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Storm-damaged newsstand reopens

Almost six months after a mudflow caused by a winter storm destroyed World Newsstand in Laguna Beach, it is now open for business at its original site at 190 Ocean Ave.

Owner Heidi Miller, who also owns Tight Assets, a sportswear store a block away, walked downtown Dec. 22 to discover that everything — including newspapers, magazines, racks and even the cash register — was ruined.

The water had rushed in through the 20-foot wooden doors, covering the small area with 3 to 4 feet of mud.

She estimated the damage at $15,000.

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“My philosophy is that you can look at the bright side or look at the dark side,” she said, choosing the former. “I thought, ‘I might not be able to open today, but I will reopen.’ ”

The reopening date was uncertain partly because Tight Assets was damaged much more than the newsstand, at a loss of close to $120,000. Miller was able to get the store back to full capacity within a month.

Although she said the newsstand isn’t a big moneymaker, she wanted to restore it because she felt it was an important part of the community.

“So many of all of the little independent businesses in Laguna Beach are closing, especially those that are literary,” she said. “It breaks my heart. I think it’s tremendously important to any community, especially to Laguna Beach, which tends to be worldlier.”

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Laguna Beach is an artsy, eclectic town, she said, and the newsstand fits right in.

She said the city’s support has made the reopening special. “There had to be 1,000 people that came by, drove by honking their horns, or called us and said, ‘Thank goodness you’re open,’ ” she said. “I had a really big smile on my face the whole Memorial Day weekend because of all the kind words.”

Employee Earl Longstreet said he might be new to the job but not new to the stand. A resident of Laguna Beach for nearly 40 years, Longstreet is looking forward to watching the ocean from the cash register.

“It’s probably the simplest place in town,” he said. “It’s a friendly place where locals wave at each other.”

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The only remnant of the newsstand before the flood is a brass table. When the water hit, it changed the finish, giving it a patina, Miller said. She keeps it as a reminder.

joanna.clay@latimes.com


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