SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A small business owner in downtown Santa Barbara is closing his doors for good this month. And he's now saying that the city doesn't do enough to preserve mom and pop shops in the city.
The storefront has been on Anapamu Street for 67 years, and it's one of the original mom and pop stores in Santa Barbara. City officials say they try to preserve these types of businesses, but sometimes competition wins out.
Vernon Morseman, owner of Hobby Central, says, "I'm closing a part of my childhood."
Morseman has owned Hobby Central in downtown Santa Barbara since the mid-1970s. Hobby items line the shelves, including the store's specialty: model trains. But on January 19th, the store will be closed for good. And Morseman is upset with how the city has treated his business.
"Santa Barbara doesn't help businesses," says Morseman. "It says it does, it says it's friendly but it's so unfriendly its incredible."
Morseman says foot traffic to his store has been suffering. A construction project at a nearby parking lot wiped out 20 parking spaces.
Santa Barbara city council member Frank Hotchkiss says, "it's part of competition. I'm sure it makes it tough if you are a mom and pop shop and some of the big guys come in."
Hotchkiss says the city does what it can to accommodate shoppers to the downtown area.
"We try to make it as convenient for people to come downtown and shop," says Hotchkiss.
Growing up in Santa Barbara, Morseman has seen a change in the businesses that come to the city. And he's not pleased seeing chain stores take over.
"I can blindfold you, walk you down the street and then drop you in another town like Indianapolis and you'd think you're in the same town," says Morseman. "It's a cookie cutter town now."
Hotchkiss says that the city hasn't received many complaints from small businesses recently. As far as bigger chains coming in, he says that's just a part of competition.
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