First Fridays Long Beach began at Chroma Glass Designs in the fall of 2006. Krista Leaders, owner of Chroma Glass Designs, realized she needed a way to get people to find out about her business for the least amount of cost. She knew the local artists in the city of Long Beach needed places to show their work, so with the help of a couple of friends, Keith Lewis and Peter Dopulos, she put the word out to the art community that she was looking for artists to show their work in her store. The store had a 12 foot ceiling that made showing artwork ideal.
The idea was on the first Friday of every month she would keep the store (a stained glass studio) open later and publicize the artist reception to her customers and the community. The artists were expected to do the same. A small reception of wine and appetizers was put out. The total cost was less than $100 for the evening. The goal was to bring people to find out about the store and the artists work and give the community something to do on a Friday evening.
The first reception was November 2, 2006 and drew about 40 people. With a small success behind them, Krista and her friends began planning the next month. They found artists, which started to crawl out of the woodwork, and set to do it again. December saw 75 people and they figured a website was in order to help get the word out. By April of 2007, other businesses saw the crowds of people the event was drawing and began asking how do we get involved?
Currently First Fridays has more than 15 businesses involved, from a yoga studio to restaurants, uses a double-decker bus to shuttle people up and down the street and was recognized by the 8th District councilperson as an important community event to the revitalization of Bixby Knolls.
The mission of First Fridays is to be a monthly showcase of the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association membership. This event is organized and managed by the “BKBIA” and sponsored by the City of Long Beach. Over the last 10 years First Fridays has evolved from just a handful of businesses participating to over 50 businesses staying open late, hosting an artist or musician, and creating a monthly buzz for the district. Also participating are multiple city departments and a variety of features organized by the BKBIA.
We want people to walk, talk, look, discover and experience the Knolls. First Fridays is what you bring to it. First Fridays is what you take from it. Help transform Atlantic Avenue into Art-lantic Avenue. Anything goes.