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Alex Kacik: 99 Cents Only Store Opens on Lower State Street

Discount retailer aims to offer more bang for the buck on general merchandise, produce, groceries and more

Patrons lined lower State Street on Thursday morning for the grand opening of the 99 Cents Only Store at 424 State St.

Tony Yera, vice president of store operations, said the rush of interested shoppers and sales numbers matched his expectations. But he added that many of the customers didn’t expect the 99 Cents Only Store to carry a wide range of produce.

“I’ve heard so far that they didn’t expect us to carry so much produce and refrigerated items,” said Yera, adding that the most expensive item is a $2.99 gallon of milk. “They never imagined we sold this many consumable items. The whole front end is all groceries. We carry a full line of produce, from tomatoes to artichokes, to kiwis, to nectarines, and plenty of name-brand goods.”

In fact, 60 percent of the store’s sales stem from grocery items, Yera added. He estimated that the old 11,000-square-foot Pep Boys storefront will bring in more than the $5.5 million 99 Cents Only Store average annual revenue and be one of the top-performing stores. It employs 60 workers and is looking to hire about 15 more.

“We’ve put a lot of money into the building, and I expect this will be a top-25 store out of the 301 nationwide,” Yera said.

The Tech Future

This column doesn’t usually chronicle nonprofit news, but Youth Interactive is an exception.

Nathalie Gensac started the global nonprofit that teams up with local businesses and nonprofit organizations to offer one-on-one, after-school programs for underserved youth that focus on technology, entrepreneurship and the arts. Youth Interactive will have a Santa Barbara home come October at 209 Anacapa St.

Gensac said she traveled around the world and asked women what would help their community. They all talked about education, the entrepreneur said.

“California is at the rock bottom in terms of funding for education,” she said. “Schools are getting equipment, but teachers aren’t being trained; students almost have to teach them.”

Gensac said that most of the kids leaving school today want to be entrepreneurs, and the curriculum doesn’t often support that subject.

“Our job really is to help them gain the modern skills they might not get at school and get them to think about sustainability,” she said. “We want to provide the skills they need to be a good employee and an environment where they can live and work through their passion.”

Glitter & Glam

High-end jewelry designer Jewelry by Gauthier is set to open its 1,560-square-foot space at 921 State St. on Aug. 11.

Scott Gauthier is an independent jeweler who specializes in handcrafted jewelry. He was the youngest designer to ever receive the Spectrum Award, an international competition sponsored by the American Gem Trade Association. He has a 10,000-square-foot store in downtown Scottsdale, Ariz., and a studio that is open to the public.

“Jewelry by Gauthier offers one-of-a-kind, handcrafted creations and is the sort of store that helps preserve the unique character of downtown Santa Barbara,” said Michael Martz of Hayes Commercial Group who, along with Kristopher Roth, represented Gauthier in the lease.

While Gauthier will take over the former Paper Star location, Swarovski will move into the old Papyrus spot at 819 State St. in about five months.

Clean Business

UCSB’s Corwin Pavilion will host the Clean Business Investment Summit on Aug. 10.

The Clean Business Investment Summit brings together entrepreneurs and investors who focus on businesses in emerging, high growth markets such as renewable energy, clean tech, organics, green products and sustainable enterprises.

“Key investors and entrepreneurs interested in making a profound difference in the world were present and readily accessible,” Mark Kram of Groundswell Technologies said. “I am encouraged by the opportunities afforded to young firms ready to take the next step in their journey to success. We view our participation in the CBIS event as a critical developmental milestone.”

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, will kick off the event and introduce keynote speaker Mark Heintz of Deckers Outdoor Corp. and Michael Brown of Brown and Wilmanns Environmental LLC.

The Central Coast MIT Enterprise Forum and the Central Coast Venture Forum will put on the event, which will begin at 8 a.m. The cost to attend is $400.

It Tastes Just Like ...

Chick-Fil-A will replace the Burger King at 3707 State St. by the end of the year. The Architectural Board of Review approved changes to the remodel Monday, including a patio expansion and additional outdoor seating.

Truett Cathy opened his first fast-food restaurant in 1967 in an Atlanta mall. Since then, it has grown to more than 1,615 locations in 29 states and totaled $4.1 billion in annual sales last year.

Noozhawk business writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @NoozhawkBiz, @noozhawk and @NoozhawkNews. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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