Our Black History Month celebration continues by putting the spotlight on three more Black-owned Downtown businesses. We invite you to get familiar with these businesses (including the three we highlighted in our previous newsletter) and discover the history and positive force they bring to Downtown Long Beach all year long!    



After 17 years, three locations, and all the challenges faced by local small businesses in recent times, Max Viltz and her amazing shop Village Treasures are getting the attention they so richly deserve: Just last week, Viltz received Certificates of Recognition from Mayor Rex Richardson and Congressman Robert Garcia! These awards followed on the heels of Viltz’ acting debut in the short film Village Treasures, which debuted earlier this month at the Pan-African Film Festival. In March, she’ll be receiving an award from California State Senator Lena Gonzalez as part of Women’s History Month.  

In the film, a woman brings her young niece to the shop — but the child is only interested in her smartphone. Eventually, her phone dies. Without a charger, she’s forced to pay attention to her surroundings. She soon discovers a Kalimba (thumb piano) which is played in a similar way as a smartphone is operated. Suddenly, she awakens to a world of culture that is literally at her fingertips.  

Viltz describes Village Treasures as “a world import shop with emphasis on African imports. We also carry items from Indonesia, Thailand, India, South America, and other far-flung locations.” Her shop is packed with sculptures, jewelry, paintings, clothing, books, furniture, and much more. A visit to the shop is a crash course in cultural enrichment!  

“I had no plans to be an entrepreneur — until I traveled to Africa,” Viltz explained. “I was working a corporate job — salary, benefits, weekends off — but I was captured by the beauty of everything I saw in Africa. It’s my heritage, my ancestry.” 

A supportive landlord helped Viltz through the COVID shutdown and is helping her navigate the challenges posed by ongoing construction on her stretch of Broadway. “I’m always trying to build up the shop,” she said. “The Universe is telling me I’m doing the right thing.”   

Village Treasures is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 AM to 7 PM. Closed Sunday and Monday (Sunday hours may vary: Call (562) 435-3110 for details).  



The Elemental Shop is a spiritual collective,” said Williams, who is just about to celebrate her one-year anniversary in the East Village. “We’re a space where, regardless of your journey, you can come in and be inspired, commune, and educate. We believe that everybody has a story, and we love learning from each other and sharing our spirituality.” 

Williams’ shop, which is stocked with bells, candles, incense, books, and an apothecary filled with over 50 herbs, is the kind of place she used to look for while riding around town. “I believe there’s an overlap in all beliefs,” she shared. “I couldn’t find a shop that manifested this, so I created one myself.”  

After getting the shop curated to her liking, she faced every small business person’s challenge: Marketing. This step marked her entry into the online community. “To get in touch with the market I’m trying to reach, social media is the way,” she said. 

For the future, Williams is hoping to venture into classroom-style learning. “I’m looking forward to utilizing our upstairs space so the community can come here for formal training and hands-on practice in various disciplines, so we can all continue to grow,” she said. “We are open and ready to receive you regardless of where you are in your journey.” 

The Elemental Shop is open Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5 PM, Saturday 11 AM to 5 PM, Sunday 11 AM to 4 PM. Closed Monday. 



Saunders-Green, who holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from California State University, San Bernardino, was working for a nonprofit specializing in transitional housing and life skills for those aging out of foster care when she noticed a common complaint among many of her young clients. “We’re artists,” they said. “Why do they keep trying to funnel us into fast-food jobs?”

 Inspired, Saunders-Green returned to school, earning a second Master’s Degree in Social Entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California. Becoming a foster parent with her husband Terry Green reaffirmed for her how many foster children were hungry for arts education — and the idea for Green Pines Creative was born. 

Fast-forward to February 2023: The couple celebrated the soft-opening of Green Pines Creative Co-Working and Events. Soon, the space was filled with the energy of young creatives and the work of local artists such as muralists LaJon Miller and Omar Martinez.  

“Even though our mission is to support artists who have aged out of foster care and adjacent systems, we’re here for the community,” said Saunders-Green. “We have very competitive rates for our rental spaces.” There are spacious event rooms available downstairs; Upstairs there are work spaces, semi-private offices, a meditation room, and internet workstations. Membership lengths are up to members: One can sign up for a multi-month rental, or just come in for an afternoon to get your work done.

Patience played a key role in the creation of Green Pines. “We signed the lease for the building in late 2021 — but it took almost 15 months to make all the correct changes from an ‘assembly’ space to an ‘events’ space,” recalled Saunders-Green. 

Green Pines event spaces have already hosted several weddings, quinceaneras, and meetings. Upstairs, the couple is “creating a comfortable space for foster care alumni, all creatives, and entrepreneurs,” said Terry Green. “We want our tenants and guests to feel comfortable enough to be able to create, collaborate, be inspired, and let their creative flag fly.” 

Green Pines Creative Co-Working and Events is open Monday, 9 AM to 3 PM; Tuesday through Saturday 9 AM to 9 PM; Closed Sunday.