Roy Robbins, a former business leader in Pacific Palisades, passed away at his boyhood home in Long Beach sometime on November 25. He was 70.
Born on June 3, 1950, Roy attended David Starr Jordan High School in Long Beach and graduated from Colorado State University.
After college, he worked as a gift buyer for Bullocks Wilshire/I Magnin, and later became a group manager at Bloomindales.
Gifts and unique pieces were Roy’s specialty, and in 2001 he opened Roy Robbins Gifts and Stationery at 1030 Swarthmore (across from Mort’s Deli).
Roy described his store as being filled with “Artful gifts from local artists and home decor. We carry William Arthur personalized stationery and a wonderful assortment of greeting cards. Most of our merchandise is made in America like Bauer Pottery, jewelry, and gourmet doggie treats. We also carry one-of-a-kind cashmere and cotton doggie sweaters. I believe in recycling, so a portion of the store is dedicated to sustainable goods.”
Affable and astute, Roy became a mainstay on Swarthmore. Even when not shopping for a gift, friends liked to drop by to share gossip and enjoy his sly sense of humor.
Jeff Ridgway, who worked at Village Books and now works at Collections Antiques, remembers Roy’s oversized personality. “Roy was a larger than life presence on Swarthmore Avenue, and was an avid supporter of the Palisades Community.”
Roy was an active board member with the Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce and served as president in 2006-2007.
His predecessor, Sandy Eddy, wrote on Facebook: “Roy Robbins brought joy, love and laughter to all while he had a store in the Palisades. So sorry to hear of his passing. To his family and friends, so sorry for your loss.”
Jackie Maduff, whose late husband, Arnie Wishnick, was the long-time executive director of the Chamber, told Circling the News: “I’m so sorry to hear about Roy. I know he was ill for quite a while. I still remember Roy’s store on Swarthmore and that he and Arnie liked to go for taquitos at the Garden Cafe.”
In May 2009, Roy moved his store to Bixby Knolls, an upscale neighborhood in Long Beach. He said, “Having grown up here I was excited to move the store to my old neighborhood. My mom still resides here in the house I grew up in, so I have a vested interest in the community.”
Roy shared his thoughts on gift-giving on Youtube (Click here.)
“You want a gift that a recipient is going to remember for a long time,” he said. “You want it unique and exciting. I try to specialize in things that will have an emotional impact on a person.”
In that respect, Roy was a gift to those around him—he was unique, exciting and left an emotional impact on all who knew him.
Former Palisadian Mary Cole, a close friend who worked at the store on Sundays so that he could have the day off, said that Roy’s immediate family consisted of his mother’s niece, Earleen Sharr-Norris. His mother, Thelma LaVern Robbins, passed away in 2012.
In his mother’s obit, Roy wrote: “In lieu of flowers or donations, call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while and brighten their day.”
Cole said, “He loved barbeques at his Long Beach home every Fourth of July, so maybe at that time next year, a memorial can be held.”