Locals in Gardena, Los Angeles, are coming together to rally and save a cherished family-owned landmark theater.
The vintage movie theater, one of the few remaining family-owned cinemas in the city, has long been a beloved community staple.
However, financial troubles following the pandemic have forced the owners to consider shutting down.
Determined not to let this happen, the community has stepped up to rescue the theater.
The Gardena Cinema, located on Crenshaw Boulevard, holds sentimental value for its owner, Judy Kim.
Her parents, John and Nancy, purchased the theater in 1976.
Kim recalls the emotional moment her mother tearfully expressed the desire to keep the theater alive, saying it would be their last meal if they could afford to buy it.
The couple ran the business for years until Kim took over after her mother’s passing.
Now in her 80s, Kim’s father continues to help out wherever he can.
However, as a one-woman show, Kim struggles to keep the business afloat, especially after being closed for three years during the pandemic and while her mother battled cancer.
In desperate need of assistance, Kim reached out to the community, and their response has been remarkable.
Many individuals have rallied around her cause, volunteering their time and effort to support the theater.
They understand the value of a vintage family-owned theater in the city, which has seen so many disappear over the years.
The volunteers go above and beyond, performing tasks such as cleaning toilets and sweeping, all in the name of preserving a sense of connection and community.
Recently, the theater received a significant boost when the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival held a screening at the Gardena Cinema.
The event drew hundreds of people, providing much-needed exposure and support.
Kim appreciates these opportunities and acknowledges the importance of programs and spaces that foster connections within the community.
Despite the community’s support, Kim remains uncertain about the theater’s long-term viability.
She is considering various options, including listing it for sale, hoping that a new owner will emerge who will preserve this historical gem.
The thought of losing the theater weighs heavily on Kim’s heart, as it does for everyone else who holds it dear.
Additionally, she is in the process of transforming the business into a nonprofit organization, although she acknowledges that building such an entity could take years.
As the fight to save the family-owned landmark theater in Gardena continues, locals remain hopeful that their collective efforts will ensure the survival of this cherished community institution.