Ocean Blue has been a bustling community store on the Venice Boardwalk for over 20 years. On Dec. 4, Ocean Blue will put on a farewell party for the community from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. The party will feature live music and poetry, art, refreshments and tasty treats. Performers featured will be: poet Ava Bird, singer/guitarist Greg Cruz with Petr Hromadko on upright bass, as well as singer-songwriters Geoffrey J and Kathy Leonardo.
On this special day, Ocean Blue will slash prices 50-percent on all merchandise. A unique shop located right on the boardwalk, Ocean Blue features an eclectic mix of merchandise such as colorful painted wood framed mirrors, incense, candles and beautiful sterling silver jewelry. The atmosphere has always been a relaxed vibe filled with unique gift items from Bali, wood sculptures and mermaids with wings dangling from the ceiling.
Larry Gutin, owner of Ocean Blue, has been part of the Venice scene prior to opening the shop for many years.
Gutin explains. “My dad started a T-shirt business on the beach back in 1978. Back in those days, Venice Beach had stalls that you could rent and sell your wares.”
Since his parents divorced, Gutin lived full time with his mother in New York but would spend the summers in Los Angeles with his dad. In 1982 Gutin’s older brother, Jeff, took the shop over. Then in 1983 Larry moved to Los Angeles and worked while he went to college.
In 1990, Gutin traveled to Indonesia. He fell in love with Bali and the beautiful arts and crafts made there. Gutin shipped some merchandise back to Jeff to see if it would sell. It was indeed a huge hit in Venice, and Gutin continued to bring beautiful items from Bali to sell at Ocean Blue. Silver jewelry was added to the product line at Ocean Blue. Jeff decided to retire from the business, leaving Larry as the chief in command.
The economy definitely affected sales at Ocean Blue in the last four or five years, but Gutin managed to stick it out with the help of the Venice community’s support. When asked if he is sad about closing, he shrugs and says, “It’s time for a change.” Gutin is starting a new business, but in the meantime has decided to go out with a bang with the farewell party.
When asked why he continued the business for so long, Gutin explains, “Everyday I would meet smiling tourists from all over the world. It was a great place to come to work everyday, not to mention that when I built the store I made sure the register had a direct view of the beach and its sunsets.”
Gutin is a big supporter of the arts. Each month, Ocean Blue would participate in the Venice Art Crawl featuring local artists at their store. He also has consistently donated merchandise to charity events such as Jazz at the Palms Court and the Venice Music Festival, for their silent auction, which benefitted the Venice Community Housing Corporation.
So come on by on Sunday, Dec. 4 from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. Celebrate 20 years with Gutin and the Ocean Blue crew. Pick up some holiday gifts at exceptional prices. Drink, eat and be merry. Enjoy snacks, refreshments and live music.
Life is all about change; it’s time for the next chapter. Ocean Blue will remain open through Jan. 4.
For more information, visit shopoceanblue.com. Ocean Blue is located at 1313 Ocean Front Walk, Venice.