After more than 50 years, Bennett’s in Magnolia Shopping Center is closing its doors.
After more than 50 years, Bennett’s Toys & Educational Materials in Santa Barbara is closing its doors. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

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An era has ended for multiple generations of families on the South Coast.

Bennett’s Toys & Educational Materials in Santa Barbara is going out of business and closing its doors for good by December. 

An increase in rent is a common reason why businesses move or close doors, but owners Kurt and Lisa Richter made the decision to close before the lease is up at the end of the year. They want to spend more time with their daughters, ages 10 and 15. Lisa Richter’s father also recently died. They say they plan to focus on their family. 

On Monday, they hung a banner that reads, “Store Closing.”

“The customers were great,” Kurt Richter said. “Just interacting with them was a pleasure. We had some really good customers that turned into friends, in a way. We will probably miss that the most.”

For more than 50 years, Bennett’s has been a destination for toys, books, dolls, posters and education supplies. The store, in its heyday, occuppied a a prime spot in the Magnolia Shopping Center, near Woody’s BBQ and across the parking lot from a grocery store. But five years ago, owner Vernon Moore sold the store as a result of a rent increase. He sold it to the Richters, who moved Bennett’s toward the back of the shopping center.

It wasn’t the same. The store was near a smoke shop and out of sight from most travelers. The store was originally opened by Harvey and Sally Bennett in the 1970s and had multiple locations in Goleta, including in the spot where FedEx Office is on Calle Real. The original owners later sold the shop to the Moore, the longtime manager. 

The latest move was difficult. 

“It probably didn’t help us,” Richter said. “We were a stone’s throw from the other location. People looked at where the old place was, but never looked around to find us.”

The store’s demise was prompted by other factors. Online shopping, the new Target in Goleta, and the location all played a role in the business’ bottom line. Richter said even the vendors started to present problems for the small store.

“For the smaller stores, it is getting harder and harder to compete,” Richter said. “There’s absolutely no way.”

He said vendors want larger orders.

“For a small store, you just can’t buy in large quantities like they would want you to,” Richter said. 

No other store like Bennett’s exists in town. The bright, airy space is part library, part toy store, part school classroom, wrapped in a family atmosphere created by the owners. 

It’s the end of an era, but for the Richters, it’s also a new beginning. 

“We do have kids, and we don’t have time to spend with them to go on vacations,” he said. “We just had to make a decision about what we were going to do. It was just the best for our family at this time.”

Items at the store are priced at 20% off.

Kyle’s Kitchen Pivots to Beer

Beer sells.

Kyle’s Kitchen has opened a tap room.

The company had a soft opening on Thursday night. It is selling local craft beer and wine. 

The tap room occupies the space that was formerly Kyle’s Protein Grill.

Thursday through Sunday the tap room will offer some beers for $4, and $2 off the others. The items on the menu include “Kyle’s lager,” a house light lager and “Kyle’s IPA.” It also offers seltzers, ciders and kombucha.

Also on the menu is a variety of wines from the Napa Valley and Central Valley.

Kyle’s Tap Room is at 7000 Hollister Ave. in Santa Barbara.

Beans BBQ Peril

Beans BBQ in Santa Barbara turned to social media this week to ask for help. Business needs to pick up. 

“As many of you can imagine, rent on State Street is no small feat, and like the hundreds of small businesses that have tried and failed before us, we are close to losing our little slice of heaven on State and Victoria,” the company posted on Instagram.

Kristi Bean and her daughter, Jenniffer Bean, opened the restaurant at 1230 State St. in March.

“We say this not to scare anyone or make them sad, but to give you an insight to the reality of being a small business trying our best to be successful in this city,” they wrote. “No matter the quality of food we provide, stellar service, etc., if people aren’t walking through the doors daily and patronizing our establishment, we will not survive here much longer.”

They said they are not going down without a fight.

“Please continue to come visit us to eat, order online for takeout when you feel like it and spread the word,” the post states. “We’ve only been here six months and we’d love to continue to stay here for years to come and become an intricate part of the downtown business family. Thanks for the memories, the eats, the laughs. We love Santa Barbara and we want to stay as long as we can!”

It’s The Good Life

Lisa and Alfred Mesa from The Good Life.

Lisa and Alfred Mesa from The Good Life. (Courtesy photo)

The Good Life, a bottle shop, tasting room and bar in Solvang, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary.

Alfred and Lisa Mesa founded The Good Life to provide a tasting room for small, independent producers.

“To say that we are grateful and humbled by our success would be an understatement,” Lisa Mesa said in a statement. “We are equally grateful to all of the people who have supported us along our journey. We believe our personalized, one-on-one approach to service is the key. With so many selections, guests can become overwhelmed. The two of us are here to assist each guest find something tailored to their personal taste and budget.”

The Good Life has tastings, by the glass service and bottles to go from more than 100 unique producers of local, small production wines and California independent beer all nestled in the underground cellar with an outdoor patio, acccording to a news release.

The Good Life is located at 1672 Mission Drive in Solvang. It is open from noon to 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

The company is holding a 10-year anniversary celebration from Sept. 30 through Oct. 2. 

Doctor Hires

Dr. Allison Pontius and Dr. Alain Polynice

Dr. Allison Pontius and Dr. Alain Polynice (Courtesy photo)

Dr. Allison Pontius and Dr. Alain Polynice have joined Turner Medical Arts.

Dr. Allison Pontius is board certified in three specialties: facial plastic surgery, otolaryngology-head and neck surgery (ENT) and anti-aging and regenerative medicine.

For the past 15 years, she has focused her career solely on maximizing facial beauty through nonsurgical, minimally-invasive injections with neuromodulators and fillers, according to a news release. 

Dr. Alain Polynice is known as “The Mommy Makeover Specialist,” according to a news release. Polynice is a board-certified plastic surgeon whose practice is focused on cosmetic surgery of the breast and body with particular expertise in “Mommy Makeovers” and body sculpting.

They join Dr. Duncan Turner, owner of Turner Medical Arts, 1250 Coast Village Road.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Joshua Molina

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at