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Last Update: Tuesday July 27, 2021

Key Idea: Invest in Your Neighborhood

Learn how Joan and Bill Keller grew their business by helping an entire shopping district  thrive.

Key Question:


Give time, ideas and even money to improve your neighborhood.

Q: Why should any of us bother to spend time on what may be someone else's responsibility?

A: Because when it comes to tackling hard problems, everyone affected by the problem needs to pitch in and help. Also, Bill and Joan are long-range thinkers. Rather than assume the historic business district would stay unattractive, they bought a run down building, fixed it up and have donated many hours helping others do the same. Their efforts have been part of a multi-million dollar transformation of the Gaslamp District of San Diego.

Q: Why is what they are doing so powerful?

The leadership demonstrated by the way they spend their time serves as a positive force that is seen and felt. It makes these these business owners attractive. It makes customers happy to do business with them and employees happy to work for them.

Think about it

What is the ecosystem in which you operate? What impact do you have on it now? What action can you take to improve it?

Clip from: Le Travel Store in the Gaslamp Quarter

San Diego:  Joan and Bill Keller, founders of Le Travel Store,  have traveled so much,  you ask, "Where haven't you been?"  One answer was "The Antarctica." But, they got close -- Ushuaia, capital of Tierra del Fuego - Patagonia down on the tip of Argentina, the most southern city on earth and on a clear day ... of course, Joan and Bill Keller have the Antarctica on their list, but compared to most people, their list is rather short.

Become an independent traveler, but do it with panache. Take some of your customers, your investors, CPA and banker, and of course, your family with you. Source the world. 

Also, this team is well-grounded in their community. They lead the "return to authenticity" movement that champions Main Street. The National Trust for Historic Preservation led us to them and this historic Gaslamp Quarter!

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Le Travel Store (BK)

Bill Keller, Founder

745 Fourth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101

Visit our web site:

Office: 6195440005

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1975

Invest in Your Neighborhood

HATTIE: (Voiceover) This historic business district has new life because of cooperation between government and businesspeople.

KEITH CHILSTROM (Director, California Main Street Program): In California, we've seen an increasing interest in urban business districts, and San Diego's really on the cutting edge of that.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Keith Chilstrom is director of California's Main Street Program.

KEITH: And it started off with mostly the smaller communities and cities that were 50,000 population and under.

And over the years increasingly the big cities are getting interested. San Diego's been designated as the second urban citywide Main Street Program in the country.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Marcus Thompson is director of the city of San Diego's Office of Small Business.

MARCUS THOMPSON (Director, San Diego Office of Small Business): People are suddenly, in this town, are beginning to realize that these districts have something to offer that the shopping mall, the strip center just--they don't have the atmosphere, they don't have the sense of community.

BILL: Boy, this neighborhood has really taken off, and it's quite a phenomenon.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Bill has a leadership role in the Gaslamp Quarter Association.

BILL: The concept of the neighborhood is to keep some of the look of the turn of the century, basically 1890 to 1920. So we don't want sort of bizarre storefronts coming in. The busiest period of the week for us in this location at this time is late on Friday and Saturday nights. So we've had to, you know, go where the crowds are, which is the end of the evening hours.

HATTIE: And this way, you can sleep in in the morning.

BILL: Well, no, we usually get here in the morning, too. We have to...

HATTIE: Oh, come on, yeah, you can sleep in.

BILL: Well, maybe Sundays, that's about it.

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