Santa Monica ‘Buy Local’ expo entertains and informs

Just after 12:30p.m., as the rain clouds finally broke and allowed the sun to shine down on last Saturday’s second annual “Buy Local Expo” in Downtown Santa Monica, a sigh of relief came from Chamber Of Commerce CEO Laurel Rosen. This year’s event had already been delayed a week due to poor weather.

Rosen explained the importance of buying local in order to maintain a world-class economy in Santa Monica during this economic downturn. That being said, business seemed to be doing just fine, as expo participants at the promenade took in $44,644 dollars in just four hours, despite the early rain.

As Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom made his closing statement, he drew the raffle winners. Prizes included a variety of gift baskets ranging from $725 - $1,000 in value, and an intricate black-and-white print of the Santa Monica coast, worth $1,270. Bloom seemed satisfied with the turnout, stating that the program had grown in size each of the three years it had existed. Before exiting the stage, Mayor Bloom triumphantly shouted, “I here by proclaim this Buy Local weekend!”

Around 2:00p.m., sensei Ryan Rubens of Longevity Martial Arts studios had stepped on to the Whole Foods market stage on the corner of Fifth and Wilshire.  Rubens was dressed in a black gi and took a Kung-Fu-style “horse stance” in front of a slab of wood suspended between two cinder blocks.

The sensei  raised his right hand high over his head, then pulled it down slowly, letting out a loud hiss as his hand shook  with controlled tension. After two quick practice swings, Rubens shouted, “kiai!” and thrust his hand through the board, “that’s how you break wood,” he proclaimed amidst cheers  from the audience.

Rubens’ was just one of  90 exhibitions who  set up shop at the Third Street Promenade to promote the city’s “Buy Local” program. There were booths showing everything from natural foods to taxi services, alongside local artists and business groups.

The evening’s entertainment was presented on two small stages located at either end of the Promenade featuring a variety of performances, a raffle and a citywide scavenger hunt, there were plenty of activities to keep visitors busy.

Susan Abrams and Jim Jesco supervised daughter Karolyn as she colored a free “Buy Local” tote bag. The family came to the Promenade to see a movie, but  got caught up in the festivities instead. The young family live in Santa Monica and try to do the majority of their shopping locally. They explained that they are able to find most of what they need without having to leave the city.

Just before  Mayor  Bloom took the stage to finalize the day’s festivities, the crowd was  treated to the hard-rocking sounds of “The Ghouls.” The band, comprised of 8-year-old Ezra Golub, who plays the guitar, his 10-year-old brother, Leo Golub, on the bass, and friend Logan Fischer on drums jammed out a modified version of  “The Casualties’” classic “Punx United,”  fittingly retitled  “Kids United.”