lane or a share-the-road sign.

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