Opinion: Small vs. Large Businesses in Malibu

Scarlett Craven


For years Malibu has been welcoming new small and big businesses, although the new big businesses have not been welcomed by Malibu’s locals . Malibu’s businesses range from chain grocery stores owned by corporations to small clothing boutiques run by a local parent. These stores, big or small, make up the community and allow residents to shop for groceries, clothing and various other items with easy accessibility. A common concern amongst Malibu locals is the spread of big businesses, such as Whole Foods, coming to Malibu. However, some residents want the larger businesses to bring more money and tourism to Malibu. Some shoppers may also feel that the small businesses are more expensive to shop at than the big businesses. Mr. Hacker, Malibu High School art teacher, when asked if there are cons to shopping at small businesses, said “I don’t think so, maybe the higher prices”.  A good portion of the locals, however, have attempted to prevent large developments for big business to preserve the small businesses in Malibu but have been met with an opposition.

The most recent development in the large vs. small business fight was Measure R. In 2014 Measure R, a proposal that stated that any new development over 20,000 25,000 square feet has to be placed in the ballot and voted on by the public, was approved. This meant that developers would have difficulty creating new business centers and establishing bigger corporate owned businesses without the community’s consent. The measure was challenged by developers like Steve Soboroff, a developer involved in building the Staple’s Center, who wanted to develop a shopping center over 38,000 square feet and build a Whole Foods that would be 24,000 square feet, which by the way is small for a Whole Foods. Malibu High School Junior Olivia Taras feels that “A new shopping center would be bad in my opinion because then Malibu would become more populated and attract more tourists; what makes Malibu so unique is that it isn’t commercialized and there aren’t many large businesses”. Olivia’s point is true, Malibu is very supportive of locally owned businesses, but developers are looking for profit and seemingly do not care much about the effect the big business they would bring would have on smaller business. If the plaza were to be built, I feel it would be unnecessary, as Cross Creek, which has plenty of shopping locations and restaurants is right next to the area where it would be built. The Whole Foods would accompany four other grocery markets spread out around Malibu, two of which are similar to the Whole Foods “type” grocery store, and one, Ralph’s, which would literally be right across PCH.  PC Greens, a health food store, has been family operated for 23 years and a Whole Foods nearby on PCH could possibly hurt their profit. Vintage Grocers in Trancas has a similar layout to Whole Foods and granted they are expanding to Westlake soon, they source local produce and coordinate community events in Trancas. While the two smaller grocers above have been critiqued on the higher prices of their food, I think those prices are justified because of the better quality and locally sourced food they sell. I believe that Malibu has gone through a lot of development in the past six or seven years with Trancas being completely redone and the Lumber Yard developer, Richard Weintraub, who later sold the Lumber Yard for several million dollars, allowing high end business into the Malibu Lumber Yard after renovations. The approval of Measure R is seen as a victory by local Malibu residents, especially those opposing development seven years ago in Trancas, with the slogan “Don’t Cross Creek Trancas”. Although Trancas has been developed by corporations, small businesses such as Drill, still remain. The new development of Trancas has been a positive thing because of the inclusion of small businesses. As Mr. Evenson said “I like the quality of food better at Vintage compared to How’s (a grocery store that closed before development began.”, seeing that the change was a good thing, which I can agree with because of the attention to quality. Olivia Taras also added “The pros of large businesses are that they are more convenient and cheaper, although the cons would be that if you support large business, you could be supporting unethical labor.” Unethical and sweatshop labor is something prevalent in big corporations and effects my view of a company, because of the inhumane treatment which would lead me and others to not shop at businesses with unethical practices. The small and locally owned businesses in Malibu do not partake in that practice making them better to shop at. One of the businesses in Malibu that has survived development is the Trancas Canyon Nursery which is still around after more than 10 years in the same location, despite bigger stores like Starbucks and wealthy businesses like Irit Design, moving in around it, as has Lily’s in spite of rising rent prices in the Point Dume area. Those same high rent prices drove Point Pizza, a beloved local business, to close due to higher rent. The bigger corporate owned businesses and developments are a necessary evil in Malibu. They provide quick and cheap ways to get groceries, last minute art project supplies, and provide cheap dining. They also provide social spaces, most notably Pavilions, a hangout for Malibu High students. If you normally shop big business make sure to stop by locally owned businesses such as Malibu Yogurt, Lily’s, or PC Greens and the like. Despite the obvious attempts to make Malibu commercialized, with an Urban Outfitters in Cross Creek and the plethora of high end businesses in Malibu’s Lumber Yard, the community will maintain its identity and continue to support the smaller, locally businesses, by fighting to keep out big corporate developments.


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