One of life's most solemn promises is change. That, ironically, is a constant that can be counted upon. And a great amount of flux, in any given village or city, are the stores and eating places. Very few make the cut and are there for say, over 50 years. Either they go out of business, retire, or sell to new owners who make enough changes that the original pattern of the place no longer exists.
That said, we often wax nostalgic over the small corner shops we grew to know and love. Yet we can view it differently, and can take solace in the fresh perspectives and enthusiasm of the new owners and share their new visions for their budding enterprises.
The number of changes that have taken place in this fair city are staggering, and some speak wistfully of the 'gentler' times. This is a long discussion in and of itself, and may show up as an article or separate blog. Suffice to say that I am engaged in embracing the new creative ideas that the indpendent owners are endeavoring to generate.
Rents and leases were far less expensive (ratio-wise) then the current trend. Pier 1 had a huge presence on State Street. It was a potpourri of unique items, and as the 60s rolled along, was a hang-out for the hippies and general counter-culture who had a penchant for the Eastern tapestries and other touches that Pier 1 offered. This was around the Carrillo/Canon Perdido area.
On Figuroa and State was Kayser's Health Food, which, I believe, was the original and only health food option in Santa Barbara until Sunburst Farms made its debut in the early 70s. Kayser's boasted a juice bar featuring carrot juice, carob, and other unique alternatives to the standard malt and milkshake, as well as other healthy food choices. I seem to recall baked doughnuts which were very uniuqe and satisfying. Kayser's has been replaced by various stores over the years, including the Knit and Pearl Boutique which currently has part of what was once Kayser's.
On the other side of State Street, probably also near Figuroa, was a Kernohan's Toy Store, which I found, to my delight, had not disappeared, but instead moved to Anapumu Street. Kernohan's held some treasures for my adolecsent tastes even then.
The corner of State and Anapumu is almost legend; not quite on par with Hollywood and Vine, but it carries its own distinctive history. The restaurant on the northwest side, right around the time of the beautification that took place in the late 60s, was Pepe Del Gatos. They made fresh tortilla chips, and it was a very carefree place to dine, either with friends or with family. Across the street, on the southwest side, was a Woolworths. This, of course, hailed as a real anachronism in the modernizing world that the 60s heralded in at a high clip. Woolworth's was a real throw-back, and I grew up walking though the one we had somewhere between 82nd and 90th street on Broadway in New York City (I bought several holiday gifts there when I was younger; it was affordable for this budget-minded young person).
Woolworth's of Santa Barbara was replaced by the Earthling Bookstore sometime in the mid-70s. The Earthling started out, I believe, on Victoria Street off of State. Here is a link with some of the history http://sbdailysound.blogspot.com/2008/02/santa-barbara-by-book.html. The Earthling enjoyed success for about 25 years as an independent bookstore, but could not compete with the Barnes and Noble which appeared on State Street. The Earthling fought as hard as it could, but the bookstore business is brutal (see the film You've Got Mail for a small glimpse of this). Another website which discusses independent bookstores and bookstores in general is http://www.independent.com/news/2009/feb/12/uncertain-fate-independent-bookstores/The corner, at this writing, is now held by Old Navy.
A little ways down from The Earthling was Osbourne's Book Store, one of the original independents and possibly the only game in town 'back in the day.' It closed many years ago. One of Santa Barbara's last independant bookstores, Chaucer's, is alive and well in Loreto Plaza.
Speaking of which, Loreto Plaza has seen its share of changes. When we first arrived, what is now Gelson's was the A & P. Does anyone recall that chain? Soon after our arrival it became, if memory serves, either a Jordano's or a Safeway.
Also in Loreto plaza was a fabulously unique gift shop called, again if memory serves, The Stone Balloon. I think the irony of the name escaped me back then. My most vivid recall of that store was finding a most incomparable grater. It had a wooden rectangular-bowl bottom with a handle, and three different grating plates to put over it. I bought it as a Mother's Day gift for my mom; it seemed a much better solution to grating than the stand-up version on which I certainly always nicked my fingers.
Amusingly, over the years, not only did I never run across a grater like this (which I so wanted in my kitchen), but ended up coveting it. When my siblings and I went through the process of dividing my mother's estate as per her wishes, I asked for the grater, which I now own and make good use of.
Also in Loreto Plaza was a beauty salon which provides one of my many embarrassing teenage moments. Look for this in Stores and Eating Places of Yore PART TWO.