Sandra Logan, the owner of vintage clothing and jewelry venture Birdoir inside Sea Hive Station, calls the 23,000-square foot shopping cooperative at Liberty Station “a home for people who make useful and interesting things.”
Formerly part of the historic Naval Training Center San Diego, where from 1923-1997, millions of enlisted military members got their start, the massive building – originally known as Building 193 – is now home to about 150 local artisans and vendors who have carved out their distinctive spots.
Logan is a longtime member of the vintage community who previously owned a brick-and-mortar store, and also spent a decade managing local Anthropologie locations. A silversmith as well, Logan is the manager at Sea Hive Station, running operations for owner Brandon Vega.
Sea Hive Station opened in June 2021 and is the sister of Sea Hive Marketplace, the transformed former home of a 13,000-square foot Harley-Davidson dealership. Sea Hive Marketplace opened 2017 on South Coast Highway in Oceanside and is still thriving.
The original Sea Hive Marketplace is the concept and creation of real estate developer Vega and partners Todd Stephenson of Estate Sale Warehouse and Rob Murray of Karen’s Consignment Gallery.
Together, the two sites total nearly $5 million in annual sales.
Sea Hive Station curators, crafters and vendors have set up their areas much like pop-up shops, each with their own distinct footprint. Adjacent to the building is an open-air, outdoor garden center with more local sellers.
Sea Hive Station offerings run the gamut of all things crafted, curated and collectible, including artwork, books, boots, candles, clothing and furniture. The retail space also showcases boutique businesses selling handmade greeting cards, jewelry, plants, posters, rugs, soaps, stickers, sunglasses and vinyl records.
Both Sea Hive venues are showcases of all things vintage, modern, upcycled, recycled, artisan-made and often hand-picked by the sellers.
“Our goal in curating items is to have something for everybody, whether you’re an 80-year-old man or a 9-year old girl,” Vega said. “There isn’t a matched experience where you can be any age and walk in and find something unique to add to your home or collection or give to somebody. It’s not just ordering something on amazon. We don’t have that kind of merchandise.”
The Oceanside location experienced 16% to 21% growth every year for the first four years, Vega said, and continues to grow at a 20% rate. Growth at the Point Loma venue is “easily up 20% month-over-month,” he said.
Vega is currently a managing partner and director of development at Cast Development, where he leads single-family and hospitality projects. For nearly seven years he owned a high-end, mid-century decorative arts design shop called Atomic Bazaar in San Diego. He is also CEO of CCV Holdings, a real estate company.
Vega said that like Sea Hive Marketplace, Sea Hive Station also aims to empower small business owners to pursue and develop a retail business at the same time it provides space for freedom and community.
One of the secrets to their success is that both Sea Hive venues have brought on vendors “who are some of the best at what they do in our community,” Vega said, “and also who stay true to themselves.”
“We tell them to stick to what you know, and ‘You do you,’” Vega said. “What we don’t want is for anybody in the room to be like anybody else.”
Logan, one of the original vendors at Sea Hive Marketplace and who sells items at both venues, says she never tires of seeing the look of wonder on the faces of first-time visitors to Sea Hive Station, who are first greeted by a full-size candy red 1932 Ford Roadster and shiny silver disco balls that catch the light.
“I love seeing the reaction when people walk through the door… people seem to be gobsmacked as soon as they come in,” Logan said.
On the second Sunday of each month in its parking lot, Sea Hive Station hosts an outdoor vintage market with more local vendors, artists, food trucks and dog adoption opportunities. One weekend a month – Dec. 16 to 18 this month – a “Rack-O-Rama” event is held on the site’s loading dock with hundreds of pieces of vintage apparel, mostly at $20 or less.
Logan said she estimates that around 2,000 shoppers come through the doors during “Second Sunday” events, but even on other days, she said, “the place is hopping from the time we open.”
Sea Hive Station
OWNER: Brandon Vega
HEADQUARTERS: Liberty Station
BUSINESS: Co-op marketplace
VENDORS: About 150
SOCIAL IMPACT: At least two vendors use their profits to support nonprofit organizations.
NOTABLE: Sea Hive Station is accepting donations for Toys For Tots through Dec. 14. It is also partnering in a fundraiser with nonprofit Family of Christ Ukraine to help feed children in need in which customers can purchase a small Ukraine flag to put on a Christmas tree at the venue.