Page 10 October 7, 2021 EL SEGUNDO HERALD
Kelly Burner from front page
moved into her own store space, right as the
holiday shopping season was heating up.
Although Burner was able to make the deal
for the brick-and-mortar store, she knew she
had tough sledding ahead, because the space
that she was settling into was in a state of
disrepair, “disgusting,” Burner said. Burner
noted that the building she currently resides in
had been vacant for the prior two years and
needed more than a cosmetic touching-up.
Once the building was spruced up, and
the doors opened to the public, “We had a
great Holiday season,” Burner said, “and then
COVID happened.” Some small businesses
have been able to weather the COVID storm,
embracing innovative strategies to satisfy their
customers in a time of jabs and masks. And
some have relied on juicing sales through
creating a robust Internet presence.
When COVID started shutting down businesses
all over the map, she said that instead
of keeping the doors open every day, her
daughter Erin, who just had a baby on Sept.
9, making Burner a first-time grandmother,
came up with the idea to leverage the power
of the Internet. To keep the customer traffic
flowing and adhere to social-distancing requirements,
potential customers were able to
book one-hour in-store appointments online.
Erin’s idea worked perfectly to drive
business in a trying environment. “We got
slammed,” Kelly said. She said that the success
of the 2019 Holiday sales season carried the
business through the darkest COVID hours.
She said last holiday season was “really, really
good,” but then the Delta variant of the
virus reared its ugly head, and LA County
pivoted, and the powers-that-be felt that
more severe restrictions and mandates were
Burner said it has been challenging for her
to stay ahead of the retail game, as businesses
big and small are whip-sawed by the everchanging
regulations they are forced to work
under. Unlike some businesses, Burner said
that, while she has an online presence, an
exceedingly small percentage of her customers
order online. This is OK with her because
when an online order is placed and fulfilled,
Burner said, the resultant “shipping kills me,”
slicing and dicing her profit margin.
For her type of store, she said, people want
to see the product in-person, not peer at a
picture on a website. She feels her customers
are loyal to her because her products are
“quality. Everything in here, I pick.” She
does collaborate with vendors like Mudpie
brand home-and kitchen goods, as well as
Huntington Beach’s California Seashell.
But she is always looking to help out local
artists, and she allows them to display their
wares in her store and hopefully generate
sales, which equates to a solution where
“I feel good supporting local, I really do,”
she said, “and it is good karma for me.”
Jodie Davies of Next Session and Buff
Junkie is one such local artisan who places
her wares at the Beach Hut, selling both rings
made from recycled wetsuits and resin and
items from the Buff Junkie clothing line.
Davies, an El Segundo resident, said Burner
is adept at highlighting the talents and efforts
of local creators. “She is a friend now, for
sure. Just a good person, what you see is
what you get,” Davies said. “She is all about
her family, all about her community. I owe
a lot to Kelly.”
Benny Au is the President of Operations of
Improper Etiquette. His company sells hats
and T-shirts at the Beach Hut. He said that
his environmentally conscious brand “really
cares about sustainability” and that displaying
their locally made products meshes with the
beach vibe of Burner’s store.
Au grew up with one of Burner’s daughters,
Emma, who happens to sell her own line of
handmade bags, BurneD, made from recycled
denim, at the store. And when his company
was looking for a venue to sell its merch, he
knew the Beach Hut was a perfect fit.
“I grew up in El Segundo,” he said. “I think
about the heritage of El Segundo,” noting how
the Burner’s are a very tuned-in family to
the pulse of the city. “They know everyone,”
he said, mentioning how “growing-up, Mrs.
Burner always had an eye out on us, making
sure we stayed out of trouble.”
Friends with Burner for more than 20 years,
Tracy Weaver, the City Clerk of El Segundo,
patronize the Beach Hut, sometimes looking
for “last-minute gifts,” or host gifts, or
something to add a decorative touch to one
of her kids’ apartments, or her own home.
Weaver related that after Burner and her
youngest kids graduated from high school,
she issued a sigh of relief. No more volunteering,
Weaver happily noted. But, Weaver
said, Burner had other plans, following her
passion to continue developing the Beach
Hut. “She has so much energy,” Weaver said.
“She just loves it. Kudos to her for starting
a second career. She never stops.”
So here is the Kelly Burner backstory. She
came to El Segundo in 1988 after attending
San Pedro High school, moving on to El
Camino Junior College, and ending up at
Chapman College, where she picked up a
business management degree.
Before moving to El Segundo, Burner lived
in Hollywood Riviera, noting that she was
“fabulously happy there,” citing her proximity
to the Strand where she could run for exercise
or walk to shop at local markets. When she
married her husband Greg, the couple decided
that buying a place in Hollywood Riviera was,
at the time, a little out of their price range.
So, they moved to Huntington Beach, but,
alas, that experience lasted for all of three
months. Greg was working in the South Bay
for Hughes Aircraft, and his “commute was
horrible.” They flipped the Huntington Beach
home for a profit, and Greg suggested they
look to buy a home in El Segundo. A town
that was not on Kelly’s radar at the time.
“Why?” she said and burst out laughing.
Greg had lived in an El Segundo apartment
after college and was familiar with the charms
of this quaint town. Kelly somewhat reluctantly
began house hunting in El Segundo and, to
use a hackneyed phrase, “the rest is history.
The Burners have raised their five kids
here, with all of them taking the Center
Street School to the ES Middle School to
the El Segundo High School pathway, which
seemed to work out quite well for the Burners.
“They all got to good colleges from here,”
she said, “I can’t complain.”
She has a fondness for her adopted hometown.
“I personally love it,” she said, while
wryly noting that, when her children were
rising through the ESUSD school system,
“they hated it, because everyone knows
everyone else’s business. But it does not
bother them now,” she said, “because they
have all moved back.”
“You can walk everywhere,” she said of El
Segundo while noting how some outsiders
do not see it as a true beach community,
like the neighboring towns to the south in
Manhattan Beach and Hermosa.
Since she had five active children attending
school, participating in sports and other
extracurricular activities, she spent her childrearing
years being a Mom, and a chauffeur.
As for work outside the home at the time, she
did not have a lot of spare time for drawing a
paycheck as her kids grew up. “I dabbled in
some things,” she said, with selling real estate
being one of them. Her heart was not really
into real estate, she said. “I probably liked
looking at the houses more than anything,”
she said, as opposed to brokering a deal.
“As the kids got older, and it started to
slow down, I thought, ‘what am I going to
do?” She said she has always been one to
shop for coastal décor type items that her
She would visit niche-type shops in
Hollywood Rivera and Manhattan Beach,
securing beachy items for her home. The
thought occurred to her that “maybe I could
do something like this,” selling beach products,
and started running a little boutique at
So, where does Kelly Burner hope to be
in five years? “I was looking to expand, but
the way things are now,” she said, “I just
don’t know,” citing the anxiety of trying to
keep a new business afloat in the era of an
epic pandemic. “I feel lucky that I am still
here.” She does envision a future where she
might “have a couple of stores, and do all
of the shopping,” and allow someone else to
run the day-to-day store operations.
For relaxation, Burner said she creates
“sea-glass art,” which she sells in her store,
does her best to keep physically fit, which
has been more challenging since the gym
that she belonged to, the El Segundo Athletic
Club, closed its doors more than a year ago.”
She walks the town, works out four days
a week, and enjoys reading.
Overall, life appears upbeat for the new
grandmother, who continues her mission to
“bring the beach to your home.” •
The Beach Hut’s Kelly Burner.
Artist Emma Burner.
A new business deserves a good name.
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