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Business

BizHawk: Small Business Saturday Helps Kick Off Santa Barbara Shopping Season

Isla Vista’s Sweet Alley goes up for sale, MindBody opens an office in Santa Maria and The Hungry Cat prepares to close

Shoppers stroll down State Street in Santa Barbara. This weekend, the Downtown Santa Barbara organization is leading its third Small Business Saturday event. Click to view larger
Shoppers stroll down State Street in Santa Barbara. This weekend, the Downtown Santa Barbara organization is leading its third Small Business Saturday event. (Contributed photo)

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As the holiday season kicks off, community-minded consumers are using the lucrative post-Thanksgiving shopping rush as an opportunity to support local businesses.

This weekend, the Downtown Santa Barbara organization is leading its third Small Business Saturday event — a concept started in 2010 by American Express.

“Our locals really support downtown during this season,” said Kate Schwab, the organization’s marketing and communications director.

Some 90 percent of shoppers this time of year are locals, as opposed to tourists, she said.

“I think the most important role of small businesses is that they are what make Santa Barbara so unique.”

Over 50 downtown businesses are participating, and many are offering special deals that day.

The Book Den at 15 E. Anapamu St. is offering two $100 gift cards, and Andersen’s Danish Bakery & Restaurant at 1106 State St. is offering free butter cookies with any meal purchase.

“We just wanted people to focus on shopping locally downtown,” Schwab said.

In the plaza in front of the 900 State St. Marshalls on Saturday will be a book signing by author and Eat This, Shoot That! proprietor Tara Jones, music by Holiday Horns and free gift wrapping by LifeChronicles.

This time of year is especially helpful to small businesses operating in Santa Barbara’s most expensive neighborhood, said Philip Friden, owner of coffeehouse Good Cup, which has locations at 918 State St. and 1819 Cliff Dr.

“It’s hard because there’s a lot that you have to think about,” he said. “When you’re a small business, you basically have to do everything from the operations to the marketing. Then there are all the regulations you have to meet and local requirements.”

Business, he added, “really picks up with all the holiday shopping.

“We get slammed on Black Friday, and then the next Saturday is also really busy — just a lot of foot traffic down here. So it’s great for us.”

Isla Vista’s Sweet Alley goes up for sale

Sweet Alley, an Isla Vista self-serve frozen yogurt shop, is up for sale.

“We’ve been cranking for two years now,” said owner Nicholas Mason. “First year was fantastic, second year was good, but over the course of the last two years, I’ve gotten involved in other businesses.”

Mason told Noozhawk he’s selling the business to focus on these other ventures, which include a downtown Santa Barbara laundromat and general-contractor work.

The UC Santa Barbara grad was doing real estate development in Los Angeles, and saw I.V.’s only frozen yogurt establishment up for sale in 2014 during a planned move to San Francisco.

Mason said he’s hoping to find a buyer before the holiday break. Ideally, he added, the next proprietor will keep the concept, and, with enough commitment, could even add coffee and some food items.

The listing price is $90,000 to $95,000, and Mason said his goal isn’t to make money from the sale, but to recoup his investment.

The equipment, included in the price, is still new, but the business “just needs that little bit of advertising/marketing love and somebody who’ll be out there on more of a regular basis.”

The labor pool in I.V., he added, is plentiful and motivated.

“It’s a fantastic, 99-percent student-run business,” Mason said. “It’s a very simple operation.”

MindBody comes to Santa Maria

MindBody, a San Luis Obispo-based business-management software company, has opened its doors in Santa Maria, at 2811 Airpark Dr.

The 15-year-old company, which has several offices around the world, produces software for wellness-services businesses to run, market and develop their operations.

The MindBody app allows users to search and book health and fitness classes and appointments from a variety of service providers.

The new location, which held a ribbon-cutting last week, has space for 90 employees, 40 of whom have newly created positions, according to the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.

MindBody’s new office is complete with a bowling alley, movie theater, indoor bike storage, table tennis and a break room with a kitchen and bar.

The Hungry Cat to close

The Hungry Cat at 1134 Chapala St. in Santa Barbara is closing its doors for good come Christmas, Chef David Lentz announced.

“We are very proud to have done business in Santa Barbara for close to 10 years,” he said in a statement. “It's with a heavy heart that we must announce that we are closing up shop!

“We want to thank all of our past and present employees, local purveyors and winemakers for making it such a great journey. It has always been our pleasure to serve the Santa Barbara community, and perhaps we will have another opportunity in the future.”

Lentz said the restaurant has seen a decline in business and that he had received “an offer we couldn't refuse.”

The chef added that he’s based in Los Angeles, where The Hungry Cat’s flagship location is, and wanted to spend more time there with family.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman 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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