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Santa Barbara Outfitters Closing Shop

Outdoor Equipment and Clothing Retailer Cites Rent Issues


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Santa Barbara Outfitters — which has sold outdoor gear for nearly 10 years from one of the city's most premier commercial properties — will, in the words of its owner, be “gone and done” at the end of the month.

Santa Barbara Outfitters
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Paul Wellman (file)

Santa Barbara Outfitters

Luisa Hyatt said Tuesday that she and her husband, Mark, recently decided to not renew their lease at 1200 State Street, noting they've been in “a lot of negotiations” with their landlord but were unable to reach a rent agreement. Hyatt declined to go into details on the matter, explaining she'd rather focus on “celebrating what this business has represented in town for the last 10 years.” The retailer's sister store, prAna — which sells clothing and was opened by the Hyatts a few years ago — has plans to move down the street to Mountain Air Sports.

Hyatt told her 25 or so employees of the decision last weekend, noting some were panicked and others were brought to tears by the news. She and her husband have been looking at locations where they could potentially reopen their store, she said, but conceded it will be challenging to “duplicate the prime location” they've occupied for so long. Other nearby businesses have expressed worry that, without the anchor of Santa Barbara Outfitters on the corner of State and Anapamu streets, shoppers will take their money to other parts of town, Hyatt said.

Hyatt explained that the couple sunk untold amounts of time, funds, and energy into their commercial property, revamping the space that used to hold a Bible store. They restored its 1850s hardwood floors, she went on, added a climbing wall, and knocked down other walls to connect their floor space to prAna's. On the plus side, Hyatt went on, they were able to get out earlier than what their lease allowed when one their friends, who's friends with the building owner, called in a favor.

Of whether REI's 2011 opening hurt their sales to the point of forcing closure, Hyatt said they only saw “a little drop in business. … It contributed only a tiny bit.” Santa Barbara Outfitters, she continued, stayed competitive by stocking unique brands and holding sales during key weeks each season. Right now, all of the shop's merchandise is marked 40 percent off as the Hyatts wind things down.

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