The Yes Store is an arts cooperative in Downtown Santa Barbara, open from November to December each year, which sells handmade goods from local artists. The pop-up store has operated since 1968 and is run entirely by artists who apply each year to have their work featured. On Dec. 3 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. the store is hosting its annual event to mark the first Thursday of December, featuring live music, wine and appetizers and allowing customers to meet the artists.
Susan Dunbar, the current manager of the store and former UCSB student, said what makes The Yes Store special is cooperation and the “legwork that nobody sees.”
“For me it’s just amazing to see everybody pull together in a big group and make it happen,” Dunbar said. “‘Cause we typically only have a week or two to build the desk, get your booths in, stock it and then we open.”
Dunbar, who first began working for the store after graduating college in 1981, said she appreciates watching multiple generations of Santa Barbara locals enjoy the store.
“We’re unique in the way that we’ve been doing this for so long, so we see families grow up and come back and bring their children and buy art,” Dunbar said.
The Yes Store employee Wendy Wagner said she tries to create a connection between shoppers and artists.
“I’m a floor sales person but I consider myself an artist facilitator,” Wagner said. “I try to encourage people to know a little bit about the artists when they’re looking at their work so that that might help them purchasing their little treasures from these people.”
Wagner said the store has undergone considerable expansion since last year and is always encouraging new artists to join.
“We have 10 new artists this year so there’s a lot of new product in the store; we’re really excited about that,” Wagner said. “We like the expansion process, and, if any artists are interested in being in The Yes Store, we have a book that you can sign your name and then be notified next year when the jury process begins.”
Long-time customer Stella Larson said she loves the quality of the store’s products, as well as being able to give back to the Santa Barbara art community.
“I’ve been coming at least 42 years and I always look for my favourite people and then I look for the new people; it’s a wonderful thing. It’s all local artisans, everything is handmade — it’s really wonderful quality,” Larson said. “It helps the artist and it helps keep art going in Santa Barbara.”
Local resident Trina Diaz said the store is well-known in the Santa Barbara community.
“I grew up here and it’s been going on forever,” Diaz said, “Locals all know about the [The] Yes Store so they look forward to it every year.”
Diaz added that the store is a great opportunity for local artists to gain more exposure.
“It’s a wonderful place for local artists to display their talent and for people to come and see that from all over the world,” Diaz said.