In a fight for survival, having a good friend at your side can be essential.
Kiona Gross and Sarah Hinton are wholeheartedly embracing that concept as the two Carpinteria small-business owners and self-proclaimed “kindred spirits” combine their children-themed products under one roof to stave off potentially ruinous rent increases.
After three years in the more visible Linden Avenue spot, Gross said, rent hikes have forced the relocation to a space the toy company has occupied the past five years.
“It’s cozier,” Gross said Monday, eyeing the new location’s bright yellow, green and purple walls that used to house a floral shop. “It’s going to be tight. The bummer part is we’re off Linden (Avenue).”
The businesses will split rent and utility costs, but still operate separately, at least for now, Gross said.
The joining of efforts was also prompted by a commitment to staying open and active in the small Carpinteria community despite escalating operating costs and tough economic times.
Community members have responded, in turn, by coming out of the woodworks to help Gross move her inventory into the new place.
On Monday, a cell phone scarcely left Gross’ hand as supporters reached out or popped into the toy shop to volunteer their time.
She said the outpouring of support was greatly appreciated, especially from the dozens of helpers who showed up Sunday afternoon to pack up all of her shop’s contents.
Books were transported early this week, since Gross is hoping to start selling merchandise again by Wednesday with an official grand reopening next month.
Gross said the businesses plan to host more events in the co-op space, and will work to align their hours as well as use of gift cards.
Hinton, who grew up in Carpinteria, said the businesses would like to grow into a “destination store,” since they share many clientele.
“We have a very similar business philosophy,” Hinton said. “This isn’t just a move of convenience; it’s a move of survival. It’s about being a part of our community.”