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Changing L.A. retail scene: Active Ride Shop up for auction, Opening Ceremony to close stores

Active Ride Shop, a Rancho Cucamonga-based action sports retailer that weathered the economic ups and downs of the last three decades and introduced countless SoCal kids to surf, skate and streetwear brands like Volcom, RVCA and the Hundr along the way, is headed to the auction block next week.

According to a legal notice published Friday in The Times, Malibu-based GemCap Lending I is putting the intellectual property (including the name, trademark, website domain name and customer list), store fixtures, inventory and accounts receivable on the auction block on Jan. 22. Active Ride Shop’s corporate entity is Active Holdings LLC, whose parent company is Chatsworth-based apparel manufacturer APS Global.

Although the status of Active’s network of approximately two dozen bricks-and-mortar stores is unclear, a Tuesday visit to the El Segundo location during business hours found it closed. The interior was empty save a few fixtures and a bedraggled Christmas tree. Calls to several other stores also during business hours — including the Irvine, Menifee, Orange and Rancho Cucamonga locations — went unanswered, and the retailer’s website currently displays a banner reading “Under construction. Be back soon!” On Wednesday, a company representative, reached via email, said additional information couldn’t be provided at this time.

John Wallace and his son, Shane, opened the first Active Ride Shop in Chino in 1989 to cater to the burgeoning Southern California skate market, following it up with store No. 2 in Rancho Cucamonga in 1991. By the time it notched its 20th anniversary, Active had grown its footprint to 29 stores. That was the same year it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Acquired out of bankruptcy auction by a new owner, it changed hands a few times before being acquired by APS Global in 2018.

Opening Ceremony

Active Ride Shop isn’t the only retail brand with SoCal connections making store-closure news this week. On Tuesday, Opening Ceremony founders Carol Lim and Humberto Leon (who also served as co-creative directors of LVMH’s label Kenzo from 2011 to 2019) announced that their four multibrand boutiques — one each in Tokyo and Los Angeles and two in New York — would be closing “sometime in 2020.”

“We’ve made a decision to focus on growing [the] Opening Ceremony collection and brand with our new partners, New Guards Group, and expand the designs of Opening Ceremony,” the duo said in an email announcing the news.

Both Lim and Leon hail from Southern California and met at University of California, Berkeley, in the early 1990s. In 2002, they opened their first Opening Ceremony store in New York, taking inspiration from the joyful, international vibe of the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

The merchandise mix followed suit, showcasing and championing little-known designers from far-flung places like Brazil and Hong Kong along with stateside upstarts at the time; among them were Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler, Rodarte and Band of Outsiders.