Palisades Chamber of Commerce Loses Lease, Seeks Merger with Malibu Chamber 

In 2019, Marilyn Crawford packed up the Chamber Office. before the remodel. Her boss Arnie Wishnick is in the back chatting with people who stopped by.
The current chamber, which has been located at this site for decades, will close.

The Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1949 and has been an institution on Antioch Street for decades. Yesterday (November 4), President/CEO Bob Benton and Board Chair Sarah Knauer send the following letter to Chamber members:

The last couple of years have been challenging, not only for you and all our local businesses but also for the Chamber of Commerce.  

 During this time, we have done our best to operate virtually via eBlasts, social media, Zoom meetings, and events. Unfortunately, despite our significant efforts to continue to provide value to our members, the Palisades Chamber and so many other chambers across the country have seen a substantial decrease in membership since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. 

 Simultaneously, within the last few weeks, our landlord made the unilateral decision not to renew our lease for the space on Antioch Street that the Chamber has occupied for so many years. 

 These two events put us at an interesting crossroads, and we felt it was time to revisit an opportunity that we had explored a couple of years ago — a merger with another boutique, local chamber.

 Recently, we began negotiations with the Malibu Chamber of Commerce. Pending the final approval by both boards, we hope to officially announce the merger as the new Greater Malibu Palisades Chamber of Commerce.

 I, along with our Board Chair, Sarah Knauer, and other Palisades board members, will continue to sit on the combined board and play an active role in the organization. We believe combining forces with Malibu will enhance the opportunities for you and your business. 

 When the merger becomes final, your membership will carry over to the Greater Malibu Palisades Chamber, and we strongly encourage you to renew for 2022. Look out for a bill this December. 

 It has been an honor to serve this town as President and Chair of the Chamber.” 

Over the years, the Chamber of Commerce played a vital role in Pacific Palisades, not only by working on behalf of the business community, but also by organizing various community-wide events for everyone’s enjoyment.

Looking through a 2005 Community Business Directory, the Chamber listed its annual events, including New Member Breakfasts, Auto Show, Holiday Ho!Ho!Ho!, the Polo Tournament, Movies in the Park, Seminars, Health Fair, Sidewalk Sale, Village Fair and sponsoring the Mr. & Miss Palisades content.

Every two years or so, the Chamber also inducted a new honorary mayor at its annual membership dinner.

Under Sponsored Special Programs, the Chamber hosted an earthquake and disaster preparedness committee, Graffiti-busters, P.R.I.D.E., Sheriff’s Posse and a street/sidewalk maintenance program.

The directory noted: “The major responsibility of the Chamber is to further the economic well-being of the business community. The Chamber functions as the ‘headquarters’ for the business community by representing and promoting its member businesses.

“The Chamber serves as the information center for the area, greeting newcomers and answering questions about shopping, employment, housing, schools, recreation and other community amenities.”

For more than 20 years, starting in 1993, Arnie Wishnick served as the Chamber’s much-beloved executive director, ably assisted by Marilyn Crawford at the front desk and computer. Everyone was welcomed and there were usually treats on the table for visitors, (and a biscuit for canine friends). This was a good place to hear a juicy rumor or learn fresh news about what was happening around town, and to meet other people. Arnie would sometimes be visiting with the current honorary mayor, or a past mayor who stopped in to visit.

We miss those days when the Chamber provided an important heartbeat in Pacific Palisades.

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8 Responses to Palisades Chamber of Commerce Loses Lease, Seeks Merger with Malibu Chamber 

  1. Annine Madok says:

    With all due respect, this makes no sense. The challenges the businesses face in PP (part of city of LA) are completely different than those of the city of malibu (its own city). The clientele is different, the business regulatory climate is different, the challenges of the physical layout are different. Better to simply allow someone or something else to take over the non profit or to let it lapse temporarily so it could be revived than merge it with another entity and never be able to extricate it and not have it for the benefit of local business. It just makes no sense.

  2. Winston Salser says:

    Thanks for telling us how the Chamber of Commerce worked
    I never really knew until now when you are consolidating with Malibu. I hope you can continue to be as effective as a consolidated office

  3. Lifetime Palisadian says:

    Such sad news, another longtime Palisades organization fading away.

    No doubt the landlord at least thinks they can charge substantially more in light of what is being charged in Carusoville. Whether a profitable business in the Palisades can support those rents is highly questionable.

    However, it cannot be ignored that the elimination of Chamber projects such as the annual Santa Ho!Ho!Ho!, elimination of litter pickup in the business district, etc., and installation of Caruso personnel at the Chamber has lead to a loss of relevancy of the Chamber to most of the business community, and a substantial decline in membership.

  4. Mary Cole says:

    I have such wonderful memories of my many years volunteering at the Chamber with
    Arnie Marilyn and the many residents who stopped in to chat. It was a place where
    all were welcomed.
    Good luck with the new Chamber,

  5. Ruth Mills says:

    As a Palisadian since 1957, I am immeasurably saddened by the loss of our Chamber of Commerce, which has provided services and events that have helped define our community. Chamber events were important to my family when I was a child and to the family my husband and I raised here. I hope the work of our Chamber can be replicated by whatever entity replaces it.

  6. K.C. Soll says:

    The Palisades Chamber of Commerce can live on, virtually. Why not?

  7. Anonymous Reader says:

    Are the salaries for President/CEO Bob Benton, Board Chair Sarah Knauer and others on the Palisades Chamber payroll made public? How much pay will they gain/lose after merging with the Malibu Chamber? I’m confident CTN can find out for us. Thanks.

  8. Dee Green says:

    Merger with Brentwood Chamber would make more sense. And would track other areas of cooperation between our communities and the businesses and consumers in our communities. Has that been explored?

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