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Pop-up businesses bring new life to closed stores in downtown Santa Barbara

There may be new life where there had been dark and closed businesses in about 25 locations on State Street in Santa Barbara for months.

They are called pop-up stores. For now, they are retail. It’s unclear if any food options are coming.

As customers were digging through bins of bikinis and looking at others on tables and displays the temporary owner of the spot at 430 State said the idea was working. “The fact that I can discount them as cheap as they are right now, it’s fun to see people get a deal (and say) “Oh Score’!” said Molly Luquin with Mo Bikinis. The deals were as low as $5.00 each.

She worked out the deal in late August in a spot that also has unique furniture left over from a restaurant that closed. It too is for sale. Those items in the back of the store include chairs, lights, tables, mirrors, and a variety of decorations.

“This is our third weekend here and I am not sure how much longer I’ll be at this location and I am hoping to get another location somewhere on State Street, ” said Luquin. “You do what you can with the space that you have and it’s not super fancy all the time. It’s kind of like the deal right? You’re just popping up!”

Nearby in the 600 block, another pop-up has appeared in the old Radio Shack store featuring clothing. Many are silk screen shirts made locally. It’s a good stop for tourists looking for clothing with ‘Santa Barbara’ on the front.

Of the available start-up sites, some are in the process of development and could be reopened as permanent businesses in the coming months.

The Santa Barbara Visual Artists Group has a pop-up in the 1000 block above Carrillo. 25 artists are sharing time at the seller’s table. All have their work on display.

“I think if this goes well for the next two months, we will stay for at least two more months,” said Brian Woolford one of the artists.

Luquin checked over her site, the customers coming in and the energy in what was a closed address. “If something has been empty so long it benefits everybody a little bit at least for the time being.”

The city is encouraging pop-ups as part of a long list of solutions to reignite the area. Relaxing some of the processes to get the similar type businesses in is considered one way to speed up the process.

For more information about the visual artists, visit

To learn more about the clothing and bikini shop go to the @Mo_Bikinis Instagram page.

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