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Business

Father and Son Team Try to Save Santa Barbara Electronics Store

Ken and Andrew Alker purchase MarVac Electronics and set up shop near Santa Barbara Airport

Andrew and Ken Alker recently purchased MarVac Electronics and moved the store from the Magnolia Shopping Center to 1503 Cook Place, Suite C. The new store is called Santa Barbara Electronics Supply. Click to view larger
Andrew and Ken Alker recently purchased MarVac Electronics and moved the store from the Magnolia Shopping Center to 1503 Cook Place, Suite C. The new store is called Santa Barbara Electronics Supply. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

A Santa Barbara father and son team is looking to save the local electronics supply and parts industry from Amazon. 

Ken Alker and his son Andrew own Santa Barbara Electronics Supply, an electronics repair and parts store.

They bought MarVac Electronics and in late 2016 moved from the Magnolia Shopping Center to property at 1503 Cook Place, Suite C near the Santa Barbara Airport

The store is looking to stay relevant at a time when many people shop for parts online or at larger corporate chain stores.

Ken Alker said the company is fighting to stay alive in Santa Barbara, and serve a population that badly needs its parts. 

"It's a tough market to be in," he said. 

The store sells batteries, HDMI and ethernet cables, switches, fuses, components and "everything else," he said. 

The company services businesses such as MariPro, Reson, airport tenant Electronics Parts Center, Sonatech, David Love Partnership, Hackerspace on AeroCamino (now Thornwood), Raytheon, Santa Barbara Airbus, Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, Sonos and Westmont College.

The Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club, established in 1920, is one of the store's biggest customers. 

Andrew Alker said his father's store offers a customized approach. People can come into the store and explain what their needs are and employees can work with the customer to find a solution. That's not an experience you can get online, he said. 

"I like being able to dabble with electronics," Andrew Alker said. "It's a different challenge every day. It's problem-solving on a regular basis."

Ken Alker decided to buy the assets from MarVac Electronics after the company's Costa Mesa owners closed the store after 40 years.

Unfortunately for Alker, MarVac sold and moved most of its inventory before Alker decided to buy the fixtures, including the cash registers and shelves. The lack of inventory has served as one of the largest challenges, since the Alkers had to restock from scratch.

It has taken time to re-order and build up inventory, but Andrew Alker is familiar with the stock and they don't have items sitting on shelves for decades gathering dust.

Ken Alker, who founded Impulse Internet Services in Goleta, believes there's still room in town for a small electronics business.

"We're a community service," he said. "There are so many people out there who need this stuff. They need instant access. We don't need the foot traffic of a mall. We are a destination."

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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