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Thursday, January 17 , 2019, 1:33 am | Light Rain 59º


BizHawk: Bennett’s Educational Materials Store Faces its Last Back-to-School Season

Downey's Restaurant is closing after 35 years, two Payless Shoe stores are shutting down and Santa Barbara gets strong transient occupancy tax revenues for June

Longtime Goleta-area business Bennett’s Educational Materials at 5130 Hollister Ave. may soon close its doors if the owner cannot find a buyer. Click to view larger
Longtime Goleta-area business Bennett’s Educational Materials at 5130 Hollister Ave. may soon close its doors if the owner cannot find a buyer. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

If you’ve raised a family in Goleta, chances are, you’ve walked the aisles of Bennett’s Educational Materials in the Magnolia Shopping Center.

For almost 50 years, parents, children and teachers have ventured to Bennett’s to buy flash cards, math and reading workbooks, stickers, bookmarks, wall posters of the planets, and a myriad of other educational supplies. And that’s just half the store.

On the side are the books, Thomas the Tank Engine trains, marbles, dolls, and, of course, since it’s 2017, fidget spinners.

But the tradition is about to end.

Unless owner Vernon Moore finds a buyer for the store, he plans to close down the store in October.

Amazon and escalating rents from new out-of-town owners have combined to possibly write Bennett’s last chapter.

“If I sell it, I want it to be to a local,” Moore said. “I don’t want an out-of-towner. You can’t do this unless you know the community.”

Moore is hoping for one last big business push. August is typically the busiest time of the year because teachers shop at the store to decorate their classrooms.

“When you see a classroom, it all came from here,” he said.

Bennett’s possible closure follows the Kernohan’s Toys shop that folded recently, as shoppers increasingly turn to online shopping over the traditional store.

“We’ve seen the influence of the internet,” Moore said.

Bennett’s Educational Materials store owner Vernon Moore hopes to find a buyer for his store, which he purchased from the original owner about 35 years ago. Click to view larger
Bennett’s Educational Materials store owner Vernon Moore hopes to find a buyer for his store, which he purchased from the original owner about 35 years ago.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Moore bought the store from original owner Sally Bennett about 35 years ago. He’s sold toys and educational materials to multiple generations.

Everyone in his family, including his children, has worked at the store.

The greatest part of owning the store, he said, is observing the smiles on the faces of children.

“It’s the children who make the store,” Moore said. “You are helping kids grow.”

Moore hopes he can find a buyer who is passionate about the business, someone who can grow the business in the current retail environment.

“I need someone with more energy to move into a smaller space with more foot traffic,” he said. “It needs some new blood.”

Downey’s Restaurant is closing after 35 years

Downey’s Restaurant at 1305 State St. in Santa Barbara will close down later this summer as the owners plan to retire. 

“John and Liz are planning a relaxing vacation before starting the next phase of their lives,” the Downeys said in a statement announcing the closure. 

John Downey started cooking at age 15 in his native England and opened the downtown restaurant on Sept. 3, 1982. 

“Downey’s reputation for connecting with local farmers and preparing exquisite meals was established well before the widespread use of ‘farm-to-table’ cuisine became fashionable,” the Downeys said. 

Liz Downey has managed the dining room since 1992, and her landscape paintings decorate the eatery. 

“The Downeys are grateful for the opportunity to present the very best to the many guests who have become friends and who have supported the restaurant,” they said.

“John and Liz are proud to have offered meaningful work to the 16 or so employees who have helped to make the dream a reality.”

Payless Shoesource closes stores

Both of the Payless Shoes stores in Santa Barbara are reportedly closing their doors.

The stores are located at 627 State St. and in the Turnpike Shopping Center at 197 S. Turnpike Rd.

City of Santa Barbara boasts strong bed tax revenues

Santa Barbara hotels enjoyed a strong month in June, with transient occupancy tax revenues, or bed taxes, up 7 percent compared to the previous June. 

Tax revenues were up despite an 84-percent decline in TOT from short-term rentals.

The city decided last year to ban short-term vacation rentals in some residential neighborhoods. 

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

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