California Comeback

“I don’t remember Rodeo Drive being as busy as it is now,” says Russell Fogarty. Fogarty, of wholesaler and retailer Kazanjian & Fogarty Inc., doesn’t mean now as in right this minute, since rain – courtesy of El Niño – has washed out today’s bus tours and sent pedestrians scurrying for awnings bearing the names Chanel, Gucci, Cartier and Bulgari. He means now as in 1998. Rodeo Drive boasts America’s largest concentration of high-end fashion and jewelry stores and, if the sun were out, it would be alive with shoulder-to-shoulder shoppers. A few years ago, riots, floods and earthquakes took the shine off of California’s sunny tourist industry. Today, visitors are back in force and the entire state is humming as well, enjoying a level of prosperity not seen in a decade. California has become a “very, very good market,” exults Glenn Spiro, director of the je

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