Struggling Santa Barbara business gets relief from caring customers

Bennett's is a community staple for 50 years

Struggling Santa Barbara business gets relief from caring customers

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Loyal customers of Bennett's Toys and Educational Materials will be surprised when they visit the business since it has moved to a new location inside the same plaza. 

Bennett's is located in the Magnolia Shopping Center on 5130 Hollister Ave in Santa Barbara County. 

The store was owned by Vernon Moore for about 35 years. Moore got out of college in the late 70's and joined a business partnership to expand Bennett's which has been around for half a century.

"The clientele is what moves this store," said Vernon Moore. 

His lease for the business was up and he was ready to retire. He was planning to close the business, until a Santa Barbara couple asked to take over. In recent years, Moore was felling some pressure.

"With the teacher funding not being there and most teachers pay for their supplies out of their own pockets so that's hurt. Online, if we don't have it, they just go elsewhere for it," said Moore. 

Kurt and Lisa Richter purchased the business in late September and opened up the business in a new location in October. The couple were customers of Bennett's and dreamed of opening their own toy store. Kurt was an automotive technician for 31 years.

"My wife and I said we got to do this otherwise we'll never know how it feels to own a toy store. To start something from scratch is nearly impossible, but if you've got something going and the teachers that are behind us," said Kurt Richter. 

Loyal customers are thankful to see the business continue since there aren't many stores like Bennett's left in the country.

"I just hope that people invest a little in some things like this. Challenge them a little bit so they can learn more from than which buttons to push," said Carol Bowie, a customer.

Along with their two young daughters Samantha and Sabrina, the Richter's plan to maintain the same great quality and service that Bennett’s has provided local families and teachers for the past 50 years. 

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