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Culture and Capitalism

A Letter From Santa Barbara

My wife and I attended the Santa Barbara’s Music Academy of the West’s Academy Festival Orchestra’s performance of Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring. We were dazzled. I am not a critic, but I thought they were spectacular. To think that a local, but famed, music organization can gather here in Santa Barbara the best and brightest young musicians from America and the world and hone them into a world-class orchestra in a matter of week is, well, world-class. (more…)

From Glut To Prosperity: The Revival of Retail

How can State Street be revived? In my last article on State Street’s retail glut, I pointed out that there are 30+ retail vacancies in the downtown State Street corridor and that Santa Barbara is following a national trend in retailing. That is, there is too much retail space, online sales are challenging retail stores, and generational spending and shopping habits have changed.

The revival of State Street lies with the City, property owners, and retailers. They have to adjust to a changed environment. This is not a transitory phenomenon; we are witnessing one of the rare times in history when there are major shifts in human economic behavior. Shopping and life-style patterns have changed and to ignore them is to see the permanent decline of State Street.

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The Retail Glut

Santa Barbara’s downtown core shopping district is in trouble. Santa Barbara is not alone; it is a microcosm of the retail world right now.

A lot of attention has been focused on the large number of vacant retail stores here. The Downtown Organization, a group dedicated to promoting the interests of its business members, has commissioned a study of the problem. They are concerned about the “exodus” of retailers. (more…)