Uptown Whittier is an oddball stretch that hosts a slew of niche businesses and subcultures. For example, a single stroll through Uptown will have you walking by shops dedicated to comics, vintage toys, rockabilly culture, candles and potpourri (Grandma culture), cigars, Mexican artisanal gifts, skateboards and even palm readings. And in the midst of Uptown's mismatched charm is Local Fixture, which somehow manages to be a boutique, coffee lounge, gift shop, modern-day general store and a local hangout spot all in one.
David and Jason Chung are the owners and founders, two brothers originally from Claremont who found themselves in the 562 after Jason fell in love with a Whittier native and her hometown (they don't say "Whittier, where the girls are prettier" for nothing, ya know). After growing fond of the city, the Chung Bros then opened Local Fixture's doors in 2013 with a concept of being "this generation's general store," where men, women and their children can find something neat and in style without having to drive out to Fullerton, Pasadena or Los Angeles to get it. "We try to bring in brands that are not well represented in Whittier or this area," says David.
Such brands include Patagonia, Herschel Supply Co., Stance, Stanley, SanTana's own Suavecito Pomade and other hipster favorites. "We just wanted a place that is a collective of all the things that we personally like," says David. Both brothers thoughtfully curate the shop's ever-changing stock while also taking in suggestions from friends and family.
Local Fixture also carries Whittier-centric merch supplied by local business and bloggers such as My Whittier and Off The Hook Fish Grill. However, the Chung's own "Whittier Local" and "Whittier Dead Poet Society" (a clever reference to Whittier College's "Poets" mascot and the Dead Poets Society film starring Robin Williams) graphic tee-shirts have been the biggest hits among the hometown gear so far.
Six months ago, Local Fixture opened up a coffee bar brewing the Portland-based Stumptown Coffee and dishing out Donut Snob donuts—so beautifully designed, you'll feel guilty gnawing on them. Ever since the addition, Local Fixture's business has been booming more than ever. The simple and Instagram-friendly breakfast has become highly sought after among Uptown Whittier goers who were previously missing out on high-quality java and gourmet pastries. "There [wasn't] a specialty coffee bar or shop in Whittier," says Jason. (Unless you include Talias Coffee Co., all the way across town in East Whittier.) "What we found out is that people were actually driving from Whittier all the way to Downtown [LA] just for [Stumptown] coffee!" Jason says.
Now, Dub Towner's don't have to hop on the freeway for a quality cup of joe or for a cool hang out spot. Instead, they're staying local, and Uptown Whittier's current economic boom is proof of it. But, "There is that tension, right? You want Whittier to grow but you also want to maintain the integrity of it and support the local infrastructure, the local economy and people who live here," says Jason.
Aside from collaborating with local businesses, Local Fixture also keeps a friendly rapport with regulars such as Whittier's favorite backyard cacti gardener, Don Kline, who stopped by to grab a cup of coffee during our interview and was cordially greeted by the Chung Bros. Jason says that Local Fixture upholds a dedication to locals and visitors by being "not just a store but a community experience."
Even the shop's very own name signifies a dedication to neighborhood camaraderie, "It's a play on words we wanted to be a fixture in the local community," says Jason, who shares that the quaint building the shop calls home also once housed Southern California Edison offices back in the 1950's. "We started thinking about things that sort of related to Edison, electricity, lighting, fixtures…lighting fixtures, Local Fixture!"