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Laguna Beach

 Volume 12, Issue 64  |  August 11, 2020


Riches abound at Treasures of Laguna, a unique shop offering retail with a purpose and heart

Story by DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Beach is full of treasures, both natural and manmade, and now there’s a new one in town. Treasures of Laguna brings a bounty of riches – thrift and vintage clothing and collectibles, as well creations from local artists and artisans – to the space formerly occupied by Second Chance Thrift Store on Broadway. 

Treasures of Laguna is part of Net-Works Laguna Beach 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. With Don Sciortino at the helm, its mission, along with the retail vintage store Laguna Exchange, is to support local artists while at the same time aiding the community. The proceeds from both stores benefit the homeless, single mothers, and those struggling with addiction and mental illness – by helping them progress into a “new season of life,” as Don calls it. 

riches abound Karen and Don

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Don and Karen Sciortino standing in front of a photograph by Terry Rogers of Laguna Hardwood Floors

“We had talked about taking it [the thrift store location] on as a complement to Laguna Exchange,” says Don.

On April 1, after Joanie and Larry Ginsberg retired from two decades of running Second Hand Thrift Store and passed the keys on to Don and his wife Karen, the renovation began.

“We were here every day,” Don admits.

The transformation has been nothing less than miraculous.

During the renovation, the Sciortinos made a surprising discovery under the old carpeting – mid-century parquet floors, which were refinished to a pristine state by Terry Rogers of Laguna Hardwood Floors.

Due to the pandemic, Treasures of Laguna opened on Memorial Day with a soft opening. (Laguna Exchange opened five years ago on the same holiday.) 

Lots of Laguna connections

Everywhere one looks, there is evidence of a link to the town, whether it be a business, a business owner, or a local artist.

In addition to vintage and contemporary clothing, Treasures of Laguna serves as a gallery for extraordinary items – jewelry, blown glass, woodwork, paintings, and photographs – from 11 Sawdust artists. There is no consignment fee.

riches abound sign

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Sign made and donated by Tex, owner and founder of Victoria Skimboards 

Even before one enters the shop, the connection to the community begins.

The sign in the front window was made and donated by Tex, the owner and founder of legendary Victoria Skimboards. 

The signage on the side of the store was made from a salvaged piece of wood Don found, and surprisingly, after it was refinished, fit perfectly into the space without being cut down. 

Sawdust resident artist Shamus was commissioned to do “The Tree of Life,” which hangs just inside the entrance. The butterflies were placed in remembrance of those who recently died of drug overdoses, and their names will soon be put on each butterfly.

Many of the fixtures – including the counter – are from Landmark Surf Store when it went out of business. “We paid pennies on the dollar, and they donated some as well,” Don says.

Astrid from European Optical donated the glass display cases for jewelry and blown glass.

Chris Hitchcock from Coyote Woodworks built the consoles for displaying merchandise in the center of the store.

Julianna, a local 16-year-old, designed the store’s logo.

A Laguna College of Art and Design student made the signage.

riches abound shoes

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Sneakers painted by Destiny Thompson 

What do you do with a donated case of sneakers that are slightly stained? 

Destiny Thompson, who grew up in Laguna and now attends Pacific North West as a general fine arts major, had an idea. She painted each pair in a one- of-a-kind design. Along with the shoes, she sells her handsewn purses and earrings.

That’s just one example of how the shop provides a place for young artists to show their work and connect with the community.

Don is all about involving young people in the store. “High school kids do their community service hours here.” 

A tight-knit team 

A team of workers and volunteers keeps the shop going.

Tama Riley come over from Second Chance Thrift Store and in September will have put in 14 years. Needless to say, she knows the business and the customers and their kids and offers a feeling of continuity to the shop.

riches abound girls

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Tama Riley (on left) and Stacey Larsen 

Don says, “Tama gives the personal touch. When the store closed and then reopened, she reappeared, and it was like a reunion for customers.”

Tama remembers longtime customer and artist Shane Dunlap and his daughter. A Sawdust woodworker, his gorgeous hand-carved ukulele is displayed on the wall. 

“His daughter used to sit on my lap and punch the cash register keys and now she’s a student at Princeton,” says Tama.

Another member of the store team, Stacey Larsen, has been a volunteer for five years, putting her expertise from years in the industry into selecting the clothes (and other items) that go into the store. The more upscale clothing goes to Laguna Exchange – which is more of a retail boutique – and what doesn’t go into Treasures of Laguna is put on a table every Sunday at the breakfast gatherings Don holds at the Woman’s Club for those without permanent homes. Stacey also handles the washing and cleaning of the garments when they come in – a big job considering the number of donations. 

riches abound inside

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Consoles for merchandise were made by Chris Hitchcock of Laguna Woodworking

Dan says, “Tama and Stacey are gifted. They know what they’re doing.” 

Regarding the renovation and passing of the mantle, Tama says, “I love the change. It’s a breath of fresh air. Not a finer man could have inherited this store.”

Stacey says, “There is something here for everyone here – all ages.”

It’s obvious that Tama and Stacey have worked together for five years. The atmosphere is fun and upbeat. 

Two members of Helping Hands From the Homeless (a work program Don began to help “our homeless friends give back and get back into the workforce and move out of homelessness”) also work there. 

The job served as a stepping stone for Jason, who from his position at Treasures of Laguna, got another job at BJ’s Restaurant and is now off the streets and living in the Friendship Shelter. 

Local artists and artisans

Since Sawdust is not in traditional format this year, Treasures of Laguna gives local artists and artisans a place to sell their works. 

Glass cases hold jewelry by Mary Ann Guerra and blown glass items by Barbara Lolli. 

riches abound tree2

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“Tree of Life” sculpture by local artist Shamus

Also on display is “Laguna Beach Street Art,” which is jewelry made by street friends.

There are paintings by Donita Lloyd and feathered earrings by Kate Cleaves. Artist John Eagle has already sold three of his paintings.

There’s a wide variety of diverse and intriguing items – from a framed program and ticket from Woodstock to a luxurious Kimono from China.

“Donations have been flowing in. We’ve lowered our prices. More and more people are coming in,” says Don. “We meet other nonprofits and partner with them to help people and unify the community. We welcome partnerships and the donations.”

In the future – once things are back to normal – he has plans to feature live music. Soon wood sculpture planters from artist Matumba, whose work Don saw at the Alternative Sleeping Location, will be placed in front of the store and planted with succulents.

This is no ordinary shop, but you have visit it to experience the difference for yourself. 

It’s retail therapy with a purpose, a heart, and a treasure chest full of fun.

Treasures of Laguna is located at 355 Broadway St.

For more information, go to www.treasuresoflaguna.org or call (949) 228-8457.

 

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: [email protected] for questions about advertising

949.315.0259

Email: [email protected] with news releases, letters, etc.

949.315.0259

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