Love For Sale in Cambria

Written by Jill Turnbow

December 18, 2020

Morro Bay artist, Ardella Swanberg, is shown with her painting ‘Harbor Storm,’ which will be auctioned off by the Friends of the Morro Bay Harbor Department as part of a fund-raising drive to help repower a used patrol boat the City is buying from Port San Luis. Submitted photo

Perhaps you have been curious about the declarations of love on the exterior of one of Cambria’s most unique shops, The Love Story Project. Pop inside the store and you will see large metal signs, artwork, tree ornaments and photo prints, all focused on peace, harmony, and love.

Owners Shari and Alan Fraser are professional photographers who, after shooting hundreds of weddings and family portraits, decided to anchor themselves with a storefront in Cambria. When the shop first opened the idea was to expand the photography and begin a project to document love stories.

“I’m very interested in Story Core, a National story archive project which documents the everyday lives of people,” Shari said. “Stories are powerful. I wanted to travel the country and focus on documenting just the love stories.”

At the time, having a small child put that plan on hold and she and Alan found the location in Cambria in which they could settle down. Over time the store has organically grown into more retail. Vibrant, colorful art fills the walls including metal art, photography, and lots of gift ideas. Most of the art is by local artists or family members. But the most popular of all is their photo printing. The Love Story Project can print photos right from a customer’s phone and mount them on metal or wood.
“People just love it,” Alan said. “And, they can watch us do the printing right there. An additional monitor has been added up front so that people can still watch from a safe distance.

“It was pretty scary when we had to shut our doors back in March,” said Alan. “But we were able to take a lot of what we do online, and we got so much support, especially from the locals.

I would deliver the projects to their home. I’m still doing that for our local customers.”
The Love Story Project was closed for almost two months. And when they were finally allowed to re-open they were unsure if customers would return. “Fortunately, they did,” said Shari. “But it was nerve-wracking at first.”

Shari says the focus of their shop is the customer service. “We take the time to work with everyone on their photos. We can print in about 35 different sizes and on several different materials. The customer gets to play a part in the finished project.”
They can also l video and document love stories which are archived on their website.

“We think of the shop as ‘vintage-modern.’ It’s not like anything else around,” Alan said. “Everything here is positive, promoting peace and love. It’s awesome.”

The Love Story Project has done everything it can to ensure you have a safe shopping experience as well. Barriers at the counter, a one-way aisle to browse, and sanitizer at the door. “We want our customers to feel comfortable, and we keep our distance,” said Shari.

The shop is located at 734 Main St in the West Village of Cambria. You can also order online by visiting their website thelovestoryproject.org.

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