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Southwest Mobile Storage - Best Mobile Storage & Office Containers In Crenshaw, CA

Southwest Mobile Storage is a family-owned shipping container business founded in 1995. Our strength for more than 25 years comes from the specialized knowledge and passion of our people, along with serving over 24,000 commercial, construction and residential customers. Our facility and expertise in maintaining, manufacturing, and delivering corrugated steel containers is unrivaled in the industry.

While the rental side of our business is regional with branches throughout the Southwest, our container sales and modification operations are nationwide and becoming global. Crenshaw, CA offers a wide selection of portable offices and mobile storage containers you can rent, buy or modify.

Our experts in container rental, sales and customization are committed to providing you the highest quality and best experience from service to delivery - our reputation depends on it.

Whether your need is for storage, office space, moving, multi-purpose or custom use, we've got your back. Here's how:

Storage Containers Crenshaw, CA



We bring your storage container to you for convenient, easy access at your home, business or jobsite. Plus, you'll get more choice in storage space and better security, for a fraction of the cost of a pod or add on building, saving money and energy.


Not enough room to keep a storage container at your business, home or construction site? No problem - we can store it for you. Plus, you get 70% more space and better security, for a fraction of the cost of public storage units.


Need a permanent storage solution for your business, residence or construction? We sell new and used shipping containers in many sizes with a variety of add-ons. Or customize a container to your specific storage needs with our certified fabrication experts.


Take your time packing with our moving containers. We'll deliver to your business or home and pick it up whenever you're ready to move. So, you don't have to stress about moving or making multiple trips in one day, like if you rented a moving truck.


Our moving container solutions ensure the long-distance move of your home or business is highly efficient and affordable throughout the southwest. In fact, we usually cost 20%-40% less than full-service movers.


We understand move-in and move-out dates might be different. We can store your moving container at our highly secure facilities until you're ready to move to your new home or business location, and you can conveniently access it at any time.


Whether you need a workspace, conference room, or other office requirement, our ground-mounted mobile offices meet any and all of your business needs. Plus, it's faster and easier than building additions.


If you need your shipping container to serve multiple uses, such as office-storage combos, breakrooms and even utilities, we've got you covered. We'll modify a custom container to fit your business needs and bring your business to the next level


We'll create a custom container to fit your unique needs anywhere in the US. With our container modification expertise, we make any idea a reality. From pop-up stores to multi-story structures, our unrivaled facilities and fabrication experts do it all.

You'll get your own dedicated storage and container expert to serve as your one point of contact for easy, convenient service you can trust.
With our wide selection of intermodal containers for sale and rent, you'll find exactly what you need, from size, to type and condition.
We maintain our rental fleet to the highest standard - our integrity depends on it.
Our certified, experienced Conex container modification experts have more than 500 years combined experience modifying ISO containers.
All of our containers come with high security dual-locking system for no additional charge, so you can rest assured your stored items stay safe and that you don't have to pay extra for it.
At our unrivaled 90,000 sq ft indoor fabrication facility, ensuring your custom shipping container is made exactly to your specifications.
With our level of service, quality and expertise, you won't find a better value anywhere else.
Our portable offices include lighting and electrical outlets, internet hookups, HVAC and were crafted by our in-house steel container fabrication experts for top-quality construction.

Premium Quality - High Security

With Southwest Mobile Storage, you get much more than a POD or typical Conex box. You also get high security, unparalleled service and unmatched container modification expertise and facilities. No other company offers that much.

Shipping containers and storage containers come in a range of sizes. The most common external lengths are 20ft and 40ft with a width of 8ft. ISO Containers are typically 8ft 6in tall, but high cube containers are 9ft 6in tall. We also have steel containers in a variety of sizes from 10ft long to 45ft long to rent or buy, and we can modify shipping containers into any size you want.

 Rent Storage Containers Crenshaw, CA

SMS Mobile Storage Containers have these high quality features:

1/8" thick steel plate bottom side rails
High strength steel supporting cross members
1 1/8" thick hardwood floor with galvanized self-tapping screws
16-gauge corrugated steel walls
16-gauge roof
270-degree swing cargo door(s)
High security dual-locking system*
Spot-grinded, primed & repainted with a beige high-grade water reducible alkyd direct-to-metal enamel*
* Comes standard on all rental units

SMS portable workspace containers have these structural features:

High security window bars, lever & deadbolt set with lock box
Studs & R-19 Insulation covered with wood paneling
1 1/8" marine board floor is covered with a durable single part gray epoxy coating
Dual pane low-E horizontal sliding windows with screens and miniblinds
18 Gauge steel polystyrene core 3-hour fire rated personnel door
All of our workspaces are manufactured in-house and arrive new or restored to factory specifications
Exterior load center operating on 100 Amp single phase 230 Volt power
Light switch, receptacles and 4' light fixtures; all wiring is Romex 12/2
CAT-6 voice and data lines with electrical junction box
HVAC units ranging from 1 ton to 2 ton on rentals; ability to customize up to 10 tons of cooling

Having flexible storage containers options is important, but security is crucial to protect your peace of mind and your possessions.

At Southwest Mobile Storage, we don't believe in leaving things to chance. We want you to rest easy knowing your inventory, documents, tools, equipment and other items are safe 24/7. That is why we equip SMS high-security slide bolt locking systems and lockboxes on our entire fleet of rental freight containers.


High-security slide-bolt locking system and extra-long lock box, giving you twice the security and peace of mind.
No holes to ensure your rental shipping container is wind and water-tight.
No rust for your safety.
14-gauge corrugated steel for strength and reinforcement.

Contact us to speak with a helpful, friendly representative to better understand our full range of capabilities. We are happy to answer any questions you have, go over pricing and set up a time and place to deliver your Conex box. Our quotes are 100% free and you are under no obligation to pay for your consultation.


When you own a business or manage one, it's crucial to have efficient, affordable ways to store inventory and supplies, whether it's to grow your business or adapt to changes in the market, like the many caused by the pandemic.

Renting storage containers to keep at your business eliminates the cost and hassles of sending your staff to offsite storage facilities. Steel containers with roll up doors make storing and retrieving items faster and easier. Auto repair shops and other businesses that need easy access throughout the workday to secure storage for tools, parts, equipment or supplies find renting shipping containers to be the best solution for their business storage needs. Southwest Mobile Storage has your back.

 Storage Containers For Rent Crenshaw, CA

Renting portable offices gives your business more workspace, breakrooms, pop up stores, security booths and more, without the cost and red tape associated with constructing building additions. Plus, a steel storage container fits neatly into one parking space and provides much stronger security than Pods and way more convenience than self-storage units.

If you have a specific need, we can modify shipping containers to build whatever you need to grow your business. Whether it's a portable workspace to run your business, like a pop-up container bar, or a durable facility for scientific research, like a container laboratory, or even a container gym, our unrivaled fabrication facility and modification experts got you covered. Our full-time, in-house staff of certified welders, engineers, electricians, carpenters and painters have over 500 years combined experience modifying thousands of container projects for just about any business use you can imagine.


Offsite storage alternatives cause a mess of hassles and headaches. Expanding office space and storage capacity at your location saves time, money and hassle of making multiple trips offsite.
We offer more choice in security, size and features in steel Conex boxes or ISO shipping containers than a public storage unit or Pod for less cost and far greater service.
We offer flexible, month-to-month rental agreements and prorate by the day after your first 28-day billing cycle.
With us, you get a dedicated account manager you can rely on, so you can focus on running your business than waste time with a different person every time you call that doesn't know or care as much.
While other companies may have some staff for modifying containers, most outsource the work, so you don't know who is actually doing the modifications or how much they're marking up the price.
 Mobile Storage Containers Crenshaw, CA
When you modify a shipping container for your business, you won't have to worry about expensive, lengthy and complicated construction.
We have modified thousands of containers nationwide and internationally for more than 25 years for NASA, US Navy, GCP Applied Technologies, Helix and Sundt to name a few. And rent containers to Amazon, Walmart and many of other nationally recognized brands.
Our extensive staff makes it possible to custom build multiple projects simultaneously and our 90,000 sq ft indoor fabrication facility prevents contaminants from interfering with fabrication, which delivers better quality and precision.


With an extensive in-house staff and 90,000 sq ft container modification facility, we're able to deliver consistently high quality and work on multiple projects simultaneously for a fast turnaround.

Other companies don't have the facility, staff or resources to modify shipping containers and will outsource the work to various shops who may not have the special experience or tools needed to modify the right way.

You can rest assured knowing your custom container is safe in our hands. Our certified weld and quality control inspectors ensure everything is structurally sound and built to your specifications through every step of the process.

Renting a moving container from us makes your move much less stressful because you won't have to rush to pack your whole house into a moving truck in one day. Instead, you can take your time packing over the course of a month.

Our ISO shipping containers are weatherproof and come with vault-like security, so you don't have to worry about theft or damage to your belongings.

You won't get that level of security from U-Haul or other moving truck companies.

Renting a storage container at your home keeps your belongings close and gives you convenient 24/7 access, so you're always able to retrieve the contents of your container when you need to.

We know move in and move out dates don't always line up. We can store your packed rental container at our secure facility until your new home is ready.

With our mobile storage containers for rent in Crenshaw, CA, you can save up to 40% when compared to full-service long-distance movers, while gaining more flexibility in your schedule.


We know your needs may change suddenly. With our extensive inventory and variety of sizes of portable offices and shipping containers to rent, buy or modify in Crenshaw, CA, we provide fast service and the best value possible so it's easy for you to get whatever you need when you need it.

Renting storage containers and portable offices from us gives you more flexibility when it comes to your schedule and options. If you don't have enough space at your current location or simply would prefer offsite storage, you can keep your rental storage and office containers at your location or ours - whichever is most convenient for you. You also get more options to choose from when it comes to size and features, like portable offices with divided rooms for private meetings or office/storage combos for storage and office space in one container. All while costing a fraction of the price of a pod or self-storage facility.

You can also buy new or used freight containers from us and choose from a variety of add-ons, including lights, electricity, doors and windows. Or fully customize a shipping container to save time, money and energy by skipping the expensive, lengthy process of constructing building additions. We can modify a Conex box into whatever you can imagine for any use you need, from construction tool cribs to office buildings, monitoring stations, mobile communication towers and much more. The possibilities are endless.


You'll never face hidden fees or surprises with us. We give you transparent billing up front at the best prices.

With us, you get a reliable, dedicated point of contact, who keeps you updated every step of the way. You can rest assured knowing you'll always get what you need, when you need it.

No other company has the breadth and depth of staff and experience that we do when it comes to modifying shipping containers. Our certified welders, engineers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and painters have more than 500 years of combined experience in fabricating custom steel containers.

We prorate your rent by the day after the first 28-day billing cycle, so you don't have to pay for a full month when you only have your mobile containers and offices for a few days.

While other companies may be able to do small container modifications, most don't have an in-house fabrication staff or 90,000 sq ft fabrication facility like we do. As a result, they outsource the work on your custom container, so you don't know who's actually building it.

Rest assured knowing your modified shipping container will be built to the highest quality standards. Our certified weld and quality control inspectors check every step of the fabrication process to ensure everything is structurally sound and built to your specifications.


Whether you're in need of a storage container for your commercial business, a portable office for your construction site, or a moving container for your home, our process is simple and straightforward.

Choose Your Container

Choose the mobile storage solution that works best for your needs. In this step, you will let us know the number of containers you need, their sizes and what types of doors to equip.

Choose Your Options

Let us know if you would like to add any of our rental options, like a folding table or shelving.

Choose Your Security

Choose from padlocks, puck locks and other enhanced security options. All of our storage containers come standard with dual-locking, vault-like security.

Choose Your Delivery Timeframe

You can expect standard delivery within 3-5 days of your order. If you need expedited delivery, we will do everything in our power to accommodate your needs.

Pick-Up Planning

Do you need to keep your shipping container at our location? Prefer to have our team deliver your packed container to a location of your choice? Let us know, and we'll be by your side to work out the logistics.




Let our team know where we should deliver your mobile storage container for rent in Crenshaw, CA. Be sure to let us know if there are any special conditions that might prevent our drivers from entering your chosen destination. Before you schedule your delivery, let us know which direction you would like the doors of your container to face.



Our drivers can deliver your storage container Monday-Friday, between the hours of 6AM and 2PM local time. Our two-hour delivery window is the most precise in the industry. If you desire another delivery time outside of our standard delivery options, we will do our best to accommodate your needs. As a courtesy, our driver will call you at least 30 minutes before they arrive at your drop-off destination.



Before we deliver your Conex box, prepare your delivery area by ensuring that there are no low overhangs, arches, wires, trees or any other obstacles that could interfere with your delivery. It's a good idea to mark the space where you would like your steel container placed.



When our driver arrives, they will back our truck into the space where you would like your shipping container placed. Once we arrive, we will ensure that your container is delivered safely and securely. If placed on asphalt or pavement, we will use wood dunnage pads to make sure your ground surface is protected and the container is level.


Check out our FAQ page or reach out to our helpful customer service team today @

Latest News in Crenshaw, CA

16 developments set to sprout along the Crenshaw Line, mapped

Development is simmering along the rail line, which is slated to open next year The Crenshaw Line will offer rail service to Leimert Park, Baldwin Hills, Hyde Park, and Inglewood. | By Liz Kuball With Metro’s Crenshaw Line scheduled to open next year, properties along its path are attracting attention from developers.The line will offer rail service to the neighborhoods of ...

Development is simmering along the rail line, which is slated to open next year

The Crenshaw Line will offer rail service to Leimert Park, Baldwin Hills, Hyde Park, and Inglewood. | By Liz Kuball

With Metro’s Crenshaw Line scheduled to open next year, properties along its path are attracting attention from developers.

The line will offer rail service to the neighborhoods of Leimert Park, Baldwin Hills, Hyde Park, and Westchester, as well as the city of Inglewood. Ultimately, the train will connect to LAX via a people mover tram.

The neighborhoods have already begun changing in anticipation of the new amenity, with more changes expected to come. For many residents, displacement and cultural erasure—and how to push back against both—are top of mind, especially with the roughly $2 billion Inglewood NFL stadium planned to open the year after the rail line.

Here, a map of a few notable projects along the under-construction light rail line. The projects include a lot more affordable housing than projects along, say, the Expo Line, but include quite a few large buildings with market-rate apartments too. They will all help define how the neighborhoods around the Crenshaw Line will look in the years to come.

Running along Crenshaw Boulevard between 48th and 60th streets, this open-air museum will acknowledge the contributions of black Angelenos. It will also highlight Crenshaw’s role as the “Main Street” of LA’s black community. Designed by Perkins + Will and Studio-MLA, it will combine elements of a park and gallery with elements of local history.

The 1.3-mile-long project is also a response to community concerns about the impacts that constructing and operating the line at street-grade would have on local businesses, and about the larger social and economic effects that the line could bring to South LA.

A ceremony for a groundbreaking is slated for February 29.

Lendistry Partners With Destination Crenshaw on Targeted Financial Services

Destination Crenshaw broke ground February 29, 2020 — just three weeks before Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the state’s first stay-at-home order in response to the pandemic. Almost two years and many Covid-related complications later, the open-air museum and cultural revitalization project received a new influx of resources when B.S.D. Capital Inc., which does business as Lendistry, announced it joined with several local and national financing partners — including U.S. Bancorp, the Department of Energy’s Building America P...

Destination Crenshaw broke ground February 29, 2020 — just three weeks before Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the state’s first stay-at-home order in response to the pandemic. Almost two years and many Covid-related complications later, the open-air museum and cultural revitalization project received a new influx of resources when B.S.D. Capital Inc., which does business as Lendistry, announced it joined with several local and national financing partners — including U.S. Bancorp, the Department of Energy’s Building America Program and New Markets Support Co. — to provide almost $30 million for infrastructure investments, job training and more.

The partnership between Destination Crenshaw and Lendistry, the latter of whom contributed a third of those funds, intends not only to bring money, jobs and culture to a marginalized and economically neglected area of Los Angeles but also to fulfill the original ambitions of both organizations as they combine community outreach and financial empowerment.

Downtown-based Lendistry, one of only four Black-led financial institutions in California, has grown by leaps and bounds since Chief Executive Everett Sands founded it in 2015. The Washington, D.C., native and University of Pennsylvania graduate began his career at a mortgage company before joining San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. in Washington, D.C., and later in Orange County where he saw the need for a lender that could fill the gap left behind by the decline in community banks.

“Our mission is to be a source of capital and source of financial education for underserved businesses and their communities,” Sands said.Lendistry estimates it has supported 570,000 small businesses with approximately $8.5 billion in loans and grants across the United States as of Dec. 28, according to its website. Those numbers reflect two yardsticks by which Sands said the company measures its success; a third is “innovation,” meaning its ability to build technology and to partner with other mission-based lenders. In that regard, it has also been effective: Lendistry, working as one of the 50 institutions providing financial resources to small businesses through the California Small Business Covid-19 Relief Grant Program, helped distribute almost $4 billion. Moreover, as the system’s administrator on behalf of the state of California, Lendistry processed 344,000 applications in 15 days.

Destination Crenshaw was first conceived in response to the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 2011 plan to build a $1.76 billion light rail line that would connect the Crenshaw District, Inglewood and Los Angeles International Airport, feeding an estimated 5.9 million new commuters through the area , per the organization.

Following a series of community discussions starting in 2015, the organization officially filed as a nonprofit in 2017 with the goal of revitalizing the 1.3-mile corridor of Crenshaw Boulevard between Vernon and Slauson avenues. Its leaders subsequently began working with Chicago-based architecture firm Perkins & Will — which designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and the Motown Museum in Detroit — to build an open-air museum that combined outdoor spaces of a quarter acre or less, known as pocket parks; reforestation efforts (including planting more than 800 trees); and more than 100 public artworks by Black artists in the community.

Destination Crenshaw, under the leadership of President and Chief Operating Officer Jason Foster, has combined artistic and cultural initiatives with workforce development components for economic revitalization. The Knoxville, Tennessee, native first began his career as a nonprofit worker after studying finance at Howard University where he first developed an understanding of the relationship between money and community. After joining Destination Crenshaw in late 2019 as a financial consultant, Foster jumped into the organization “full tilt” in 2020 when Covid-19 stalled its building and design efforts.

“It was really apparent to me that Destination Crenshaw had the right model,” Foster said. “It was community-led, and it was focused on all the aspects that would actually elevate the residents’ lives, along with the infrastructure improvement.”

Sands said the work Lendistry is doing with Destination Crenshaw effectively showcases what the lender is capable of as it grows as a financial institution and extends its reach in the communities it wants to help.

“There’s the obvious, which is small businesses and nonprofits that are connected to that Crenshaw corridor, and then the unforeseen businesses — the vendors, the suppliers and all the others that will be connected to these businesses,” Sands said.

There are 43 businesses on the corridor, Foster said, and thus far, Destination Crenshaw has provided personnel or economic support, or both, to many of them through its partnerships. The organization, through Leimert Park-based nonprofit partner TEC Leimert, matched 10 businesses, including Leimert Park-based Hot and Cool Cafe and Hyde Park-based Jordan’s Hot Dogs, with local young people to work as social media interns. For Leimert Park-based Swift Cafe, it provided a microgrant for human resources services — “bricks and sticks stuff,” Foster called it — to help streamline the business’s operations while offering financial relief. Additionally, Destination Crenshaw supports smaller construction companies through its Ascend L.A. program at the downtown-based community development organization Local Initiatives Support Corp., which enables those businesses to apply for larger public contracts to which they might not have access without the organization’s help.

Pouring resources directly into the community is the cornerstone of Destination Crenshaw’s operations and its most visible way to combat concerns that the project might fuel gentrification in the historically Black community.

“We believe that Crenshaw deserves to be a beautiful environment, and what that means is we are driving to improve it both aesthetically and environmentally,” Foster said.

Recognizing local criticism about the kinds of displacement that have occurred in the Chinatown and Boyle Heights neighborhoods, and noting that the corridor’s small businesses are its chief job creators, Foster said Destination Crenshaw works explicitly to help residents not just grow the community but combat the rising cost of living throughout Los Angeles, now and into the future.

“L.A. has a public infrastructure pipeline of $30 billion over the next 30 years, and it’s an opportunity for us to really look at both the traditional economy and the creative economy as opportunities to grow as our community does,” Foster said. “This is the largest intact Black community west of the Mississippi along Crenshaw Boulevard, and we intend that this project is going to keep it that way.”

Earle's on Crenshaw: "The 'Cheers' of the Community"

Each week during February, the Los Angeles Chargers will highlight the Black history and culture of four unique Los Angeles neighborhoods through the lens of the restaurants, highlighting how food can bring people and communities together.This week, it's Earle's on Crenshaw."They just know us for hustling; these guys are always hustling."That's the mentality Duane Earle and his brother, Cary, use to attack each day they run Earle's on Crenshaw.The Earle brothers have taken what...

Each week during February, the Los Angeles Chargers will highlight the Black history and culture of four unique Los Angeles neighborhoods through the lens of the restaurants, highlighting how food can bring people and communities together.

This week, it's Earle's on Crenshaw.

"They just know us for hustling; these guys are always hustling."

That's the mentality Duane Earle and his brother, Cary, use to attack each day they run Earle's on Crenshaw.

The Earle brothers have taken what was once a small hot dog cart, that Cary built with his engineering expertise, and turned it into a full-fledged restaurant and catering operation, making them a fixture in the community for nearly four decades.

"No matter what you do, as long as you do it to the best of your ability (and) you do it right, you're confident about it, you cross your Ts and dot your Is; as long as you can handle business like that, eventually it will pay off," Duane said. "People will notice."

They did.

That "hustling mentality" was built from their days growing up in Brooklyn. Once they ventured out west and people caught on, the hot dog cart expanded and now features a menu with their famous and unique grilled dogs sliced down the middle, burgers and sandwiches, fries, desserts, their famous Playas Punch, and even vegetarian and vegan options.

"We would split and grill hot dogs," Duane mentioned. "Everybody else in L.A. boiled hot dogs. So my hot dog cart at the time, used to be like a McDonalds, it was extremely busy … There was something always going on. People were always coming to my cart. I'm feeding a whole community, I'm feeding businesses, hundreds of businesses in the area.

"I'm the only one grilling hot dogs, nobody was doing this. The amount of different types of hot dogs, (too) … just really unorthodox and unusual. And then on top of that, a young Black guy doing it. That was really unusual, you didn't see that in L.A."

Their "slice and chop and split them down the middle" hot dogs became a trademark of Earle's after changing their cooking format to best help elderly customers enjoy their products.

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The Earle brothers have always had a penchant for giving back to their community. And it was never for praise, it was always done out of the goodness of their hearts.

They fed their community during the riots in 1992. And when COVID-19 hit last year, they selflessly made an impact.

They started delivering 100-150 healthy meals on average a week to senior citizens. They also started "Meatless Mondays," where they invite a number of vegan or vegetarian restaurants to set up in front of Earle's on Crenshaw and sell their own items.

"These are the things that make communities strong," mentioned Duane. "You have those that become successful in the community and come back and reinvest in the community.

"We're the 'Cheers' of the community … Everybody knows our name."

Football icon

For over 30 years, brothers Cary and Duane Earle have served up New York inspired classics, Los Angeles culinary trends, and robust vegan offerings to the community at Earle's On Crenshaw.


3864 Crenshaw Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90008


Monday - Saturday 10:30 am to 9:00

Closed on Sundays


Rebuilding the Crenshaw High School football team

Crenshaw High School football was once one of the top programs in Los Angeles. But the football team has fallen on hard times, and the challenge of rebuilding it has become an ongoing battle. LA Times prep sports reporter Luca Evans wrote about the many obstacles to overcome to help restore this once proud tradition. Evans joined Kelvin Washington on “LA Times Today.”Crenshaw used to be a powerhouse team in LA. Evans detailed how Crenshaw’s beloved coach crafted past success stories.“Ever since coach Rob...

Crenshaw High School football was once one of the top programs in Los Angeles. But the football team has fallen on hard times, and the challenge of rebuilding it has become an ongoing battle. LA Times prep sports reporter Luca Evans wrote about the many obstacles to overcome to help restore this once proud tradition. Evans joined Kelvin Washington on “LA Times Today.”

Crenshaw used to be a powerhouse team in LA. Evans detailed how Crenshaw’s beloved coach crafted past success stories.

“Ever since coach Robert Garrett took over in the late 1980s, they’ve been consistently one of the top programs… In 2009 and 2010 [they] won back-to-back titles and three between 2009 and 2013. That was really that prime heyday when the name Crenshaw became one of the biggest names in Southern California prep football,” Evans said.

Now, Crenshaw coaches have a hard time filling the team’s roster. Coaches have started recruiting players from PE class or other school sports teams.

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“One Crenshaw coach told me that, on a good day, he’s lucky if 16 players show up at a practice. Obviously, you’ve got 11 on the field, so that’s a bit of a problem going into a scrimmage... Not the best situation to be in as a football coach. In that heyday, they had 40 to 50 players on that roster. It’s a very exponential and rapid decline that’s mirrored the decline in the overall enrollment at the school over the past decade,” Evans explained.

One reason that Crenshaw’s enrollment has declined is that middle schools in the area that used to feed into Crenshaw have transitioned into K-12 programs.

“Particularly in football, and I’m sure this problem extends to overall enrollment as well, but the perception of Crenshaw and the area. Kids are transferring out. Especially in football, a lot of private schools, charter schools are trying to siphon talent at the youth level out of Crenshaw. These kids who would have normally gone straight to playing football and starring at Crenshaw are now being taken out of the area by private charter schools [who are] recruiting them at the youth level,” he said.

Evans talked about the impact of coach Garrett had on his community and his players.

“His trademark sunglasses and shorts have never changed over these decades that he’s been in Crenshaw. Many feel he’s kind of embodied the essence of what Crenshaw is: resilience and surviving... He coaches kids to succeed in life and not just football. And a lot of times that means discipline. And in these changing times, he’s stuck to his guns. He’s going to take whoever comes into his program and is not going to chase kids who transfer out,” Evans said.

Watch the full interview above.

Watch “LA Times Today” at 7 and 10 p.m. Monday through Friday on Spectrum News 1 and the Spectrum News app.

Over 70 Years Later, Grace Pastries’ Sweet Memories Linger On

This story was previously published by Rafu Shimpo on Aug. 13, 2020.Editor's note: George Izumi passed away on Aug. 2, 2020 at 99. The Manzanar incarceree's life as a baker, small business owner and community leader in Southern California Japanese American life is reflected in this piece...

This story was previously published by Rafu Shimpo on Aug. 13, 2020.

Editor's note: George Izumi passed away on Aug. 2, 2020 at 99. The Manzanar incarceree's life as a baker, small business owner and community leader in Southern California Japanese American life is reflected in this piece, first published in The Rafu in October 2012. Izumi's family has also graciously shared two of his recipes from Grace Pastries for baking at home.

Talk to anyone who grew up in the Crenshaw district of southwestern Los Angeles and they'll tell you how they remember the sweet aroma that once spilled from the doors of Grace Pastries.

At Grace Pastries, the cake was king; a symbolic reward that came as a result of the Japanese American communities' hard-earned post-war successes. For every wedding, every graduation, every grand opening or anniversary, and especially when a child's birthday was celebrated, there was a specialty cake from Grace; a bed of pastel roses, scalloped buttercream borders, a riot of plastic palm trees or circus clowns.

Weddings are the most superstitious of holidays. And the cake? Well it's like any marriage, right? I won't say the cake is human, but the cake is something special. Mary, former Grace Pastries customer

These were edible trophies for a community finally rising from the harsh realities of World War II, and for a time, it almost seemed that the bakery couldn't be able to keep up with all of the demands.

The original store was a tiny retail space, only 50 feet deep, but the walls were neatly papered and the glass cases nearly burst with a dizzying array of buttery confections. The staff were always neatly coiffed and dressed in starched uniforms, ready to greet customers from the moment doors opened. As the customer base swelled exponentially, Izumi expanded to a larger location six blocks away on Jefferson and Crenshaw, right where the J Yellow Car line ended. Within a decade, Grace Pastries had the highest name recognition of any bakery in Los Angeles, and eventually boasted 14 outlets throughout greater Los Angeles County.

Among his devoted customers was Marian Manaka, who remembers fondly; "My sister and I lived together right there on Jefferson Boulevard and used to take our two kids in a stroller past all the shops on our way to Grace, where we always got a treat. The dobash cake and oh, the teacakes!" These rapturous recollections are especially common amongst the Nisei and young Sansei, who describe a trip to Grace as "the ultimate good," for a generation craving sweet memories that lingered.

The founder, George Izumi, is a Nisei — born in Hollywood in 1921 and raised on farms where his father Riyozo raised commercial flowers and vegetables, as the majority of Issei at that time did. He was one of eight kids, which taught him to be fiercely independent, and some of his earliest chores were learning to harness the horse to the wagon and spread manure on the fields. It was a hard time in America, and daily meals for a family of ten, let alone a powdered donut, were meager or non-existent.

"In Santa Monica there used to be a city dump where someone would throw all their walnut shells out, and us kids, we'd pick through the shells and eat what we could find. Dad would go fishing and bring back whole sacks of bonito and mackerel, which we'd cook with shoyu and sato, turning it all into gelatin, and pour over hot rice with cooked beet leaves. I'm also pretty sure my mom would pickle all of the fish guts."

Growing up in the '30s also meant picking up a sack of day-olds from Wonder Bread that turned nice and soft in the steamer and was eaten with oleo or lard if the kids were that lucky.

Izumi was 18 when war broke out. The family was sent to Manzanar, where he first worked as a carpenter, but really what he wanted to learn was how to cook. He got a job in Mess Hall #16, which required getting up at 3 a.m. to fire up the oil stoves. But learning from the Issei men in the kitchen provided to be slippery: "The Issei just said, a piece of that, a scoop of that — it still tasted good — but they sure couldn't tell you how to make it."

In the end, he claims he didn't learn much, since all he did was cut out biscuits. And he recalls that the mutton stew sure used to stink.

National Security, Racism, Detention: The Relocation of California's Japanese-American Population

When the Nisei draft was re-enacted, George enlisted from camp, fully prepared to train for combat. Once the Army learned of his cooking experience, they sent him to the Cooks and Baker's School at Ft. Meade, Maryland instead. "Learning to bake? Its not that hard. Its all written out step by step, you got it made. Just like the Army — you follow directions."

At the end of the war, he found work in Chicago flipping English muffins on a grill, and gaining more bread, cake and cupcake experience before he earned enough to return to California in 1946.

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In this episode of "Lost LA," host Nathan Masters considers how Little Tokyo and Crenshaw's diverse history intersects with community-building efforts today.

From Little Tokyo to Crenshaw (Preview)

George and Grace Izumi (nee Kato) began courting in 1948 and were married in 1949 at Nishi Hongwanji Temple in Little Tokyo. The young couple founded Grace Pastry Shoppe on March 13, 1950, six months after the wedding, on a $3,500 loan from Grace's parents. They acquired second-hand equipment and cleaned and painted the place, pulling 18-hour workdays.

On opening day, they took in $25 and the next day $30, and called it lucky if they made $100 a week. They even made wedding cake deliveries in their 1942 Pontiac, with Grace in the backseat, holding onto the cake for dear life. She eventually retired from the bakery and dedicated her time to raising their four children, all with auspicious "G" names: Grayson, Glenda, Garret and Genelle. Grace revealed that even the pets had "G" names, so that they wouldn't feel left out: Gabby the Mynah bird, cats Gussie, Gigi and Ginny, the dog Gibo, and of course the fish were all Guppies.

According to Izumi, what really saved the bakery from mediocrity and turned it into a real enterprise was knowing the value of improving any product. "You have to have determination to make it better, " says Izumi, and for 39 years he persevered and like the rest of the JA community, made things better than before. Meanwhile, his reputation as a master baker grew.

You have to have determination to make it better. George Izumi of Grace Pastries

He was the only baker in the National Association of Retail Bakers to have won Gold Cup awards in all 14 categories, and while most assume that the popular layered Dobash cake is an invention from Hawaii, it was in fact George Izumi who created it first and brought it to the islands during baking demonstrations. "I made a traditional Dobos torte, which caught on with some Issei ladies, and with their Japanese accent, they asked for that 'Doba-shi' because they couldn't pronounce the Hungarian word."

Ultimately, those intimate stories connecting the strawberry pie, the coffee danishes or a cream pastry with so many personal memories, combined with Izumi's community work, has left a lasting impression. Leftover baked goods went to Maryknoll school, he gave to Centenary and Senshin church, donated a cake annually to Nisei Week and dozens of city celebrations and events, and was an active fundraiser for Yellow Brotherhood.

He also credits the sweat and tears of his staff: Richard Kojima, general manager; Tak Teramae, office manager; Bob Wright and Emma Englund, cake decorators; Peggy Nishima; Toggie Nakamoto; all of the Sansei girls who got after-school jobs working behind the counter; Kaz Furuto, the original bookkeeper, who would bring Grace and George dinner so that they could keep pushing into the night.

Grace Pastries was sold in 1989 and George Izumi doesn't complain. Taking into account the whole of his story, an American life filled with contradictions, the life of a baker whose toughness and business acumen brought a touch of salt along with the sweet, you see the essential ingredient to everything he did.

"How do I make the tea cakes? Simple cake. You have to know what you're doing, that's all."

Try baking Grace Pastries' iconic Danish tea cakes with this recipe, provided by George Izumi's daughter, Genelle Izumi.


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