About a month ago now, I had contacted Hal Bastian, who is the Senior Vice President & Director of Economic Development for the Downtown Center Business Improvement District. He’s an incredible man, and he has tons of great ideas to bring business to downtown LA. Retail Smart Guys is going to be working with him in some aspect (in fact, we are doing an event there on June 24, more on that soon…).

Hal invited us to take a tour of downtown LA that he does monthly. I signed up because I realized that although I have been living in Los Angeles for 13 years, I know precious little about downtown LA.

Well let me tell you, the tour is absolutely amazing, and something that everyone must do. As a business owner, I was fascinated by all the different stories of businesses that saw success in the downtown area, how they made their deals, and what we (as business owners and entrepreneurs) can learn from all of that. It was inspiring to learn about downtown, not only from a historical perspective, but also from the perspective of what is possible there. The potential for growth, success, and just plain good business is overwhelming and exciting, all at the same time.

Other members of the tour and I were absolutely blown away by Hal’s depth of knowledge of Downtown LA. While walking through the tour, a fellow traveler and I wondered how Hal was able to remember all of those stories, facts, and figures? How did he keep track of all the possibilities and activities in downtown LA? Hal Bastian is a walking encyclopedia of downtown, and his passion and drive are infectious. I wish I had taped the tour so that I could replay and remember all the wonderful stories of the buildings, businesses, and people that he shared. At some point soon, I want to do that tour again. And I’ve never said that about any other tour, anywhere in the world!

I am now an ambassador for downtown LA. I’m already thinking of clients that can and should open stores on 7th Street, and more ways to help build that area. I do see the potential there. I want to help.

If you are in LA, I highly encourage you to take this tour. It’s so much fun, so fascinating, and if you are a retailer, you might find yourself thinking about how you could make it work to open a cool store down there. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!