When Vivian Gueler signed a lease for office space on Larchmont Blvd. in 2011, she knew she had stumbled onto something special. Five years later, she is a local resident, has a child enrolled in a nearby preschool, and is volunteering to help organize the Larchmont Family Fair.
“The neighborhood is really unique,” says Gueler, adding, “I instantly loved it and wanted to make it my home.”
Born in Sherman Oaks, Gueler is a Los Angeles native and a proud UCLA alumnus, but says she wasn’t really aware of Larchmont Village until a chance encounter. A partner at Pacific Trust Group (a boutique mortgage brokerage), Gueller was tasked with finding new office space for the business, and it was during that search she fell in love with the neighborhood.
“I didn’t originally know how strong the sense of community was in this area, and how much Larchmont Blvd. served as a base and meeting point for the adjacent neighborhoods,” she explains.
At the time, Gueler was living in a Beverly Hills condo, having just given birth to her daughter, Nikka. But she was “looking for something more” from a neighborhood.
Less than a year after relocating her business to Larchmont, she bought a house in Brookside and enrolled Nikka at Plymouth Preschool.
In fact, according to Gueler, it’s no accident that she now lives, works and spends much of her time around Larchmont Blvd. “It was strategic. It makes my life both easy and happy,” she says with a laugh.
“We’re never moving. The area is like Mayberry in the middle of Los Angeles.”
No surprise then that Gueler was quickly inspired to give back to the community as a volunteer.
“This area is community driven and people really do know each other. I wanted to get involved to meet neighbors and do what I can to help the community,” she says.
After joining the Larchmont Boulevard Association (LBA) earlier this year, Gueler learned there was a need for volunteers to help organize the Larchmont Family Fair.
“Betsy Malloy is really the event’s organizer, I’m just helping where I can with sponsorships and budgets and things like that,” says Gueler.
The Larchmont Family Fair is an annual event each October, sponsored by the LBA, that brings more than 10,000 people to Larchmont Blvd. for a weekend of competitions, exhibitors, rides and vendors.
“Other neighborhoods do fairs, but not like this,” says Gueler, who hopes her efforts as a volunteer help to preserve the tradition.
On the topic of preserving the neighborhood, the Chronicle asked Gueler (a mortgage broker) her thoughts on the growing number of storefront vacancies on Larchmont Blvd.
“I’m not worried in that I know they’re going to get rented. I do feel that the price per square foot that the owners of these buildings are trying to attain is quite high. And I think it’s going to prohibit mom-and-pop type retailers from being able to go in and thrive because they’re going to always have to worry about being able to pay rent,” explains Gueler.
“It’s disappointing,” she continues, “The fact that there are 13 vacancies right now should be a signal to the owners that, perhaps, the price per square foot is a little high. When you have turn-over like that, it’s certainly not ideal and it’s a sign.”
Regardless, Gueler says she expects a bright future for the Larchmont communities: “It’s crazy how many people I meet that grew up here and want to stay here. I find that quite unusual for such a large city.
“They want their kids to have a similar experience to their own. A lot of people grow up here and leave for school or whatever, but then come back in their 30’s and 40’s. I think that’s telling, right?”