The Humble Hippie: a neighborhood-friendly blast to the past
by Terrie Leigh Relf
Dec 13, 2012 | 4924 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Wesley Young, owner of Humble Hippie on Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach, said he is trying to make a difference in the community — both as a merchant and as a contributor to the neighborhood.                                                                                 Photo by Terrie Leigh Relf I The Beacon
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Dusty Ray and Wesley Young, two life-long friends from Missouri, opened The Humble Hippie in September. Located on the northeast corner of Cable Street and Newport Avenue, what used to be a predominantly “by appointment only” interior design firm is now a welcoming neighborhood stop.

Grateful Dead, Cream and Johnny Cash tunes emanate from an old speaker. The sweet scent of nag champa incense wafts on the breeze. There’s a big, comfy couch, plush rugs, bursts of color and upcycled store fixtures. If that’s not enough to beckon you inside, there’s a hat tree of fedoras, retro-esque dresses and jackets, band shirts, Indian bedspreads, sturdy canvas backpacks and tie-dyed baby clothes.

Ray, who has opened and sold several clothing and specialty shops in Missouri and Colorado, recently moved his family to Carlsbad and has been assisting Young, who has lived in Ocean Beach for the last eight years, in opening the store.

“We want to be part of the neighborhood where we do business,” Ray said. “One of our missions is to connect people, and we’re currently in the planning stages with a few get-to-know-your-neighbors events. It’s amazing how often people’s paths cross on the street, and they don’t realize how much they have in common — especially music.

“It’s also about neighborhood pride,” he said. “It’s the little things that make a difference. In the morning, you’re sweeping up the sidewalk, feeling great. People start caring. We have customers going in and out, and it feels more like a neighborhood. We took the bars off the windows so it looks more like the original 1951 black-and-white photograph.”

Ray and Young said they believe in the adage of “keep it flowing” in more ways than one. They receive new inventory on a weekly basis.

“When I buy band T-shirts, I choose five of each style,” said Ray. “As soon as they sell, I’ll purchase more with the same band, but with different shirts. It’s important to change it up.”

Their sustainable business model includes the brick-and-mortar aspects of the store itself and the way they interact with their patrons. Their fixtures and interiors are mostly recycled, reconstructed or upcycled materials. Old doors have been reused for the fitting rooms or have been refurbished as tables, shelves and benches. A 100-year-old Marston Department Store display case contains stickers and buttons. The sofa was found on Craig’s list, the rugs from a garage sale, the old-fashioned children’s desk from an alley. Many of the records that decorate the space were found in mint condition, and there are donated lamps and speakers.

“It’s important to reuse,” said Young, who is also a custom acoustic guitar builder.

Ray added another layer to the methodology.

“Another one of our goals is to help the homeless and clean up the neighborhood, including the beach,” said Ray. “The locals have already been coming into the shop saying, ‘Thanks for cleaning up the corner,’ ‘Thanks for making the bus stop cooler, for cleaning up the trash, the bottles and the cans.’ I’m getting to know some of the homeless teens and adults in the neighborhood, who took care of that cleanup. I’ve learned they usually go hungry on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so we’d like to remedy that by feeding them in exchange for beach and neighborhood cleanups.”

Ray said he’s looking into local laws to ensure their proposed projects aren’t violating any city ordinances.

“We want to do something positive to make a difference, but don’t want to cause any ripples,” he said.

The Humble Hippie is located at 4896 Newport Ave. at the intersection with Cable Street. For information, call (619) 501-5091, or visit obhumblehippie.com.

The store is open Mondays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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