SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - There are many vacant storefronts on State Street in Downtown Santa Barbara, but experts say the retail sector is suffering throughout the United States.
“The retail sector of Downtown Santa Barbara is actually doing very well. There’s a lot of visitors, local residents spend a lot of money there," said Mark Schniepp, California Economic Forecast.
Schniepp and his team performs research and analysis for business and public sector clients. He tells us the empty storefronts and high rent prices are signs of a strong economy.
"The economy is actually quite vibrant. Not only in Santa Barbara, but all of California and the nation. So we are really actually at the top of the economic cycle right now," said Schniepp.
Despite the pricey rent amounts to own a business on State Street, people are seeing opportunities to grow in the area like Antoinette Marquez who just opened Ama Sea Beauty on 506 State Street.
Marquez took over a space that was empty for about six months. Her business specializing in beauty products made from sea ingredients is sharing spaces with Natural Cafe. Marquez believes the two different businesses are compatible.
The Downtown Santa Barbara Organization hired a consultant team to conduct research to revitalize the area. Results from that analysis should be back this summer. Maggie Campbell, the executive director of the organization, says she will present the information to Santa Barbara City Council members.