Irie Place: ROOTS, Venice Beach, California
One may think that when you’ve seen one reggae-inspired shop, you’ve seen them all. But for Senegal-born and Los Angeles-based shop owner, Moussa Ndiaye, aka “Moses,” the most unique element he offers during a visit to his Venice Beach shop, Roots, is a human connection.
As you walk into Roots, located in the “quad” area off of the eccentric and lively Venice Beach boardwalk, it is easy to see the pride Moses takes into his shop. At first, the small reggae-inspired shop itself – a space filled with the sound of sweet reggae music, with a collection of beautifully displayed magenta and orange ombre incense sticks, natural oils, and vibrant apparel– would seem the main attraction. Hang around for a little while and you'll no longer feel like you are in a novelty store, but rather in a place that is filled with undeniable positive energy.
Moses never fails to greet customers with a big smile and a “hello” so sincere, you can’t help but to feel like an honored guest. If he doesn’t have what you’re looking for, his knowledge of the Venice Beach community runs so deep, he’ll offer his advice on where you can find it – even if that item can be found at a so-called “competitor’s” shop. His pride for the Venice Beach community is evident, as he joins other shop owners to maintain the grounds around the quad, and encourages others to support small businesses in the area.
Hang around a little bit longer, and you’ll notice that people don’t only come in to shop for new or routine items, but they come to see Moses himself. Whether it’s to offer a good wish for the day or to engage in a full-on conversation about life, world events, politricks, or his irks with the latest iPad, Moses welcomes the interaction with an open heart and mind, ending every conversation with positivity.
A diverse crowd comes through Roots on a daily basis, and Moses has a knack for connecting with those who walk into his shop. Whether it’s by a special handshake to a greeting in a patron’s native language (aside from English, I’ve heard him speak Japanese, French, Spanish, and Wolof so far), in the end, Roots will make you feel less like you’re in a store and more like you’ve wandered into Moses’ home.